We had a great time this past weekend at Grattan with Sportbike Track Time. Hanging out with Gina, Connor, dad, Doug and Marion – as well as the Cottrell's and Nik (VonMatt) on Sunday – as well as all the familiar faces at the track. It was a nice change of pace just hanging out and burning through old tires over both days from Mid-Ohio. I rode both Honda East Yoshimura Suzuki's over the two days, which was good for comparing the setup between the two. Geometry, gearing, etc.
For me, I wanted to practice on some things and not worry about lap times. As you can see from the above photo, the duct tape over the timer forced me to do that. And it was beneficial. Body position, lines, some different lines to try, being smooth – and all that other little stuff that goes into riding. I found some things and felt good on the bike – at least for a non-race weekend pace.
Dad got going pretty good as well and we did some GoPro filming, so he could see what he was doing. Overall, just a fun weekend as we head into the WERA event this coming weekend back at Grattan, where the racing will ramp back up again. I'm really looking forward to it.
Thanks for reading.
Mid-O. Ohhh Mid-O. Two years in a row now we've struggled here. Lack of track time has been an issue – especially this year with the new Suzukis. Dad couldn't make this trip, so it would be Doug, Aaron and myself for this WERA National event.
Quick recap from Monday: Slow. Frustrating. Nearly wanted to call it quits, but didn't. No way. Doug and Aaron stuck it out and we kept plugging away. The bike was a tractor. We somehow managed a 2nd place finish in one of the 750 races. Big grids all around, with plenty of guys from all over the country.
Monday Night: We regrouped and formulated a plan. We talked to Mark (Junge) who was there and had some good advice on where we were going wrong.
Tuesday Morning: Bikes were revamped. We raised the forks 7mm within the triples. We raised the rear another 4mm. We changed gearing and lengthened our wheelbase a good 15mm. We went from 1.0 springs in the front with 13 turns of preload, to 95 springs with 6 turns. We changed some other stuff as well. If not for notes, we'd have lost track, we changed so much. We essentially had all-new bikes.
Tuesday Morning/Afternoon: First practice on a green track, we were down to our Monday times. By the second practice, we were faster. The bikes were now rideable. Of the four races on Tuesday, we'd finish 3rd, 4th and 5th in the first three – against no-joke 1000's with serious riders on them. In the last race, we had a really good race with Dave (Grey) and came out on top, winning against another deep field and dropping another half second. We went from 1:35's on Monday to a 1:33.5 on Tuesday. It wasn't where we needed to be, but it was progress. And at that point, we'd take it.
The good? Doug and Aaron are stubborn enough to never give up – ever. I won't lie – it was bad enough Monday, the thought crossed my mind that I had completely forgotten how to ride. We were four seconds off our best times. We stuck with it and figured stuff out, nailed down a solid baseline setup on Tuesday where I could start to push the bike – where it wasn't the bike holding me back, but now just me needing to ride better. And every session out, that was happening.
The bad? We were still a good two seconds off that previous best time. The bikes might not be an R6, but they have more power than that R6 had – so there's no excuse to not doing the times – faster times even. The key is track time. We need more of it at Mid-O. Back then when doing 1:31's, I was riding there rather frequently. Then we went a few years without racing there at all, until last year. Now the last two times there have been a struggle. This is something that's going to be corrected for next year.
So while this wasn't a great round, we ran at the front. But just "running at the front" isn't enough. We want to be winning. So it's back to the grind. More time on the trainer, more time running. More of everything. This bike has potential that I haven't yet tapped into.
Some people may have given up, or just said "we'll figure it out next time", but Doug and Aaron didn't. And I thanked them for that repeatedly on the drive home. We challenged adversity. Now it's time to put in more work and conquer it.
Thanks for reading.
Grattan Raceway (clockwise), is the next event up on the schedule. Just a couple weeks away.
Going into the weekend, we had both Honda East Yoshimura Suzuki's ready, for the first time this season. I had been riding one so far, but now with the second ready to go, I'd be spending some time with her, getting her dialed in for the weekend – and dad would ride the first bike (or Abbey, as we've dubbed her).
Early on in Saturday practice, I was just sorting things out on the second bike (Bridget), making sure everything felt good. A few ergonomic tweaks for the most part and I was ready to go. I hopped on Abbey for a couple sessions as well to make sure I felt up to speed on both bikes. We didn't have a Friday practice, so we'd be jumping right into the races after lunch.
Saturday's Heavyweight Solo started off well enough. Stymie had the lead early on, with Aaron Borello in third – two 1000's sandwiching a 750. Aaron had just switched to Pirelli and would set his fastest lap ever around his home track. After a couple laps I snuck into the lead on the brakes, about 3-4 laps in. Into the left-handed T1 and then flicking over to the right for T2-T3, I was on the gas and leaned over, looking for a good drive. I moved my hand over the brake lever in anticipation for T4. Somehow I hit a bump and the bike jerked – while still on the gas, where it pulled me back in the seat and with it, my fingers. I inadvertently yanked on the brake lever and locked up the front tire. The bike tucked and down we went, sliding on the pavement and into the grass. Ugh.
