In the arena that is the World Supersport championship, there's a formula that's proven to be successful-the motorcycle must have four cylinders across the frame, have a total displacement of 600cc, and come from Japan. What, then, would it take for the mighty to fall? Being British, Triumph is already breaking one of those rules by definition. The company knew that the only way to beat the mighty Japanese would be to break all the other rules as well. Their weapon, of course, is the Daytona 675 triple. Three cylinders instead of four and an extra 75cc to boot. You may remember Ducati challenging for the Supersport crown with the 749R with varying levels of success, though ultimately the Japanese prevailed every year. So why do it? The challenge, of course. Oh, and the brand exposure.
Loyal readers will remember the debacle we endured when we tried our hands at racing a 675 at the AMA level in 2008 ("Goldenrod", September '08). As far as we can tell, Giuliano Rovelli never read that story (and if he did, it didn't faze him) and we're all the better for it. A Triumph enthusiast in his own right, in 2007 he started the Triumph BE1 Racing team and contested the Italian Supersport championship with the Daytona 675, with much greater success than us. By the end of the season his team scored two podium finishes. It was also about this time that the 675 was allowed into World Supersport competition and Rovelli jumped at the chance to elevate his young team to the next level. They did well enough that in 2009 Triumph appointed them as its official factory entry. With veteran racer Garry McCoy at the controls, the team earned its best finish yet, with "Gaza" McCoy earning two podiums and finishing the year eighth in the point standings.
Spurred by that success, 2010 sees the team expand to a four rider lineup of David Salom, Matthew Legrive, and two AMA refugees-Chaz Davies and Jason DiSalvo-all vying for the championship. This success has also formed another collaboration between Rovelli and Triumph; the creation of the Triumph ParkinGO European Series, that'll contest seven European rounds alongside the World Superbike championship, with the riders all on equally prepared Triumph Street Triple R's (more on that in the accompanying sidebar).
In an unorthodox chain of events, Triumph invited a select few publications from around the world to sample the World Supersport-spec Daytona 675's shortly after the first round of the series at Phillip Island in Australia. Things like this early-season test at the Valencia circuit in southern Spain are usually saved until season's end to minimize collateral damage in case an overenthusiastic journalist runs out of talent. Apparently nobody got the memo. At any rate, this test would allow us to sample the exact same bike DiSalvo rode just as it came off the track in Phillip Island.
Stripped down, you can see...
Stripped down, you can see the Daytona doesn't have a trick subframe or any unobtanium components. Even the wheels are standard units. The only clues that give away its racing intentions are the trapezoidal radiator extension and carbon overlays.
First order of business was getting to know the cockpit. The controls are rather basic-the right-side handlebar has two buttons, one for ignition power and the other starts the engine, like a standard bike. The left bar has buttons to increase or decrease traction control on the fly, pit-lane speed limiter and a fourth button to toggle between two engine maps. In contrast to World Superbike rules which are fairly lenient, the World Supersport regulations are much more restrictive. The chassis has to remain largely untouched; standard fairings are replaced with race-worthy items, and, as with our 2008 race project, Triumph has released an updated version of its factory racing kit, which includes, among other things, an Arrow titanium stage 3 exhaust system, different camshafts and sprockets, manual cam-chain tensioner, bearings, different engine cover gaskets and thinner head gaskets to slightly bump compression. Fortunately, rules regarding engine modifications are much more liberal and the team was cautious to tell me what else resided in the engine bay. What's interesting is that, to meet the 356-pound minimum weight limit, the team actually places a lead block under the engine to be compliant. All told, the race team claims peak horsepower numbers to be above 140. The team is obviously secretive of the exact numbers, but is confident its power is competitive with its rivals.
The Triumph racing kit includes a programmable ECU and accompanying software, but the ParkinGO team doesn't use it. Instead Magneti Marelli supplies the team with its latest Marvel 4 ECU-the same unit used by both World Superbike and MotoGP teams. The benefit with the Marvel 4 is its versatility; it allows almost infinite control and manipulation of the fueling system, but also has channels to monitor throttle position, brake pressure, suspension travel, wheelie control and much more. Not to mention it allows for additional accessories like traction control.
While the bike I rode was DiSalvo's, these stock photos were taken from Chaz Davies' primary bike. As evidenced by the empty slot where the ignition would sit, stock triple clamps remain and in their original positions. The Marelli LCD gauge cluster shows all of the vital information that the engineers can then download and examine. The fork caps are part of the Bitubo replacement cartridges, with the rearward dial on the left cap controlling compression damping and the rearward dial on the right controlling rebound; preload is adjustable using the forward dials on each cap.
