AFM 2019 Round 1 at Buttonwillow Raceway
Prepping for my first expert round of AFM was the usual medley of making rash decisions, then barely clearing timelines to get the bike ready in time. In the weeks leading up to the first round, I opted to change from the FlashTune system that was on my R6 to a Woolich reflash with Woolich’s Race Tools.
This package would allow me to use a strain gauge on the shift linkage for quick-shift, allowing me to tune the sensitivity of the ignition-kill for smoother shifting. Furthermore, the system enables auto-blip for easier down-shifting, as well as programmable launch control. All good stuff for racing fast bikes!
Unfortunately, getting the system running as desired was less than entirely smooth. I opted to go with Marc of FactoryPro to get the tune done. A day or two later, I get a phone call from a frustrated Marc: “I’ve reflashed the ECU, now the bike doesn’t start! I’ve tried everything!”.
So… the R6 strikes again! I drive up to Marc’s shop in San Rafael, and check the bike out: it doesn’t start, but cranks. I hop on the phone with FlashTune, and through their excellent customer service rep discover that the ECU must be repinned for the FlashTune to work! I get their install instructions, and discover that their ECU repin is incompatible with the Woolich flash. It strikes me as very impressive that these ECU flashes are able to completely repurpose the ECU hardware in this way.
I borrow a screwdriver and a small pair of needlenose pliers from the FactoryPro staff, and set about re-pinning the ECU in the side yard, with the sunlight streaming through a beautiful day in Northern California. Once I have that done, I switch the bike on, thumb the starter, and…. “RRR RRR RRR BRRROOOOOM!” It starts right up!
I head back over to Marc’s office to apologize profusely for bringing this disorganized basket case into his house. He nods gruffly and says he’ll call me back. I’ll be leaving for round 1 in 4 days…
Thursday comes around, and I go to pick up the bike from Marc. Everything is running well, he has the fuel and spark maps tight as a drum! I go home and finish putting the bike together, then load the van, and hit the highway to Buttonwillow raceway.
Friday morning, I call up Woolich to get the software license. My first practice, the quickshift and autoblip are set up backwards! Once I get the license, I am able to configure the Woolich Race Tools, and have the quickshifter, autoblipper, and launch control all working perfectly. After all that work, I’m finally ready to race the R6 with the AFM!
A frantic start leads to running off the edge of the track coming into Phil Hill. Somehow this only costs me one position, then the race is back on!
I chase up to 13th but end up too far behind the rest of the pack to do anything meaningful.
I get an awesome run off the front row into turn 1, but am not able to keep my lap times low enough! I spend much of the race battling #312 Keir Leonhardt for 5th, but ultimately drop back to 7th on the last lap due to lap traffic. I’m able to match my best lap from qualifying, but I’ll need to go a LITTLE faster to beat the top middleweight racers in AFM!
My first run in the premier class with AFM, and by popular request it’s a 15 lap race! I’m able to make it to the second to last lap before I get lapped by the leader, so it ends up being a 14 lap race for me.
I am able to skirmish a bit in the first couple of laps, but drop back a little to conserve energy. This ends up being a good plan, because although I can’t catch the two riders a bit ahead of me, my laptimes stay consistent, and I also stay out of reach of the competitors behind. I roll through the checkered and say to myself, “14 laps, no big deal!”
I battle up from 21st to 11th, but am not able to close the gap to #34 Sal Rizzo. Sal and I will get to battle in the next round when grids are set on points!
I skirmish with #823 Robert Brittain, who has a couple of scary moments! Then, I am overtaken by and chase #312 Keir Leonhardt for the rest of the race.
In the final lap I’m able to close it up and try to set up an overtake right at the line on the last lap, but I can’t quite out-accelerate Keir at the line. Ah well, that’s racing!
Marc and his team at FactoryPro for being an absolute trooper with my R6 drama. His tune is smooth and powerful, with tremendous smoothness in part-throttle conditions as well as amazing throttle response!
CT Race Tires