Valerie Thompson is fast becoming a firm favourite with fellow racers and supporters of Land Speed Racing in the U.S.A. The plucky American girl is also gaining a lot of fans in Europe especially among BMW riders because of her record-setting rides astride her S 1000 RR. Now she has taken delivery of a new engine – a very special engine.
When you’ve already achieved a smattering of fame with seven personal land speed records under your belt, the desire to grab more records becomes a hunger that needs satiating. Valerie “Queen of Speed” Thompson has already moved from the ‘stock bike’ class to ‘lightly modified’ thanks to the use of the Motorrad HP (High Performance) Race ECU and associated electrical wiring, plus higher octane fuel. But to go that little further, grab even a few additional km/h (mph) to your top speed requires a serious slice of additional horsepower. When we say “top speed” in this instance, or rather in Valerie’s case, we are talking in excess of 321 km/h (200 mph).
At 321 km/h, while astride her wind-cheating S 1000 RR, Valerie is covering 88.88 m/s (291.61 ft/s). Given that she has already hit a dizzying record speed figure of 350.53 km/h (217.7 mph), the absolute maximum speed – give or take a few numbers – the present engine set-up can deliver, Valerie knows that in order to break her own record she needs more power. This is especially true when competing in Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats. The salt bed surface doesn’t deliver the same level of grip as tarmac and speed figures are never as high, even when there is 11.27 km (7 miles) to be covered flat out to set your best top speed.
With Speed Week (8-14 August) in mind, Valerie contacted BMW Motorrad to see what would be the best and reliable way to net more power? An answer was very quickly given; BMW Motorrad would supply a race-ready Superbike (SBK) spec engine! To Valerie and many other S 1000 RR fans, receiving an engine like this – from BMW Motorrad Motorsport/HP Race Support – is almost the same as having a lifetime of Christmases in just one day!
S 1000 RR SBK engines are unique but any official team/racer can buy one… if they are available. To build such an exacting engine – where it is beyond a thorough blueprint and contains all the best HP Race components – takes quite a while. Put it like this, standard engines are mass-produced to exacting standards by many machines with more than three or four personnel involved on a production line. SBK engines are built to exacting-exacting standards by one, maybe two gentlemen at most matching race components (crankcases, crankshaft, conrods, pistons, valves/valve train, camshafts etc) to act as one unit. This is why the availability of an S 1000 RR SBK engine is very, very limited.
So what sort of additional performance can Valerie expect from the supplied SBK engine and what additional components will she require to get the best from the SBK engine? The best person to answer this is Berthold Hauser, Technical Director – BMW Motorrad Motorsport. “The usual level of power of this kind of engine is approximately 230 HP, measurement at our dyno; compared to the stock engine it was an increase of around 35-38 HP. Torque figure is a max of around 120 Nm, but with significant different output character and more adjustable to give the best riding/feeling character in the power delivery. We have delivered to Valerie an according re-flashed ECU with the right mapping, based on stock hardware. A race-specification airbox has also been supplied – the trumpets and mechanism are different to stock.”
Of course, being an SBK engine, there is more to it than simple outright power. By using the HP race software that is widely available, the power delivery can be adjusted with greater finesse to suit varying conditions – it was, after all, originally designed to be used on race circuits, of which there are no two alike. The icing on what is already a fruity cake would be the Motorsport HP Race Support recommended fuel of best available high octane fuel such as ARAL Ultimate 102, and a performance exhaust system. Step forward Akrapovič, the Slovenian masters of exhaust design, who have generously supplied a CRT/MotoGP-style system for race application use only – the specifications are unique to the SBK engine.
At present, the SBK engine is being implanted into the rolling chassis of Valerie’s 2012 S 1000 RR. The work is being done by the trained technicians at BMW dealer Iron Horse Motorcycles, Tucson Arizona. There were thoughts that the technicians may have to work some late nights in order to get the SBK engine in place and set up, but unfortunately and fortunately at the same time, Bonneville Speed Week 2015 has had to be cancelled due to degradation of a large area of the packed salt bed that is the course. Not to be outdone, Valerie has her eye and heart set on another Bonneville speed event at the end of August. May the force of BMW Motorrad Motorsport/HP Race Support be with you, Valerie.