The first race of the season was our first time on the bike since the GNF last October. It was also our first time on the new Yamaha R1. Dad, Doug, Aaron and I went into the weekend not expecting too much, but of course wanting to be competitive right out of the gate. Those aren't conflicting views, right?
Friday practice went off well enough. We sorted ergonomics, played with clickers and shook the rust off. By the end of the day, we were into competitive times which I was happy with. I've started to come around to the concept of good track time is better than just any track time. Coming from a great GNF at Barber last year, even with all that time off – going right into a race weekend the next season, while not ideal, isn't the worst possible thing. The worst possible thing is doing a couple track days, going slow and "sorting things" – or dodging traffic from a packed track and then trying to ramp up and build that speed into a race weekend.
Saturday's Heavyweight Solo race was a bit of an eye opener. Running a fresh set of Pirelli slicks and trying to figure out all the electronics on the new R1, we got off to a good start and led early on. As the laps clicked off, I started struggling with the bike. As the pace dropped, the bike starting moving around and wearing me out. A couple guys came by and put us into third place with a big gap back to fourth. I stuck out all 20 laps, wanting to give accurate feedback to dad, Doug and Aaron afterwards – as Sunday is what counts.
Once back in the pits, I sat down and wrote down a complete lap in my head, along with what the bike was doing in each corner. Handing it to dad and Doug, they read it, we talked over a few things and we went to work. Clickers, sag, seat, peg position, clip-on position, electronics and more were all on the list. They handled the suspension part, while Aaron and I worked on some of the other things. All minor, but the solo race was a great way to sort things out. I wasn't happy finishing third and wanted to turn that around for Sunday.
Right away in morning practice, the bike felt much better. I had equaled the best time from Saturday already, with three races to work on further improvement. It was funny how even with a brand new bike in the R1, we were heading in the same direction as we typically do when visiting Grattan. It goes to show that no matter the bike, trends in data seem to repeat themselves.
1000 Superstock was the first race up. AMA (er, MotoAmerica) regular Taylor Knapp was in this one. I've gotten to know Taylor pretty well over the years, from roadracing to dirt bikes, primarily through our mutual friend Mark Gonyou. In any event, he's been doing great on a new Yamaha R1 himself, so with Yamaha contingency up for grabs, he'd be the guy to chase in this one.
Off the line, we led into T1 and he passed by on exit, as I ran it wide getting in a little too deep. I followed for several laps, keeping the gap respectable, but he was inching away each lap. Gene Burcham, Mark Junge, Jeff Taylor, John Fitz and a number of other guys were in this one and we would finish 2nd behind Taylor, with a red flag shortening the race a couple laps short. In our first sprint race, we set a new personal best around Grattan at a 1:20.1.
Our second race was Formula 1. I led early for the first couple of laps before another red flag put us back into the pits. Jeff Taylor had run into Mark Junge going into T1, literally missing taking me out by inches. John had a GoPro on his bike and captured all the action. I had no idea what happened behind, but I narrowly missed be collected up in a terribly large mistake, admittedly made by JT.
On the restart, we led again. Mark and JT were out, so it was Gene and I up front. With two laps left, the bike started to sputter. Fuel! I backed off the gas, short-shifted and tried to make it – but Gene was closing and the bike was lurching worse. I threw up my hand and let Gene by, coasting in on fumes. We had fuel calculated and with the red flag, that threw everything off. We were having such good fuel economy all of Friday and Saturday, checking fuel again never crossed our minds. Lesson learned.
Our third race was 1000 Superbike. We led start to finish. Bike setup was good, fuel was good and it was a solid way to finish the weekend.
Overall, first time out on the new bike was a success. In hindsight, had we started with our usual "Grattan setup" on Friday, we would have been into faster times sooner and maybe been able to actually race with Taylor a little bit, which would have been awesome. I was shooting for faster times, but that'll have to wait. While not riding at congested track days has its benefits, having a little testing time before this weekend would have been beneficial in that regard.
As always, thank you to dad, Doug and Aaron for their help during the weekend, as well as leading up to it. A big thank you to Gene Burcham for loaning us an exhaust to use for this weekend, as our Yoshimura system hadn't yet arrived. Gene did quite a bit to help us and while running out of fuel was a silly mistake, one could argue it was good karma for Gene, as it handed him the win. I couldn't be too upset about that.
Next up is Road Atlanta. The long back straight was a bit much for the Suzuki 750's last year. Hopefully we'll be a bit more competitive this year against the 1000's, on equal ground.
Thanks for reading.Monday, May 11th, 2015 | POSTED AT: 2:39 PM
FILED UNDER: Race Reports
2 Comments on “WERA ’15, Round 1 – Grattan Raceway (on a 1K)”
Have Your Say:
* We don't spam. Your email address is safe and secure.
About This Entry
- You're currently reading "WERA ’15, Round 1 – Grattan Raceway (on a 1K)," an entry on Witchkraft Racing.
- Published: 05.11.15 / 2pm
- Category: Race Reports