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Race Report #6

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2005 Race Report 6:

7/16-17/05 - Blackhawk Farms, Rockton, IL


Comfortably Numb


Oddly enough, I struggled thinking of a theme for this weekend's race report, but comfortably numb seems to sum it up. Why? Well, there's a lot of frustration in it, coupled with some LONG awaited breakthroughs. Without further delay, I give you Race Report #6.


The last 2 months, if we haven't been racing every weekend, we've been traveling, and that's taken a pretty large toll on the body. 4:45am starts, and 11:00pm stops 7 days a week, forgetting where I am when I wake up, it's been tough. This weekend was the last in a long string before a 1 weekend break.


This last week, I spent 3 consecutive nights in the garage, piecing the bike back to 100% (well, except for the bodywork) from the small get-off I had at the brutal MAM weekend. I put on a new fairing stay from Action Power Sports, rebuilt my Brembo master cylinder, installed a new set of Galfer Superbike lines from Solo-Moto Part, and spooned on a new set of Bridgestone BT-002's for the weekend and we were ready to roll.


Having done this for 5 years now, I clearly understood that this weekend was to be a coin-toss. You see, Racing, like life, is a roller-coaster. You're UP and DOWN. Typically the down's will last for a couple weekends, just like the UPS do. I was not looking forward to that, and really needed to swing things back upwards.


Saturday 7/16:

Practice was uneventful, and went smooth, with the exception of having to alter my racing line through the long sweeping right hand carousel of T3 due to their being a large oil spill the day before. This wasn't a big deal though as the carousel is so big you can literally pick one of a dozen lines to run. It just meant the line had to be fairly consistent and there would be no passing in the carousel.


Today also turned out to be a SCORCHER. 95 degrees and high humidity. I think it was in the 80's by about 8am.


Middleweight GP - Sponsored by Marty - CoronaRR:

The only race of the day. Time for redemption.


I got a pretty good launch and was in the lead pack out of the first few turns. Half way through the first lap, I was in 4th place and from the pace I saw, I instantly thought "wow, I can have a podium in this race". Lithium Motorsports rider 151 Mark Schnettler was on the front row of the grid, and on lap 1 was sitting in 3rd place. I started looking for ways around him and just couldn't find one. On lap 2, the lead pack was pulling away. I had to get around Mark. Into T4, Super Dave Rosno passed the two of us. I thought, that's okay, Dave's a LOT faster than I am, but I've just GOT to get around Mark. I kept looking for spots to stuff a wheel under him, but his corner entry speed was excellent. The problem was that after he got into the corner, he wouldn't get back on the gas. It was bad enough that I was grabbing brakes mid turn so I didn't hit him. Frustration sets in...


The white flag lap comes and a rider slips under the two of us and makes a pass stick. ARGH as I scream into my helmet, smacking my fist on the gas tank and crossing the line in 7th place.


Everyone congratulated me as it was a pretty big grid and a respectable finish, but being stuck, running 1.5 - 2 seconds slower than I KNOW I could run was just frustrating beyond belief. My times were all in the low 1:15's and I'm positive they could have been in the 13's.


Sunday 7/17:

Before heading out for practice, I had my suspension tuner Ed Kwaterski, come over to verify my setup. We found the rear compression a bit softer than we previously documented, so we stiffened it up a couple of clicks to see how it would work. I also increased my tire pressures to regulate tire heat in the HOT 95 degree weather. Practice went well, so I left the bike as we set it up.


Middleweight Superbike - Sponsored by SolidForce:

I launched from row 3, and somehow managed to miss 2nd gear TWICE on the launch. This cost me dearly. I instantly relaxed myself and went to work picking off people left and right. The track flowed like water. My lines seemed to light up around the entire track. I saw literally 20 or more spots per lap where I could go MUCH faster. As I began to take advantage of these spots to go faster, I started getting some REAL bad rear tire slides. In right hand turns (more than half of the turns on the track), I just couldn't get on the gas or I'd slide out. I didn't want to crash, but I didn't want to back off either. I ended up riding and sliding every lap, but now experienced the frustration of being limited by traction. I crossed the line in 9th place.


