I came to Roebling pretty determined to be faster here. I got some advice late in the day last time I was here that I didn’t fully get to test out, and I wanted to see how much of a difference it made. Here’s the motorcycle race recap.
With that in mind, I signed up for a track day on Friday sponsored by Stickboy Racing. Nothing like seven or eight 20-minute practice sessions to give you time to figure things out.
Wow, did I figure some things out. In the beginning of the day I was running my race pace from the prior weekend here. By the end of the day I managed to drop about four seconds a lap. Everything about my approach to the track changed, mainly from one initial change – I stopped braking for turn 1.
That single change dropped a whole bunch of time and made me realize that I was being too tenuous around the rest of the track, and I could hold the throttle open wider and longer in more places.
Saturday morning I was pretty pumped up. I went out for first practice and felt good. I wasn’t trying to set any records, just blow the dust off. What I discovered was that my quads were fried from so many sessions on Friday!
I missed the call for the 2nd practice session, and when I started the bike I realized I hadn’t filled the fuel tank. I figured that by the time I got the tank filled and got out there, I’d get in maybe a lap or two, so I decided to skip.
We gridded up for the race. I got a pretty good start, but got passed by a couple bikes on entry into turn 1. We went in there in a group of about a half-dozen bikes. A few turns later, the pack had broken up, and I found myself chasing Emma Betters on her KTM 390. A couple laps later, I caught her and passed her in turn 6.
That’s when the fun started.
I kept Emma behind me through turn 9, and was thinking I wasn’t going to see her again, but about three-quarters of the way up the front straight she powered past me. I gained almost all the gap back in turn 1, and passed her in turn 4. We get back on the straight, and she passes me in almost exactly the same spot. I pass her in turn 3, thinking that if I got by her early enough, I could get a gap on her through the turns and she wouldn’t get me in the straight.
That didn’t work either.
We did this several times. I stuffed her on turn 5, thinking I might get her far enough off-line to kill her drive. Nope. Same spot on the straight, here she comes. I tried about everything I could think of.
The white flag waves, last lap. My final strategy is to pass her before we get to the straight, and hope she doesn’t get me before the finish line, which is about halfway up the straight. But I missed a shift going into turn 4 and killed my drive, and ended up following her the rest of the lap.
Lucky for me she’s in a different class. I won my class.
Sunday I chose to sleep in and skip the first practice. Second practice something felt wrong, and I screwed up my turn 4 entry. I figured it was just practice and it would work itself out.
It didn’t work itself out.
Sunday race I got a better start and was pretty much running by myself for the first three or four laps. Then coming down the straight in the tuck, I see coming up on my right out of the draft is Brian Fairchild.
Brian is also on a Ninja 300, and he weighs about 40 pounds less than I do, but I stayed down in the tuck and we entered turn 1 side by side, with him just ahead. I was carrying more speed into the corner than he was, but I thought I was going to hit him so I rolled off. I never stood a chance after that. Brian’s a super-talented rider, and faster than me pretty much everywhere we go.
But Brian is also in a different race class. Once again, I won my class.
All in all I had some great racing, learned a whole lot, and picked up two first places and a nice points haul for the weekend. I got a couple more tips, too, as to why I’m not gelling with this bike as much. Of course, those tips require spending some money.
The bike is off to GMD Computrack tomorrow for chassis checks and adjustment, and I’m talking to Spears Racing about some lighter springs for the front end. Of course, once I’ve made those changes I’ll need suspension setup again, but I need to trust this bike enough to be faster!