2002 Race Report
8/24 - 8/25 BlackHawk Farms
If you'd like to see the track layout and how to ride it, check my 2001 race reports.
Replay of the feeling I left the last race weekend with...
I can't wait until BlackHawk in another 2 1/2 weeks because
Skip ahead 2 1/2 weeks:
Since I've put about 3000 miles on so far this year at BlackHawk, I decided that I could skip practice today and catch up on a few other things which desperately needed attention. I've been working 12+ hour days basically 7 days a week over the last 3 weeks. Fortunately things seemed to be coming to an end in time for me to take Friday off. I ended up only taking 1/2 the day off, but it was good enough to change the gearing and tires on the bike. Things turned out well this way because it was misty and sprinkling all day on Fri, so practice was miserable for those who attended.
We got to the track right when they opened, but I ended up missing my first session as there was only 1 hour to unpack, get dressed and get through tech before my session went out since we were the first group of the day. Oh well, that's fine. It gave me a chance to make sure everything was perfect on the bike. Plus I wasn't looking forward to going out on a damp track with cold slicks on.
The second practice session went very well. I concentrated on keeping my body low on the bike everywhere on the track, and made a conscious effort to have firm-positive shifts every time.
I had a pretty decent launch for this race, and was 2nd into turn 1. Right behind the #27 of Robert Borowicz who is a consistent front-runner. Out of turn 1, I was passed by #19 Andy Feuersthaler who is another top notch rider. We held pretty tight for the first few laps and I immediately fell into consistent lap times of 1:19's which is respectable for the front of the amateurs.
After 2-3 laps, Robert had a slight lead on Andy who had about 5 or so bike lengths on me. Out of turn 7, Robert raised his hand and headed back down pit road. It was all Andy and me at this point. He pulled ahead by a bike length or so each lap and I held second place firmly.
We ran this way for well over half the race. However, something physically was just plain wrong with me. I became incredibly fatigued by the 1/2 way mark, and went downhill from there. Despite slipping only slightly in my lap times, down to 1:20's, I remained second until about lap 18 of 22. In the last 4 laps, I ended up losing as many spots. The final spot to #227 of Mike Chachere.
I pulled across the finish line in 6th place. When I got back to the pits, I was more exhausted than I was after running +70 laps in the Team Challenge earlier this year.
It was frustrating to get beat by Mike after holding him off for so long. I've lead him through several races, but only rarely have been able to keep it together long enough to cross the flag in front of him.
The one thing that I did find out in this race, was how to tell when a slick is shot. For about the last 10 laps of the race, through turn 1, the carousel and turn 7 I would slide the back like I was on dirt. The
beautiful thing about it though was that it was always a clean, controlled and consistent slide. It was actually kind of fun.
Swapped out the slicks for a set of DOTs because the slicks were shot and my first race required DOT tires anyway.
After a good night's sleep and lots of food and water, I felt good and ready to race again. I started my practice session just to go around and feel out the track again. My intention was to come back in and put warmers on before the second session. The track should be dry and warming up at that point.
I came back in from practice 1, and Jennifer says "should the bike be smoking like this?". I looked and sure enough, smoke. A quick whiff told me it was not coolant, but oil. Not good...
We pulled off the lower and there was oil splatter on the right side of it. I looked closer and saw oil coming from the clutch cover. Oh well, nothing big, just a gasket. I leaned the bike down onto the back of the trailer and pulled the cover. I was cleaning it and noticed that it wasn't a gasket which caused this leak, but a CRACK in the cover! Spares are a beautiful thing!!!
We had the spare cover cleaned, new gasket and back on the bike just as my second practice session went out. I wasn't dressed though and figured I'd let the gasket cure for a few hours before riding so I skipped it.
Something which I've been wanting to do in efforts of improving my times was to make a gearing change from 15/47 to 15/46 in order to get just a wee bit more out of second gear. Having ample time to make the change, I borrowed a sprocket from a fellow F4 rider, and installed it before going out for my first race of the day.
