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NOV #919 - LRRS Round 5

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    Lifer Ductard's Avatar
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    Cool NOV #919 - LRRS Round 5

    Going into my second LRRS round my goal for the weekend (besides just having fun) was to shave a couple of seconds off and turn in times to make the amateur bump. In the previous round, I had turned in a string of 1:28's on my motard and 1:24's on my 600, so shaving a second or two off of either one would have been a win in my book. I signed up for 2 races on Saturday and 2 Sunday morning. The afternoon races looked like they'd be over awfully late with the ASRA races in the middle. Figured if I wasn't near my goal by Saturday night I would sign up for 2 more on Sunday to give myself more time to improve.

    As a bonus this weekend, I had been able to convince my friend Greg to give racing a shot. Greg (now NOV #767) had taken me to my first track day in May of last year so it was my turn to introduce him to something fun.... (aka steal him away from his wife and kids)... He went up Thursday for the open test towing my new trailer and I was all set to meet him for the Penguin Advanced school on Friday. I would have liked to do the open test too but I figured mine was still a solid plan to get some help finding those few seconds with enough track time to work through any suggestions from Eric and the PRS crew.......Then work blew up and it was late nights at the office all week. I wound up getting up to NHMS on Friday, just before dark.

    First round practice flew by with me taking care of some small mechanical tweaks I had planned on sorting out during the week.

    Ok...now...no Friday morning track-walk...no classroom session to ask Eric for more reference points or better brake markers...no PRS coaches to critique my lines.....so now we're on the bare-bones almost zero seat-time lap time improvement plan. I had a couple ideas of where I could make up some time. On top of hitting the 9/10 transition much crisper I thought I was probably coasting a bit between 10 and 11, and I knew I could brake way later going into T1 on the motard... So #123 (Chris Dove) suggested that I go watch the amateur and expert practice to get a feel for where they're braking.


    I've only got a couple of sessions to watch by the time my bikes are good to go so I grabbed my scooter and buzzed over to T10......
    - Midweights - brake right there by that mark on the asphalt before the cone. check.
    - Motards... brake...oh wow....right as you pass the T11 cone. check.

    Buzz on scooter over to T1.
    - Midweights - pre-turn / brake ~3 board - no surprises there, had remembered that from a previous PRS track-walk.
    - Motards - pre-turn ~2 board - brake ~1 board to right before end of pit-wall. Check.

    OK...move markers back 10 yards for skill level and another 10 yards on out-lap for margin of error and give that a shot.

    Now comes second round practice to put that to work aaannnd........traffic. My second-hand brake markers felt pretty good when I got to use them and I was able to push them back reasonably close to where I thought the am/ex classes were braking. With all the traffic I had no idea where my times stood - I never made the top laps on the board. Back at the garage trackintel.com had me in the 30's and (gulp) 40's...

    As I helped Greg get ready for his rookie race, I was surprised how much I felt like an old hat as I told him stuff like how to know it's time to drop the warmers and head to grid - I've still got a TON to learn, but I guess it's just so much of a trial by fire that it felt like ages ago I was nervous about my own rookie race, in reality it had been exactly two weeks. Plus, I made pretty much every noob mistake in the book, which makes it easier to help other people avoid them

    Greg finished second in his rookie race and had to head back to Boston for family stuff, but he's stoked to enter some more races and I think we can drag him back at the end of August.

    I was looking forward to having better grid positions than my rookie weekend, hoping that having fewer people to work past itself might help drop a little off my times. Go to check the grid sheets only to find out that even for grid position, points are unique to each class. Not sure if missing practice had anything to do with it, but I have zero points in both races today and I'm at the back-right position in each one..d'oh.

    So, now on to the actual races:


    Sat Race 7 (Novice Formula 3) - Bike KTM 520 SX

    I get a pretty good start from grid position ~13. I make it past most of the field before T1 and start working my way through the rest of the field. Before I know it, I'm in 4th place. On the second lap I see a yellow going into T3....not planning a pass anyways so I prepare to go in at ~90% of my usual race pace figuring someone has low-sided into the air fence but..halfway through the corner one of the corner workers steps out and is waving like an umpire saying "safe"...hmmm...don't know what that means so I dial it back a little more and then boom - red flag coming out of T4 and I see a bike laying on the inside of the track - gotta be a high-side for him to be over there but he's getting up....no wait...he's crawling...this doesn't look good.

    They pull us back into pre-grid and I'm hoping that guy is ok - put it out of mind and realize I have no idea exactly how they re-grid you mid-race. Good news is that turns out not to be an issue in the novice class. Bad news...I'm going back from 4th to 13th with 6 laps to go, tops.

    Here we go.....green drops....I get an even better launch and I'm working my way through the field. A couple of laps later and I'm in third place and ready to make a drive out of T3, expecting to make a pass on the brakes into T6 and boom...another red flag.......another rider down as I head over the hill. Not a good start to the weekend. Two high-sides in the same place within a couple of laps.

    Back at the hot-pit they give us the universal hand across the throat sign to say it's over, but at that point I didn't care too much about the race, just head back to the garage and hope the riders wound up ok.

