AFM 2018 Round 3 at Thunderhill Raceway
This round was filled with mechanical and weather drama, but with a “Take this one step at a time” mentality, I was able to get the bike running in top shape for the races (and incredible weather) on Sunday.
Rain on Friday and Saturday hampered practice efforts, but Sunday brought temperatures in the 90s, perfect for racing motorcycles all-out!
Before we even got to the track, I discovered at the May 10th trackday at Sonoma with FunTrackDayz that:
1) my replacement clutch was slipping under max load
2) my quickshifter was malfunctioning
When it turned out that my slipper clutch hub was badly grooved, and that my quickshifter was out of warranty, I realized I’d have to source parts very quickly if I was going to have the bike in top shape for round 3.
There are almost no suppliers for STM clutches in the US, but I finally found EuroCorsa in Canada. Marco was able to help me get the parts I needed (triple checking part numbers!) directly from Italy, and fast enough that they arrived before I left for the track. I assembled the clutch, put the bike in the van, and went to Thunderhill!
The clutch performing amazingly, and I was able to ride the bike into countless corners on the front tire, downshifting merrily.
For the quickshifter, it was recommended that I switch to HM, and Spears Racing was able to get me the parts before the round started. When it turned out that I got the wrong ignition harness, Gregg had the correct one shipped to Thunderhill, and it arrived Friday morning.
At lunch I popped off the fuel tank and radiator to finish the installation, but it turned out that the module was malfunctioning! Gregg and I troubleshooted the module through Saturday morning, and we discovered that the module wasn’t registering shifts when the bike was running.
A call to HM in the UK confirmed that the module was faulty (this is apparently extremely rare!) And Gregg helped me get a replacement installed ASAP so we could get it dialed in before Clubman Middleweight on Saturday. Gregg was phenomenal, going out of his way to make sure the hardware was working properly, and getting his hands dirty to get me up and running. And he has his own race team to look after!
I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to work with such amazing vendors, who understand that when you’re in the trenches racing, it “just needs to work!”. Marco and Gregg, you guys enabled me to go out and ride the wheels off my bike, going toe-to-toe with many more powerful machines. I’m immensely grateful.
I play follow-the-leaders until my fuel line comes off after turn 9, taking me out of the race but not out of the weekend
I unwittingly hold up #966 Grant Cowan, and then chase him for the rest of the race, finishing 3rd.
In this race I battle #830 Sand while #775 Nick and #924 Jackson battle for 1st. Sand’s form is excellent, watch his elbows! I briefly run off track trying to edge past in turn 9 on the last lap.
I set a new Personal Best (PB) lap of 2:00.66 in this race, an improvement of almost 2 seconds!
As the weather heats up, I switch to a fresh Pirelli soft tire for the F1 race. This tire is much more suitable for high temperatures than the medium compound I was running earlier in the day.
With the fresh rubber, I am able to smash my previous best lap with a 1:58.95, which also completed my goal of a lap time under 2 minutes. This represented almost a 2 second improvement from the PB set in the previous race.
I spent the race chasing the battle between #775 Nick and #924 Jackson, looking for a large enough opening to pass. I ended up not finding one, and finished 3rd.
My first time running in 600SS, I start in dead last due to lack of points in this class. Despite that, I was able to get an excellent start, moving to 6th place before turn 2.
This race was a thrilling debut, with lots of battling mid-pack. Look for an amazing overtake by #830 Sand right before the cyclone, turn 5, and then later in 14. I battle Sand for third for the remainder of the race, and despite running a 1:59.7, finished 4th.
I start from the back again, and work my way up the field to battle with #883 Brhett Butler for several laps. This intense battle was absolutely wheel to wheel, with me taking advantage of drive through turns 7 to 9, while Brhett is able to pass me reliably on braking in turn 14. The race becomes a 3-way battle to overtake #775 Nick in 1st!
I’m finally able overtake Brhett in the last lap, and ride to a 2nd place finish, the hard charger award (most overtakes) and a third race with a sub-2 minute laptime!
Marco at EuroCorsa for getting me a eleventh hour replacement slipper clutch assembly straight from Turin Italy, just in time to install before I left for the track.
Gregg at Spears Racing for getting me a last minute quickshifter setup, and hands-on support.
Jim and Nickie at Catalyst Reaction for helping me get my setup dialed in