A Gentle Giant
The World Supersport-spec...
The World Supersport-spec Daytona 675 machines have major restrictions when it comes to changing chassis geometry, hence swingarm pivot is identical to the stock bike. GB Racing provides the protective engine case covers, while Rizoma provides the rearsets and Bitubo the rear shock (and front fork internals). Note the quick shifter and the carbon fiber overlays on the frame and swingarm.
Seeing as how Jason DiSalvo is the lone American on the grid, it was only fitting that I spun some laps on his bike. Right away, the most obvious difference is how eager the racebike is to change direction. It steers so much quicker than the standard model that turn-in points needed to be adjusted, meaning what would have been a late entry marker before now seemed normal. A quick and deliberate flick of the bike plants knee puck firmly to terra firma and the stable chassis inspires all kinds of confidence to lean even further. Surely changes to the bike's geometry is what allows it to change direction so quick, right? Yes, but for one little caveat: under World Supersport rules no changes to the chassis are allowed; meaning standard triple clamps have to remain and in their original position. Even the original wheels have to remain. So what's the secret? DiSalvo's shock length is increased one millimeter (his teammate's Chaz Davies and David Salom are up five millimeters) and his fork is raised in the triple clamp ten millimeters, effectively raising the rear ride height and lowering the front. This accounts for the quicker turn-in, but the bike surprisingly feels as neutral as the stocker from the saddle. When DiSalvo first rode the Daytona, it had the same forward bias as Davies and Salom's machines, but he requested the more standard riding position because, "It allows me to trailbrake longer, but not necessarily harder, into a turn".
Taking It To The Next Level
Once adapted to the steering characteristics of the bike, everything else felt strangely familiar to the standard model. Although, being a few inches taller than DiSalvo I did have to adapt to the cramped cockpit-the three-inch foam block attached to the rear cowl puts him in the perfect tuck down the straight, but places my elbows beside my knees instead of ahead of them. More importantly, the power was deceivingly similar to the stock bike's. That is, until I saw my surroundings whirring past me at a much greater velocity. But that's what makes this bike, and presumably this class, so fun to ride. With the ParkinGO Daytona 675 you have the standard 675 raised to the next level. Each turn of the wrist applies ferocious forward motivation compared to the streetbike, yet it's much more manageable than that of its Superbike stable mates. Having ridden a host of the latest literbikes for our literbike comparo in the last issue, the Daytona's power didn't blow me away. What did was what Jason thought of it. "This is definitely the most powerful middleweight bike I've ever ridden. I'd put it up with the 750 Superstock bike I rode in '02." Get out of line, however, and the five-way adjustable traction control (adjustable on the fly) will keep the wheels in order based on a number of parameters like individual wheel speed, throttle position and engine speed, just to name a few. I chose to keep the traction control on the third, middle setting to establish a baseline feel. The Marelli ECU allows considerable rear wheel spin before the slightest bit of intervention; mainly from retarding the ignition timing, followed by cutting spark altogether if needed.
The left switchgrip controls traction control (green button for more intervention, red for less), while blue and yellow buttons toggle between different fuel maps. The black button controls the pit lane speed. Note also the dial to adjust brake lever slack on the fly. The right switchgrip is much like a standard bike, red button powers the ignition (and acts as a killswitch) and green button starts the engine.
Bitubo components lie inside...
Bitubo components lie inside the standard fork tubes, while Discacciati 310mm discs sit up front. Standard Nissin calipers house sintered pads that clamp on those discs with a soft initial bite, but monstrous power the harder you squeeze. Stock Daytona wheels are wrapped in spec Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires.
DiSalvo's bike features a reverse shift pattern fitted with an electronic quick-shifter. Both of which are nothing new, but to accommodate his relatively small feet the shift lever is brought in close to the peg, placing it perfectly in line with his toes, but completely off base for my rather large (size 11.5) boots. That minor issue made itself known while braking for Valencia's turn one, which comes at the end of a quarter-mile straight entered at the top of sixth gear. After grabbing a handful of brakes, my foot would constantly overshoot the distance to the shifter, causing just slightly more stress as I reposition my foot, downshift and navigate the track.
Speaking of braking, Italian manufacturer Discacciati partners with the ParkinGO team and supplies the 310mm floating front discs, while calipers remain stock Nissin units. These units have a soft initial bite, but progressively ramp up as more pressure is applied to the lever. Seeing as how DiSalvo prefers to trailbrake until the last possible moment, the long stroke of the lever provides plenty of feedback. Trailing right down to the apex, knee down, was cause for little drama.