Amateur MiddleWeight SuperSport:
With the new gearing, I launched... I had a beautiful launch and was 2nd into turn 1 but right on my entrance to the turn, Andy nudged a wheel underneath me. I didn't want to totally pinch him off so I gave him a foot which pushed me wide and screwed my line all up. It cost me a place as Andy slipped by, but the minor mistake was easily forgotten as I held onto 3rd.
The laps flowed perfectly. I ran my best laps yet at this track. The My-Chron clocked 3 laps in the low 1:18's which was around a second better than my previous best times. On lap 6 of 8, I ended up getting passed by #966 Dan Ortega on his R6.
I followed Dan and as we got into lapped traffic, I was sure I could get passed him as he was having a terrible time choosing a good line around lappers. The only problem was finding the spot where I could pass 2 riders (Dan and a lapper) at once.
My golden opportunity came on the white flag lap going into the bus-stop (turn 3a, HARD right hander). The lapper stayed wide, and Dan ran the middle. I flew in the inside and just as I started to tip into the corner, Dan came down on the line. My only choice was the brakes. After this, I never made up the distance between us as I simply don't have the HP of the R6.
It was an excellent race which I finished 4th, and held off Mike unlike the GTU yesterday (although he did start some rows behind me). Talking to Dan afterwards, he told me that he saw me in the bus-stop, and closed the gap. I smiled, knowing that it was just plain smart racing and I'd have likely done the same.
The gearing change that I made before the race was incredible. Just what I needed. I can carry more speed into and through most every corner on the track. The biggest improvement though is downshifting. I use 2nd through most of the turns on the track so I can have a good drive out of them. Previously when I'd downshift, I'd get a rear end chatter while the motor was trying to spin up to a higher RPM to match the wheel speed. Now with the change, the motor spins up to the required speed with NO chatter so I can come in much faster because I don't have to worry about the bike settling.
Amateur MiddleWeight SuperBike:
Mike Chachere registered late for this weekend, so he was gridded in the middle of the pack, but his launch had him #2 into turn 1, behind Andy Feuersthaler with me following. That was a great launch on Mike's part.
I ran the race in 3rd and got passed by 2 riders going into lapped traffic around the 5th lap. Then I lost a spot to #465 of Eric Custar. It was good to see Eric pass me though because I knew he had been having a difficult weekend and I figured that running this good would be a great end to it.
I chased the 3 that got by me around the track, and on the white flag lap I came up to them in turn 5. Eric took the worst possible line around a lapper who was being inconsistent and got stuck. I flew into the gap and passed the two of them on the inside, finished out the last few turns and kept my head to the tank across the line for 5th.
I talked to Eric afterwards, and congratulated him on his best race of the weekend. Unfortunately it was little consolation though as he was extremely disappointed in getting stuck behind the lapper.
Another great weekend. The "Wall of Fame" grew by two this weekend but I'm still missing that #1 plaque, and have entirely too many 4th place ones. A special thanks goes out to my wife Jennifer who changed out the clutch cover on the bike while still VERY hot, and then later suffered a nasty burn on the back of her hand when I backed the bike into her while she was putting it on the rear-stand. Sorry love! Another thanks goes out to my kids who suffer through lack of sleep & all the heat and travel associated with this season. Hang in there guy's, it's almost over!
So I've finally discovered what it takes to WIN a race. Through the entire season, in searching for better finishes, I've analyzed the bike, tires, suspension, my own physical abilities, the weather, etc... In the end, it's the WHOLE package and nothing less. It's all a matter of keeping the entire package together longer and better than the other guys.
The weekend's pics:
Photos by Jack Beaudry of Sliderphoto.com
3 races left, come on out and see us at Blackhawk Farms on 9/7-8
Thanks to everyone for your support, life wouldn't be the same without this, and you all help make it happen for me.
See all of my pics at www.sliderphoto.com. Just pick an event and rider #42!
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