AFM 2018 Round 4 at Thunderhill Raceway
This round brought higher temperatures and increased grip, and a more competitive field than ever before.
A bad crash in Saturday practice was a major setback for me, but thanks to the help of the vendors and other racers, I was able to get the bike back up and running JUST in time for the races!
I encountered my friend and nemesis #775 Nick Csik in practice 1 on Saturday. We wasted no time in battling! after overtaking him in turn 2, I lost the front tire in the middle of turn 3, and on the last lap of the session! Not a cold tire, but an old one.
The front slid at mid corner and maintainence throttle: there simply was not enough load to maintain grip, despite doing everything else correctly. Cause: the front tire had been in use since round 1, and despite having over 50% tread remaining, had heat cycled to the point of no longer providing adequate traction.
The bike slid to the edge of the track, then the worst occurred: the right footpeg dug into the dirt, causing the bike to flip! The initial dig in was so violent it tore the footpeg off completely, and bent the mounting bracket. In the tumble, the rear subframe was badly bent, the tank and left hand control bent, and one of the front brake lines was severed.
Then, with Clubman Middleweight at 4:30 PM, it was a race against the clock to get the bike fixed and back through tech.
Dave Moss taught me a useful trick to test for this state: simply press your thumbnail into the front tire! If the indent rebounds completely within 60 seconds, the tire is still good.
I have since corrected my front/rear geometry bias, but that’s a story for Round 5!
The camera footage is shaky because the only replacement windscreen I could find was a spare from Dave Thomas’s S1000RR.
With the bike freshly fixed and (barely) teched, and a subframe pointed about 15 degrees to the right, I roll out for a warmup lap for Clubman Middle.
I grab a first-ever holeshot and get the first lap to myself, and almost get the second one until #830 Sand passes me at 14. He drives it a bit too deep, and I’m able to resecure 1st in 15.
Sand is an implacable opponent, and drives home a decisive overtake at the first corner of lap 4. #778 Grant Boldt is able to pass me in turn 14 in the same lap, then I am happy just to be there and finish 3rd in the end!
#775 Nick Csik and I tear through expert traffic on the launch, and he takes the holeshot. I’m able to edge past him as we encounter traffic leaving turn 2, then flee as fast as I can through expert traffic.
#883 Brhett Butler squeezes past me in the entrance to turn 3 in the 3rd lap, and he and I battle as we fight our way through traffic. #775 Nick Csik passes me at the end of lap 4, and I ride to a 3rd place finish.
I forgot to turn the camera on! I manage to flick the button after exiting turn 8 on the first lap, chasing #775 Nick Csik. I’m able to squeeze by him and hold the lead until the end of the 4th lap, when Nick retakes 1st.
Brhett passes me in turn 3, but then Nick loses engine power in 6! I’m surprised, and #994 Jake Whitcomb takes advantage to seize 2nd. What ensues is one of the wildest last-lap battles so far this season, in which I set a new personal best of 1:58.24.
My exhaust falls off at the end of the warm up lap, so sadly I end up sitting this one out. This was a case of not checking the bike thoroughly enough after the crash in practice.
An early race battle with #778 Grant Boldt gives way to an amazing four way battle between #830 Sand, #775 Nick Csik, and #924 Jackson Burkhart through expert traffic. I finish 3rd.
A mystery: somebody hits my bike from behind as I chase Sand into turn 4 on the last lap… I still have no idea who that could have been.
Starting on a tiny 4 bike grid, I chase #775 Nick Csik, making a last lap pass in turn 8 entry to secure a 1st place finish. Nick is right behind me, with a gap of only 0.062 seconds at the finish line!
Note that AFM goofed up the grids, putting heavyweight behind our grid! No matter, it’s always fun to ride with #712 Nick Allison and #829 Jesse Carter.
HustleHard Racing for saving my weekend with new grips and brake lines
Pro J’s Cycles for getting me a replacement Vortex footpeg (they were the only ones who had one!)
Jim and Nickie at Catalyst Reaction for making sure my forks were still in good shape, providing suspension setup support, and a brembo compatible banjo bolt!
Dave Moss at Dave Moss Tuning for teaching me how to take care of a front tire, even though I brought him a beer he doesn’t like!
Dave Thomas for lending me his spare windscreen, good for +5HP!
Brian Grabianowski for being a phenomenal corner worker, crew chief, and drinking buddy