Full Daytona Race Report
Thursday and Friday practice:
The plan was to use last yearís takeoffs for practice but things donít always go to plan. We changed the rear tire at the previous race meet but didnít change the front. When we got to Daytona, I made the decision to leave the medium compound front on. I was thinking, ďItís the front, it doesnít take a lot of force and heat like the rear tire does. And, Iím only going to be doing 5-6 laps at a time. There shouldnít be a problem. Iíll just watch it carefully for any problems.Ē
The front tire held up fine and showed no signs of abnormal wear for the four practice sessions on Thursday. Friday morningís first practice went just fine and the tire was looking quite normal. Then, in the second practice Friday morning I was on the brakes in turn one and the bike was feeling weird.
I turned in and the bike just didnít want to lean over and it felt like Iíd moved the position of one of the clip-ons. I was off line and I chalked it up to rider error.
As I went through turn two, something was definitely wrong with the bars. On the short straight to the International Horseshoe, I looked at the bars trying to determine what was up. I didnít see anything wrong and I turned into the horseshoe going slower than normal.
The bike didnít want to turn in so I pushed a little more. Then I realized it was all wrong, I had to stand the bike up NOW! Too late. The front gave way and I was on the ground. I and the bike stopped in the grass relatively undamaged. The front tire was flat.
I immediately took the tire to Dunlop and told them it went flat. The looked at it for about 15 minutes and then came back and told me it was a non-Daytona tire and it over-heated.
What had happened was the plies of the tire had started to come apart and I was very lucky the only thing that happened was the loss of air.
Friday Ė GTO, 4th:
The bike repaired and fresh Daytona compound Dunlop tires on, I was ready to go. Due to a new clutch problem, I got a bad start and went into turn one in sixth. I was behind Marco Martinez and Charlie Mavros. I expected Martinez to be kind of fast and was content to just chase him for a couple laps to try and hang with the front group.
Things donít always go to plan. By turn six I realized Martinez was having bike problems. The pace was still of the leaders was slower than I expected and I wasnít having any questions about keeping up with them. But I had to get around Martinez first.
It took the whole west banking to pass him. With the pass complete, I got on the brakes at my usual point before chicane. The brake lever came back its normal amount but the amount of braking force was much lower than what was needed. I squeezed harder and the lever didnít move nor did the bike slow down more. Not good.
I picked the bike up and started making a plan to blow through the chicane. It was at this point I realized I hadnít blown the chicane in practice and didnít know the route through the barriers they had up. To me, it looked like the whole back straight was blocked and the only escape route was a thin piece of grass between two walls.
Adding to my issues, the back was sliding all over the place. Somehow the engine had stalled. I pulled in the clutch to get the rear tire back under control and then let it out just a little to try and get the bike started again. It started just before I turned into the grass at about 70mph.
I made it through the grass with no further issues, checked to make sure I wasnít about to pull out in front of another racer who was at speed, and pulled back onto the track in 8th, well behind the lead group.
I experienced the same braking problem again in turn one. This time though I was ready for it and was on the brakes about 100 yards earlier than normal. I made turn one and from there on added a lot of distance to my normal braking zones.
Even with my braking problems I was running my best laps so far and caught and passed 7th and 6th place. Two of the lead group dropped out with mechanical problems and that promoted me to 4th.
Saturday Ė Unlimited SuperSport, 5th:
On Friday, the grid positions for the Unlimited SuperSport race on Saturday showed only five entries. The only racer on there that would provide me competition was Charlie Mavros. I was thinking there might be a win in store for the team. Things donít always go to plan.
Saturday morning, three more riders had signed up for the race. Two of them, Brian Stokes and Shane Narbonne, were just plain faster than me. The third, Eric Haugo, I thought I could run with.
As for the brakes, we replaced the glazed pads, sanded the rotors to clean them off, and bled the brakes. They worked fine after that.
I got a decent start considering my clutch problems and went into turn one in 4th. Narbonne was already in front with Stokes, Haugo and then me right behind him. Mavros used my draft to pass me going into the chicane and then passed Haugo in turn one. Haugo re-passed in turn two and held that to the chicane on lap three when Mavros took over 3rd place. I was quite content to let those to battle themselves and tire each other out. Iíd wait until the last lap and then use their double draft to pass both of them. Things donít always go to plan.
My first indication there might be a problem was that I wasnít actually catching them on the banking, I was hitting my rev limiter. The other issue was these guys were really battling it out and going into the chicane on lap four it looked to me like they were about to crash each other out. Thatís all fine and dandy but for some reason I they were slowing down more than usual and I was coming down on them mighty fast.
My closure rate and the idea theyíre running into each other gave me just enough distraction to make the decision to blow the chicane. This time I knew the route through the barriers and went through without incident but well behind Mavros, 3rd place, and Haugo, 4th place. I finished a lonely 5th.