    I get back to the pits and take a glance at my times. The good news is my last lap is a 01:27.309. The bad news is it's stuck in with a 1:31, a 1:32 and a 2:47, as I was working through traffic and re-gridding for a red-flag. Hmmm... at the time I'm not sure if i have to be sub-1:27.000 of if 1:27.XXX gets me there, but those times won't work for "consistently able to run lap times at the threshold..."


    Sat Race 10 (Novice Formula 2) - GSX-R600

    Transponder....check.
    Gas....check.
    Rosa Parks grid position... check

    Ok...hmm...I'm thinking this is the fullest grid I've ever been on. I double checked what I wrote on the painters tape on my tank 'cause I can't believe I'm really in wave 2 and not wave 3. Yep. It's like 10D or something, wave 2. About 20 bikes in my wave, then more in front of them... I'm sure ex/am goes deeper but this is as deep as I've seen it in the novice class.


    Ok....well, I always believed that if life gives you lemons.....so I concentrate on getting a good launch. I don't know how many people I passed but my out lap says 10, so I guess I got by about half the field before T1 and then start working my way through. I'm passing about 2 people per lap. Towards the end of the race I get to glance up at my position and it looks like I'm in third...but was that third before or after I passed that last guy???? how many of the people right in front of me are from the first wave??...Hmm not much time to contemplate right now..I pass a couple more people assuming from their pace they're from the first wave...then I catch up to somebody right after the white flag. I don't see anybody in front of him...must be the leader....I pass on a few iffy passes on him...getting to the end of the race, then I see my chance. Thanks to my trusty new brake markers I'd honed in over the course of the race I know I can get him coming into T11. I take him on the brakes on the outside but I swing wide and don't have a great line into or out of T12, so I'm a little slow coming onto the straight. I cringe, expecting him to go right by lower down on the banking and steal victory but he doesn't catch up. Braaaapp! I cross the finish line and glance up a the leaderboard. Oh....wait...he was the second place guy after all.....haha.... Oh well. I was still pretty happy with second after coming from the back of the pack.

    I get back to the garage and check my times.....01:22.183...with a sprinkling of 1:23's.....I'm not sure but I guess that's enough to show that my 1:22 isn't a total fluke. I decide to stick with my two morning races and have a peaceful Sunday evening.


    Sun Race 1 (Novice Rookie 2) GSX-R600

    I'm pretty excited for this race on Sunday morning. Whereas typically I had been working through the field, I was in the first row for this race. I had noticed in all my other mid-weight races that #396 had been taking 1st a lot. I had always started way behind him, but my best laps were always just at or below his best laps so I thought I had a good shot at taking first this time. Maybe he'd push a little harder if I showed him my wheel but either way I was stoked for a good race where I figured we'd be running head-to head. I got a pretty good launch but was used to having to tone-down my launch as everybody funneled into T1 so it was hard to not hold just a tiny bit back. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw #396 pick the front up too far and throw the anchor out. That instant, I knew the holeshot was mine for the taking and I rolled on the last 1/4-1/8 throttle twist that I had been holding back. The front end lifted about three inches off the ground and I was just starting to think about feathering the clutch when all of the sudden PING! The clutch lever drops to the binders and before the front even touches back down - ever the optimist I start thinking "Shit. There goes the motor." My left hand goes up to signal and that thought is instantly followed by "Shit...you're not at the back of the grid....shit..shit!" My half-hearted hand raise turns into full-blown seated jumping jacks as I picture youtube videos I've seen of what happens when guys get caught sitting on the grid.

    I limp the gixxer back to the pit-out between T1 and T2 and get let into the infield.

    I get back to the garage, and my heart sinks as I see a broken rod sticking out of the crank case. It's amazing what a broken chain can tear through at those speeds. I think I'm looking at paying somebody to split the cases but give it a little tug and it comes right out, cleanly... Come to find out it's an $11 clutch push rod. I ordered two, just in case. :-)

    Sun Race 3 (Novice Rookie 4) KTM 520 SX

    This race was my first first-place since my rookie race. It was good to have another shot after a disappointing first race of the day.

    As of this writing I don't recall anything particularly noteworthy during the race. I guess I need to start writing these sooner so my memory's fresher.... I do, however, want to give a shout out to #911 Gunnar Ouellette....the little bugger got by me cleanly on the inside of T3 this round. Twice. Way to show me how it's done, Gunnar.

    ASRA Thunderbike - Amateur/Novice - KTM 520 SX

    After missing out on one race, I was itching for another shot - so I decided to sign up for one of the ASRA races... They were a bit pricy, but I was anxious to get out on the track with the amateur/expert guys and see if I could have them pull me around for a bit. I had not delusions of winning the race, but figured I'd declare victory if I didn't get lapped by any of the experts. It was a 12 lap race so that was going to be tough

    Amateurs are lined up behind the experts....I think half of us didn't realize there was only one wave, as Heath and the rest of the pre-grid team is motioning to us to get our hands back on the bars and get ready to launch.

    I get an Ok launch at first, but I miss the upshift to second. Out of the corner of my eye I see the 2-stroke 250 having worse problems than I am and he drops behind me.

