CCS had a race weekend scheduled at Blackhawk Farms and since WERA is going to be there for the first time this season, we figured we'd take a little road trip and check out a new track. After the Grattan incident and a bunch of money later, we had the bike put back together, ready to go and looking as good as new. I was still sore from the tumble, but I didn't want to spend another weekend off the bike, after not being able to get enough seat time at Grattan. Dad actually forced me to get an xray on my shoulder, saying he wasn't coming if I didn't do it. Who does that! Haha. I got the xray and nothing was majorly damaged – just some contusion/bruising on both shoulder/arms, nothing new.
Nick (aka Phil) from STG tagged along with us on the trip. He's just getting into racing this year, so he's learning all the new stuff that goes with getting a bike ready and learning how to ride, so that made the drive go pretty quickly. 7.5 hours later and we arrived at the track late, around 3am Friday. We slept in a bit and practiced in the afternoon on Friday and started trying to figure the place out. I had looked at some track maps, but couldn't tell how short and tight some sections of the track were until turning the first few laps. I blew a couple corners instantly, thinking they were 3rd gear corners, when really they were 2nd gear corners. After the first session, I wasn't completely in love with the layout, but as I turned more laps, it became more and more fun.
In the first session, we started in the 1:22 range. By the last session, we were down into the 1:14's. Nothing great, as the fast lap's on a 600 are in the 10's and 9's, but it was a good start. The weather was beautiful and it was nice to just be at the track in warm weather. We hadn't fully sorted out gearing or suspension yet, but were working on things every session.
Saturday with CCS was a full-day practice, with their Team Challenge endurance race at the end of the day. We practiced most of the day, but struggled to get out of the 1:14 range. Nick and I took the Zuma during the Team Challenge and went around the inside of the track, watching what the fast teams were doing and looking for shift points. As the day wound down and after talking to a few people, I realized I was running in too high of a gear through all the back section of the track, which was throwing everything off. It didn't feel bad while riding, but after pulling up the GPS data and looking at RPM's in certain corners, we could tell we were well below the power band of the R6 and that wasn't helping anything. Damn. So while lack of time dropping was frustrating, we had a good plan going into Sunday morning to change things up.
Sunday morning included practice, with a 20-lap race before lunch. It's a bit different than WERA, who does their 20 lap races on Saturday. In morning practice, changing up gears made an immediate difference and was much better. However, the weather had been hot both days in the high 80's and I was getting pretty worn out and I wasn't sure why.
Lining up for the GTU race, I didn't know what to expect. While lap times had stalled, I was hoping race pace would bring some help for that. We were gridded up on the 3rd row and on the start, I had a good launch and went around the outside of a few guys into T1, coming out 2nd in line. Coming around on the first lap, I had a big gap back to 3rd. I thought that was great. I could settle in, find time and get a good finish. It wouldn't go like that however ..
By lap 7-8, my hands were going numb. My arms were fatigued and I was struggling. Joe was giving me signs on the wall as the gap behind me was getting smaller and smaller. 3rd place, 4th place, I dropped to. I was wrestling the bike everywhere now it seemed and wanted to pull off, but I had to finish out the race. By the time the checkered flag flew, we finished in 5th place. Not terrible, but not where we wanted to be. The fast lap time was a 1:13.3, which was good, but there were only two 13's, and they were in the beginning of the race. After that, they dropped off significantly. Over lunch I talked with a few guys (Jason Farrell who was a big help, Dustin Boyd with Pirelli, and Richardo (Chimichanga)) about setup here. I found that most guys run a much different setup than we would run at other tracks. I went back to dad and we made some tweaks and changes to the bike. We'd see how it went in the race two.
Race two got off to a good start. On the warmup lap I could feel the bike was immediately better and easier to ride. I didn't have a great start, but my hands weren't vibrating on the bars and the bike steered and felt planted around the track. While the laptimes only improved by a couple tenths, they were consistent 13's throughout the race (with lap traffic) and it was much easier to ride the bike. We finished 4th and I wasn't nearly as tired after this race. I was starting to ride the bike rather than getting ridden by the bike.
After coming in, dad asked for some feedback and I said we should keep going in whatever direction he had gone before this last race. We did that and in our last race of the day, wound up with a 2nd place. I had a better start, caught and passed some guys and kept the lead group in sight before the race was red-flagged. With hitting lap traffic early and having to work through that (CCS combines all their experts and amateurs together, which on a short track, made for some interesting passing), it was good to start putting some things together.
So that wrapped up our weekend. There is definitely still time to be found and after talking more with some of the CCS regulars, we realized we were running the wrong gearing – which can make a big difference around Blackhawk. We had made it work to some extent, as we were learning the track and working on setup – but it's a crucial part of bike setup that we had missed. So once we go back there, I'm hoping the right gearing and getting the bike (and rider) further dialed in will put us on the pace we need to be at.
Overall CCS did things a bit differently than WERA, but they put on a good show and all the officials were easy and personable to work with. We met a lot of new people and even had several people come up to us after seeing the Honda East canopy, saying they bought parts, a generator, or something else from them. Everyone had good experiences with the dealership, which was good to hear.
A big thanks to Dustin Boyd at Pirelli who took care of us all weekend with tire setup and info. He also put Jason Farrell in touch with us (overall lap record holder), who helped in getting the track figured out and up to speed. I'm looking forward to using more of his tips next time we visit Blackhawk. Also a thanks to Ricardo (Chimichanga) who came over and introduced himself, and helped us out as well. He was rolling all weekend on his R6 and won most of the races he entered. Real nice guy who has a lot of laps around BHF and certainly knows how to go fast.
Lastly, thanks to Nick (Phil) and dad for their help. The results on paper aren't there yet, but with shortened track time at Grattan and now getting a visit to a new track out of the way, I'm looking forward to putting in some faster laps and having some fun. That's what it's all about.
Cheers.Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | POSTED AT: 7:17 AM
FILED UNDER: Race Reports
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- You're currently reading "CCS ’12, Round 1 – Blackhawk Farms (A New Flavor)," an entry on Witchkraft Racing.
- Published: 05.23.12 / 7am
- Category: Race Reports