Although it was resurfaced only four years ago, the Rio de Janeiro circuit doesn't have a reputation for offering the traction one would hope for while racing a 220-plus horsepower machine.

In fact a combination of many bumps, low grip levels and minimal camber on the medium to high-speed corners make this a challenging circuit. Since there's only one extremely hard braking corner, most of the rider's attention will be focused on manoeuvrability, but more importantly drive. Past experience has shown this is the key area for success.

Agility is achieved by preventing the rear from squatting under power by using more preload on a softer rate rear spring. This combination holds the shock high in its stroke, ensuring the bike is able to turn efficiently, while the softer spring offers better feel and drive.

Combined with less rebound damping - to allow the shock to return to its static length before the next series of bumps - feel is improved and, therefore, control under power without sacrificing the positive handling traits initially sought after. Carlos Checa proved this last year with his strong dry qualifying result and impressive race pace, and therefore a similar approached will be followed in 2003.

Again the front-end will follow the same basic theme as the rear to ensure an overall neutral balance, and with minimal hard braking it will allow more effort to be directed towards improving feel. As Rio is an acceleration circuit the power characteristics will be concentrated towards the midrange and top-end, while offering a good predictable delivery.



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