Looking at my lap times after the race, I ran a 1:14.3, a couple higher 14's and the rest 15's. For the last 2 years, I've been stuck at 1:15.01, so this was a HUGE breakthrough for me. I felt great about this, but felt frustrated that I could have gone faster if I had the traction I should have had.


The tires, having only 2 races on them, were still good, and should not have been sliding. Hindsight being 20/20, what I SHOULD have done was change back the suspension, drop a few pounds of tire pressure and run the final race, knowing that the bridgestones are a great tire and that something I had done was causing the problem. However, coming off a 1:14 lap, knowing I could go faster, I set out to WIN my final race of the day and decided to throw money at the problem vice wisdom.


I went over to Rob of Lithium Motorsports and spooned on a new set of Michelin Pilot Race tires. I've NEVER run Michelins before, but they're on almost every winning bike out there, so I figured I'd give them a whirl, knowing they would stick as good or better than the stones.


Heavyweight Supersport - Sponsored by Honiton:

On the warm-up lap, I noticed that the Michelins turned in even QUICKER than the (very fast) Bridgestones. This would take some compensation.


My launch was good. I ended up bumping shoulders with Johnny Moore as he got a little crooked off the line, but we both stayed upright, and I ended up in front of him. Out of the first couple of corners I was in 4th and right on Mark's tail again. The Lithium boys had made some changes on Mark's bike, and he was now on the throttle where he SHOULD be in the corners, so passing him was less frustrating, but even more difficult. I was out to win and wanted it BAD... I began running a wheel up under Mark on every corner, just hoping to get in his peripheral vision and force him to give up the line. It wasn't working. Instead, it was leaving me making mistake after mistake.


On the 3rd lap, I ran up on the banking outside of turn 6, sliding the rear hard, but this only served to add more determination to me. Lap 4 I tried a run up the inside of him on the bus-stop (very tight right hand turn), but this was not going to work. Mark takes the bus-stop from the middle of the track, so there was no room on the inside to get around and make the turn. I ended up in the corner waaaaay too hot to turn, and too far to the inside. I grabbed a handful of brakes and shaved off as much as I could before crossing into the dirt. I watched 6 people go by me before I could safely get my bike back on the track. I knew the tires were full of dirt, so I tip-toed through the next 2 corners as to not fall down, and watched my solid 4th place finish go away, 4 places ahead of me...


All pics from this weekend can be found here

and here



I'm not sure how to feel about this weekend. There were a lot of lessons re-learned.

Patience & wisdom is better than an American Express card.

The harder you push, the slower you go.

Michelins are good tires, but they're not Bridgestones.

One fast lap doesn't win a race.


I feel ecstatic that I finally broke in to the low 14's after 2 years stuck at 1:15.01, and the 13's are RIGHT around the corner, but the frustrations of traction and passing, coupled with foolish judgment (HWSS race) loom as a dark cloud.


In the end, it was definitely a successful weekend. I've gone faster than I ever have before, and KNOW what it takes to go even faster yet, and I didn't crash. I salvaged points in all 3 classes which should keep me near the top, so I guess it's all good.


And to top it all off, I have 2 weeks (well, 2 working weeks and 1 weekend) with NO racing, NO places to go, NOTHING to do, and last but not least, the next race weekend is at Gingerman which is one of my FAVORITE tracks around. Immediately following that, I am at Level III Keith Code's Superbike School at Autobahn. I can't wait (okay, I'm tired... I can wait...)


This weeks thanks list:



Daniel Relich - Solomotoparts, Thanks for the quick delivery of the new Galfer Superbike lines to replace my damaged ones from MAM.


Rob Oliva - Lithium Motorsports - Thanks for the help with my tire issues and all your support.



Thanks goes out to CoronaRR, Solidforce & Honiton for their race sponsorships. If you're interested in sponsoring a race, please drop me a line!


Next race weekend is 7/31 at one of our absolute favorite tracks, Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI.

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