AFM Round 3 - Sears Point/Infineon
with both good and bad decisions...
Long before this race
weekend, I knew I was not going to be able to practice on Saturday. I also knew
that I have been dodging a bullet all this time by not having a damper. I made a
decision going into this weekend to take the money I would normally spend on
tires and instead apply it to a steering damper. Damper: good. Stretching tires
for the third race weekend in addition to 2 trackdays: not so good. Here's how
it went down...
I showed up at the track Saturday evening in time to register and tech. Thanks to everyone that got all my stuff to the track and loaded in the garage. Made me feel like a rock star.
My plan for Sunday morning practice was to get out there and ride as if I were racing. I got up to speed pretty quickly and felt I was just short of where I left off a month ago. 5 or 6 laps into it I found myself behind Dorsey on his motard and looking for a way around. I figured a good opportunity would be between turn 1 and 2 where I've got the horsepower advantage. I pass him ok as planned but end up early apexing 2 early and still turning after it goes off camber.
Exiting turn 2 I rolled on the throttle as I normally do causing the back end to step waaaaaay out. The last time I had the back end step out even just a third of this one was at Thill over a year and a half ago. The result of that one was a nasty highside, a broken rib, and a crushed thumb.
This time around was different. The rear wheel caught traction again, the bike straightened out and we kept on going as if nothing happened. Thank you steering damper. Within thirty minutes of riding with the damper it had already paid for itself.
I chalked it up to pushing too hard first thing in the morning on a cold track in a bad line. Moving on...
Formula IV wasn't until race 9 which really sucks. Went out for the warmup lap and gridded up. The start went ok. I checked up a little bit and lost some spots, but as usual went around those same spots in T2 and things are feeling pretty good as I'm hanging with the same folks from last round.
Then everything went to hell in a handbasket. The tires reached that cliff of being ok, and then absolutely nothing. Now I'm slipping and sliding through the corners. With each turn it got worse and worse. On the second lap, Dean pulls his typical "I'm gonna outbrake you in T4, just kidding" routine. I braked well and turned in behind him per my own routine as I saw him going way wide again.
I turned in and just as I'm getting back on the throttle at the exit the front pushes big time and now I'm headed right off the track. I stand it up and go straight off the rumble strips. I had a lot of speed and didn't get the bike slowed and turned back to the track until the crest of the entrance to the carousel. I look to the turnworker for a signal that I can re-enter the track but he won't let me and directs me to the wall. I'm not sure what the issue was and why I couldn't re-enter. I was pissed to say the least.
The race ends and I come in.
I only have one race in between this race and 650T so I go out for the in between race's warmup to clean off my tires. I don't have time to get new tires, so I'll just try to limp through 650T.
And that's what I did. I know there are racers out there that could have top-10'd on spent tires, but not me. DavidB comes around me in the carousel like I'm standing still. I stick with him through the next few turns and prepare for an outside pass in 10. I'm on the gas and coming around his left side when wooooooooop my own rear wheel is coming around me! I backed way off at that point and said, "Lesson learned, let's just bring the bike home in one piece."
I don't think the weekend that was a complete loss. I do now have a damper which will continue to be very helpful in the future, and I did get to work on handling a loose bike.
On to Thunderhill...
Only to find myself alone later on.