Road America, Wisco
It seems like Road America, in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin, always has sketchy weather. It is always intermittent rain and wind, as well as some lightning threw in for good measure. This year was much of the same. Last year at Road America I managed to get my first AMA podium, so naturally this year I walked in with pretty high expectations. The entire weekend was off and on rain and windy, with some severe hi winds that took several ez ups and turned them in to something out of a Tim Burton movie. There was tornado warnings one county to the south on Saturday. So it was pretty much business as usually at Road America this year.
Friday morning brought pretty good weather so out we went for superstock practice and by the end we were 11th. A couple hours later was superbike practice, which we ended up 15th. By the end of Friday after the first superbike qualifying session we were tentitively 13th on the grid. Later on the that day I threw my leg over a Ducati 800 ss to do a substitute ride for Screamin’ Duc, a Moto ST team. I was pleasantly surprised to find how close the set up of the bike was and how fun to ride the bike is.
Saturday am was a quick superstock warm up than into superbike qualifying. By the end of superbike final qualifying we went a full 2 seconds quicker but we still wound up 14th on the grid. In superstock qualifying we managed to nearly match the time from superbike and wound up 10th on the grid in superstock, not were I was expecting but we kind of messed up our qualifying session so we were still optimistic for the superstock final event.
Later on Saturday afternoon was the Superbike race #1. It was to be the only dry race for me over the entire weekend. The race went green and we were under way, I managed to get a pretty good start. By the end of lap two I was in a battle for 10th thru 13th with Pietre, Peris, and Seele. This race track is particularly long and uses more fuel than most tracks. On the last lap of the race Peris, Pietre, and I all began to start running out of fuel. Seele managed to finish the race under power but the rest of us just coasted across the line. But luckily we still managed to end up 11th. Shortly after the race finished it began to rain.
Due to the schedule we opted to have one of the other riders (Tim Morrow) on the Screamin’ Duc team start off the race for us in Moto-ST. The race began in the rain so we went out on rains. About half way thru Tim’s stint it stopped raining and the track began to dry out. With just over an hour I took my turn on the bike. The plan was to just run the bike until the low fuel light came on and bring it in and switch riders at that point and put Haugo on the bike. So off I went onto a wet track with no sight of rain in the future on rain tires. I began to slowly get comfortable with the bike in the wet and started to pick up the pace within a few laps. About 20 minutes into my stint it was pretty much dry and I was putting in a pretty good effort. As the track dried out the rain tires began to scream for mercy. After nearly an hour the low fuel light still hadn’t come on, so I kelp plugging away. With about 15 min to go in the race the light finally came on so I signaled the crew and came in for a splash of fuel. When I came in the team had decided to just have me finish out the race rather than to put Haugo on the bike. Before the pit I was solidly into 9th place. As I headed back out of the pit I was in 13th or 14th with 3 laps to go. I put my head down and rode as hard as I could on a set of rain tires that had an hour of time on them in the dry and managed to work back up into 11th, nearly getting tenth at the line (just .02 seconds short). So we managed to pull off an 11th place finish. I need to say a big thanks to everyone at Screamin’ Duc Racing for trusting me with the bike and for the opportunity over the weekend. I cannot say enough about the teams’ professionalism and preparation. They really are a great bunch of guys, and I hope I get a chance to race with them again in the future.
Sunday morning was back to the normal AMA schedule with superbike and superstock warm up in the morning. Unfortunately we woke up to rain, which managed to remain off and on thought the day. Practice started right on schedule and we opted to sit out both practice sessions due to the rain. We only have one bike for each class, superbike and superstock, and if we have the slightest tip over in the wet on race day it could very easily take us out of the race. That afternoon brought racing, superstock race was first and was full wet with more raining coming down. We went out with rain tires on the bike starting from 10th on the grid. The race started and we were immediately up in the front group battling for 12th thru first. When the checkered flag flew we ended up 8th with a last lap last turn pass attempt on Chris Peris who was in 7th place, unfortunately I was a bit ham fisted and spun the bike up to much in the wet and was pitched out of the seat and lost my drive.
A few hours later the superbike race started. After putting 3 different sets of wheels with 3 different sets of tires (rains, intermediates and intermediate rear with a slick rear) we finally went out to the race with slicks on the front and rear. When the race started there were a couple wet patches but by the end of the race the track was 99% dry. We ended up in a pretty good battle with Chris Peris again but unfortunately we started to run out of gas on the last lap and were lucky to finish, ending up 11th again.
See you at the races