Having missed the Jerez test, the MV Agusta squad had plenty of work to do in Portimão. Their sole rider, Leon Camier, had a tremendous 2016 campaign, but in the face of regulation changes, he faces the daunting task of trying to make the F4 into competitive package once again.
The Englishman had seven Top 5 finishes last year, and 15 Top 10s, and helped to change the perception of the Italian squad. Previously, MV Agusta had been consistent under-performers and tail-enders in WorldSBK, but their form last year gave plenty of hope of revived fortunes.
The ban of split throttle bodies, which allowed the cylinders to be opened independently when accelerating, hit the team hard in their initial tests and it appears that over the last two months little progress has been made on the issue.
“We have to be realistic with our goals for this year because the change from split throttle bodies has caused us some problems,” admitted Camier. “I think that it will continue to cause us problems and even though we might be able to mask it with electronics it’s not right with this bike.
“The rules are pretty fixed, so there’s only a few things we can do, and we’ll probably have to just focus on electronics to help us. Electronics are the biggest thing that we’ll work on because we’re using the standard throttle bodies now and not the split. That’s better today but it’s still not great.”
“We need to improve not just power, but also power delivery. Last year despite the lack of power, we had something that I could still ride well because I felt good on the bike, but the change of the throttle bodies has meant that right now I can’t feel that. It’s definitely the area we need to work on most.”
Camier set the fifth fastest time by the end of the Portimão test, half a second back from the leading Ducati.
While Chaz Davies was comfortably the fastest runner, Camier took heart that he was within three-tenths of Eugene Laverty’s Aprilia. The 30-year-old also takes heart in the fact that the team has planned a raft of upgrades to the bike.
“We’re not far off the others which is pretty good considering it’s our first day back on the bike,” Camier said on the first day of testing. “It’s difficult to say if we’ve made much progress yet, but hopefully for Australia we’ll have a new engine.”
“At the minute, we’re still on last year’s spec of engine, but we’ve a different tank to try to make the weight lower while keeping the same balance. We’ll try a different riding position too.”
“There’s a lot of things to come because we need more engine braking, but that will be helped with the new exhaust that we’re waiting for.”
“I’m hoping that we’ll have everything for Australia because it’s something that I’ve been looking for, for a long time. We’ve a new swingarm coming, but I’m not sure how that will change things. The 2017 bike will be a little more refined all around.”
Photos: © 2016 Steve English – All Rights Reserved
This World Superbike story is made possible by our A&R Pro members. If you like reading WorldSBK stories on Asphalt & Rubber, you should consider supporting this content by signing up for A&R Pro.