Dad and I got to the track Thursday night. We thought we could drop the trailer off at the track but had forgotten Grattan's gates didn't officially open until Friday morning. Off to the hotel and back next morning, Friday at the track went decent enough. We setup and hung out in the morning while the track was damp and turned a few laps in the afternoon. Within a couple sessions, we had gotten down into mid 23's. I had wanted to find another second, but the conditions weren't great and it just didn't happen. It was good to see some familiar faces and be back at the track, no matter what the event. The wrist felt pretty good early on.
Saturday morning was cold early on and we sat out the first round of practice. Going into the second round, the bike was alright, but it was hard to get a good grasp on things in the cooler conditions. I felt okay, but was planning on finding time in the 20-lap Middleweight Solo race later in the day. Mark (Gonyou) was with us helping out, as he had ridden earlier on Friday, and Aaron had come up just to help out which was great.
The 20-lap Middleweight Solo started off well enough. We nagged the holeshot into T1 and led for a couple turns, before running wide in T3, allowing Dave (Grey) to get through. We went back and forth a few times and Ian (Tetrick) was in the mix as well on his Kawasaki 636. The three of us diced a bit for the first 10 or so laps which was good fun. The conditions weren't great, but I was able to get back into the 23's, fighting the bike a bit. By the halfway flag, I was fading and noticing the bike was really soft and vague entering corners and squatting/wanting to wheelie exiting corners. The harder I tried, the worse it got. I couldn't carry the corner speed I wanted into the corner and couldn't get on the gas to finish the corner. We ended up crossing the finish line in 3rd and were a little over a second slower than the fastest lap set in the race. The wrist wasn't terrible afterwards, but it was sore – especially with trying to wrestle the bike around for much of it.
My dad's race didn't last long unfortunately, as he had engine overheating issues and was forced to come in while running second and trying to chase down the leader. Once looking things over, it looked like it might be a head gasket issue and he would decide to sit Sunday out and not risk any damage to the motor in trying to push it through several sprint races.
After the day's races concluded, I sat and wrote down everything I was feeling out on the track, noting how the bike was riding in each turn and trying to describe what it was doing. I wasn't happy with how I rode. I'd hand the notes to dad and he'd come back and tell me to note in each section whether I was on or off the throttle in each area I was describing. We went back and forth with more questions and answers and by the end of it, had a full sheet of notes detailing what was happening and what wasn't working – either what the bike itself, or something I couldn't do on the bike. Joe then proceeded to study it intently in the trailer, away from the group of us hanging outside by the bikes. I could see his working direct with Ohlins and Thermosman extensively over the past year had made him more confident in knowing how to diagnose what was happening with the bike and how to make it better. He had a handful of customers at the track as well that were keeping him busy with work, which was good to see.
After dinner with a bunch of friends and getting back to the room, dad and I continued to look at our notes, comparing it to our previous setup notes, along with notes on the new geometry we were working with. Dad came up with some changes to make. While I didn't like struggling to do the times on Saturday that were done on Friday, I was optimistic with the direction we were headed in for Sunday.
Up and ready early on Sunday morning, practice started off on a much more positive note. With the new changes, I could tell by T4 of the out-lap that the bike was better. I could carry more corner speed into the corner and finish the corner with the throttle, and just ride the bike easier. I was into the mid-23's early on which was a good sign. Back into the pits and I noted a few things that were now happening with the bike and dad made a few more tweaks on the twisty knobs. Out again in the second session and by the third lap, we dropped a full second, into the mid-22's on worn tires. With Devin (Stewart) and Jeff's (Gibson) help, we were checking/confirming sag numbers off the track each time and noting it with dad's changes. Times continued to drop, as the bike felt great and I had confidence pushing her, which hadn't yet happened in the weekend. We sat out the last session and I believe we had the fastest pace in the morning warmup. I don't know if that was true or not, but it was good to know we were on the pace, which I wasn't sure would happen early on.
