WYMAN: Headed to Barber
NEWS September 13, 2010
It’s been quite the rollercoaster of events at these past few races. Since my last post I’ve competed at Rounds 8 and 9 of the series at VIR and New Jersey Motorsports Park with mixed results.
At VIR I experienced what a great start can do for me in the Daytona Sportbike class as I headed into turn one in 6th place on both days off the restarts. It gave me the opportunity to ride with the front group; something that has been my ultimate goal over the past few races. It did so much for me to be able to learn and see the pace that those guys run. Being able to watch what they do and see what it takes to be a contender in this incredibly competitive class was quite the experience. School was officially in session! My good start paid dividends at the end when I came away with my best finish in the class with an 8th place result in race one. Headed into race two I was pleasantly greeted with some more confidence and was looking forward to the race. Unfortunately on lap 10 my bike found a false neutral when I was again running in 8th place. The free-wheeling at a steep lean angle ultimately had me taking a soil sample in between turns two and three. It was a major bummer, after looking to improve on my finish in race one, but I took everything that I could from the weekend and proved to myself that hard work will pay off.
At that time it was my job to put that race behind me and focus on the XR1200 race that was coming up at the end of the day. The stage was set again for another battle between Jake and Danny, and I was hoping to put myself in the position to be a factor at the end of the race. I was pushing my Bruce Rossmeyers Daytona Racing Harley-Davidson to it’s limits and started to create a three rider group with my RMR teammates. Just a few laps into the race I made a small mistake on my upshifts coming out of turn one, and with these XR1200’s, a small mistake can be magnified easily. The rear stepped out and when it kicked back the front end was overloaded, putting myself on the ground again. My brother, Travis, was able to ride a good race after that and move up the charts to take his first career podium finish. Congratulations to him!
The following weeks it was again time to regroup and get ready for my home track event at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Even though it’s a 7 hour drive, it’s still the closest racetrack to my house! Track familiarity played a huge role in qualifying. Another one of my goals for this year has been to be able to go fast right out of the gate; to get down to some competitive times as soon as I can so I have more sessions remaining to improve. Ultimately I was able to come away with a 12th position spot on the grid, which is a major improvement when in the past I had never qualified inside the top 16. Being two full rows ahead of where I had been starting in the past was a great sigh of relief since turn one at the start of these 600 races have had a history of potential mayhem.
On the warm-up lap of race one, I was taken off the track by a mechanical. Fuel was dumping out of the top of my gas tank and we were unable to fix the problem to make the start of the race. It was heartbreaking to see my hard earned position on the grid empty as those three red lights went out for the start of the race. On to the XR1200’s...
I matched my best qualifying position of the year on the XR1200 with a 3rd place starting spot. Oh how good it feels to have nothing but oxygen in front of you on the grid! I put my mind back into my dirt track days of getting the Harley-Davidson XR750 off the line and was able to grab the holeshot going into turn one. The battle ensued; Jake got by me on the first lap with a very fast pace and I settled into a race-long tussle with PJ Jacobsen. We were very close the entire race, never crossing the line with more than a second gap in between us. I got back by him going into turn one with two laps to go, only to lose the spot back to him after the white flag. The passing areas on the XR1200 greatly differ from my Yamaha YZF-R6, so I got a great drive coming out of turn nine right before we would tip into the esses. PJ seemed to miss a shift as we exited the corner. Being directly behind him I was forced to check up after trying to force a pass over the curbing on the right side. From there I did my best to get through that last fast corner where my rival had been so strong throughout the race, but was unable to do it at the line finishing just two tenths behind. What a fun race! I was very happy to get my first podium and enjoy the burning sensation of champagne in my eyes that I have missed so much from my dirt track past.
Balancing two very different classes with very different types of motorcycles, I cleaned myself up and got prepared for Daytona SportBike race two. I was definitely out for redemption after my DNS in race one.
In the morning warmup I felt great. The bike was working good and I did my fastest lap of the weekend. I was confident in my bike setup going into the race and got a pretty good start sitting in 12th going into turn one. I was tagged onto the lead group for the first six laps or so when my forks started bottoming out in turn one. I was doing everything I could to save the front end tuck over the course of the race, and the bike was getting harder to ride with every lap. I’ve come to the conclusion that my suspension guy (myself!) had missed the race setup slightly. I was able to pick up the pieces and bring home an 11th place, which was still my second best finish in the class.
This season has definitely been a learning experience for me. I gather new things with every session, even every lap that I make around a racetrack. Going into Barber, I need to keep taking baby steps. 2008 was my first season roadracing where I competed as a novice club racer, but sometimes it’s hard to reflect back and realize that I don’t have the experience that some of the other riders have out there. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to compete at this level, and there are so many great people supporting me that I wouldn’t be here without.
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