Re: Race Report - WERA/AMA National Jul 23-24
Mid-Ohio WERA/AMA Race Report (also known as 'A Tale of 3 Bad Starts')
So far in my racing history I had done a single 3-hour endurance race on my 929. This would be my first sprint races and I knew the start would be critical. I have no tire warmers (wasn't in the budget for this year) but I figured if I went out close to last for the sighting lap then I could try to wick it up a bit towards the end, get to the line pretty close to the start anyway, and just pray through the first couple of turns. It has worked out so far...
My first race up was Heavyweight Solo. I was so nervous I thought I might toss my cookies in my helmet getting ready to pull out through the paddock. I kept telling myself to relax, remember the basics (good form, keep breathing through the turns, relaxed grip on the bars, etc) and to run my own race. I get to the line and am on the 2nd row in the 3rd wave of riders. Waves 1 and 2 were experts with 3 being novices. The green flag for wave 3 drops and I lay into the gas. The bike stands up like the space shuttle and wants to shoot to the moon. I back off the throttle and get the front end down but by then about 5 bikes from behind me have blasted by. Back on the gas and I am off through turn 1. I keep reminding myself that it is a 12 lap race so there is plenty of time to pick people off and to not try to win it on the first lap. I settle down and try to get in a groove. I start picking off guys from the novice class here and there. Every now and then I get held up by some people but continue working through them where I can. I get by a guy on an RC51 who was only slightly slower than me at the time. Then I start picking off some stragglers from the expert group (boy did that feel good). Around lap 8 or so I am starting to get a little tired and back off a small amount. This allows the guy on the RC to get past me, which pissed me off a bit. So I put my head back down and get back around him after a couple of laps. From there I kept an eye in my lap timer to make sure I was running a good pace. I come around for the checker thinking I maybe got into around 5th place or so. Afterwards I go check the boards and it turns out I got 3rd out of about 20 riders. It was a money paying class so I got $105 for my position! Sweet success...
Next race up is Heavyweight Superstock. You would think I would be calm by now but the success of the first race has caused me to be even more nervous. Plus there are only 5 people in my race and I really didn't want to be the last guy across the line. This time there is just 1 wave for the race with experts and novices being combined. They inserted a few dead rows, however, so I can hardly even see the guy with the green flag. I try to get a better start but the front end comes up again. Not as bad as the last time but bad enough to let 2 guys beat me to turn 1. Again, they have a good gap on me and this is only a 6 lap race so I know I have to make up time quickly but need to not push it too much. I pass the guy in 2nd place but am still worn out from the solo race (I am poorly out of shape). Plus I wasn't focusing on the basics and instead was focused on not crashing. That resulted in my running a couple of seconds slower each lap than the first race. On lap 5 the guy in 3rd gets me through one of the turns. Again, pissed off I figured I will try to get him braking into turn 6. He knows that is my plan and goes late on the brakes preventing me from coming around him. At this point I figure there aren't too many places left to pass. I try giving it a go in turn 11 (another favorite place of mine to pass) but no such luck. At this point I figure he has 2nd place tied up unless I can figure out a way to get him at the line. I am hot on his tail trying to stay close for a photo finish at the line when coming into 13 I run right up beside him. Turns out I was way faster through 13 than he was. I stayed on the gas a tad bit longer to get in front of him then hit the brakes hard to make the turn. From there I went as fast as I could through 14 and 15 making myself as wide as possible and protecting the inside. It paid off and I held onto 2nd.
I was bummed about my lap times in the last race from the previous day and was determined to at least get my lap times back down to where they were for the first race. I go out into practice applying the basics again and get my times back down to where they were. Race time comes for Formula Extreme and I am on pole with only Novices being gridded up. I am focusing on getting as good a start as possible. The flag drops and the 2 guys on the line with me plus 1 from behind beat me to the turn. I did better this time but still need work on my launches. This is an 8 lap event so again I try to pace myself and not get too rushed. On lap 2 I have closed the gap on the guy in 3rd and figure I can probably outbrake him going into 6. I am correct and am coming up along side him when the guy who was behind me does the same thing to both of us. I get around the guy who was in 3rd, but the 5th place guy gets me so I stay in 4th. I put my head down and try to keep up with the new 3rd place guy but no such luck. I am not too bummed though because each lap my timer tells me I am running the best laps ever on the track. I was worn out by this race due to too much adrenaline flowing and being nervous, but I didn't want to take a chance on someone getting around me on one of the last laps. I keep my head down, give it my all, and manage to hold onto 4th place out of about 16 riders.
Overall I am extremely pleased. From track days I knew I was running decent lap times but figured this event would draw a lot of fast guys. It did and I managed to learn a little bit from them and pick up my own lap times by almost 2 seconds from the track days last week (I had already dropped 2 seconds during the track days from the previous month there). I had a couple of close moments where the front loaded up and almost tucked or the rear slid out a good bit but managed to recover, stay on the gas, and not get passed because of it. I made it through the event without crashing and achieved my primary goals (get faster, have fun) and my secondary goal (try to place well).