WERA 2017 Cycle Jam race report

Discussion in 'Race Reports' started by Lazy Destroyer, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. Lazy Destroyer

    Lazy Destroyer Well-Known Member

    2017 Cycle Jam race report!

    This one really had its fair share of ups and downs. Really looked forward to this round, despite only riding this track once before. Packing was a breeze since I just left most everything in the trailer/car from the previous weekend at Roebling Road. And being so close the drive was pretty easy.
    Got set up with Robert Murillo, Daniel Paine, and Wesley Hanson. Jeremy Barker joined in too later that night to add another SV to the mix.

    Friday practice went pretty well. Ended up doing a best of a 1:49 so I had a goal to stick to for the weekend. The times from the day were looking promising, there were a few new names I did not recognize, but the times I saw in practice from them made the races look promising. We only had about three practice sessions since our first one was cut short after the first lap or two from a red flag.

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  2. Lazy Destroyer

    Lazy Destroyer Well-Known Member

    Saturday came and the LWT guys had our practice early. I rode around with Alicia Connors on her R3 to show her a few of the reference points I'm using for the blind spots on the track, so she would be able to be comfortable in a few spots that are otherwise tricky. She did great! And it gave me a chance to slow down and double check some visual markers around the track and refine a few minor things. I had Race 6 (F2), Race 14 (LWT SS), and Race 17 (LWT SB). Grids were pretty big compared to previous rounds with it being Cycle Jam.

    Formula 2 came up and this was one of my favorite races so far. Just like in the previous round at Roebling, I raced a bit for a fight for first place. Freddie McAuley came out of nowhere and really diced it up. I never looked at his Saturday morning practice times to see that his pace started to exceed mine. We were pretty much spot on but my problem was I could run a faster pace through the chicane and the esses, where it is difficult to pass. And he'd gap me coming into turn 6/7 just enough for me to not keep pace on the back straight. After a couple laps I felt I wasn't going to win anything without a pass as early as possible after the chicane. And hope I could hold him off through 6/7 and if he drafted me hopefully outbrake him into 10a. Accelerating into the Esses, I kept the hammer down to set up a pass before Turn 5. I charged into him and of course he takes the usual straight line through the esses, and unfortunately I was positioning myself right next to him at one of the curbs. I just kept it pinned, no turning back. I had no idea how tall those curbs were there (probably would have been a good idea to gently test these during practice) so I just sent it. They looked tall but I hoped it was an illusion. But it wasn't, bike hit the curb hard. I think I may have been in the air when I passed him and I couldn't brake early enough to make Turn 5 cleanly.

    I felt I was going to run off but I gave the brakes hell and tried to trail brake over the huge Turn 5 outside curbing. I was able to get it woah'ed down enough to avoid the gravel and I re-entered after checking behind me. Freddie was there (thankfully) and I gave him the "I fucked up, sorry, my bad" wave. I was just glad we didn't hit because it felt I was really close as I went by him.

    My drive to Turn 6 sucked but I tried hard to make 6/7 fast to avoid getting drafted. Freddie was right there, got by me on the back straight, and I couldn't keep up. Again I caught up to him at Turn 2 but could not figure out a way around him between Turn 2 and Turn 5. I decided to wait for an opportunity but it never came, Freddie rode great and I managed to finish 2nd to him. I gave it my best but I still need to work on my racecraft, I feel my pass was a little wild and maybe there was a better spot that I just wasn't seeing during the race.

    I had been riding on a somewhat shagged rear tire, thinking I would be fine to finish it off today but seeing Freddie's pace was a wake up call, so after this race I swapped back on my newer rear tire in hopes I could find some pace.

    Lightweight Twins SS was next. William Nash was in this one and I suspected I wouldn't be able to keep up. And his race pace was even faster, coupled with the badass start of his, so I pulled off a second place here.
    Lightweight Twins SB was the last race. I stayed in 3rd behind William Nash and Jason Helms which both had a strong pace, way more than I could keep up with. Unfortunately I got passed by a 1000cc Bimota, and on the back straight it just wasn't even close. I could catch back up from Turn 1 - 5, but everything else was just out of reach. I could brake way deeper into 10a but nothing that could gain that much distance. So again on this one I just tried to stay as close as possible just in case the Bimota made a mistake and I could pounce on it. I finished up in 4th place, admittedly a little deflated because I think the back straight is the reason I couldn't pull the podium.

    The day overall turned out okay and the weather was great. My bike rode well but my front brake problem came back today and the lever has WAY too much take-up slack, putting the friction zone too close to my gloves to be comfortable here at Road Atlanta. I decided to just run with it and not mess with the brakes before another race day, I was comfortable enough with them, but getting the calipers rebuilt was definitely a requirement after the weekend was completed.

    Saturday was one of those incredibly difficult days, not just in racing but in life. In the afternoon, there was a racing incident at Turn 6/7 and a corner worker was hit and killed. We always take these risks not just as racers but as motorcycle riders, however when someone gets hurt or dies while volunteering for an often thankless job to keep us safe on the track, it really hurts. To make it worse, the corner worker was very well known and experienced here at Road Atlanta, so there were many of us that knew her to some degree. She often had newer corner workers with her and often critiqued them during the day. And boy did she let them have it if they screwed up! Not ever because she was mean, but because she took the job very seriously and expected excellence every time.

