Our annual Supersport Shootout is one of the most fiercely contested of the year, manufacturers jockeying for top honors in the cut throat middleweight market. The 2009 version was one of the best in MotoUSA history, so when we realized that none of the bikes would be receiving any significant updates for 2010, giving us no real reason to compare them again in stock trim, well, we were pretty bummed! But only for a minute, as we came up with the idea for a totally new concept: the 2010 Modified Supersport Shootout.
We hear it all the time: If the R6 had a tuned ECU it would change the power curve; if the GSX-R had a pipe it would be lighter; if the Kawi ran shock shims it would handle better; if the Honda had nitrous it would win, and so on. Well, here it is. The four sickest 600s on the planet, all with the same modifications, the kind any educated track rider would perform, developed by the race team technicians behind many of the fastest race bikes in the USA. This is a no holds-barred middleweight slug fest where we allow a series of similar performance hop-ups to each machine, in two stages, to see how these bikes both improve individually as well as stack up against each other when it is all said and done.
To keep the field as level as possible, both stages of the test will take place at the same two Willow Springs tracks where we did our original 2009 Middleweight Shootout – one day at Big Willow and one day at Streets of Willow. This provides us with a consistent benchmark from which to compare lap times and data throughout the process.
We also opted to do the mods in two stages as opposed to just one. Not everyone is able or willing to shell out five or six grand before ever hitting the track so we opted to start out with basic additions, get you hooked, and then you can go mortgage your house in the quest to drop that final few seconds off your lap times. Trust me, I know. (You should see my credit card bills!) Anyhow, that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get into the good stuff: The mods!
For Stage 1, each of the 600s got a full-system exhaust of the manufacturer’s choice, ECU and/or piggyback fuel management system with dyno work to match, as well as chain and sprockets to gear each bike specifically for the tracks at hand. Basic washers or spacers were allowed to be added to the shocks of the bikes to enhance the steering geometry for the racetrack, a very inexpensive and effective mod. Otherwise, everything else remained stock.
As for Stage 2, which is in the works now with the test and story to follow shortly, all four are getting Race Tech suspension front and rear, rear-sets, clip-ons, speed shifter, brake lines and brake pads, making for what will be fully-decked-out trackday machines. Short of bodywork, these bikes will be nearly race-ready after Stage 2. But for now let’s focus on Stage 1.
Just as in the stock ’09 Supersport Shootout, 3-time AMA 250cc GP champion Chuck Sorensen and myself headed up the testing duties, this time joined by fast club racer and CT Racing owner Corey Neuer plus Nip/Tuck’s John Hensley, who has been racing 600s for a little over a year now at local SoCal events.
To obtain the outright fastest lap times in the most evenly-matched and fair way possible, as we’ve been doing the past couple years, the MotoUSA Superpole system was kept in place. Chuck Sorensen and I each did an out-lap, two fliers and an in-lap on the four bikes, one at a time, all fully fueled with pre-heated, brand-new Pirelli tires. Order was drawn out of a hat and Superpole was done congruently during a 1-hour session, the outright best lap being used to compare each bike to both itself in stock form as well as the competition. The same process was followed for each of the two days, giving us data from both tracks. As for the rubber, we again used Pirelli’s DOT racing Diablo Supercorsa SC2s (see sidebar), just like we did in the original Supersport Shootout.
But enough with the details, let’s get to the good stuff…