Road America Diary
NEWS June 12, 2011
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Daytona Beach, Fl (June 12, 2011) - Hi everyone! James Rispoli here and I am so excited to report on my AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com race at Road America. As it turned out it was an excellent outing for ANT Racing/StarSchool/NationalGuard.com team where we debut our new 2011 Suzuki GSX R600 motorcycles. Man, its been a long winter and even longer stretch after Daytona to finally get our bikes and sort them out for a race but it was all worth it. We used the non-points counting West Coast round as a testing round to dial in some new suspension components and get a feel for the geometry of the new bikes. The new bikes feel lighter and are, turn better than our older 2008 models and the power is clearly better off the bottom helping me get out of the corners and on the throttle sooner. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us I'm really pumped to be working on dialing these new rides in and bringing them to the front of the grid the rest of the season.
The weekend overall started out a little on the slow side having to wait for the new suspension components, and then getting out for free practice and qualifying. In free practice things went so, so but everyone pitched in so we could move forward. We had a couple of problems with the "A" bike which in the first free practice caused me to get a ride back in the track truck and I jumped on our "B" bike and went out for the rest of the session. I only ended up with (5) laps, not really enough time to
On the podium at Road America Styling in
my new Dainese leathers
dial anything in. While I was disappointed I didn't get on my "A" bike and didn't let it bother me and posted the 2nd fastest time in free practice on the "B" bike. We finally fixed the issue on the "A" bike and in the first qualifying session I put down a decent run and ended up 5th, lowering my time by about a second. While not pleased I was excited to do some more adjustments and go for it the next day. In the second qualifying session we ran into a problem with a rear axel nut getting stripped and we were unable to put on our last new rear with 10 minutes to go in order to lay down a good qualifying time and ended up in 7th overall. It meant and second row start.
Later that day, in race one, I got a great start and charged right to the front and latched on to the top three riders. I managed to take over 2nd place for several laps giving chase to the leader that was around 1.5 seconds ahead of me. Travis (Wyman) came through the pack and caught up with me and I knew he and I could work together to reel in lead rider. Unfortunately there were not enough laps left and while we clearly closed the gap and ran faster laps there just wasn't enough time left to get the job done. My strategy of letting Travis get in front and pull me along didn't work out as planned after I made a little mistake and lost contact a little. I came through in 3rd place 13 seconds ahead of the 4th place rider. I was pretty stoked over the podium especially knowing everything with the bikes were so new to me and the team. It made me very optimistic about Sunday's race and I had some good data to share with the team about the set up changes we had to make for the mornings warm-up.
Could this be the next "Rocket"...
The team worked on the bike Saturday night after consulting our suspension guys. In the warm up Sunday morning on used tires the bike was very different, in a good way and with ease I set the quickest lap of the session that would have put me close to the pole position. I was so psyched and the team was ecstatic. We felt really good that the set up we now had could be just what we needed to go for the BIG W!
On the start of race two, I got a little too much traction with the new set up and I pulled a wheelie. By the time I had it under control I lost a few positions going into turn one.
I knew I had to make a couple of quick aggressive moves in order to get to the lead pack of top riders before they got away and I did just that getting myself into the top four before the end of lap one. I was feeling really comfortable since the pace was not very fast. I sat tight hoping Travis would get up there early so together we could make a break for it but that didn't happen. I was challenged with slower riders in the corners that had really fast bikes on the straights and that caused me to get on the brakes harder because I come in so much later then most. I guess that's my dirttrack experience showing up. Then on lap (4) Cory (Alexander) tried to make an aggressive inside pass and just tucked the front.
Team owner Big Daddy Ashi
Well, he collected me like a bowling ball going for a spare and my day was done. I was not a happy camper especially knowing I had the set up to win and was just hanging in the front group conserving my tires for a late race push for the top podium spot. The good news was the bike was unharmed and better yet I wasn't I hurt.
Overall we learned a lot over the weekend. We came away with a podium finish in a non-points counting round for our sponsors, collected a ton of data on the new suspension, chassis and motor set-up too.
I want to close by making sure I send some great props out to all my sponsors. Each and every one of them plays an important role in mine and my teams success. We couldn't do it without them. It's not just the financial support that matters, its each and every product, no matter how big or how small that makes a significant impact on my ability to put my all into everything I do each and every day. For that I give you my heart felt thanks. In return I hope to live up to expectations that includes doing well on and off the track and, providing the highest levels of integrity, honesty and an example of the best of the best in all I do.
One more thing! We just announced the new sponsorship of GG Speed Shop in Daytona, Florida. This is one of the hottest pro bicycle shops and training facilities in the country. If you want a high performance tuning for both your body and bicycle this is the speed shop for you. Give either Shannon or Nathan a call at (386) 492-5948 or check them out at www.ggeventsllc.com
Next up, I'm getting ready to head out to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama for round 5 on June 17-19th. Come on out and say high and I'll have some awesome custom James "the Rocket" Monster Energy posters for you. Till then remember to do what I always do, Have FUN and GO FASTER....
James"the Rocket" Rispoli
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