What a LONNNNNGGGGG weekend.
The track opened at 11am on Saturday with practice starting at 12. Normally the track would open at 7 and practice would start at 9 but this time we were racing under the lights.
My wife, my mechanic and I left for Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, FL at 7am on Saturday morning and arrived at 11:30am. We missed first practice due to registration and some minor prep work still needing to be done to the bike.
I made it out for the second session and concentrated on finding turn points, mid-corner points and exit points for each turn. My best laptime was mid 1:24. I was shouting with joy in my helmet - THIS TRACK HAS CONNECTED TURNS!!!! Of course in subsequent practice, I whittled my laptimes down.
Saturday night, under the lights at about 9:15the Expert GTO race started. I was on the 5th of 5 rows and we were charging into a real tight turn 1. I saw the mayhem that was about to happen and backed off, deciding it was better to get through the turn last than to be collected by a crash. Luckily, just barely, no one crashed though 4 bikes did take evasive action. And I was indeed last.
By turn 3 I'd picked off two. Then another two the next lap. Passing and passing, turning laptimes in the low 1:20s. In the final lap 5th place had about a 2 second gap on me. At the checkered flag I was right on his tail. From dead last to 6th. I'll take that.
Even better, the fastest lap of the race was a mid 1:18. Instead of being 6-7 seconds slower than the leaders like I am at Homestead or Daytona, I'm 2-3 seconds back. I can't wait for Jennings which is all connected turns.
So after the GTO race we had to wait about 30 minutes for the GTU race and then we had a 20 minute Qualifying session for the Unlimited GP race. I was a bit tired by then and could only do a mid 1:21 which was good enough for 9th. Best was a high 1:17 by Robertino Pietri.
We got to the hotel just after midnight. I didn't even bother with getting up for practice on Sunday.
We got to the track at 8:45am on Sunday. Swapped out the slicks to Supersport tires from last October's Daytona race. I got a good start and entered turn 1 in 5th, made a quick pass to 4th and stayed there the rest of the race. My 1:20 laptimes weren't fast enough to catch the 1:18s of the top 3 but the were enough to put a 5+ second gap to 5th. My best finish as an expert.
Unlimited Superbike and GP went the same way. I got a 6th and a 9th.
Next race is April 4th and 5th at Jennings GP.
Here's some pictures from my Flickr pages
Start of the Unlimited Supersport race. I'm the barely visible bike, 3rd from the left.