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Racing Under The Lights

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What a LONNNNNGGGGG weekend.


The track opened at 11am on Saturday with practice starting at 12. Normally the track would open at 7 and practice would start at 9 but this time we were racing under the lights.


My wife, my mechanic and I left for Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, FL at 7am on Saturday morning and arrived at 11:30am. We missed first practice due to registration and some minor prep work still needing to be done to the bike.


I made it out for the second session and concentrated on finding turn points, mid-corner points and exit points for each turn. My best laptime was mid 1:24. I was shouting with joy in my helmet - THIS TRACK HAS CONNECTED TURNS!!!! Of course in subsequent practice, I whittled my laptimes down.


Saturday night, under the lights at about 9:15the Expert GTO race started. I was on the 5th of 5 rows and we were charging into a real tight turn 1. I saw the mayhem that was about to happen and backed off, deciding it was better to get through the turn last than to be collected by a crash. Luckily, just barely, no one crashed though 4 bikes did take evasive action. And I was indeed last.


By turn 3 I'd picked off two. Then another two the next lap. Passing and passing, turning laptimes in the low 1:20s. In the final lap 5th place had about a 2 second gap on me. At the checkered flag I was right on his tail. From dead last to 6th. I'll take that.


Even better, the fastest lap of the race was a mid 1:18. Instead of being 6-7 seconds slower than the leaders like I am at Homestead or Daytona, I'm 2-3 seconds back. I can't wait for Jennings which is all connected turns.


So after the GTO race we had to wait about 30 minutes for the GTU race and then we had a 20 minute Qualifying session for the Unlimited GP race. I was a bit tired by then and could only do a mid 1:21 which was good enough for 9th. Best was a high 1:17 by Robertino Pietri.


We got to the hotel just after midnight. I didn't even bother with getting up for practice on Sunday.


We got to the track at 8:45am on Sunday. Swapped out the slicks to Supersport tires from last October's Daytona race. I got a good start and entered turn 1 in 5th, made a quick pass to 4th and stayed there the rest of the race. My 1:20 laptimes weren't fast enough to catch the 1:18s of the top 3 but the were enough to put a 5+ second gap to 5th. My best finish as an expert.


Unlimited Superbike and GP went the same way. I got a 6th and a 9th.


Next race is April 4th and 5th at Jennings GP.


Some photos on Flickr

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