Last weekend I hit up a new series offered by WSMC at the 'Streets of Willow'. I think most everyone on here knows that the 'Classic Course' at Willow is a big, fast, 2.5 mile,9 turn track that is actually more like 7 turns. Did I mention it's FAST? Well, it is. The 'Streets' of Willow is the exact opposite. It's much shorter at something like 1.8 miles and very tight, technical and prettty bumpy in places. It's everything the big track isn't.... except for fun!
I don't have anywhere near the time on the streets that I do on the big track so we opted to attend a Friday trackday prior to race practice on Saturday... I'm glad we did. For this series I'm riding a '03 ZX-6RR Superbike owned by a friend. The bike may be a few years old but it's pretty cool with lots of 'Kit' Kawi parts and some other cool stuff including Marchesini Forged Magnesium wheels.
Practice went ok with me getting 'up to speed' ok... not what I wanted but it's really hard in traffic. By Saturday afternoon I was happier with bike set up and going pretty good on shagged tires. I was optimistic about Sunday's racing.
Sunday morning I went out for like 3 laps in practice to scrub in some new rubbah and managed to take a rock in the radiator. Great.:headshake I figured my day of racing was over but no.... with a little help we got it fixed up and I only missed one race... 650 SBK.
The next race I was entered in was 600 Modified production. Turnout was pretty light and this class had only 12 riders starting. I got a good start and went into T1 in 2nd or 3rd place. The first lap I was passed by a couple of the 'Fast' guys including my friend Bryce. I found myself cheering for him out loud in my helmet as he chased down the lead pack all the while I was beginning what would be one hell of a battle with a guy on a CBR600RR. For the next 6 laps me and the guy on the Honda went at it like it was the last lap of the MotoGP championship. Our bikes seemed very, very equal and though I felt stronger than him in a few areas I just couldn't get by. I tried and tried but the 'Streets' course is very narrow and once you get off the racing line it gets really bumpy so I didn't want to risk falling down. Late in the race I had a great opportunity to pass but couldn't due to a waving yellow flag. Unfortunately the waving yellow was brought out by Bryce as he crashed in T1 while running in 2nd place and closing in on the lead. I was really disappointed to see him in the dirt but happy to see that he was getting up and looked to be OK. The last lap I had to sit back and wait out the checkers due to more yellow flags so I settled for 5th. I think witout the yellow flags I could have made the pass for a hard earned 4th but it didn't happen. It was a really fun race though.
My second race was Formula 2. where we left off in the first race and battled like crazy. I tried passing all over the place but wasn't brave enough to really stuff him so I settled for 2nd for Another light turnout with 6 entries. I got another good start and found myself all over the same Honda from the first race. It was on.... AGAIN. We picked up right most of the race. With like 2 laps to go we caught a lapper on a 125 from the 2nd wave of our race and I got held up really bad. Initially I was PISSED OFF as the guy on the Honda pulled away pretty signifcantly and I thought my chances for a win were over. I glared at the 125 guy on the way passed and figured I was going to have to settle for 2nd place. However, witout having to 'Race' with the Honda for the next several corners I was more in control of setting my own pace. Next thing I know I've probably strung together the best half-lap of the weekend and I'm all over the Honda and I make a killer pass on the outside entering 'The Bowl'. I get out of there really hard and proceed to absolutely check out running my fastest lap of the weekend at a 1:21.5. I guess I owe that guy on the 125 a 'thank you' for letting that Honda gap me so I could find my own rythym. Overall it was a really fun weekend and I can't wait to get out there for round 2!!
Thanks to Craig Ramey for putting me on a really cool ZX-6RR to go out and play. I had a lot of fun progressing through the weekend. I also want to thank Dunlop for the kick-ass rubbah!! It's been a while since I've ridden on the slicks and I think I kind of forgot how good those things really are. I had a few 'moments' where I was worried I may have been asking a bit much from the tires and they never let me down.
One more thanks goes out to Kelly Baker from Performance Unlimited for helping us fix the radiator on the ZX-6RR I was on. Kelly had us fixed up and ready to go in short order and I only missed one race.
I'm looking forward to the next 'Streets' event and am going to try to drag a few Supermoto buddies out for the fun!