The last two rounds have provided tough challenges. On a strong pace at Grattan initially – to then have oil, sealer, a crash and rain throw things off there. Then to Pitt Race, where we just struggled overall to go fast. The two main areas of the track which are most important to turn a fast lap are where I struggled most – and coincidentally where the most bumps are on the track.
The data has shown several silver linings. At both tracks, our ideal splits had us under the lap record. That was encouraging. And perhaps the biggest thing was finding out the traction control was a culprit in the struggles at Pitt Race. The lean angle with the combination of harsh bumps was triggering the traction control and slide control – causing more problems than solutions, upsetting the bike even worse. I had been running a mid-level setting of traction control, mainly just because it felt "okay". It had seemed to work and admittedly, my experience 1) on a 1000 and 2) with traction control/slide control has been new this year. Lesson learned, the TC/SCS will be dialed down if not turned off next time at Pitt Race.
After a couple frustrating weekends, the silver linings and continual learning help keep things in perspective. That's all I've got and it's the best way to move forward. For me anyway.
Dad and I arrived to Wampum, PA Friday night. Fortunately, we arrived to the track around 8:30pm and decided to open the trailer door. Rather unfortunately, we opened the door to find a puddle of oil on the floor near the front of the bike. Turns out the steering damper decided to let loose during the drive, rendering ours useless for the weekend. Thankfully Dave Grey had an extra one he let us borrow. It saved our weekend. Not having a steering damper at PIRC is like having a death wish.
Saturday morning started off rough. Without practice beforehand, we were playing catch up. Swapping springs, guessing at gearing – all with a new bike. Brad (Burns) was here the previous weekend and was up to speed right away. This was his home track too, so we'd have a tough weekend coming. Practice was slow, but somewhat expected. We didn't even crack a 59 in the morning, which was indicative of our struggles.
First race of the day was 1000 Superbike. We finished with a 3rd in that race, with only a 59.2 as the best lap. Brad did a 57.8. The first 57 in quite some time – probably since 2010 when a number of us did it. The running comment amongst us racers was that the track was too bumpy for fast times, but that apparently wasn't all true. It was good that the 57 happened. Bad, that it wasn't us who did it.
The second race, Formula 1, went better. Some tweaks to the bike and we finished 2nd, down to a 58.4. We were closing the gap at least, but the R1 was a handful around this short track.
1000 Superstock was the third race for us and we made more changes. They were worse and lap times suffered. 3rd or 4th in this one. Dustin (Boyd) was in the mix and running quick laps all weekend, so we continued to have our hands full.
Saturday night entailed dinner with dad, Doug and Marion, which was great. I did a track walk, got a good night sleep and was ready to get rolling on Sunday.
The rolling part didn't really happen though. Sunday morning practice started well enough – we were right there at the top of the time sheets, but issues with the brakes started happening. And come race time, they weren't getting better.
First race, we finished 3rd. Lap times in the 58's, but nothing faster than Saturday. 2nd race, I really struggled after trying some changes – finished 4th I think, with 5th not far behind. Third race, Brad was leading and I would do well against him in T1-T5, but through the rest of the lap, he would make big gains. And all those places are fast sections where you need to be on the gas. Brad would pull away and I'd be tank slapping through the bumps, tight on the bars unable to relax, wondering what the hell was going on.
By the end of the weekend, we had decent lap times, but they were over half a second slower than times done on the R6. I was frustrated. Dad was frustrated. We didn't win one race all weekend.
Through all the races Sunday, the brakes were suspect. It was likely a combination of pad wear, old fluid and tank-slappers pushing the pads around within the calipers. The lever would come to the bar in T10 and T1, but be fine through T4 and T5. It's admittedly a poor excuse and not the primary issue, but it didn't help and caused several near-pucker moments trying to get the Yamaha slowed down.
The bigger issue was sorting the bumps and not figuring a way to get a proper handle on that. Whether it was the incorrect race line, the shock, forks, rider, or some combination – I could not old the throttle open as what's needed like I normally can on other bikes – and that's what a good lap at PIRC takes.
The silver lining I suppose is that the weekend ended up being a learning weekend in what worked and what didn't work here, with a new bike. I think we'll get it sorted – it just might take a little more time than planned. PIRC is a short track and a handful on a 1000cc machine. The bumps makes it tricky, so I'll lick my wounds and regroup for next year. We later found out (after the weekend) that the traction control was kicking in and likely causing much of the issues. Ugh.
On a positive note, we were able to win the WERA 1000 Superstock Championship within the North Central. We finished 2nd in the two other classes, which wasn't bad considering the races we missed this season between Mid-Ohio and Grattan.
All in all, I'm pleased with how things have gone this year, but not content. With the Grand National Finals next month, we have an even taller order to prepare for in the season finale.
As always, thanks to my dad, along with Doug and Marion for their help over the weekend. Also thanks to Jim Nocera for the photo posted above.
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
From a press release issued by Honda East of Toledo: September 8, 2015 – Maumee, OH – Honda East ...
Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
I had grand plans for the upcoming races at Grattan Raceway. However, the track was pretty green Friday morning. Rain and vintage cars the ...
Friday, July 3rd, 2015
This one will be brief. Saturday's races were wet. Extremely wet. Water out-lasting the track drainage systems in ...
Friday, June 26th, 2015
Road Atlanta was next up on the schedule. Dad and I made the drive down Wednesday night, arriving Thursday afternoon for Friday practice. We ...
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
From a press release issued by Honda East of Toledo:June 22th, 2015 – Maumee, OH – Honda East Suzuki ...
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