I got up, took inventory of myself. I was fine. I walked away from the track, sharing a wide range of expletives from my helmet. Dammit. I went to the bike and tried to lift her up, but both clip-ons were snapped off and with my wrist, there wasn't much strength to perform any type of Herculean-effort. I walked out of the way and with the bike still in the impact zone, the race was red-flagged. I grabbed the array of pieces in the grass left from the bike, shaking my head. How the hell did I do that?
Saturday night was a long one, piecing the bike back together. With dad and Doug's help, we got it all back together. Special thanks to Eden Weston of the 419 crew for loaning us some parts we needed. Much appreciated. Also to Dave Grey who helped us with a variety of odds and ends to get back going as well. Most of the damage was cosmetic, although the cosmetic damage was pretty good. The fairing stay, clip-ons and subframe were all pretty mangled, which meant the bodywork took a good hit, dragging along the concrete. After a few hours, some zip ties and duct tape – at 100mph, you couldn't even tell what had happened. Good team, for sure.
Up early for Sunday, I had been thinking all night on how I wanted to rebound. I didn't want to let one silly crash ruin the weekend for us. Practice was all business and with four races on the schedule, I was ready to go.
Formula 1 was first up. I nagged the hole shot and with Stymie and Gene (Burcham) in tow, we swapped leads several times. Stymie passed me into T4, I passed him exiting T4. He passed me on the front straight. I ducked inside and passed him back, while Gene passed us both to take the lead. Stymie ended up winning and I caught Gene to finish 2nd, on the crashed bike. We set the fastest time of the race and subsequently, the weekend as well, at a 58.8. It's still a ways off from my personal best on the R6, at a 57.9, but it was a good pace and the race itself was a blast.
750 Superbike was up next. Based on my feedback, we tried some changes to the front of the bike, which didn't work out great. I suppose my feedback wasn't ideal. I struggled to put in good laps and a couple 600's were close throughout the race. I stretched a bit of a gap out by the halfway point and Cale (Jones) unfortunately ran off-track and Eric (Swahn) crashed in T6, bringing out the red flag. Fortunately everyone was alright. Being past halfway, they called the race final.
1000 Superstock was the third race. Stymie got the holeshot and I followed him for most the race. On the last lap, I passed him into T1 and was able to lead the final lap, up to the checkered flag, winning by a narrow .2 seconds. Another close one. I had switched bikes for this one, which had the suspension better dialed in – and I could feel the difference from the first lap.
Between the third and fourth races, rain started sprinkling. It would end up being dry for our last race, but between that – crashes, and mechanical issues amongst the competition, there weren't many bikes on the grid for 750 Superstock. We won with a fairly large gap in what seemed to be a battle of attrition.
Dad did well in both his races. His first time racing the 750. He beat his best lap time on the SV in his last race, which isn't easy to do on a short track like this – not to mention being his first time racing the bike. He tried to mask his happiness, but I think it shined through a little bit. :)
Overall, challenging weekend. The crash on Saturday set us back, but we did the best with what we had and managed to do well with three wins and a second. I really need to get back into the 57's for lap times, so hopefully when we visit PIRC again in September we'll get there. Next up though is Mid-Ohio, which is only a few days away!
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
More, from a press release issued by Honda East of Toledo:HONDA EAST YOSHIMURA SUZUKI WIN THREE WERA RACES ...
Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Dad and I made the trip to Atlanta, while meeting up with Doug, who was able to visit family not far from ...
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
HOLLAND, Mich. (June 10, 2014) – Riders Discount is pleased to partner with Eddie Kraft of ...
Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Last weekend dad and I went down to Road Atlanta to get some laps in on the still-relatively-new Honda East ...
Sunday, May 11th, 2014
Leading into the 2014 season, we had plenty of new things to adjust to. A new bike would headline the list, along with a new plate ...
Press Releases All
Honda East Yoshimura Suzuki Win Three and Set Fastest Lap @ PIRC
Tuesday, July 8th
Riders Discount to Sponsor Eddie Kraft
Tuesday, June 10th
Sponsor News All
WERA ’14, Round 1 – Grattan CCW (Adjustments)
Sunday, May 11th
Thursday, April 17th
Itching and Itching
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GoPro and WKR (and Fruit!)
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RS Taichi / Moto Liberty
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A Third Wrist Surgery
Friday, December 27th
Merry Christmas from WKR!
Friday, December 20th
Paul Walker and Roger Rodas
Tuesday, December 3rd
Quote of the Day
Monday, November 11th
WERA ’13, Grand National Finals – Barber
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