Jan 29, 2001
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Freddie Spencer, the 1983 500cc and the 1985 500cc and 250cc World Champion, was back on a Honda 250 for a two-day training and coaching session with young gun Jason DiSalvo at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
DiSalvo, 16, spent January 10-12 with Spencer at the Las Vegas track before heading to Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California January 13-14, returning to Las Vegas January 15 and then testing at Willow Springs Raceway January 18-21.
Spencer rode DiSalvo's spare 2001 Honda RS250 with DiSalvo in the sessions at Las Vegas, to evaluate DiSalvo and observe him at close range as well as to diagnose problems DiSalvo was having with machine set-up.
Spencer last rode a Honda RS250 in January 2000, when he took a few laps on DiSalvo's 007 RS250 at Las Vegas. Prior to that, Spencer had not been on a 250 since his World Championship-winning year, 1985.
DiSalvo finished ninth in Formula One and fourth in Formula Two during the January 20-21 WSMC weekend, starting from the back of the grid in both races.
At Las Vegas, DiSalvo and Spencer rode on the 1.1-mile infield course used by Spencer's riding school (and located inside the Speedway oval) as well as on the renovated 2.2-mile "Classic Course" located outside the Speedway, on adjacent land. The 2.2-mile course has been fitted with GP curbing and rumble strips and run-off has been improved with the removal of a wall in the last turn.
Asked about his impression of the current RS250, Spencer said "They have gotten a little bit smaller and the only problem I had was where my knees were positioned. I had to move the clip-ons out so my elbows were not on top of my knees. I don't ride on slicks here at the school, just DOTs, but just after a couple of laps I felt pretty comfortable on the bike and got up to speed and had a lot of fun on it."
Asked why he wanted to ride with DiSalvo, Spencer said "A couple of things. First, to kind of find out how the bike was working. We were talking about the bike and how it reacts in certain situations. And second, to be able to watch him, and to see how the bike turns and holds its line, how it was transferring weight, how it was steering.
"Jason was saying it was stiff, and after riding it, I could see it definitely was. Stock it was really stiff," Spencer said. "It was almost too hard for me, and I'm definitely heavier than Jason. We got him some softer springs that they put on before he went to Buttonwillow, and that really helped him when he came back here and then went out to Willow.
"They don't have much experience with the bike," Spencer said of DiSalvo and his team, explaining that he was able to help the mechanics get the bike better for DiSalvo by adjusting the stock suspension and changing the springs, although DiSlavo will be racing with WP forks and shock.
"Tweaking the stock suspension and getting it close really helped him, how it was transferring weight," Spencer said.
Spencer rode the bike again on the 2.2-mile course Tuesday, January 16, and said that with the lighter springs "The bike steered pretty good, finished the turn well, really had good feedback. It was softer, almost too soft for me, and it was a lot better for Jason."
Spencer said that the series of tests helped DiSalvo because he was "just putting in laps, gained confidence." Spencer also said that he had worked with DiSalvo to refine his riding style to better suit the RS250 versus the RS125 he primarily raced in 2000, getting his body farther off the bike.