Thursday, March 17, 2011

Daytona Wrap Up - AMA Pro Racing

The 2011 AMA road-racing season begins in Daytona Florida with several races including the Daytona 200. Our team went to compete in the AMA Pro superbike class races.

The Daytona trip started out wet. We observed the Harley Davidson and sport bike crowd ducking for cover under any available highway overpass to avoid a down right proper rain storm. There were of course those crazy ones that choose to riding though the deluge. This storm brought more intense rain than we experienced during the Dunlop tire test held in Daytona a month ago.

First day of practice, our 10:00am-start time was a joke. The poor, wet weather has forced a delay. Perfect! Just what we really needed, less track time; our new AMA chassis and motor combo had never been ridden. We’re talking about a new frame, AMA spec motor, new brakes, new wheels and Ohlin’s suspension. At least the bodywork and seat were the same and fortunately those two items are easy to dial in, the rest needs time on the track to properly set up. This left us facing our first time on the track without any prior practice time. We went straight to 1st qualifying with what we had.

The Daytona track staff worked efficiently with the jet dryers and had the track ready to ride by 2pm. Although the track appeared dry, moisture left in the pores of the asphalt, the cold temperatures and a track washed clean of any prior laid rubber made for a first session that was insanely slippery.

Jeremy Toye #57 opted to only do 4 laps and come in for an adjustment. The good news was that his bike wasn't handling all that bad. The very bad news was that teammate, Gary Orr #51 suffered a rear end slip followed by a nasty high-side that chucked him hard to the pavement. The session was red flagged to clean up Gary's bike and transport him off the track and subsequently to the hospital. Wow! Our first practice was cut out and now we have an injured teammate. This day had not starting off the way we had planned. Gary suffered numerous orthopedic injuries. Although it appears he has a long recovery ahead of him, the good news is that he’s expected to make a full recovery!

We had no choice but to make the best of it and that’s just what the team did. After the first qualifying we came away with a good direction for the chassis and an satisfactory lap time, all things considered. The next morning the crew was at work performing a gearing change, a re-valve the shock, and different fork settings. Again we made forward progress and ended up with a good direction and improved lap times. Never the less, this is AMA, and in many languages it translates to "Times up!" No more changes hope for the best with what you have, it’s time for race one.

Race one started with a good launch off the line, but only lasted till turn 5. This is where I got a front seat view of BMW pilot Larry Pegram #72 torpedo sinking the little Canadian battle ship of Chris Peris #10; a battle between two BMW S1000RR riders that wasn’t meant to be. This race now was red flagged. We were able to get a good launch after the re-start that would get us up to 7th (position) in the first lap. Toye was able to race with Martin Cardenas #36 and hold onto the leaders the first quarter of the race. Slowly our good setup gave way to their great setup and they would inch away. We would eventually end up 8th overall. Not bad considering how our weekend had started off.

Saturday morning warm up again, saw us making some major changes: Gearing, wheelbase, rear shock re-valving, shock spring and fork spring changes. Even with the morning practice being extremely cold, we saw benefits from these changes. In race two we opted to go with a different front tire that we did not get to test due to the very short AM practice. How should I put this? "All good things must come to an end”, "should have left well enough alone”, "shoulda, woulda, coulda". Let’s just say, it was a bad move. Race two was not as favorable. I still would have to say, for the teams’ first outing it was a very positive one. We can't wait for Infineon.

More 2011 BMW S1000RR racing action coming your way in the near future. Stay tuned.


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