|WMRRA 2005 round 3, Spokane Raceway Park, Spokane Washington
Finally got to race in the dry, but even at my home track
I failed to beat my nemesis.
First, the race:
Once again not getting the best of launches on the dieci,
I was 3rd into turn 1 with Todd leading and Ken the
defending champion in 2nd.
Todd hadn't raced this class in the first two rounds,
and frankly I was a bit disappointed when I saw that he
had entered this weekend. Ken and I are at our maximum
while racing these ~160mph ~15 year old machines, but
Todd regularly gets top 5 finishes in the modern 1000cc
classes on a ~180mph machine and is therefore able to
really wring out these older bikes with no fear. His
1989 Suzuki GSXR1100 is well built and set up with more
modern suspension, making it a quite competitive machine.
Last year he won by a huge margin every race he entered
in this class, and only failed to take the championship
because an inner ear problem forced him to sit out the
last few rounds. He still ended up 2nd for the season
behind Ken and ahead of me in third.
So I was a bit surprised when Ken stuffed his bike up
under Todd and started to get away. I guess Todd was a
bit rusty from not racing the first two rounds. When I
realized that Todd was actually holding me up I tried
to find a way to get by. I found that his bike was not
allowing him to carry the corner speed I can on the
dieci, but his motor is so powerful he would pull a
small gap at the exit of each turn and a large one down
the long front straight. I could always make this up in
the long sweeping turn 2, but passing opportunities were
slim because my biggest advantage comes during mid-corner
where it is hard to use.
On lap 4 I was able to stay closer to him on the straight.
Turn 1 at Spokane is a high speed right hand kink with a
bump at its apex, immediately followed by a very short
hard braking area for the long sweeping left hand turn 2.
Todd's big old GSXR chassis had been forcing him to slow
well before turn 1 so that it would have time to settle
down for the braking and entry into turn 2. My dieci's
impeccable handling allowed me to stay (almost) on the gas
through turn 1 to close the gap, and I was able to outbrake
him on the inside going into 2. Once I was past him my dieci
and I railed around the turn at a corner speed well above
what we had been doing on the first 3 laps, so I knew I
had a good gap. I put my head down and dropped my lap
times trying to chase down Ken but I couldn't even see
him at that point.
On lap 5 a red flag flew because a rider had crashed in
turn 9. He was fine but his bike was in an unsafe area.
When a race is stopped with a red flag it can be restarted
or called complete. If the stoppage happens in the first
few laps the race is definitely restarted, and if in the
last few laps it is definitely called complete. But if
the stoppage happens around mid-race it is up to the race
director's discretion which way to go with it. This was
a red flag on lap 5 of a 10 lapper. So we waited for the
call from the race director.
I wanted very badly to have a chance at another start. I
knew that my first few laps behind Todd were off the pace
but that I had really stepped it up after getting by him
and I believed I was running lap times equal to what Ken
was running up front (the clocks later showed this to be
true). To my chagrin, the race director called the race
complete and I had to settle for another 2nd place. I
still lead the championship, but now by only 9 points and
I still haven't managed to take a win from Ken. He has won
every race so far except for the one where he crashed out
of the lead in the rain. I get another chance at Seattle
in two weeks, and even though that is Ken's home track I
am more motivated than ever.
Now that the race report is complete I can get on with
the excuses/explanations. You see, there were extenuating
In my last report I wrote extensively about my plan to
have a new engine with a 6-speed gearbox for this round.
That did not happen. There was a mixup on the crankshaft
bearings I ordered from Yamaha, and also the specialist
working on my head failed to deliver on time. So I'm
still running the old engine on which I am afraid to
put too many hours of hard use. A blown engine will not
help my championship hopes at all.
But the real story of this weekend is my race SB8. Yes,
I've been working on another project. Last fall I picked
up a salvage-titled insurance-totaled SB8R and over the
winter I revived it. I brought it to the first two rounds
but was unable to sort the suspension because of the
constant rain. So with my dieci not having its new engine
and the SB8 badly in need of setup, I spent the entire
Friday open practice on the SB8. By the end of the day
it was working fairly well. Then on Saturday my teammate
Chris and I alternated practice sessions on the SB8 as
we continued to work on getting it set up.
After two days on the SB8, when I took the dieci out for
Sunday morning's 15 minute warmup session it felt like a
completely unfamiliar motorcycle. The seating position
was strange, the 5-speed gearbox wanted to be shifted at
strange places on the track, and of course the engine
felt like it had no torque. In that 15 minute warmup I
only managed to get down to a 1:44 lap time -- five seconds
off of a good race pace. At the beginning of the race
while I was following Todd, we were turning 1:42-1:43
lap times while Ken was out front turning 1:40's. My one
clear lap after passing Todd and before the red flag was
a 1:40. So I eventually got on a competitive pace, but it
was too little too late. Spending two days working on the
SB8 had cost me a chance to compete for a win on the dieci.
The solution is clear: no more messing around with two
bikes. Chris is going to continue developing the SB8 while
I concentrate on going fast on the dieci. I am still waiting
for those reordered Yamaha bearings and rebuilt head, so it
looks like one more race weekend on the old smoking 5-speed
power plant. But I will go out for every practice session
with a fierce determination to make up for my mistake this
weekend. By the time the race rolls around Sunday afternoon
I will be ready. I'm not going to let this championship slip
away without my best effort.
Next up, round 4 in Seattle on June 12th.
I'll let you know how it goes.
And as always, thanks for reading.
-tim, WMRRA #420