    Not much more I can say that hasn't already been shared and expressed by many. Hazel had the perfect combination of sweet and sassy, Turn 7 will certainly never be the same without her presence there. I only had the chance to be around her a few times in the last couple years doing photos at that corner... for sure she is the type of person that you'd never forget, and maybe also (in my case) take for granted the great moments had because of her. Road Atlanta's Turn 7 will always be hers and I'm positive she will continue to watch over us as a guardian angel to make sure we are safe.

    It was very difficult to grid up for LWT SS and LWT SB after this incident, but I'm sure Hazel would have cussed us out for even thinking of not finishing those races.

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  3. Lazy Destroyer

    Lazy Destroyer Well-Known Member

    Sunday came and the weather was looming. Many had already left, and the dark skies seemed to symbolize the emotions many of us felt within from the heartache from the recent tragedy.

    LWT practice went out first and there were only a handful of us out. Really quiet compared to the previous day's practices. Fortunately we were able to get one of the only dry practice sessions before the rain came in. 10am-12pm was quiet time and most people tried to get a head start on packing up before things got too soaked. Stickboy got me some sweet rain tires mounted up.

    I got the rains mounted a little later than I should have, and ran into a problem with my spare front wheel that had the rain tire. The spacer was different than the other wheel, and I didn't think to bring the second spacer because I thought both were the same. In a mad dash I realized this wasn't going to work at all and had to get Stickboy to re-mount the rain tire on my main front wheel. It was hectic but managed to get it all mounted up before the race. By this point I was totally soaked from the rain and I hadn't even raced yet.

    I have never raced in the rain... or even rode any track days in the rain for that matter, so I had zero rain experience except for whatever I've picked up street riding. I talked to as many people as I could beforehand to get an idea of what to expect and what changes I need to make to my riding. Fortunately I'd consider myself more of a "smooth" rider so I felt if anything the rain might just be fine for me.

    Final call came out, but due to an incident, we had to be held at hot pit for 5 minutes or so. I took the time to chat with Damian and Jeremy about what to expect. Damian gave some great advise so I felt pretty excited to race now. I had no idea what to expect but I felt Turn 1 would teach me quick what I would be dealing with.
    We get let out for the warm up lap. The rain tires definitely feel a little different but I didn't notice anything bad. I was glad everyone seemed to be taking the warmup lap pretty slow. I wanted to give the brakes a solid squeeze, to see how strong the front rain tire feels, but with all the rain I never got a chance to look behind me and didn't want to brake check anyone. So I just got a feel as much as I could and lined up at the grid for the race.

    Checkered flag dropped and I got a decent start. It seemed crazy hectic at first, everyone seemed bunched and the water was flying everywhere. I get tucked behind the experts and I just plan to follow them. Then something weird happens... the pace through turn 1 was way slow. I swing around a couple experts and by the bus stop there were only a couple experts in front of me, and I felt the pace through the Esses wasn't bad at all. I decided I should stick behind these guys and if the pace hadn't changed, make a move on the second lap.

    Unfortunately, my bike lost all power coming out of Turn 5. I had no idea what was going on, but it wasn't accelerating out of Turn 5 at all. It dawned on me that second generation SV's have the same issue with water in the front cylinder. I was furious. I soon got passed by what felt like the whole field on the back straight. I almost pulled in but decided to just keep riding, since there were not that many riders out there, and take a last place podium. I was totally gutted. All I wanted at this point was for that cylinder to fire back up and for me to see what I could do. I felt I had the pace I could haul some ass in the rain. Now I was riding mad on what felt like 15 hp.

    To make things worse, the bike completely shut down a couple times and I had to pull off as it wouldn't bump start. Every time this happened I felt even worse. The soaking rain just felt so appropriate.

    Finished the race and I pulled into the pits. I get off the bike and I put my hand on the front cylinder exhaust pipe and it was cold. I knew before touching it what it was though. Wesley helped me pull the boot and plug off, he said the boot was just full of water. We tried to dry everything up, and I duct taped my entire front fairing to possibly prevent water into the front cylinder. By the time we get it sorted, it's time for my race and now I'm pumped to finally see what I can do in the rain.

    Sadly, I make it about halfway through the first lap before it craps out again and I'm riding on a single cylinder. A decent size field passes me and I frustratingly finish the race. At least in this race I got lapped, which is good because I only had to race 5 laps instead of 6.

    So Sunday I managed to finish the races, but wasn't too happy about it. I would have given up the points and the trophies just for a chance to race in the rain straight up to see if I could hang with the expert leaders. But a silver lining was it kept my pace slow for my first time racing in the rain, so I wasn't in a position to do much of anything stupid. Ended up the day with a 2nd and 3rd

    So all in all, I had a great Cycle Jam. It had some up and downs, some great moments and some bad moments, but I guess that's how racing goes sometimes. I'll take what I've learned and apply it to the next race.
     
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  4. Lazy Destroyer

    Lazy Destroyer Well-Known Member

    Photo credit: Active Shooter Photography

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