R&D Yamaha Power GP1200R Test
Personal Watercraft Illustrated, February, 2001
By: Lee Bower Photos, By: Jeff Hain

 

After watching the PRO 1200 runabout qualifiers on Saturday at the 2000 World Championships in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, during the month of October, simply describing the performance of Nicholas Rius and his Yamaha GP1200R as impressive is an understatement. In fact, he annihilated the competition, lapping the field up to second-place. Although the likes of Kawasakiís team racers, and other top hitters werenít in Riusí qualifying heat, his performance was a good indicator of what would come during final motos the following day. Sure enough, Riusí final motos were virtually a repeat of his previous dayís performance. In both motos, Rius pulled the holeshot and was gone. He was so far ahead he was in a class by himself, taking the win unchallenged. Rumors were that Riusí Yamaha GP1200R was hitting speeds well over 85 mph on the back straightaway.

Now, letís back up a few days. When Hain and I drove into Havasu early in the week, we stopper by Riusí new home and shop. The shop, which is the new headquarters for Rius Racing, is a dream for any watercraft mechanic. Not only was there plenty of bench space and an engine hoist, there were bins with each and every size bolt imaginable, and the stock of parts for Yamaha watercraft was incredible. Although the entire shop was immaculate, inside the ďclean roomĒ were several Yamaha engines in various stages of assembly. These were the very engines the Rius would be using in his SuperJet and hisGP1200R in the upcoming days. In fact, when we arrived, Rius Racing crew chief Lilian Beaumer was finishing assembly of the very engine theat Rius would be running at the World Championships in his new GPR hull that was fresh from the paint shop. While most team are usually ultra secretive about their crafe before the finals, it was obvious that Beaumer was proud of his work. Furthermore, it was obvious the Rius Racing spared no expense in developing a race-winning raft.

The first thing that made this so obvious was the amount of titanium and aluminum bolts used in the assembly of the 2000-model Yamaha GP1200R. Approximately $3,000 of this stuff was used. The super-light hardware was used almost exclusively on the engine Ė even the head bolts! Only a few of the engine-mounting plates utilized the OE steel bolts.

As crew chief, Beaumer doesnít perform all the work on the craft himself. Dan Lamey of Racerís Edge does most of the grinding on the engine, in addition to having he dyno and data-acquisition equipment used for engine development. Bill Chapin, co-owner of R&D Racing, one of Riusís sponsors, and Lee Manvell are responsible for much of the craftís performance as well. Through countless hours of testing on Lameyís dyno, the team worked together to find that utmost horsepower from the Yamaha mill.

Other than the trick fasteners, looking at the long block sitting on the bench was all but spectacular. The work performed on the inside of the engine is a different story altogether. The OE crank was utilized, however, it was trued and the crank pins were welded for added durability. The crankcases were ported by Lamey for increase flow. The OE cylinders, s they come from Yamaha, have a ceramic plating in the bore, which eliminates the need for sleeves. However, to achieve the desired porting specifications, Lamey bored the cylinders to accept sleeves. Inside each sleeve rides an 80mm Wiseco piston made specifically for R&D Racing to its specs. These custom-manufactured pistons have a flat-top design, instead of the domed profile standard on Yamaha water craft pistons.

Topping off the engine is set of individually mounted billet R&D heads, each having its own girdle to prevent the modified cylinders form cracking. Inside the heads are 28cc domes, which gives the engine a cranking compression of 170 psi with the exhaust valves held in the up position. Speaking of the valves, the electronically controlled and activated Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS) was tossed in favor of a Racerís Edge valve kit. This kit adapts the exhaust-pressure activated Sea-Doo RAVE valves to the Yamaha cylinders.

Mounted to the intake side of the crankcase is an R&D Dominator intake manifold. The manifold is a plenum design and replicates the effects of a boost bottle to increase midrange performance.

While we were in Riusí shop talking with Beaumer, Glen Dickenson, the other half of R&D racing walked in with a grin from ear to ear. He then went on to say that he had a new part that would contribute to Riusí anticipated success. The new part, which he showed us after a few minutes of hyping it up, was a new reed valve cage. Although similar in appearance to the V-Force cages by Moto Tassinari, the billet-aluminum R&D cages are deeper, offering increased flow. Additionally, the cages space the manifold 10mm away form the crankcase. R&D is calling these new valves the M-16 (the M is for monster and the 16 is for the valves 16-petal design) Power Valves. And while the one that Dickenson showed us (as well as those in Riusí race boat) were all billet, he did inform us that the production M-16ís will be of cast-aluminum construction.

Fuel-mixing duties in Riusí GP1200R are handled by a trio of 48mm Novi Maxflow carburetors. Again, showing the teams attention to detail, the heavy breathers were mounted to the intake manifold with blue anodized aluminum nuts. To prevent the carburetors form going momentarily lean, a Novi vapor separator was installed. Supplying fuel to the separator is a single high-flow fuel pump drawing from a custom-made 3/8-inch fuel pickup in the tank. The carbs breathe through an R&D Racing Pro Lock Power Plenum flame arrestor. Approximately 25 2Ēx 2Ē cubes of fuel-cell foam were added to the fuel tank to prevent the fuel from sloshing in the tank and affecting the crafts handling.

