Weekend of Drama for Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki
NEWS June 7, 2009
Chris Ulrich twice charged up through the field in the American Superbike class, Russell Wikle came back from a painful crash and machinery drama to claim a SuperSport top five, and Santiago Villa made a stirring run up through the field after dropping to last place while avoiding an opening corner crash to score the best AMA Pro finish of his career in Saturday's Daytona SportBike contest.
Ulrich battled the conditions, bike set-up, and tire issues during the weekend, as Saturday's wet weather further complicated the difficulties the Californian was already encountering in his attempts to dial in his new 2009 GSX-R1000 racebike.
After showing strong form in the ten-minute wet weather warm-up, Ulrich suffered a tire issue during the race's opening three laps before it came around. He dropped down to 22nd but recovered to make his way all the way up to eleventh, missing out on a top ten result by just 0.107 seconds.
Ulrich's misfortune continued on Sunday as he was cited for jumping the start. Chris dropped down to 20th after coming in for his ride through penalty but made his way back up to 14th by the time he crossed the checkered flag.
Chris said, "We'll start out a positive note: last year I left Road America with two pins in my hand on my way home to have another surgery. At least this year we're leaving in one piece.
"We were just behind the whole weekend. We had some set-up issues and we're just trying to get the hang of the K9. We thought we left Infineon with a pretty good setting but we struggled with the bike this weekend. The bike was unstable from the get-go and we made some drastic changes. We never found a cure but we have a test coming up at Mid-Ohio which should help a lot.
"In Saturday's race, we looked pretty good in the warm-up and the tire worked really well. We put a new tire on for the race and that thing almost crashed me several times on the first three laps. I lost so many positions over the first three laps I could not believe it after showing such good pace in the warm-up. But then it stopped sliding and snapping and once the tire built pressure it got better and I dropped into some decent times -- times that would have put me about sixth, but by then it was too late. I almost caught up to the guy in tenth but just ran out of laps in the end.
"Apparently I moved at the start today. I never moved out of the box but I moved in the box and the rule says that any movement is a jumpstart and they called me for it. We came from 20th back to 14th. I don't agree with the rule. I don't believe I gained any advantage. I think the rule needs some review. The interpretation is very harsh and I don't think there should be any penalty if there is no advantage gained."
17-year-old Wikle was a victim of the treacherous Saturday conditions, crashing hard in the opening turn of a chaotic Daytona SportBike race. After returning to competition on Sunday when x-rays showed no broken bones from the painful spill, the Alabaman had an eventful Sunday as well. After choosing to sit out the SportBike final in order to concentrate on his SuperSport duties, Wikle ran into the back of a competitor whose machine stalled in front of him but managed to avoid crashing and carried on even with the resultant problems with his GSX-R600.
Despite the extreme circumstances, Wikle still came through to pick up a superb fifth-place result.
"Russell had a very difficult race on Saturday, crashing and then having to go get some x-rays," Ulrich explained. "And then his bad luck continued today. He ran into the back of a rival whose bike stalled and he bent the brake rotor. The pads were knocked back so every time he put on the brakes he had to pump them like crazy and the bike was shaking going into the corners.
"It was a character building weekend for Russell but he came through it with a top-five result in the end. It would have been real easy for him to wreck in that deal but he showed his maturity once again."
Colombian Santiago Villa had to fight to overcome a great deal of drama as well. Villa was forced to the very back of the field in Saturday's SportBike contest when he took evasive action to avoid Wikle's fall. Santiago kept his wits about him and fought all the way back up to eleventh, beating a number of the class' top-ranked riders to the checkered flag in the process.
On Sunday he picked up 22nd despite suffering technical problems that came about due to his broken hand. Villa moved his brake lever out to try to get leverage with his broken hand but he moved it far enough that after a couple laps it was hitting the throttle housing.
Santiago said, "The first race was full of crazy things. I got a great start, but in turn one, my teammate highsided so to avoid hitting him I ran out of the track. At that point I was last and start passing people until the first pace car. I saw my pit board and I was in 29th so I just put my head down and started passing people. The second pace car came out and at that point I was 14th. On that race start I made a pass on a couple of riders and someone crashed, so I ended 11th, my best result of the year. I just want to thanks to my crew, James and Peter for giving me a great bike, my Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki, my sponsors Addict By Bosi, P3 Racing, Bodytech, Moto Xtreme, and to my wife Diana for her support."
Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki will next head to Mid-Ohio to test before picking back up on July 3-5 at Laguna Seca for Round 7 of the 2009 AMA Pro Road Racing championship.
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