James Rispoli: Wine Country Winners Circle
NEWS May 10, 2012
Race Report Courtesy of James Rispoli:
Hi everyone! What a weekend I had in California. First of all the track at Infineon Raceway is the probably the most demanding track I ever raced on in my entire dirt track and road race career. There was no rest at speed, with elevation changes, blind corners and tricky bits hidden all around the track. It is tough to go fast there, especially when you have little knowledge of the track on a race bike. But like always, my crew and I were up to the challenge, a challenge I am sure I will face all the time as a professional motorcycle racer and as a team we made it work, and work really good.
The weekend started in the hills of the wine country area of Sonoma, Ca. The track is nestled in a beautiful hill side area outlined with lush vegetation. There was sheep in the track compound too, moved from hill side to hill side to naturally cut the grass. It was just an awesome place to have a race. The team got down to business right out of the truck and on Friday I got out on the track and we started to turn some laps in free practice. 52 riders showed up in my class and it made for a very busy race track especially since Infineon is the shortest of the tracks we will race on this season. It was crazy out there and very difficult to get a clear lap when you had riders that were up to (12) seconds off the pace on Friday. We managed to get some set up data after the first session where I ended up 3rd fastest and made adjustments for our first qualifying session at 5 P.M. later that day.
In the first qualifier I was still learning the track and again managed to qualify 3rd still on the front row. I wasn’t satisfied at all and the team and I thought about it a little over night and made some changes in the morning to see if we could better our times a little. Well the strategy worked! We had a good lap toward the end of the session and I hammered out a qualifying run that put me on pole position. I couldn’t of been happier. I was .545 faster than the second place rider and over a second faster than the third qualifier.
We gridded up in the number one position and hammered the start. I got the hole shot and took the lead and was going to do what I could to see if I could break away. If a couple of the faster riders got hung up a little on the start I figured I could pull out a couple of second lead then settle in and pace myself. Unfortunately on lap three we have someone go down causing a red flag and restart. I felt really hooked up on that first run and felt my crew gave me a bike I could win on for sure. When we went out on the restart I again got the hole shot but this time the bike felt a little different. The tires felt a little slippery and more so I had a difficult time getting my rhythm back and struggled a little. Instead of breaking away we had a drag out fight with Lewis and Dominquez. The race was 15 laps and for most of the laps we all ran hard together. With around three laps to go Dustin gapped Lewis and me and I was just having a hard time staying consistent. Lewis got around me for second on the last lap but I pulled an aggressive pass on the brakes to regain the position. Meanwhile Dustin slowed up as I sped up and I almost caught him at the finish line only losing by .170. I was happy to gain the points but was a little disappointed I didn’t put on the top of the box.
After our SuperSport race on Saturday I hung around the paddock to watch the DSB and SuperBike races. Between watching the races and looking at my segment times I knew where I could make up a few 10th’s here and there and started to make up a game plan for Sunday’s race. I sat down with Jason Pridmore that evening and talked about what we could different in certain areas of the track and I started feeling confident I could improve on Saturday’s race the next day. On Sunday morning I felt really energized and ready to get on the track. My team made some changes to the bike and I went out for the 20 minute Sunday morning warm up. I was able to really get my rhythm going and turned in a time that was faster than my pole setting qualifying time. I was ready to rock!
Race two was plagued with restarts and we had to be careful about our clutch since I was hammering the starts in order to get the hole shots. When all was said and done I got off the line in third on the second restart and made quick work of the riders in front of me to take back the lead. A few of us broke way from the 52 rider pack again and the race was on. I was able to lead the majority of the laps and put in some very consistent laps in the low 41’s which was one of my goals. Dustin caught up to me and I could hear him get close and drop back. I calmed myself down and rode my own race making sure I didn’t give him a single inch of room to pass on the inside. If he was faster he was going to have to take the long way around and even then I was ready to do whatever it took to maintain my lead right to the checkers. We came off the last corner and won by .410 and dropping the third place rider to over (2) seconds behind that. It was a great race and the weekends results means I was able to increase my points lead over the rest of the west division riders.
I have to thank my entire team, especially William, Dustin and Eric for doing everything it takes to give me the best race bikes on the planet. They are the best. To Barry, Skip and everyone else who came together to help this ride open up for me I say thank you! I will do whatever I have to do to be ready to race for every event. I am now back to my training program to get prepared for a our next round at Miller Motorsports Park May 26th-28th, another west coast round that counts toward my AMA Pro SuperSport West championship.
Till next time do what I like to do, GO FASTER...
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