Man In A Van With A Plan 2.0 Test Report: Circuit of The Americas

The road (back) to CoTA starts here

Things happen pretty quick in racing. Well, they do and they don't. The latest reminder came one month back, when we learned that MVP's 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000s were dilly dallying their way across the Pacific and wouldn't make it to us in time for MotoAmerica's pre-season test at Circuit of The Americas. It was suddenly a game of hurry up and wait. Emphasis on wait.

The team debated not participating in the CoTA test with its 2016 racebike, but ultimately decided to make the trek to Austin, Texas, and get a jump start on the 2017 season—for a few reasons.

First, there was a chance Hayden would have to race the 2016 bike at CoTA, meaning it was still of utmost importance to find a baseline setup. Second, track time will be limited at the season opener, run in conjunction with MotoGP, so this test would help offset whatever track time we don’t see then. Third, and perhaps most important, we’ve brought on two new mechanics for 2017—Josh Day and Glen Veatch—and we needed to get the crew together before the first official race weekend. What good is a team if you haven’t figured out how to work together?

Hayden hadn’t thrown a leg over a roadrace bike since the final round of the 2016 season at New Jersey Motorsports Park, in September of last year. That was six months ago. Fortunately, the long days on the bicycle have paid off, and while he admitted to riding tight in the early morning sessions, he loosened up and was feeling better on the bike as day one wore on.

“When I got to the test last year, I’d do three laps and my heartrate was just way higher. I was breathing heavy and everything,” Gillim remembers. “I don’t feel that this time around. Plus, the training, mentally, it toughens you up. So while I’m on track, my brain feels like it’s functioning better. I’m able to think a bit more ahead. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed this year.”

MVP 2.0
The Man in a Van with a Plan team showed up to the CoTA pre-sesaon test with last year's racebike and worked on baseline setup, just in case the 2017 GSX-Rs didn't show up in time for the first race. Fortunately, it's looking more and more like the new bikes will be ready by round one.Nik Wogen

Day one didn’t go entirely as planned, however. A motor let go early on, forcing the team to switch over to its B bike and continue to attack bike setup from there. Overall goal was added flickbility, with better steering traits mid-corner. They also tested tires, again, just in case Gillim was forced to race this bike come Round 1.

“It was really productive,” Gillim said at the end of the day. “I’m glad we came. We could have gone to a trackday or something, but coming here is good because I have the guys I’m going to race against, so it's easier to gauge our level. It’s a struggle right now because everyone has got their new bike, and I’m running on the old stuff. But just looking at someone like Jake Lewis, who is a second or so quicker than I am right now, it makes me excited to get the new bikes.”

MVP 2.0
Hayden dusted the cobwebs off quickly. It'd been since September of last year that he'd been on track.Brian J. Nelson

Those bikes will be here soon enough. Fingers crossed. One will go to Atlanta for a few sleepless nights with Matheny and crew, while the other will be shipped to Attack Performance, who will use it as a platform for developing its first 2017 GSX-R1000 race parts: rearsets, triple clamps, handlebars, linkages, etc. Once those parts are finished up, Attack willl ship them and the bike back to the team, where the MVP boys will install finished products on to the bike they’ve been prepping. “We’re kind of trading services there,” Gillim says. They’ve got something we need, and we’ve got something they really want to get their hands on…

Until then, and even after, it’s a matter of doing what we can with what we have. The team is excited for the challenges that lay ahead, but knows that the first weekends won't be a walk in the park. Gillim is on pace, finishing the CoTA test with a 2:12.352—fourth fastest Superstock 1000 rider. Meanwhile, Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Toni Elias and Roger Hayden ended the two-day test quickest on their 2017 GSX-R1000 superbikes, with a 2:08.432 and 2:08.305, respectively.

MVP 2.0
Josh Day (right) and Glenn Veatch (left) will be at every MotoAmerica round this season, looking after the bike. One benefit of attending the CoTA pre-season test was getting the whole team together for the first time, ahead of a race.Nik Wogen

Discouraged by the time gap? Not even. “Seeing Toni and Roger up front, it’s exciting,” Gillim said. I know it’s going to be a good, good year for us on that bike. It’s going to be hard to beat the Suzuki this year.”

One thing’s for sure, we’re excited to get working on ours. Something tells us things will start happening pretty quick from that point on. Let the fun begin!

Click play on the video below to go onboard with Hayden:

MVP 2.0
Josh Day will double as a rider coach for Gillim, who says that, "It’s nice to have him go out, watch me in the sections I am doing my worse, and kind of tell me how he would do things or tell me what the other guys are doing. He's taking videos to show me and compare with other guys, and like here, he told me I need to charge a little more in segment three. So that's what I'm working on."Nik Wogen
MVP 2.0
There's no shortage of new bikes in the MotoAmerica series this year. We'll be excited to get out there on ours.Brian J. Nelson
MVP 2.0
You know your race program is dialed when you match the bike and gear to the track. Okay, so that wasn't really planned...Brian J. Nelson
MVP 2.0
Keeping track of lap times. Gillim ended the test with a 2:12.352fourth fastest Superstock 1000 rider on day two.Nik Wogen