Spanish GP ’23 Paddock Spy – KYB shocks, foam, 300cc two-strokes and beefy wires
Enduro21 gets the long lenses out to spy some details from inside the 2023 EnduroGP round two paddock in Spain – Beta’s key to success, keeping the mud out of sump guards, brakes, wires and giant race team and some 300 two-stroke sauce.
As the riders finish their final checks and stream their bikes and kit in past the scrutineers inside the 2023 EnduroGP of Spain paddock in Lalin, Enduro21 dons the Sherlock Holmes hat, spy glass and pipe to unearth a few mysteries.
Chiefly what shocking news is helping the Beta boys ride smoother and faster, what’s all this foam about, who’s got new brakes, and take a look at the impressive WP Eric Auge racing team pit area, fancy Fantic colours and 300 two-strokes…
KYB shocks making the difference for Freeman and Holcombe
KYB suspension is pretty common across the EnduroGP paddock. In other forms of enduro the WP name is seemingly everywhere but in this place KYB is quite possibly the most common fitted to (among others) Sherco Racing, TM Racing, Fast Eddy Racing and notably Beta.
Notably because traditionally the factory Beta Racing Enduro Team (and production bikes) have run ZF rear suspension which is good, but good enough for a world championship? You’d have to argue yes because both factory riders Steve Holcombe and Brad Freeman combined have amassed 15 world titles between them using it.
But, big but here, plenty of people will tell you those stock shocks aren’t easy to live with when they get hot and we have photo evidence to prove it.
This shot from the Italian GP enduro test in 2022 where Enduro21 stood watching the top 30 or so rider through and spotted the reaction from the factory Betas to a kicker of a “gee-out” at the bottom of a steep climb.
The dent in the bank was just where riders needed to be on the gas to launch from a turn up the hill but both Freeman and Holcombe’s Betas were kicking back horribly, lifting their back wheels off the ground so badly that one lap it chucked Steve off into the trees.
Beta back to the top – coincidence or not?
But that has all change with the addition of the KYB rear shock to the bikes for 2023. Without doubt both Brad and Steve are back at the top of their game which is why we see them back up the top of the time sheets and winning once more. But can it be a coincidence since getting better behaving bikes? We asked Brad…
“I actually finished all of last year with the ZF shock and tested the KYB for the first time the week after the German GP and then through the winter.”
Brad has his own settings in a KYB Suspension unit (all available from KYB) they are now running, so it is no standard, but what’s the difference? “I found it to be a big upgrade if I’m honest compared to what we were using last year. The old one wouldn’t really be the same throughout the day. It could depend on the terrain but the heat in the shock and if it was really bumpy it would really degrade throughout the day. I was really struggling with that.
“This one is a lot more consistent. It doesn’t matter if you’re on stones or sand or if it’s really hot or cold, it doesn't matter at all, it’s completely consistent which was definitely was looking for.
“Before I was a little bit limited with the setting I could use because of the consistency and so now I’ve actually been able to go a little bit stiffer, which is what I wanted to and couldn’t before. Because this shock couldn’t cope with the heat. So yeah, to be honest it’s been a massive improvement.”
Spotted on Andrea Verona’s factory GASGAS 350 are some colour coordinated and very beefy wiring lines to the starter and kill switch. Clearly the Farioli factory teams has had a think about the vulnerable wiring across the handlebars and decided it needed better protection.
Plugging for the mud
Mixed conditions are forecast for the weekend and for many teams that means prepping the bikes a little more.
Some riders go softer with set-up depending on how the tests pan out having a little less stiffness in the suspension gives more feel.
Walking round the paddock there was also a fair bit of foam and sponge being added in and around engines. Plugging the gaps between the engine cases and the sump guard stops mud build-up and therefore keeps the added weight away.
Same too goes for the extra radiator protection offered from these easily brushed, shaken or removed mesh covers. Often used by beach racers, they let the rider or mechanic quickly dispatch the clods of mud to keep the airways clear.
New Galfer prototype brake discs
While under the Beta Racing truck awning (sorry, well move on shortly) we spotted something different going on with Steve Holcombe’s RR 350 brake discs. Prototype new products coming soon from the Spanish brake specialists?
“I’m still using the same wave front brake disc off the shelf part.” Explains Holcombe. “I like the front brake strong and this one has really good power.
“But this year Galfer are developing a new disc which is a little thicker and more aggressive. I really like to use the rear brake to help turn the bike and for me having this disc is a real improvement.”
Biggest and most international team in the paddock
Is WP Eric Auge Racing Team the biggest in the paddock? 10 riders this weekend from seven nationalities including young Spanish kids, very experienced pros like Jaume Betriu on the 2024 KTM 300 EXC, French ace Hugo Blanjoue, an Israeli, Argentinian, Venuzuelan and young British rider Sam Davies – what an environment to grow as a rider in.
While we were in this Spanish run team’s tent, it is worth returning to the speculation surrounding the spec of some of the factory supported two-stroke Austrian bikes in the paddock.
The revelation factory riders would be racing 2024 models from the start of the season brought a lot of interest to the four-strokes of Andrea Verona and Josep Garcia.
It brought attention to Jaume Betriu’s bike (nearest bike in shot below) because WP Eric Auge team rider has been tasked with the job of helping develop the 300 EXC TBI for racing. Some people are desperately wanting to know the spec of this beauty…
Sticking with big two-strokes...how good do the Fantics look in black and yellow?
Lorenzo Macoritto and Albin Norrbin are riding Fantic 300 two-strokes. The bikes were revealed well over a year ago now with Minarelli helping the Fantic factory develop this 300 2T engine.
Pouring water on the flames of all the keyboard warriors who instantly blurt out the “yeah but it’s a Yamaha” line each time a Fantic is mentioned, this is unique to the Italian manufacturer and just one of their developments based on the Japanese rolling chassis they start with.
But how come we don’t see this bike in the showrooms yet Fantic? It would surely be a hit and with bikes appearing more and more in the paddocks, it feels like too long waiting for this one.
What do you think to the black and yellow colours this weekend?
Photo Credit: Enduro21