Bitubo rear shock includes...
Bitubo rear shock includes both high- and low-speed compression damping circuits and provides greater adjustability than the stock unit. The wires coming up from the shock measure the suspension travel and report it back to the Marelli ECU.
As per the rules, front fork tubes must remain standard units, but internals are allowed to be changed. Bitubo handles the suspension duties with revised internals for the fork and an upgraded shock. Strict chassis rules force the linkage rate to remain the same. Unfortunately, the Valencia circuit isn't particularly bumpy, but as it stood the damping rates felt more like the standard model and the 675 wasn't nearly as stiff as other racebikes I've ridden. Again, the similarities to the road bike are surprising.
With only a handful of laps it was hard to truly experiment with the bike and find its limitations. Nevermind the fact that DiSalvo would literally jump on the bike right after my stint and begin his testing regimen for the day and the thoughts of keeping it up on two outweighed any ideas I had of auditioning for the team. What I did glean based on talking to the riders, watching the races on TV and riding the bike for myself is that the Triumph Daytona 675 when tuned correctly, like the ParkinGO team has done, is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Triumph Parkingo European Series
As part of the continuing partnership between Triumph and the ParkinGO team owner, Giuliano Rovelli, both parties wanted a way to expand the exposure opportunities for both of their respective businesses. Being a former racer himself, Rovelli approached Triumph with the concept that would ultimately become the Triumph ParkinGO European Series. Utilizing the Triumph Street Triple R, the series will serve as a development and feeder cup with two sub championships for youngsters under 20 and veterans over 35. Rovelli and Triumph see the series as serving two purposes: the first is to act as a stepping stone for young talent making the move to bigger series', while the over-35 cup is for racers past their prime to still compete on a national stage but with less pressure. Grand prize for the winner of the under-20 championship is a test with the ParkinGO World Supersport team and a chance to ride the Daytona 675 full time. Contesting seven rounds of the World Superbike calendar, the series will open at the Valencia circuit, with rounds at Assen, Monza, Misano, Silverstone, Nurburgring and concluding at the Magny Cours circuit in France.
The Street Triple R machines...
The Street Triple R machines used for the ParkinGO European series remain largely stock, and even retain standard headlights.
Rizoma levers adorn both sides,...
Rizoma levers adorn both sides, with these trick lever guards extending from the end of the bar.
Again, GB Racing provides...
Again, GB Racing provides protective engine cases, while Rizoma rearsets place the rider's feet higher up and further back. Arrow's three-into-one exhaust is the main power-adding modification.
Replacing the standard handlebar...
Replacing the standard handlebar is this unit from Rizoma with markings to adjust its angle.
Triumph's Street Triple R has garnered much praise from riders worldwide, and using it as a development bike for a feeder cup seemed like the perfect idea for Rovelli and Triumph. All riders in the series will receive equally prepared Street Triple R's. Though each bike is sealed to ensure parity, they will be delivered to the rider at each race. As for the bike's themselves, not much is done to separate them from the road going models. Rizoma adds bits and pieces like levers, rearsets and a different handlebar with a lower angle than the stock unit, but even the stock headlights remain and are just taped over. Bitubo provides reworked fork internals and a fully adjustable shock in the rear for greater fine tuning compared to stock and Arrow's three-into-one exhaust completes the package.
Standard forks are given the...
Standard forks are given the Bitubo treatment while standard brake discs, calipers and even steel lines are retained. The only difference being brake pad material.
Unlike the Supersport bike,...
Unlike the Supersport bike, the cup bikes are not fitted with quickshifters. Instead, the Street Triple receives Rizoma frame sliders. Bellypans are also fitted to be race-legal.
While not as fancy as the...
While not as fancy as the unit seen on the supersport Daytona, the Bitubo rear shock on the cup bike isn't fitted with telemetry sensors, nor does it have separate high- and low-speed compression damping adjusters.
When I wasn't busy riding the supersport machine, I was able to spin some laps aboard the cup bikes. The component I loved about the bike on the street-the upright bar-made itself a hindrance on the track as, even in its lowered position, it still felt too high for track duty. I suppose that's a small niggle when the whole point of the series is to develop young talent. Engine power isn't much changed from the standard bike and braking components work as well as the race units seen on the Daytona 675. One advantage the high bar will have is to induce some bar-banging action. Pit 14 to 25 of these equal machines together at one time and a good show is all but guaranteed.