I am finally up and around after Saturday's flight. I am going to join the Near list to clear up what took place. First off aside from Dick making some kind of fat joke in the infield center, I was never for a moment feeling anything but comfort and calm. He was actually pretty funny whatever he said. Brian was a good talker on the way to Concord, and made sure they were up to speed with my condition there. I can tell you I will still be a defender of Loudon from a club racing standpoint. My accident was the worst case you could dream up by having no brakes in 6, and a lot of things went my way to have me only nursing a broken ankle after flying through the air. I have some ideas for a gravel trap but we'll talk about that some other time. To let you know what took place, here it is.
To preceed this incident, I was at Daytona in March of 2006 for CCS and AHRMA. I was on the second lap of the team challenge on the same TL 1000 when I lost all braking on the front going into the Chicane. I pumped it to no avail. The other end was actually closed off with Hay bales with a little chicane opening to keep anybody from gaining time blowing through at speed. This was not good news for me, so I lined my front wheel up with the joints of two bales and blasted through on the throttle. I made it through, ripping bodywork and controls off of the bike, yet never went down or out of control. I coasted back to the pits to a couple of dumbstruck team mates and told them what happened. By then , the brakes had come back, but they obviously believed me. We took the system apart, replaced the lines, and focused on the rotors which were some of Braking's first design wave rotors. We were convinced, partly by the fact that they changed the design, that the shape of the petals were amplifying the pads slapping back with a slight wobble that was happening coming out of the infield onto the back straight. We changed to standard style rotors and went out on the bike in the pit roads and then on the track without any further problem. I raced Mon. & Tues. with AHRMA and had no problems. Case closed, right?
At least 8 events were done at a variety of tracks inclding Mid Ohio 3 weeks ago, between then and Loudon last week with no problems of fade or loss. Fast forward to last Friday Penguin practice. No problem in 3-4 rounds on Friday and the first round of Saturday LRRS Group 2. Second round of group 2, I was in a pretty large group, following a Liter bike that had me braking harder than usual (in practice) trying to get around him, and noticed going into turn three that the brakes got slightly spongy, pulling back further to make it stop, but not soon enough to decide to pull in to the turn 3 gate area or scary enough by any means. I decided to continue the lap and come in. As I started up the hill I realized that they guy I was stuck behind and myself had created a pretty big line and me slowing down too much going over the hill could have caused trouble on its own, so I kept some speed up and at my usual late turn in point, I realized the brakes were gone, pumping back to the bar with no response. I tried to turn harder, down shift,rear brake, lowside, anything, but with only the blink of an eye to the wall knew I was headed to the wall at speed and figured it was over for me. I impacted the last soft barrier which I am told was the best one. I recall it being blue. From there I can only go by what I hear. I was launched over the bike at the end of the impact being absorbed, and assume that my left foot took off the handlebar in the process, breaking it off forwards where everything else was the opposite. That was most likely what snapped my ankle. Both knees were hyper-extended, again from being forced from sitting to flying. I am told I made it to the exterior fence some 50 feet away and down hill and was somehow tangled in the bottom of it. I can only assume the fence absorbed some impact and spared me a laundry list of broken and bruised body parts or worse. I have no idea how everything lined up to spare me with just an ankle injury, but it has made me think a little. Other guys with way less severity of situations have not come out so well. After the crash, I was told the brakes were back to normal, but trust me when you pull a lever back and hurt your other fingers it a good sign you are in trouble. Then all 4 don't do it either. If I could back up the clock two things would have changed. 1- I would have scrapped the Brembo MC that was in use after Daytona's incident, and I would have pulled off to the left up on the hill at station 4 and waited to cruise back in. That's pretty clear hindsight. As it is now, if I feel like continuing racing, I will probably park the TL, and stay with just the Ducati for some sense of security. Thanks to all who helped me get through the day Saturday and get home and to those who checked on me. I will be back in some respect soon. People just don't understand the brotherhood that exists within LRRS and probably never will.
Bob Robbins #46