Novice #319 Race Report 7/18 & 7/19 2009

Rubbin’s Racin’, Harry! Even on a motorcycle!

07-18-09-NVPTWN 078_0011
What a weekend! Thought I wasn’t even going to make the races due to some family issues. They turned out OK, thankfully, and I ended up snagging a last minute ride up with my buddy Pete. Actually got there early enough to register Friday, saving myself the Sat AM nonsense I’m normally a part of. By all counts (save for it starting to rain right as we got to Loudon) it was going to be a great weekend.

Hung out a bit on Friday night, but packed it in before too late to catch up on my sleep for Saturday practice. Woke up Saturday to on and off rain, decided to go out anyway on my DOT’s since I had rain wheels but no rain tires mounted yet. Hey, traction is overrated, right?

Due to the low participation in practice, they went to open practice in session 2 or ¾, and it stayed that way for a while. I stayed out there feeling out the DOT’s in the rain and trying to get the track back into my head and looking for the line through the new T1/T1a/T2. Tried to push the DOT’s once or twice, but didn’t like how that worked out for me at all. Turns out a race compound tire with just enough tread to be DOT doesn’t do too well in the rain, who would have thought? Rather than the normal feedback, on the D208’s it felt like I went from planted to in trouble with nothing in between. Not a fan. In the 30 minutes or so I was out I only saw one other bike not on rains, and I was faster than him, so I wasn’t worried about it. I was also passing bigger bikes on rain tires, guys who clearly just were not comfortable in the wet, even with rains. New riders, new to the rain, gun shy… who knows?

Eventually, I heard a noise that made me nervous. Wasn’t sure what it was, but I wanted to get in and check it out before something gave way and I binned the bike on a mechanical. Sounded like it came from the front, so I’m thinking brakes. I get to T10, signal pit out, sit up and slow down. No sooner am I committed to the pit out than I realize what the sound was… a rock being grabbed by my tire and flipped into my zero-clearance front fender. Of course, now I’m committed to the pit out and there’s no changing that, so rather than just riding through hot pit and back onto the track I decide to break for a quick drink of water and a quick check of the bike, more for peace of mind than anything. While in, my garage mate Brendan looked at my bike as well, and told me “You’re not going back out. May as well change out of the leathers, your brakes are done.” I look, and sure as can be the big pad is shot. So I change and start tearing it apart while Brendan goes to get new pads for both of us. Turns out that pad was completely toast, backing plate on the rotor! Whoa. New pads, but I miss 2nd practice session now that it’s starting to dry out. Whatever. Ride around the infield a bit and bed the new pads in and call it a wrap until the races.

Saturday, Race #8, NV Ptwins:
Terrible start. I’ve been working on a new launch technique that was working for me last time we had a race weekend, like 74 months ago, but apparently I lost the touch. Get absolutely creamed off the start. It only gets worse into T1/T1a/T2 as I still don’t have a solid line through there. It’s dry now and I’m not going NEARLY fast enough into there. Make up some ground coming into T3 and start to go to work. There are a few absolute newbies in this race, so there should be some easy pickings, right? Wrong. Anyway, after working my way past a few people I see my buddy Kurlon in the distance. Yes! We’ve been talking trash for the past month about this weekend, and it may be his last novice weekend ever, so I really want to dice with him. I make some ground on him from 6-9, lose some of it into 9, lose a bit more into 11 and make a touch back up into the chicanes. Down the straight we go, and he gets a bit more on me through T1/T1a/T2. I’m expecting this so I try to brake later and use his line through there. I don’t like his line. It’s probably right, but it’s so far from what I’d been doing it felt sketch to me and I ended up trail braking longer than I like to. Don’t lose much, but it’s not a confidence booster for that section. Make a bunch of ground to him and tailgate him through the bowl, looking for a way around but not able to find one. This goes on for an entire lap, me trying to put a move on him and just not quite being able. People in the bleachers said it looked like I had him for sure out of 4, but I cooked too much momentum trying and then backing off in 3. I go into 6 on a different line than him, which sends me out much faster. I see him go wide, and there’s the window! Inside of 7! I go for it, and get some bike on him. Awesome, I’ve got it! Then… BOOM! I feel the contact and struggle to keep the bike up. I try to stick with T8 for a second, but it’s not happening. I run wide and off the track into the dirt, holding consistent throttle, and end up back on the track. Now I’m riding way too ginger, wondering if he made it out. Finally I give up and look back, even though I shouldn’t, because I just have to know. He’s not only still up, but he’s entirely too close and setting me up to pass me back! Something clicks in my head… we’re still in a race, and he’s about to pass me back! Back to work and I pull out the gap, finishing the race in front of him, for 5th place. Great race, but I’m still off pace. After checking the times I see that spots #1-3 are all 1:26-1:28. 1:26’s would have WON AM Ptwins, nevermind NV. In fact, all top 3 guys are turning times that would be plenty respectable in AM, and one of them is brandy new! He’s been doing track days for quite some time, but had just done his rookie race the day before! Wow.

I can SEE the spots I’m leaving tons of time all over the track, but can’t seem to do anything about it. The brakes feel different, I’m not sure where the traction limit is anymore, and the new turn is still throwing me off a bit. Best time is a 1:32.2. My PB from the last weekend was a 1:31.4 and I def. should have been faster, not slower. Oh well, I can live with it. I know where I need to do my work.

Sunday practice I’m finally managing to put some of my trouble sections together, but I’m still not on pace. I decide to work on form and being smooth, and deal with the fast after. I get the feeling I’m dealing with too many issues at once, and if I sort the technical stuff out it’ll be easier to add some fast. I feel like I’ve got some smooth and consistent back. Doing 33’s for time, but I wasn’t out there for fast, I was out there for smooth and I feel like I found it. Looking forward to pouring on some fasts in the GTL.

Sunday Race #1 GTL:
So-so start, better than yesterday but still not where it was before. This is going to warrant some practicing. Get out there and turn some decent laps. Before too long the first wave catches us, 600’s, 750’s, 1000’s, etc. Possibly the most hectic GTL I’ve been in, the GTO & GTU bikes are just having at it. Quite a few yellows, quite a few bikes crashed out, but no red flag, which was sort of surprising. I got grazed by passing big bikes a few times, but whatever, no harm. I do find that with getting passed in every turn by the lapping big bikes my times are off. I feel like I put did every turn on that track better than I have been at some point in the race, but never got a clean lap out to see what it did to my times. I could definitely use to get back onto the track before the next race weekend.

Overall it was a great weekend, and I had a lot of fun. Looks like another PTwins trophy is out of the question for a bit, with the lead 3 guys running as fast or faster than the AM guys. Oh well. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, focusing on my time and form.

There’s footage of the PTwins race from Kurlon’s front # plate here: The contact and subsequent action is around 9:15, so if you don’t want to watch the whole video watch from 9:00 until you get bored. The pics below are from that video.
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