VIR was to say the least an interesting weekend. I showed up at the track on wed and set up the pit and prepared the bikes to promoter practice Thursday. Promoter practice was spent trying to get a baseline setup. By the end of the day we were a full second off where I had expected to be and was getting worried. After talking with several other riders this seemed to be pretty common, the track seemed to be more slippery than in years past. After the day was done I made several changes on the bike including a different rear spring.
Friday brought another practice session and a qualifier in the afternoon. By the end of the first qualifier we were 25th with a 1:29.8. During the day on Friday Jason Britten had came over and talked with me about shooting some footage for his show on SPEED called Superbikes. Jason and I had previously met at Laguna Seca thru a mutual friend Dave Sanders. They ended up filming almost the whole weekend with us with several interviews with me and some of my sponsors. It was pretty interesting to have 3 cameras following you everywhere.
Saturday had some more help show up Chris from RPM motorsports and another friend of mine Leon (the one and only LZ). There help would prove to be invaluable as the weekend progressed.
At first the cameras were a bit overwhelming but like everything else you get used to it and get back to doing what needs to get done. Saturday am we had another qualifying session and I managed to 1:28.9, almost a full second faster but still off what I had hoped for the morning. We had tried several different things for the morning qualifying and managed to make the bike run horribly. But still this had put us 25th on the grid; apparently I wasn’t the only person who had gone faster sat morning.
Before we knew it, it was time to go racing and we were heading up to the grid with the TV crew right along with us. It was pretty interesting, but you would be surprised what you can put out of your mind and focus when you need to. When I was sitting on the grid getting ready for the race I didn’t even realize they still had 3 cameras on me while I was sitting there. Jason asked me if the cameras were bothering me and I kind of looked at him like what cameras then I saw them all around me, I laughed under my breath and said no they are fine. Then the race went green and we were off, my start wasn’t what I had hoped for but be were already fighting our way forward by turn one. I managed to pass a handful of people on the brakes into one and got on the gas coming out of one and the rear tire really spun up. Thinking maybe it had just cooled down too much I settled in for a couple corners to get some heat into the tire. Towards the end of the first lap I started trying to charge again and every time the rear tire would light up and step out. There were several corners that other racers said I was laying smoke off the rear tire on the exits. This ended up being a problem the entire race no matter ho hard I rode of how I tried to patient and smooth with the throttle the rear tire would light up. By the end of the race we ended up in 18th place, not a bad result but not what we wanted. After the race we were checking over the bike and realized that we had not set the rear tire pressure, it was at 50 psi (25 psi higher than it should be). This would explain the rear tire traction problem.
For Sunday morning practice we changed a few more things on the bike, we went to a different offset on the triple clamps and a softer rear shock spring. Practice was going pretty well when the bike started slowing down, and began knocking. So I shut it down and coasted back to the hot pits. After pushing the bike back to the pit one of my crew came up and asked what had happened and informed me that due to the weather forecast the race had been moved up from 3 pm to noon. So here I sat on a blown up bike 1 hour before the race is set to start. That was when Christian, one of the riders and camera man from No Limits Entertainment, walked in. I am still sitting on the bike in my leathers and he comes up asks what is going on, so we tell him the story and I tell him I am thinking about getting the back up bike ready for the race. He looks at me and says screw that and grabs Eric, another of the riders for No Limits Entertainment. Pretty soon Jason Britten from the TV show Superbikes on SPEED channel, owner of No Limits Entertainment walks in. Before we know it they are dropping the bad motor from the “A” bike and my crew and I are dropping the motor from the “B” bike, which was a completely stock motor. Rodney Rayborn from Mat Maladin Motorsports comes walking over to see why we are not at the hot grid getting ready to go racing. Pretty soon it was a 10 person free for all with camera crews all around that was surprisingly efficient. 37 (that’s right I said 37!!!!) minutes from when Christian walked into my pit the bike was running and ready to go racing!!!!!!! We fired the bike up and headed out to the race; we had missed the parade lap but were able to do the warm up lap from the hot grid.
The race went green and I couldn’t help but smile, we had made it. The bike was running and I was off and racing. The start was significantly better that Saturdays and we were heading forward. Getting the pressure set on the rear tire had fixed the grip problem and the bike was handling great. The motor was a bit slow so I was having difficulty getting past people but had managed get myself into 13th place by the end of the race. Just goes to show that tires and suspension are worth more than horsepower, the stock motor is about 20 hp less that what I had in it on Sunday.
I would like to say a HUGE thanks to my crew, Bob and Jeff from GPR, Chris from RPM motorsports, and Leon (LZ). In addition I would like to thank Rodney Rayborn for all his help, the whole crew from No Limits Entertainment Jason Britten, Christian, and Eric. Without ALL of these peoples help this weekend would not have been the success that it was.
See everyone at Road Atlanta