Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Ohio
Coming in to Mid Ohio I was feeling pretty optimistic, finally being healthy and able to train and get back in shape. Well unfortunately Mid Ohio has been resurfaced much like a lot of the tracks have been this year. The new surfaces that are being used really tend to destroy front tires. Luckily after riding so many of the tracks with this surface we have been learning how to make the bikes work on this surface. The down side is the setup that makes the tires last is definitely not the best handling setup. Mid Ohio had a promoter practice on Thursday, which worked out great because it gave me a day to get the Ohlins suspension working. For promoter practice I installed all the Ohlins stuff (Forks and shock) on the back up bike. It was actually pretty funny, a completely stock bike (stock exhaust, stock brake lines, no power commander) with a set of Ohlins forks and an Ohlins shock. I did this to save wear and tear on the superbike. By the end of the day I was 1 second off my best time and was pretty happy with the progress on the setup.
For Friday morning I swapped all the Ohlins stuff back to the superbike. Morning practice went well and much like Laguna the track was getting more and more grip as the weekend progressed. The Friday afternoon qualifier didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I went in to the qualifier wanting to get a 1:29 but only managed to get a 1:30. This matched my previous fastest lap at Mid Ohio. Friday night I made a few changes to the bike and Saturday morning in the qualifier dropped a second right down to a 1:29.5. The qualifying session was pretty busy and I was forced to do this lap in traffic since I could not manage to get a clean lap.
Race one came and the first launch was horrible, I was just getting the bike rolling on the gas feeding the clutch out and the lever slipped out of my fingers. The bike shot out from under me and the back tire lit up. It was pretty ugly …. So I immediately went to work and started moving back to the front I worked my way up to 17th and found myself behind Eric Wood and Cory West. I had managed to catch them in a fairly short amount of laps. I decided that I was going to take a couple laps and let the tires cool down before trying to work my way past. Just as I was on my second lap letting the tires cool off a red flag came out. At first I was pretty upset with myself for not passing Eric and Cory thinking that they were going to call the race. Luckily for me they decided to restart it, I threw on a new set of tires and went out for the warm up lap. Now I needed to get a good start I wouldn’t have time to work out a strategy it was a 10 lap sprint to the checkers. I managed a significantly better start (the bike was still pretty jumpy but I didn’t loose more that 2 spots) and was off. I put my head down from the start and started passing people; I worked my way past Eric and Cory and found myself running down John Haner. I managed to catch him from about 5 seconds back. I didn’t want to give him the chance to realize I had caught him so I tried a pass as soon as I caught him. Unfortunately I caught him at a very hard place to pass, turn one. I drove up behind him on the short front straight and tried to back it in underneath him. However I was not able to make it stick and he pulled back in front of me. Now he knew I was there and started riding very defensive and pick up his pace. I tried a few more moves but couldn’t get anything to work. I finished 12th one tenth of a second behind Haner, with a best lap time of 1:28.6.
Race 2 on Sunday snuck up on us a bit. Sunday morning warm up I had a clutch start to go bad so I pulled the bike apart to replace it and found the clutch basket was bad. The oversized rivets on the back had started to develop extra play. This was probably the reason the bike has been so hard to launch lately. I managed to find a slightly used outer basket to put in the bike. We threw some new tires on the bike and put the bike together for race 2. Pretty soon I was heading out for the warm up lap; on the way out I did a couple practice launches which quickly put a big smile on my face. The bike was launching better than it has all season. The race went green and I quickly found myself right with Eric and Cory I managed to work my way past Cory. I quickly was on Eric’s rear tire. After a couple laps I thought it had started to rain but I later realized that Eric’s bike had started to blow water out. Because of this I didn’t want to follow behind him worried about getting caught in some water and going down. So I was pretty much all over the track trying to get passed him without using the lines I had been using all weekend. Unfortunately this put a lot of wear and heat into my tires, but I did eventually get passed him. A few laps past the half way point I nearly high sided in a left hander that crests a hill. I had been dragging my pegs thru it and when I was passed Eric I was putting my head down to catch Haner and stuck it in the ground and lifted the rear tire off the ground. When I did this Larry Pegram got passed me. I tucked back in behind Larry and we managed to quickly work our way past Haner. After passing Haner I was trying to get passed Larry and lifted the rear tire a couple more times and almost crashed twice more. Pretty soon the front tire started to get pretty slick on the right side from all the abuse getting around Eric early on. I could still do high 1:28’s with the tire sliding but that wasn’t going to allow me to catch Larry. I was forced to just hold the gap and come in behind Larry. This brought me home in another 12th place finish, with a best time of 1:27.9. It's nice being healthy!!!
Well I have more training and bike prep to do …. See you all after VIR