On the exhaust side of the engine is a set of fully water-jacketed Factory Pipe dry triple pipes. Jet Works water-control valves are connected inline with the waterline feeding the pipesí stingers to limit the amount injected at lower water pressures. The three chambers are each routed to the OE waterbox, which has been modified with three inlets. Since this modification eliminates the need of a Factory Pipe exhaust collector, and subsequent backpressure associated with it, Beaumer installed reducers in the stinger of the three chambers for maximum peak power. The waterbox also has two water injection fittings plumbed into it, one on each side of the internal baffle. Water is injected by means of two solenoids activated by a Factory Pipe ECWI controller at 7,100 rpm. The engine receives its cooling via two half-inch waterlines from the pump and three 3/8-inch water lines off the heads dump water overboard via three bypasses for the exhaust system, one off of each chamber.

Firing the air and fuel in the combustion chambers is an MSD Ignition Pro Digital total-loss ignition system. The ignition, which includes a lightweight aluminum flywheel, has an initial timing of 24 degrees until 4,000 rpm where it then retards 19 degrees until the ignitionís 9,000-rpm rev-limit. The OE NGK BR8ES spark plugs are swapped in favor of BPR8ES units.

Turning the engineís power into thrust is a Skat-Trak 14-vane, 155mm stainless-steel Magnum pump. The pump, which features a setback stator, houses a 15/20 Skat-Trak Swirl impeller. Due to the setback design, Riusí GPR utilizes an extended Skat-Trak driveshaft.

On the business end of the thrust is an R&D Power Steering nozzle kit with an OE 87mm reduction nozzle and an 89mm steering nozzle. The Power Steering system lowers the nozzle when the handlebars are to plant the bow for aggressive turning. When the bars are turned all the way in either direction, the nozzle is lowered 3/8 of an inch. Additionally, Rius has a lever-activated trim-lab system to slow the craft down before entering turns. The tabs, which are cable activated, are even with the crafts planning surface at rest, and drop ľ of an inch at full pull of the lever.

The bottom of Riusí GPR hull was trued by Beaumer to remove any irregularities and improve the craftís handling. A slightly modified, more aggressive version of R&Dís Pro Series Aquavein intake grate keeps the craft hooked up and an R&D ride plate helps keep the craft tracking straight. Flanking either side of the hull is a set of R&D G-Force sponsons, which Rius runs a set in the lower rearward position.

In the cockpit, the stock seat and rear grab handle were tossed and a carbon-fiber seat assembly manufactured by Bullet Marine for Rius Racing was used. The seat, which weighs about half that of the stock unit, is also narrower than the stocker. Lining the footwells are jettrim mats.

For controls, Rius uses R&D Arrow tapered bars that have and oversized 1 1/8- inch diameter at the barís clamping area and are 32.5 inches wide. Clamping the bars is a billet R&D Pro-Action steering system. A UMI Racing throttle lever is on the right side of the bars while a shimano mountain bike brake lever is on the left side of the bars. The lever is used to activate the trim-lab system. Rius uses ATI grips, which Beaumer safety-wired to the bars.

In the former glove box location is a Sea-Doo lanyard terminal and a start button. The Sea-Doo lanyard system is used because it has a normally open circuit when the lanyard is not connected which is easier to wire into the MSD ignition system. Using the Sea-Doo switch allows the ignition system to be shut off when the lanyard is disconnected, This eliminates the need of an additional ignition on/off switch that could accidentally be left on. There is no stop button since the craftís idle is set so low that the engine wonít idle.

The deck is all stock with the exception of custom blue paint job by Image Auto Body of Lake Havasu City. Perlacing the stock cowling assembly are Rius Racing Carbon-fiber side panels and a Rius Racing carbon-fiber hinged hood. Below the hood is a removable carbon-fiber piece that allows easy access to the MSD ignition module, which makes timing changes a snap.

Other mods to Riusí race boat include a custom aluminum battery box which houses the OE battery, a 500-gph bilge pump, and dual Inventioneering duck bills, which drain the hull of water. In addition to all the titanium and aluminum hardware, Beaumer machined as much unnecessary aluminum from the engine, pump, and miscellaneous brackets as possible. He estimates that this, along with the hardware, shaves off about 30 pounds from the craft.

Beaumer also estimates that the engineís horsepower with VP 103 Motorsport fuel and Motul 800 oil is around 240-250. While we didnít have a tachometer to connect to the boat, he claims that at peak speed, the triple-cylinder engine turns between 8,100 and 8,200 rpm.

The day after the World Championships, after riding Jacobís SuperJet, Hain and I went over to Riusí shop where Beaumer was just finishing up reassembling the craft, since the IJSBA tech inspector required engine tear down on the top-finishing boats. Once Beaumer finished putting the boat back together, we headed down to Havasuís famed Body Beach to ride the champís ride. Before I hopped on, Beamer unloaded the craft from the trailer and took it out to warm it up and ensure everything was back in working order.

