Sorry for the delay with the race report. My computer decided to crash at about the same general time that I started the race write up. Also, since it's been a couple weeks, some of the details of the action are a bit fuzzy. This past race weekend (5/17~5/18) was also the Monza WSB race weekend, so Zina had to spend time at home on the computer. She ended up riding (!!) her Ducati Monster up to the track Saturday so that she could race the 50 mile Solo GT race. After the race, she suited up, plugged in her electric vest, and rode the 200 miles home in the dark. Trooper! Her foot is doing much better (the bones are healed and she's jogging now), but now we're starting to worry about her hip. :-(
I got some new wheels and brakes, so there was some R&D to be done this race weekend. I really don't like too much weirdness. I prefer to go out and concentrate on my riding rather than mess around with stuff. I wanted spare wheels so that I wouldn't have to depend on purchasing new tires and having them mounted at the track. With spare wheels, it's easier to give the tire guys a set and have them done at their leisure. Then you don't have to stress over things. And with the Solo GT races, it is about certain that no single rear tire would stand up to all the abuse I'm dishing out over a race weekend. I did some research about magnesium wheels and made a post to a mailing list and someone privately offered me a new rear Marchesini for like $400 under dealer cost, so that sealed the deal. New wheels need new brakes and rear sprocket, so yet another wave of spending commenced.
Saturday went pretty well. Well, except for the dyno testing, where I learned that I managed to lose 7 hp with my latest top end rebuild. The "new guys" in my class are starting to get faster. One of them started playing with me in practice, too. :-) The weather was weird, not hot, not cool, not rainy, but not clear (until Zina showed up and brought with her some San Diego sunshine). After getting a pretty big slide out of the rear Soft Bridgestone slick, I decided that the Solo GT rear wheel needed a Soft instead of the slightly used medium compound rear tire that was on it. The new wheels seemed to improve acceleration and the Brake Tech rotors allowed for stronger stopping. Ultimately, I would say that light wheels are an incremental step in the Superbike Arms Race. A step that is eventually required, but not something to run out and buy if it means you have to make compromises, like buying tires less frequently than you're comfortable with or eat Top Ramen instead of Macaroni and Cheese.
I was pretty anxious to run the Solo GT race. It is 20 laps, so it's the longest single track session most WSMC racers ever experience. AND it is run with all three classes at the same time: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight bikes. The start was good, and I charged hard off the line. A friend said that I fought for the lead in the first couple of turns. Well, he got back past me pretty quickly and was unfortunately towing along another SV650 with him. The breeze was kicking up, so I was getting crap for drives up the front straight, so I was riding as hard as I could to stay with them and I kept in touch lap after lap. At about the halfway point, the sv650 in 2nd place (getting the two) ran off the outside of turn two. I go by, but notice that rather than do like most folks who run off the track, he kept the gas on and decided to shoot out into the racing line of turn 3 right in front of me. I raise my hand and park it as who knows what trick is next. Ultimately, he moved out of the way in turn 5 and then once he recovered his mental state, he kinda motored on by. More laps ticked by and I kept him in sight and we started catching riders from the Middleweight class en masse as well as some of the 651-open bikes from the Heavyweight class. Well I start see sawing with a couple of them and I get pissed because they start holding me up and I'm trying to stay with the 2nd place SV650. I put my head down and really set a charge and am able to keep a couple of the bigger bikes behind me. I finished the race only a couple seconds behind the #2 finisher, and he only a couple seconds behind the race winner. Not as good a result as I wanted, but not bad, either.
Saturday night, I swapped over to my spare wheels with new slicks mounted up for Sunday's racing. I got in early Sunday for the two warm ups. It was then, without the breeze and after all those laps the day before, that the track "came together" for me. I hadn't had this good of a feeling riding the track since Zina crashed in February! 550 Superbike was my first race of the day, something like race #7. I got a great start, with only half of the SV650s beating me into turn 1 as well as Clinton on his RZ Thing. I saw the same SV650 that beat me in the Solo race and with my sudden boost in riding, I was able to pass him. I ended up finishing the race 5th. I think the result was pretty good considering that the only people finishing ahead of me, I consider fast riders.
My next race was the one I consider most important, the Aprilia Challenge. Coming around on the warm up lap, I saw Ryan #55 on his Aprilia at the hot pit entrance. It turns out, he had just crashed his R6 and did a last minute entry to the Aprilia Challenge race. Coool! So we pulled up to our starting positions to wait for Craig Hubert to do his dance. I got a great start and rode with all of my heart into the first turn, the second, and for each turn of every lap. It seems as though I was able to cut each apex perfectly and plan the exit of each turn exactly to plan. I felt that with the ever faster "new guys" as well as Ryan in the mix that they'd be all over me. I was curious, but didn't dare look back, instead concentrating on my riding. Across the start / finish line for the last time and I was happy with my hard fought win! Before going into turn 1, I looked back and was surprised to see that no one was with me. The track was empty. This certainly won't last for long, though, as I'm the one with the target on my back!
I pulled in and had a very short break until my last race, Roadracing World 250 Grand Prix. A few more minutes on the tire warmers and away I went on 2nd call for my race. I really like the 250GP race. It's very David and Goliath to square off against obviously superior equipment. We make our start behind the "Formula Twins" race, so we're on track with them at the same time, but there's usually little interaction. My super low street oriented first gear ensures a wake up call for my "gran preee" competitors (who then zap past going into turn 1!). I went into turn 1 in 2nd position and I thought a podium finish would be cool. One of the 250GP riders that I typically try to hang with passed me and I realized there'd probably end up being a fight for the last podium spot where I was currently residing. I got around the track well on my first lap, but a lot of weirdness went on going into turns 8 and 9. First off was a really slow moving "Formula" twin. Then I saw that someone was also exiting the track. That's trouble. I went on full alert as I realized that I'd be threading these two while transiting one of the more crucial turns of the track. I kept the throttle on the lock and decided to use the guy exiting the track as my reference for the edge of the track and bent it into 9 pretty well and all looked good. Right up until the one "Formula" twin that I was gaining on with about 40 mph decided to radically alter their line to the one I was using. I had to check up pretty hard and use the brakes on the exit of turn 9 to miss this guy. After the event was done, one of my competitors zipped by at full song, unhindered. I put my head down and spent the rest of the race flat out. I started gaining on the 3rd place finisher while also catching a couple other formula twins racers and I believe that without the roadblock on the first lap, I may have tried to challenge for the bottom rung of the podium.
The day completed, I now worked to pack up my pit and Scott came over to help (and it helped! Thanks Scott!) and I was hitched up and on the road! I'm absolutely excited to be currently ranked 16th overall in our Club! Now to find some of that lost horsepower. . .