    I'm just getting ready to tip in to T1 and WHAM the whole bike shudders...I'm thinking - great, another broken chain or something but when I look back towards the swingarm, that smoker lying on its side sliding right up against the left side of my back wheel. The rider's halfway between me and the grid. I'm totally taken off-guard and I'm not sure if the bike is physically attached to mine but I figure tipping in on a left turn isn't an option with another bike on my back left wheel, so I keep going straight out onto the Nascar oval. I'm trying to remember what happens in a race when you take this little detour, but I'm thinking somebody says you just can't gain a position. So I start going around the NASCAR banking at what feels like ~ 50% race pace. As I come around NASCAR T2 I see the corner workers motioning me to slow it down so I cut back. They sort of had their backs against the NASCAR wall so I don't know if they got stuck someplace they usually don't like to be when a bike's coming towards them or if I was just going too fast but I cut back until I get past them, then try to pick up a little speed so I'm close to a race pace when I reenter on the back straight.

    ...if anybody knows the guy on the 2-stroke, I'd be curious to see if he thinks I did anything odd or unpredictable in front of him. I don't think I did, but I'd want to know if there's anything I need to change about how I take T1 on an out lap.

    I wasn't out to win this race anyways, but at this point I'm trying to figure out if I just got docked some sort of point / times / laps or what, but just figure whatever they'd let me know later and turned my attention to my bike. I took it a little bit easy, and something didn't feel quite right so I signaled coming out of T10 and went into the hot pit. I stopped by the guy with the gnomes (what's his name?) and tried to yell about what happened. Not sure if he understood, but I looked back and everything seemed to be OK so I shrugged and he shrugged back, and I headed off down the hot pit and reentered the track.

    After all that, I couldn't get my head quite back into the race. My lines were terrible in T1-2 and going around the bowl I bet the crowd gasped a time or two when I went up onto the camber change at the top of the bowl (I had ventured 6 inches or so onto it before, which Eric had said he does occasionally, but described as "not ideal".) I also had problems finding the right gear and had to shift between T6 and T7...sometimes downshifting, sometimes upshifting...which had never been an issue before.

    I was actually thinking about pitting out since I was riding crappy and didn't figure I'd see any other racers for a while when coming down the hill before T6 the race lead passed me with his front wheel in the air and slammed it down right next to me. I almost thought he looked pissed the way he did that (not sure V-twins loft the wheel right there unless you're really, really, trying to), and I think I might have been right as it appears my crappy lines that race did not go unnoticed.

    After that expert passed me I knew there would be others soon to follow. I forgot about pitting out and had two thoughts....let me see how long I can hang anywhere close to this guy and second...let me make sure that I ride clean so that I don't screw up the guys on the lead lap.

    I guess I got passed by 3-4 of the experts. I had a good time for probably 6-7 laps hanging onto them and finally turning some laps at a pace dictated by my skill level, not by how much traffic I had to work through. At one point I'm going around T11 and this helmet looks like it just emerges from my armpit and one of the experts goes by me....I was cool with it but he apologized later in the garage anyways.

    Unfortunately, since we launched with the first wave I didn't get a chance to reach back and switch on my Qstarz, and the lap times aren't posted on mylaps. I'm curious to see if my lap times were better than usual once I started getting pulled around by the experts.

    Of note, I was sliding the rear a bit in T3 and in T10. I didn't notice the front sliding too much. I'm not sure but I think I might have been running out of tire (because even when I was a lot slower than I am now, I got rid of the last hint of a "chicken strip" on my motard a long time ago), not to mention I felt the peg almost drag a couple of times (oh yeah, and lost my toe slider for the 3rd time that day in one of those corners). I played around with body positioning by getting my upper body down and out a little more which seemed to help, but it seems like when you change something it's really hard to make sure you don't inadvertently change something else (i.e. did I go in a little less hot this time since I was thinking about body positioning...or was I smoother with the bar inputs since I was really really thinking about not putting any weight on them). Of note, my steering damper was broken so with the super-wide grips of a motard, even the slightest hint of pressure has so much leverage it's really hard not to give bar input..maybe that had something to do with it? I'm also thinking about putting a slick on the back - I'm running a set of supercorsa SC1/SC2 combo, but I think the superbike slicks have a different profile... One final thought is that the Pirelli guy thought the pressures I usually run were a bit low for a motard (26R/29F - hot), although he did say they weren't ridiculous so keep them if they're working. Sounds like I've got some experimenting to do.





    So all and all it was a pretty good weekend, and I just got the bump email this morning. Bye bye red numbers, hello yellow background

    I've still got a pre-paid PRS ticket to use, and I think they have an open test day again before the next round. I've already asked for the days off from work to do the Thurs test and Friday advanced Penguin school, so I should have ample time to get some coaching to make sure my lines are clean and smooth before I step it up to play with the big boys

    2 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    Last edited by Ductard; 08-19-14 at 11:08 PM.
    "Where are we going?...and why am I in this handbasket?"
    LRRS 919
    '12 Ducati 1199 Panigale (track) '08 Honda CRF 250 (ice) '02 KTM 520 SX Supermoto (track)

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