AFM 2018 Round 6 at Sonoma Raceway
Coming into this round, I’d only been at Sonoma raceway two times before. However, over the summer I had taken trips to The Ridge in Olympia WA, and Oregon Raceway Park in Grass Valley OR. At these completely unknown circuits, I practiced a methodology of analyzing the track, and my approach to riding it, to improve as quickly as possible.
At Sonoma, I was able to put this strategy to work to drop lap times as quickly as possible. This, combined with exceptional support from vendors, friends, and fellow racers, enabled me to achieve many new firsts for the season. I was just a few hundreths of a second off the fastest lap time for any novice not on a literbike (1:56.201 vs. Jacksons 1:56.198), scored the highest number of points I have ever scored in any race (600SS - 53 points), and scored the most points of any novice for the weekend (51).
In the first run, I get a poor launch, and move up the field to chase #924 Jackson Burkhart, who runs off in turn 1 at the start of the second lap. However, the race is red flagged in the second lap, so we restart.
In the restart I get a (relatively) better start, and get right now to business battling with #775 Nick Csik and #830 Sandip Nallani. Nick overtakes Sand entering the carousel, then Sand and I trade places in hairpin.
I catch back up to Nick in the end of the second lap, but as we catch traffic I am unable to press an advantage against Nick’s excellent riding, and finish the race in 2nd.
With a fresh Pirelli on the rear and a good night’s sleep, I am very hopeful despite the packed grid. Nick and I press our way through the expert grid. I’m able to take the lead entering the carousel, and catch up to #797R Connor Funk near the end of the first lap. I’m able to secure another overtake in the carousel, then ride through to a 1st place finish!
On the fresh tire I am able to press to a new personal best of 1:46.55, and came in behind 6th in the expert grid.
I get out-launched by Nick, Jackson, and #883 Brhett Butler, but am able to retake 2nd by the 3rd corner, then dig in for a battle with Nick for 1st. Nick and I trade places in the hairpin, and the battle rolls into the second lap where I am able to overtake entering turn 3.
Running in 1st, I’m able to move decisively through the expernt grid and set a new PB of 1:46.20.
I get an okay start and line up behind Nick and Sand entering turn 3. I notice both of them get a poor run into the carousel, and make my move on the inside. However, I bring in slightly too much speed, and the rear begins kicking under braking. As I recover, Sand retakes first on the inside.
In the second lap, I secure 1st in the carousel (without almost crashing this time). Chuck Sorensen makes a surprise appearance on his Moto2 bike just after, some mixup must have occurred at the grid. Sand retakes first at the start of the 3rd lap, then Nick joins in at hairpin.
I’m able to retake 1st in Carousel in the 4th lap, then Nick passes me entering hairpin in the 5th lap. I run off track in the esses trying to catch back up, and don’t get another opportunity for the rest of the race. I finish 2nd, after an excellent battle with many memorable moments.
I get the best launch of the day, and swing past experts on the outside to settle in to turn 3. I spend much of lap 1 and 2 chasing #402 Jakko Tiistola, then edge by in the esses.
I spend a lap battling with #609 Justin Merrick, then ride to a 1st place finish.
I get the worst launch of my life… in neutral. I fight my way up from the back of the grid, and battle with #401 Chris De Bar. despite an awful start, I’m able to finish 3rd!
CT Race Tires for keeping me on sticky Pirelli tires that got me on podiums for every race. Oh, and having patience with my enthusiasm and filthy wheels!
Tyler Bacon - for lending me a van, and journeying with me in pursuit of motorcycling greatness
Dave Thomas - for having my back and staying tough as nails, despite fuel pumps and mosquitoes