This is my second season racing, first full season, and first as an expert. I will continue to update this thread with race reports as the season progresses.
Round 1 Buttonwillow Raceway March 21-22
The weekend was filled with awesome moments, and I had to write them down so I wouldn't forget. Each race was a story on it's own.
Huge thanks to the 450 Superbike crew, Mike at Rider's Discount, Vortex, CTRacing Pirelli Tires, The Right Stuff, Serious R&D, W Standard, and The Motor Cafe for all the help.
My first time racing at Buttonwillow was interesting. The track was in much better shape after the repave than the last time I rode there in 2013. I drove down Friday for the open test day to get some practice on the newly prepared GSXR450 which I’ve previously never raced, and also to get reacquainted with the track. I’ve always liked Buttonwillow and I quickly felt comfortable again. I practiced most of the day on the 450 to increase my confidence, but I took the zx-10 out to stretch its legs a bit. My plan was to learn to carry more corner speed and pick up the throttle sooner on the 450 and then translate it to the 10R. This seemed to work fairly well for me, but I didn’t have any lap times from the day.
Saturday practice started a little late due to some challenges with registration, but it all got worked out and I got 2 sessions on the 450 and 2 on the zx-10. Practice times on the 450 were in the 2:02 range, and 1:55 for the zx-10. Watching races for the rest of Saturday was fun, but I kind of missed having an afternoon race.
Sunday; race day; six races are on the schedule with 2 on the 450 and 4 on the 10R.
The day started with a 450 Superbike race. My grid position was 4th far outside spot. I got a pretty horrible launch and got pushed back into the pack. Through first lap I worked my way up to 8th, and then made a pass into 7th during the 2nd lap to fall in behind Greg, a fellow 450 triple racer. I passed Greg coming into Phil Hill, a blind right hand hill, but showed him my cards too early. He motored past me down the front straight to retake the position, but we had a race on our hands. At the end of the 5th lap I passed him on the brakes into Sunset and tried to keep him behind me down the front straight but he motored past me again. In the final lap I got a good drive out of Riverside and tried to make a pass up the inside into Phil Hill again, but it was too close and I backed out. I didn’t have another chance for a pass and I finished in 7th.
My next race, Open Production, was immediately afterward, so I hurried around the cool down lap and traded bikes in the pits, but didn’t make it out in time for the warmup lap. This meant I had to just take my position on the grid with tires and suspension not quite up to operating temp just yet. I was gridded in the 5th and last row, just before the Novices. The green flag dropped and I got a pretty slow start which resulted in being dropped back into the pack again. Not what I wanted, so I had some work in front of me. I was sliding coming through the first few corners, so I had to wait to make some passes until at least the second lap. I had a group of 3 riders in front of me, and I knew I could go faster. I felt a good amount of grip near the end of the first lap and started making moves, but got caught out on the brakes and ran wide into the dirt. Great, even more work to do. In the 3rd lap I moved into 10th place, and then 9th place in the 4th lap, 8th place in the 5th lap with a 1:51.9 lap time, and on the final 6th lap I caught another rider and set up for a pass out of sunset down the front straight. Luckily he turned to look back and that gave me the little bit I needed to get the drive around him and take 7th place by 0.019 sec.
Here's the video of the first lap, until my camera mount let go: https://youtu.be/AKdx4jiEfyg
I used The Right Stuff Advanced Hydration packets and had no issues with cramping or fatigue during 2 back to back races. My fitness level is at the same place it was last year and where before I was wore out after the race, now I feel great and don’t have cramps creeping up. I’ll be interested to see how well it performs as the temps increase over the summer, but so far I’m seeing great results.
I had a 20 min break before my next race which was Open GP. The fast guys use this race as a warmup before Formula Pacific, so the competition was going to be fast. I started from the back of the grid again and finished the first lap in 14th. I made a pass to move up a place each of the next three laps and got behind a racer who I’d targeted as a goal to try and catch. I made a pass on the brakes late into Phil Hill and made it stick, finishing in 10th place. My best lap was a 1:53.2.
I took advantage of the lunch break to grab some nutrients and hydration to gear up for another back to back of Formula 4 and Formula Pacific. I learned that I could put my transponder in the pocket and it would still signal, so that would save time on the switch-over and give me a warmup lap.
I got a much better start in Formula 4 and moved into 8th place. I battled with an SV650 all race long, but every time I would make a pass, he would come by me down the front straight. There were a lot of corners that I could carry more speed, but he could brake deeper while staying in the racing line and use the torque of the SV to get back up to speed. It was a fun race, and I dropped down to a 2:00.9, my fastest time of the weekend on the 450 triple. I was dragging hard parts through a lot of corners, and I need to raise the bike up before next round to give more ground clearance. I made sure to hustle through the cool down lap to make the switch to the zx-10 for Formula Pacific.
I got a decent start and pushed my way through into 18th of 23. I had 2 riders in front of me and felt like I could go faster. On the third lap I got a good drive into Riverside and went for a pass around the outside, near the exit of the corner the camber starts to flatten out and about that point I pushed the front end and low sided. I slid on my back until I hit the dirt and then tumbled a few times but was uninjured. The bike caught the curb or the dirt and flipped 10+ ft in the air. Luckily it landed on the wheels and the damage was pretty minor all things considered. I didn't try to fix the bike before the Open Superbike race and packed things up to head home.