To quote Biloxi Blues: “It never got this hot in Brooklyn. It’s like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.”. The guy pitted next to us got heat stroke (He's OK, thankfully). It was hot! Saturday was over 100 in the shade, 115 "real feel". Sunday was upper 90's, but a breeze and lower humidity brought the real feel down to 105. To further challenge myself, upon the advice of a trusted adviser, I decided to do more races than I normally do, in an effort to "stay in the zone". (it worked!) Working with my nutritionist Teresa Waters REALLY paid off this weekend, to say the least. I was focused, alert, and my times kept dropping right to the end, turning my fastest lap of the weekend on the last lap of the last race!
Did I mention my total track experience at VIR was 1 cold, damp track day, on my Tuono streetbike? The learning curve was going to be steep if I was to get up to speed! Fortunately, TPM hosted a track/practice day on Friday, and I was able to get from a 1:45 down to a 1:38. If only getting another 7 seconds off my times would be that easy!
The always-challenging GTU was around 1:45 in the afternoon, and it was blazing hot. On lap 1, I was in 6th or so after a good start, and under braking for T10, the bumps upset the chassis and I wasn't able to get slowed down enough to make the turn. I turned as far as I could before standing it up, and off into the grass.. At that point, I was glad I bought a dirtbike. I rode the ENTIRE length of the roller coaster, in the grass, and re-entered at 12b! Turns out most people that go off there don't make it the whole way without crashing. They had even sent the ATV out already because they were sure I was going down. The tigerbike just went on safari, that's all! Once back into the race, head down, throttle up, and passed 4 riders to take home a 9th!
Heavyweight Supersport (750's) was one of the last-minute additions, and I started dead last in 15th. The Pirelli DOT's ride basically the same as the slicks, so there was no "learning curve" with them. Got a good start into the top 10 and was up in 7th, but I went off in T10 again, but this time juuuust barely, and was able to get right back on. Lost 2 spots during that, and ended up chasing Glenn Jazikoff around for the remainder of the race, taking 9th.
ASRA qualifying was after that. In an effort to conserve tires, I ran a 1:36 and called that good. It qualified me right in the middle of the field, 11th of 22.
Sunday I had 4 races, and Middleweight Superbike was up first. Korey Hopkins and I will be battling all year, I can already tell. We swapped positions throughout the race, and he's an absolute ANIMAL on the brakes. We even rubbed elbows at 150mph entering the kink! At the end though, I was able to hold him off, and brought home an 8th. This was one of the most 'fun' races I've had thus far, and I look forward to lining up next to him again. (I'll try to keep my elbows to myself next time!)
The ASRA Sportbike race was next. On lap 2 or 3, I was trying to 'refine' how late I could brake into T1 and didn't quite make it.. I ran off into the grass (again), down the hill, and almost to the fence (If you want video, watch the MotoAmerica race from this year.. It felt and looked just like that. In fact, that's exactly what was going through my mind!) before I got turned around and back onto track. Still managed to catch a few and brought home another 9th place. The 250cc guys really carry great corner speed!
Middleweight GP was a smaller field, but still plenty of really fast racers! I kept my nose clean, turned some decent laps, and brought home top my first expert top 5 with a 5th place finish!
Middleweight F40 has been my nemesis this year. 2 DNS's(Did Not Start) with the flat tire at NJMP and the water pump at Summit. Despite the heat, the tigerbike was ready to rip this time, and I had just enough MR12 for the fight... and what a fight. I got a good start, but Mark Dickerson got the inside line through T1. Once behind him, I saw I could hang with him, so I waited to see if he would make a big mistake, figuring I was helping to save my rear tire, which had done the GTU, SBK, and GP races already. He made a few little ones, but so did I, and he was able to put a bit of a gap on me. I put my head down a little more and worked on reeling him in, gaining a tenth with every lap. When the white flag came out, I was rudely reminded the race had been shortened to 5 laps from the original 7. I "pooshed vetty haahd" and was ready to make my move on Mark, but he was really quick in the roller coaster, and I wasn't able to get past him to take the win, but by only 1/10th of a second at the line! Great clean run, Mark, and congrats on your W!
I'm very pleased for what was effectively my first time on VIR North, and the bike is still shiny despite my best efforts - I can't complain. New goal: 34's. Come September... we shall see! Congrats to good friend and pit buddy Paul Robson on his first CCS Expert race weekend.. It certainly was challenging, but you brought home a top5! Thanks also to Katharine, Oscar, Betsy, Drees, Dennis, and Ophelie' for your assistance and smiles in the pits!
Mike Failace / Metric Devil Moto for the trackside suspension tuning and advice
James Bock for the sticky Pirelli's and the mounting.
Justin Levy / Trackside Parts Club going above and beyond, getting a new air vest shipped to the track, and always having what we need to stay on our game!
Maher Motorsports for the VP Fuels-powered monster of an engine.
Teresa Waters for the nutrition coaching, and Nicole for prepping it all!
DC Paintworx and DrippinWet for making the tigerbike look as good as it performs
Hazardous Racing, Scorpion, and Sidi for the protective gear that kept my hide safe while keeping me as cool as possible.
Vortex Racing, Woodcraft, PitPosse, Yoshimura, Leatt, and EvolveGT for your continued excellent products and support.