|WMRRA 2005 round 1
April 4, Pacific Raceways, Kent (Seattle) Washington
A wet but good start to the season...
Many of you are already familiar with me and my dieci racebike so I'll just get straight to the racing. For those who are new to the list or don't know what I'm talking about, I've put an introductory paragraph down at the bottom of this message.
After starting slow last year on the dieci and picking up speed throughout the year to finish the season third in class, I was looking forward to seriously challenging for the championship this year. The only shortcomings on the bike last year were the 5-speed gearbox which does not suit the variety of corners on the two tracks where I race, and the old rear shock which even after rebuilding and tuning was just not up to the task of smoothing out the dips and bumps at Seattle. Over the winter I had a new racing shock made by Penske and I acquired 6-speed gearbox internals which I intended to build into a fresh engine. I haven't finished the new engine with the 6-speed, so I started the season with the old 5-speed mill, but the new shock is a big improvement.
Spring in Seattle is usually wet and this weekend was no exception. In addition to the water, the Seattle track surface can also have slime and moss accumulate over the long wet winter. The track maintenance crew does their best to clean the track before we race on it, but they really can't do much to solve the traction problem. Only time, warmth, and racing can scrub the tarmac clean and provide a good racing surface. So I knew this weekend was going to be a slippery crashfest. My plan was to ride conservatively, gather some points towards the season total, and bring the dieci home in one piece.
The rain fell all day, sometimes harder and sometimes softer. When the time rolled around for my race to grid up it was pouring down in buckets. Not only would traction be scarce but visibility would also be a major issue.
As the grid board went up for "ready", and sideways for "set", the starter's light was barely visible through the downpour. Focusing on the light, trying to see through the water, I did not pay enough attention to my engine revs and did not get a good start. But that's ok because a slow no-spin start beats spinning it up and losing control and I planned on a conservative race anyway.
Ken (last year's class champion) and Warren got jackrabbit starts and were off and racing. Mike got a slightly better start than I did, and I slotted in behind him in 4th as we headed for turn 1. Ken and Warren were gone and I knew I wasn't going to try to catch them, so I just followed Mike for a lap. His pace was slow enough that I figured I could get by and at least get a podium finish while still not
risking a fall. On lap two I passed him on the brakes down the hill into turn 3 and then just settled into a nice "don't fall down" pace for the remaining 8 laps. Mike wasn't going to let me have that podium spot quite so easily though, and even though he never showed me a wheel
I was able to hear his engine at least once a lap as he closed up behind me and prodded for weaknesses.
Every time I heard his engine I would twist the throttle just a *little* bit harder, trying to find the balance between holding him off and sliding off the track. As we circulated the track more and more broken bikes were piling up in various corners. In total five bikes went down during our ten lap race. I tried to get a peek to see if any of them were Ken or Warren but couldn't tell.
After what seemed an eternity the checkered flag flew. Mike and I traded thumbs-up waves with each other for a good race where we both stayed upright, and we headed back to the pits. When we got there we learned that indeed one of the five crashers had been Ken, the defending class champion -- the guy I need to knock off the top spot if I am to take the title this year. So the podium was Warren in first (40 points), me in second (32 points) and Mike in third (26 points). Ken gets only 1 point for his DNF.
Neither Warren nor Mike are expected to be much of a threat for the championship because their little 600's can't keep up in dry conditions (rain is the great horsepower equalizer). So I come out of round one with a 31 point lead over the guy who is my target for the season, and my bike still looks great. I'll take that as a good start to the season and I'll look forward to some fun dry racing in the coming months. Now
I just need to get out to the workshop and get back to work on that 6-speed engine. Ken told me this weekend that his GSXR1100 is making 152rwhp, and my dieci makes only 125, so even with the huge handling advantage of the bimota chassis vs Ken's barge I'll need every little bit of help I can get if I am going to stay in front of him.
I f you made it this far, thanks for reading and I'll post another report after round 2, May 8, also in Seattle.
My bike is the 1991 bimota dieci originally endurance raced by the Human Race Team with Dale Quarterly as lead rider. It is often referred to as "Quarterly's bimota" but it was also subsequently raced by Randy Renfrow, Andy Fenwick, and Rick Shaw among others. It has many cool period race parts such as WP Roma forks with magnesium triple clamps, magnesium Marvic wheels, and a custom one-off aluminum endurance tank. I bought it as a beat up and abused old racebike and spent over a year doing a frame-up restoration on it to make it look just like it did when Quarterly first raced it. I race it in the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association ( www.wmrra.com ), in a class named Heavyweight Early Grand Prix. This is a vintage racing type of class open to any bike made in 1991 or earlier, with no limit on displacement or modifications as long as they are true to the period. You can see pictures of the bike and read a short writeup done by a local enthusiast here.