First race of the day was 600 Superbike. We had the holeshot and led into T1, with Ryan (Kerr), Dave, Brian (Gibson) and Rick (Lind) all in a line. Ryan passed me coming out of T3 and I followed him for the next lap. I was comfortable to follow and see what time could be dropped. On the second lap, coming out of the bus stop and up the hill towards T10A, I was about 5-10 bike lengths back and as I started to tip the bike in, Ryan's was coming at me way too fast. My speed wasn't anything out of the ordinary (as Dave and Brian were right behind me), but I was going to run right into him so I had to quickly apply the brakes while leaned over, which of course in a corner like that, is sketchy. His bike was mid-track and not on the apex, so I couldn't make it work around the outside, with it being blind on the way up to the turn. The brakes I had applied so far wasn't going to be enough to avoid hitting Ryan and with more brake pressure, the rear end came off the ground – just enough to avoid taking us both out, but by the time that happened, I had crested the hill and with the elevation change, the front tire couldn't grip any more with the stoppie I had going. I was tossed up in the air and tumbled through the grass a rag doll, bouncing and stopping just at the tire wall. A long ride. Not a fun ride.
As I took a breath and sat up, I took inventory of some areas that hurt, but nothing seemed to be broken. I looked over at the bike and my leathers and it just took the air out of me. A perfectly new bike laying in the grass in the first race of the day, for no good reason. The bike was pretty banged up and I was a bit too. The Knox Handroid's, Knox back protector and RS Taichi leathers definitely did their job. Once back in the pits after the race, we were going to try and get back out there, but rain was on the way and it wasn't worth it. It was so extremely frustrating and disappointing – I can't put it into words. Dave and Brian later said they had a good view of what happened and said the launch was quite the spectacle and I was up pretty high in the air before landing. Both they and I were glad nothing serious happened – especially with that tire wall in the impact zone. I guess there was some heated discussions between a couple camps about what happened during the race, but I didn't catch any of it. For what it's worth, Ryan came over afterwards and said it wasn't intentional.
Win or lose in that first race, I missed out on some great racing and had to throw the bike down needlessly at a club-level event. That's racing though, unfortunately. I've played the event back in my head a bunch of times and I don't know how I could have done it differently, other than I ran out of talent in a situation I wasn't prepared for. The closing speed was so fast, that if I had attempted to just throw the bike into the corner and try to make it, I would have collected both of us in the process. If I had stood it up without braking, I would have run off track at that speed, and not had enough room to stop before the tire wall. Just one of those racing incidents I guess.
Through it all, the silver lining is that we were out there competing and on the pace. The guys we were running with know Grattan extremely well and are quite fast. I think the fast time of the weekend was a mid 1:21, but it was cold and damp for much of the weekend, so the track was a bit green and probably not as fast as it would typically be. The offseason work had paid off and we were out there and able to run with the guys, which was a blast and something I incredibly missed. A little time to heal and put the bike back together and we'll be back out there again.
Thanks to Rod for coming out Saturday and hanging out with us in the less-than-stellar weather. Also to Jeff (Kov) for coming out on Sunday after I nagged him endlessly – too bad he couldn't take more pictures. Also thanks to Gina and my mom who were came out and brought the little guy to watch me race. And lastly, thanks to Calves for all his work over the weekend. After a bit of a disappointing Saturday, he completely turned things around on Sunday with him completely handling the bike and allowing me to just ride, which made a huge difference in the bike being better, and me being able to relax and just focus on riding. It's frustrating to put in all the time preparing the bike, the rider and all that stuff – only to come up short with something like this, but it's early in the season and we'll keep plugging away.
Thanks for reading.
EddieWednesday, May 9th, 2012 | POSTED AT: 5:25 AM
FILED UNDER: Race Reports
4 Comments on “WERA ’12, Round 1 – Grattan Raceway (Brake Check/Stoppie)”
Have Your Say:
* We don't spam. Your email address is safe and secure.
About This Entry
- You're currently reading "WERA ’12, Round 1 – Grattan Raceway (Brake Check/Stoppie)," an entry on Witchkraft Racing.
- Published: 05.9.12 / 5am
- Category: Race Reports