I had grand plans for the upcoming races at Grattan Raceway. However, the track was pretty green Friday morning. Rain and vintage cars the previous weekend made for less than ideal grip on the sealer-portions of the track early on. The day eventually became a complete loss when someone oiled 2/3 of the track in the third session of the morning.
Not only did this person over-torque their oil filter, they stayed on the race line the entire time, rather than pull off in the grass. A major disappointment for the paying Sportbike Track Time customers that day, along with everyone who stayed all weekend and had to deal with oil dry on the track for all the races. Too bad, as they were a racer too. Anyway, by the last session of Friday, lap times were somewhat decent, but not great.
Saturday morning practice went off as well as possible. Times were slow for everyone, but we were relatively quick, pushing hard out right of the gate. We had fresh Pirelli's mounted and were ready to go for the races. I was ready to go.
First race of the day, I launched into 10B (going CCW, the turn numbers stay the same) to take the lead of the 1000 Superstock race. Pushing hard in all eight laps, I was working to be smooth and continually drop time each lap. The fastest lap came on the white flag, dropping down to a 1:21.4, four tenths off my previous best time here. We would win by some 30 seconds, three seconds faster than second place. There was oil dry still on the race line in several places, so there was more time to be found still. I came in, pulled out the laptop and downloaded data from the lap timer. The data showed I tried too hard, not relaxing enough – but the potential was there, it showed. Next race, I'd relax more and not work the bike so much.
Gridding up for the second race, I led again and built a lead early on. The first lap from a standing start was three tenths faster than in the first race. On the second lap, I was right at the fastest lap from the previous race. I was more relaxed, but incrementally pushing brake points and markers, as the sun was creeping out and the notorious Grattan sealer seemed to be building heat/traction into it.
Heading into the bowl, I trailed the brakes as I normally would, but on a slightly higher entry line than I had been using (due to the oil dry), to get a better entry into the bowl. As I started to ease off the brakes, I didn't get a chance to finish the task – as the front end suddenly tucked and threw me on the ground. My right boot hit and caught the asphalt, pitching my left knee onto the ground, landing squarely on the sealer-stricken asphalt, taking the brunt of impact.
I slid alongside the bike thinking, "keep the wrist tucked in", and, "please don't let her flip in the grass." I came to a stop, stood up and immediately realized I couldn't put weight on my left leg. Priscilla hadn't flipped at least. I looked up and second and third place came through the bowl, corner-worker flags waiving. I saw the bike wasn't in a spot I could easily pick it up myself, so I hobbled out of the way, up near the corner worker station where a number of spectators were watching – several yelling if I was alright, to which I begrudgingly nodded yes to.
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. All the plans leading up to the weekend were suddenly tossed away. The bike wasn't bad, but the ram air duct split into two pieces and we didn't have a spare. Not only would I miss the restart of this race, I'd miss the next race I was in, where the track was increasingly getting better and better in regard to grip level.
Cause of the crash? Green track, sealer, oil dry, a used front tire, rider error. A spectator came over to our pits as I was icing my knee with a video of the crash. It was silly. I had gone into the bowl faster than that before on the R6. Even on the Gixxer. I thought back and hadn't had a crash like this, on my own – since something like 2009.
With the help of dad, Aaron and Doug, we got the bike back retech'd and ready for Sunday. My knee had swollen up pretty good, so getting the leathers off was a bit difficult. Ice, motrin and elevation for the remainder of the day, as I wasn't sure how bad it was.
Sunday morning was cool and by now, rain was in the forecast for the afternoon – so all chances at our goal were all but gone. WERA made the smart decision to go with one round of practice and start races before lunch, in an effort to get them in before the weather. With track conditions, the knee and being out of the points in most classes now, I figured it might be best to just park the bike for the day, as fast times weren't happening.
Around 9:25am, five minutes before first call for the 1000 Superstock race, I made the split decision that I was going to suit up. Gina, Connor and Sam were here – and I wanted Connor to see one of my races. I hadn't practiced or tested the knee, but I had popped a bunch of motrin and this was also the one class I finished on Saturday, so I could salvage some points by circulating. The JB Weld on the ram air duct had dried, so I told dad and Aaron I was going to give it a go.
Suited up, the warm up lap was my first lap of the day. I again got the holeshot and led the first lap. The track grip was poor, as expected. After my crash, I didn't want to lead or set the pace, so after the first lap, I looked back and threw my leg out to let Gene (Burcham) by. I didn't want to hold him up or get caught up pushing and doing something silly.
Gene pulled a bit of a gap in the next lap or two, but as I started to get warmed up, I began to reel some of that gap back in. With two laps to go, I had closed up behind him and noticed in the bus stop, he looked over his left shoulder to see who was behind him. I don't think he saw I was there.
Through the rest of the lap, I could tell he slowed the pace down. He had to have thought he was by himself and that I had pulled off. I stayed behind him and thought I might have a chance to get by. I followed him onto the straight and gauged if I could draft him to the line. Maybe.
As we crossed the white flag, he again looked to his left out of the bus stop and didn't see me, as I was on his rear wheel, just to the right of him. We flipped through the next series of turns and not wanting to wait until the straight (in case I screwed something up), I setup a drive out of T2 and dove to the inside of him, into T1, taking the lead. We raced down the straight and the Hoffer-Tuned R1 ripped through the gears with enough steam to keep Gene at bay, crossing the checkered.
Back in the pits, there was a happy reception from the crew. It was good I had raced. I never want to end a weekend on a crash and doing so would have been a quitting attitude. The knee was sore, but it was well worth it – and actually fun, although I'm sure Gene didn't think so. He came by afterwards and joked we were even for the last time at Grattan when I ran out of fuel, which handed him a win.
The rain was coming now and the chance to put in any laps in faster than Saturday were dwindling, so our weekend was done.
Overall, two wins and a DNF. I didn't meet the goals I had set out, which was disappointing. Track conditions, stemming over from Friday didn't help – but my error in the second race didn't help either. We'll just have to improve next year when we get back to Grattan.
I saw a quote the following Monday which I thought fitting – "When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you." I'll go with the last one.
Thank you to my dad, Aaron, Joe and Matt for their help this weekend. Thanks to Gina for bringing Connor and Sam and being there to support me. Thank you also to Honda East Toledo, Yoshimura, Pirelli Tires, GoPro, Dynojet, Motul, Millennium Technologies, RS Taichi/Moto Liberty, Chicken Hawk, Arai Helmets, Ballistic Performance Components, Worldwide Bearings, Samco, NGK, Motion Pro, Pit Bull, Hoffer Performance, Oakley, Witchkraft Motorsports, Evol Technologies, Sharkskinz, PopShadow Decals, Fast Frank Racing, Hammer Nutrition, Yamaha Motor USA, Spider Grips and MC Designs.
Thanks for reading.Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 | POSTED AT: 5:52 AM
FILED UNDER: Race Reports
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- You're currently reading "WERA ’15, Round 7&8 – Grattan CCW (Lost Opportunities)," an entry on Witchkraft Racing.
- Published: 08.26.15 / 5am
- Category: Race Reports