While sitting on the craft, I only imagined racing around the buoy course in front of thousands of fans. Just the thought of riding the World Championship craft was awesome. The seat was indeed narrower than the stock unit. And although the carbon-fiber seat does have a small padded section, I believe my wetsuit had more padding. But for the type of riding this craft was built to do, the seat is only there to grab with your legs. The R&D bars, having no crossbar, initially felt extremely wide with a lot of pullback to them. Even though I rode, and was quite comfortable on the GP1200R that Rius Racing first used fro development nearly a year before, now for some reason I felt a bit intimidated. After all, I did just get tossed from Jacobsí SuperJet at nearly 60 mph just hours earlier.

Throwing caution to the wind, after clearing the congested area around Body Beach, I pinned the throttle. As expected, Riusí GPR accelerated like a bat out of hell. Surprisingly, it didnít rip my arms off like Jacobsí ski, but then again it does weigh nearly twice as much Ė although it does have about 100 more horsepower. The power rolled on extremely smooth and there was very little engine vibration, which further contributed to its electric-like feeling. In no time, I was flying across the lakeís mild chop.

One of the key points to Riusí craft that I rode last January was that at over 79 mph, I didnít feel the sensation that I was going fast. In fact, at the time it felt to be only 70 mph. But the radar gun showed otherwise. The scary part was how fast the other side of the lake approached. Riusí World Championship GPR had the same feeling. And unlike Jacobís ski, which was a white knuckle ride on smooth water, Riusí GPR was effortless to ride in all waster conditions.

After an extended straight-line run I started to turn. Not remembering the Power Steering system, the craft turned much harder than anticipated. It wasnít abrupt by any means, but more than expected. After remembering the system, I knew what to expect, and in fact, this made riding the craft even easier as I didnít have to think about turning as much.

Going into turns at speed, I found that by leaning slightly forward, and to the inside, I could make aggressive turns without ever having the sensation of being flicked off Ė no matter how fat I was going. For tighter turns, I used the lever-activated trim tabs to drop the nose of the craft further into the water. Putting more of the hull in the water also acted like brake to slow the craft down a bit. Once the beginning of the turn was engaged, I let off the trim-tab leer and let the trim nozzle, which is tied into the steering system, take over. Coming out of turns and getting up to planning speeds, the craft stayed level without a hint of porpoising. In some rough-water conditions, however, the tabs help to keep the bow planted to accelerate faster out of turns. If I held the tabs down through the turn, it was really easy to sub the craft, which scrubbed off way too much speed.

While riding the craft, it was no wonder why Rius could go so fast around the buoy course on it Ė I imagine he never had to let off the gas. To say the least, Riusí GPR was so easy and predictable to ride. I also imagine that late in a race, when the competition is getting tired from overly aggressive handling of their craft, Rius can keep his pace.

Another aspect of Riusí craft that contributed to its easy-handling nature was that the craft rode really light. Although he couldnít reveal the actual weight of the craft, the head IJSBA tech official, informed me that Riusí GP1200R was well above the class minimum of 475 pounds. In fact, he mentioned that it wasnít that much lighter than the third-place finisher Dustin Farthingís GP1200R.

About the time we were set to radar (top speed only because thatís all the team would permit) Riusí GP1200R, I had a problem with the craft shutting down after being run at high speeds for a distance. It felt like it was running out of gas, so Beaumer added another five gallons of fuel. Unfortunately, this didnít solve the problem. Later, Beaumer determined the problem was the fuel-cell foam installed into the fuel tank had somehow partially dissolved and was clogging the fuel pickup and filter.

Despite this, we still attempted to radar the craft. We agreed with Beaumer that we wouldnít measure the crafts acceleration as he didnít want the competition to know what they are going up against for the 2001 season. Top speed, just before the craft shut down, was consistently 73-74 mph. Even though this wasnít the crafts peak, from riding it successfully at full speed earlier, I would estimate that the craftís top speed at about 77-79 mph Ė about what Beaumer had said the craftís speed was before we ever put the boat in the water.

Okay, these speeds are nowhere near the 85-plus-mph claims we had heard over the weekend, but we didnít expect the rumors to be remotely true anyway. After initially riding Riusí craft, I didnít quite see what made it the most dominating craft around the course in the Pro 1200 Runabout class. Of course I canít discredit Riusí conditioning and training, as I believe he trains harder and is more serious about winning than any other current racer. Sure Riusí craft was fast. Sure it turned with precision. And sure its hooked up was awesome. But mostly, it required very little effort to ride at its full potential. Not that I could have been as fast as Rius, but now I can really dream that I would be. A craft like Riusí World Championship Ė winning GP1200R will inspire confidence you. It handles well, is fast, and most of all, it is easy to ride. From what I can tell, Nicolas Rius has an unfair advantage.
 

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