AFM 2019 Round 2 at Buttonwillow Raceway
This round started off relatively uneventful, but I became plagued by motor troubles as the weekend wore on. In Friday and Saturday practice, I struggled to drop below my round 1 best lap of 1:51.7, even after employing some new tips and tricks learned from Jordan Edginton, as well as my own experience in Round 1. I had chalked this up to being more cautious in corner entrances, but this proved not to be the case.
The bike seemed to be running well all the way up to Formula 1 qualifying Saturday afternoon. I set out for my first flying lap, and as I was about to enter Cotton Corners, I heard a POP and the motor suddenly lost all power! I muttered a curse under my breath, and was able to navigate the bike off track. As I sat at the corner station and watched the drama of 50 bikes all trying set the fastest possible laps, I considered my engine and other life decisions. Could I have blown a hole in a piston? It wouldn’t be the first time!
Back in the pits, I discover that one of the ignition coils had been blown off the top of the motor. The culprit? A failed spark plug! A Denso Iridium plug’s ceramic had failed, not even visibly! The ceramic was only a bit loose, but was allowing cylinder pressure to escape through the plug, blowing out the top of the motor as a result. I had to dig up some new plugs, and managed to find a set of NGK CR10EK from Catalyst Reaction. This got the bike runninng again, but at the time I figured I’d only replace the middle two plugs, because after all, what are the chances of two plug failures in the same weekend?
I missed Sunday morning practice, but made a good run in 600SB and F1, despite still running a bit slower than I was happy with. F1 was a fantastic race, and as I rolled to a stop in the paddock to congratulate my fellow racers on another battle well-fought, my bike… shuts off entirely. It seems the bike was not idling for some reason, and there are only 40 minutes to go before FP! I check things over in the pit, and it appears the bike is running fine, as long as the throttle is held open. Well, hell, I am going to race the damn thing after all! I decide to chance it and run FP. The oil looked clean, so I wasn’t as worried about a catastrophic engine failure.
After finishing the FP race, the motor seemed to have degraded too much to be usable. I shelve it, and discover later at home that I’d suffered ANOTHER spark plug failure (electrode broke off on another Denso plug) as well as catastrophic loss of compression on 3 cylinders. Oh well, at least motors are relatively cheap for this bike…
600 Superbike Red Flag
A short 2 lap run featuring #34 Sal Rizzo and #89 Adam Robarts.
A relatively uneventful race despite the grid being stacked with some of the fastest talent on the west coast. I get a good launch but run a poor first lap.
I manage to get my laptimes down and claw my way to a 10th place finish.
Starting from dead last in the expert grid, I am able to move up quickly to battle with many friends from the 2018 season: #775 Nick Csik, #966 Grant Cowan, and #124 Jackson Burkhart. Nick and I narrowly avoid an accident exiting sweeper. I press forward, finishing 11th.
Formula Pacific - Battle of Two Kings
As I roll onto the FP grid, the bike dies in my grid spot. I restart it at the 2 board, and engage the launch control. Another premier class race begins!
Another last-place start, I am able to jump into the pack with a solid launch. I get into a battle with #69 James King, and we are suddenly joined by #116 Jeremy King.
What ensues is the most exciting battle of the season so far! I am able to gain ground in the corners, but am no match for the overwhelming power of the large displacement bikes when the track opens up.
I worry that I will burn myself out with the intensity of the riding, but the adrenaline from the close engagement keeps me going strong to a 17th place finish when the race is red-flagged at the 8th lap due to a downed bike in the middle of the track.
600 Superstock and 750 Superbike
Due to what turns out to be a spark plug failure and critically low compression, it was not possible to run my final two races of the weekend. I picked the wrong round to leave the 600RR at home!