Just got back about an hour ago.
That track is f'n NUTS. Some observations:
- 6th gear rev limiter on the banking.
- When you look over to the guy on your left, you are damn near looking straight down!
- G-forces so intense that it's actually very difficult to lift your foot off the peg to shift.
- A solid day of racing leaves you with a hella sore neck.
Overall, it was a good time. Our initial plans were to arrive Tuesday night, relax on Wednesday, and hit the track Thursday. On the plane flight out, DanO and I convinced ourselves to run the Team Hammer day. Glad we did, it was well worth it. Got 5 30-minute sessions for our $225. Had we not done it, I wouldn't have felt nearly as confident going into the races with just the 2 15 minute sessions CCS gave us.
First session out on the track. HOLY SHIT. Banking is intense. G-forces are intense. I was actually feeling a little dizzy the first few laps going around the banking. I have NEVER pounded on my motor that hard before.
By the 4th session, got myself into the ~2:10 range. Not very fast, but I was having issues with armpump (story of my life, lemme tell ya) so I was content. Brian Hall (friend and local fast Am) was in the 2:06 range so I wasn't too far behind.
Last session of the day, DanO and I swap bikes. I run a couple 2:09s on the R6. Down a solid 20-25hp, and I'm going 1 second faster, with pretty much no armpump. Go figure. (PS the R6 is AWESOME, gotta have one for next year.)
Following day, Team Challenge. What an adventure. We decide to run the R6 since I can run more than 4-5 laps without getting tired. Everything is last minute. We find out we need a fire extinguisher about 45 minutes before the race is to start. Dad runs out to the Super-K down the street to get us one (phew!) Then Tom (the Michelin guy) tells us that we will absolutely need to do a tire change - thankfully, Jesse Janisch's dad was kind enough to loan us a spare rear wheel so we could change tires without running back to the pits.
Pack the stuff up, set up out on pit-row. Our team consists of myself, DanO, and Mike Shallcross (aka Stickman.) We make an educated guess based on the bike's fuel economy to do a rider change every ~12 laps or so.
Stickman goes out first. Gets us a killer start, and by lap 5 we were 4th in GTU and 10th overall. Stickman got down to 2:03s, we were impressed (only his second session out on the track ever.) Then... the unfortunate happens. Sticky goes down in the international horseshoe. Lowside, hit some fluid on the track. Crash cart drops the bike off at our pits, we survey the damage - bike is rideable. New brake reservoir, couple zip ties, and we were back in the race, only lost 4-5 laps! DanO takes the helm, buzzes off down pit road.
Next lap, DanO comes in, bike running on what sounds like 2 cylinders. Cut the zip ties, pull the lower off, and find that 2 of the header pipes have fallen off the head. After some creative work with a hammer and Mechanix gloves soaked in icewater, we got the header back on - and off DanO goes. Lose ~4-5 more laps. DanO salvages a few positions for us, gets down into the 2:03s himself. Runs 13 laps and pulls in - time for fuel, rider change, and to reattach the header again. Get it back on in no time - and the tech guy stops us. We lost the pin for the rear brake lever. Mad dash back to the garage to bastardize parts off my gixxer, and off we were again - this time with me behind the bars. By this point we were ~15 laps down, so my only real goal was just to get through my session without incident. I was running consistent high 2:07s/2:08s on the R6, feeling pretty good, more or less out there riding by myself. Gained us 2-3 positions before pulling in for fuel (12 laps is a LONG time at that track!) Bike felt great, we decided not to do a tire change. Stickman takes the controls again, gains us a few more spots before the race was red-flagged and called.
We wound up with a 15th place finish in GTU, and I think we were 29th or 30th overall. All-in-all not bad, especially considering all the trouble we had. Things went pretty smoothly for our first attempt at a TC event - but it was a BLAST. WAY more fun than running sprint races - we are going these in the future.
Rest of the weekend wasn't nearly as exciting as the TC day, but still fun. Got myself down to low 2:05s (not bad - but nowhere near the 1:57s that Hall and Stickman were running.) Finished 10th in Unlimited GP, 11th in Heavyweight Supersport, and 12th in Unlimited Supersport. I was fighting armpump on my 750 all weekend, so I'm a little frustrated (would've liked to have done better) but at the same time, there were some REALLY fast guys there, and I'm pretty rusty having not ridden much this year. I'll take my 10th place national amateur rank and start scheming to buy an R6 for next year
DanO did really well too - I believe his best finish was 9th - which is kickass considering his competition included the likes of Steve Rapp, Matt Wait, Vincent Haskovec, Larry Pegram, etc. I don't think he ever finished outside of the top-20.
Stickman (for the few here that know him) also had a pretty good weekend. Took home 1 national championship (HWSS I think?) and a whole lot of 2nds and 3rds. Kept having rear tire issues (Dunlops were literally starting to disintigrate on him.) He had the FUSA ULGP race in the bag before a lowside in T1 on the white-flag lap ended his weekend (doh!!!)
So, it was a lot of fun. Expensive, even with the free airfare and the fact that my dad picked up the hotel bill for us (thanks dad!!) But worth it. It was definitely an experience I won't soon forget!
Alright... time for a nap!