Arrived at the track around midnight on Thursday only to find that the people that had come earlier in the day took all the best spots. So I set up shop near the concession stand and try to get some sleep but ended up staying up all night tossing and turning. A friend of mine from Michigan rolls in around 3am and goes to sleep promptly. I ended up drinking a few beers so I could fall asleep.
Wake up Friday morning and go register for the races that I will be running over the weekend. The first practice was spent as a shake down session to make sure the bike was running right. While I was out in practice I realized that I was in the wrong group as there were no 250 GP bikes out in that practice. I think I got around 4 laps for that practice. It was worthless but at least I knew my bike was good. In the pits I put a strip of tape on the radiator (since GP bikes donít have a thermostat) to put some heat into the bike as it was running at about 56 degrees Celsius and it need to run at 63C. I put my race face on and go out to the second practice with the right group, which consists of 250GP bikes and 600s. While on the track, I notice that a lot of the ex AMA 250GP riders are on the track with me. I circulate around the track at a slow pace and try to figure out some good lines as this was going to be my last time on the track for the day since I donít race GT races. Ended up latching onto a pretty quick 600 rider only to find him struggling a bit to learn the lines so I got by him and circulated around the track at a decent practice pace and came back in. I go to the scoring tower to check some lap times and find that I did a bunch of 37ís. All the ex AMA 250GP guys went even slower as theyíd never been on the track before today. I knew it was going to be a super tough weekend as most of these guys will pick up a few seconds every time they go out. Looking through the timesheet some more, I find that a really nice kid named Josh Day had done a 32.XXX in the second practice. Now I knew I was in trouble.
Saturday morning rolls around and the rest of my friends arrive and setup shop next to me. I change the gearing on my bike to 1 tooth taller in the back to get better drives out of the corners and head on out to first practice. I purposely went out right behind all the other 250GP riders just to gauge how fast they are. I ended up passing most all of them and clicked off a bunch of 35ís. Although it was the best time I turned all weekend so far, I was still a bit worried as that will still be way off pace for the race. Second practice goes about the same way and I come back in and get ready for the LWGP race, which is the 3rd race of the day. Upon checking my grid position, I find out that I was gridded in row 6a in 19th position out of 28 riders. I figured I would just use it as practice since I canít really do crap from so far back with the miserable starts I get on the 250. The green flag drops and off we go, and I enter turn 1 in about the 24th position but see a gap around the outside of a huge pack of riders and take about 10 riders going into turn 1 and pinch off 2 more going into 3. By the time we come around again, Iím in 11th place and all I could see is three 250GP bikes battling. I quickly join the battle and pick off the first 2 but the 3rd guy wasnít willing to give up that position so we went at it for 2 laps before I made a pass stick and went after another 250GP bike I saw in the distant. I passed him down the back straight and never saw him again. On the last lap, I had made it all the way to 6th place and took a look back to make sure I was safe only to have an ex factory Aprilia RSV250 right on my ass. Next thing I know he gets out of my draft and walks 10 bike lengths on me and beats me to the line to put me at 7th in the race. The Aprilia rider turned out to be Garrett Carter who also races in the Spanish 125 GP series. I guess he was late to the warm up lap and the race was started while he was still 2 turns from the front straight. I was okay with 7th place but was disappointed to find that my best lap time was a 35.228, which was the 5th fastest time of the race. Iím a bit uneasy as I need to find at least a second for the 250GP qualifying later in the day but due to amateur 600 riders not being able to keep their bikes upright, most of the qualifying sessions got postponed until Sunday.
Sunday morning comes and Iím nervous as hell. I use the time before qualifying to make another gearing change as I think I need a bit more revs out of a couple corners. I miss morning practice because Iím too busy to realize that my practice had been called. Qualifying comes around and I go out dead last so I can have open track to get going. My lap times go from 37 to 36 to 35 and then Iím on my flyer and it looks like itís going to be a low 34 when I catch a 125 rider right in the entrance of the chicane that leads to the long back straight. Heís right in the race line going really slow as if heís on a cool down lap and completely ruins my drive. I bog out of the corner and try my best to salvage that lap and as I come around the front straight, they throw the checkered flag to end the qualifying session. I was pretty pissed
. It turns out that the 125 rider wasnít on a cool down lap. He was on his flyer. It showed since he qualified dead last in both 125 and 250GP qualifying. Ended up qualifying in 9th position on the 3rd row. Pole was set by Josh Day at 1:30.013.
I was pretty much annoyed for the rest of the day.
The 250GP race is called and I go out for the warm up lap on a brand new rear tire and scrub the tire in. I get in my grid position and the green flag drops and off we go. Somehow I get a great launch and I keep my position going into turn 1. I get a killer drive out of 3 and looks like I can make the pass for 8th but think better of it as weíre still a bit bunch up and Iíd have no place to go if I couldnít make it work. So I stay glued to the guy in front of me (who also happens to be a good friend of mine) and look for a place to make the pass. I go up the inside of him in turn 8 and set out for the next guy only to have my friend draft by and out brake me going into the tight chicane after the back straight. I get him back on the entry to turn 13 and once again set out to take 7th place away from the next guy. On the second lap I get up right next to him down the back straight and we have a braking dual that sends him into the weeds as he tried to out brake me while I was trying to out brake him. Iím surprised he didnít crash because I thought I was going to low side for sure when I threw it in. I put my head down and chased after the group ahead, which consists of 3 guys fighting for the 4th spot as the top 3 guys (Garrett Carter, Josh Day, and Bill Himmelsbach) checked out. I joined the group and promptly go to battle with Zachary Lee on a Honda RS250, which slows, both of us down just a wee bit enough for the other 2 to pull a slight lead on us. I hound him for 12 laps before I run out of steam and settle for 7th. Zach somehow catches his second wind and reels in the 2 riders that were in front of us with 3 laps to go and makes a pass to make it stick for 5th place. I took the checkered flag in 7th with the 8th place guy some 25 seconds back. This was the most difficult 16 laps I have ever run. My body was physically able to handle the laps as I had been running quiet a bit since April but my head wasnít up to par. It turns out that I had turned a best of 33.221 and the rest were all in the 34ís and 35's. Garrett Carter turned the fastest lap of the race at 1:29.xxx. Just to put this into perspective of how fast it is. Robert Jensen turned a 1:25.xxx on his GSXR750. This race made me realize that I need to shed a few more lbs and make my bike a bit faster. I even got paid for the 7th place.
I canít wait to be able to run another USGPRU race.