Weather-condensed weekend puts pressure on GEICO Honda riders Ulrich, Zemke
NEWS July 23, 2014
Photo by Brian J Nelson
Courtesy of Geiger Media:
LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 23, 2014) - With rain shortening the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend presented by Dunlop into a one-day show, GEICO Motorcycle Honda SuperBike rider Chris Ulrich picked up a pair of top-10 finishes, an eighth and ninth, in his return to the AMA Pro Road Racing Superbike Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"It was a unique day, for sure, having a really compact schedule," Ulrich said. "There wasn't much valuable track time yesterday, so today we only really had the warm-up. We made a couple of changes, mainly focusing on the electronics in the morning. The first race Sunday, the bike was really hard to get a rhythm going and difficult to ride. I was able to soldier through and got ninth. However, the lap time really wasn't where it needed to be compared to the guys I wanted to be running with.
"We were able to look at a few things before the second race that helped to position my bike better in the middle of the corner and apex out. The overall pace of the second race was substantially quicker, but I was able to go consistently 1.2 seconds faster.
"We're still a little bit behind the eight ball when we unload these days. We need to keep working on positioning the bike better to allow us to get up where we need to be fighting with that next group in front of me."
GEICO Motorcycle Honda SportBike rider Jake Zemke had even less time on the track than teammate Ulrich. Limited on-track time paired with engine issues set the veteran behind early on, but Zemke was able to rally to a 10th-place finish in the first Daytona GoPro SportBike race of the day.
"We only had a total of nine laps completed in practice going into the first race," Zemke said, "eight yesterday and one in the warm-up this morning before we had something let go in the motor. I had actually gotten a really good start in the first race and was in fourth going into the first turn.
"There was a little contact between Danny Eslick and Jake Gagne that caused Gagne to checkup. When he did, I was on his rear wheel and had to roll out of the throttle for a split second. That allowed about four or five guys to get around me before we got to Turn 2. From there, a few more guys got by me down the back straightaway and I was as far back as 12th.
"I was able to make a few passes and get by a couple of guys in the end to get back to the top 10. It's not really what we were hoping for this weekend, but the good thing is that I'm OK and the bike will be fixed and ready to go before New Jersey."
Unfortunately, after bouncing back from a last-minute engine replacement, Zemke's troubles continued at Mid-Ohio during Race 2. A Lap 4 wreck due to fluid on the racing surface collected Zemke, ending his day much earlier than he would have liked with a 21st-place finish.
"We were back around 10th again from the start," Zemke said. "Our bike was really good once the tires get worn down, so I was just biding my time. I was going to try to get by Blake Young and get up there to battle with Eslick and Bobby Fong.
"I think something let go on Dane Westby's bike and put fluid on the track. I saw Eslick go down after Westby was already out in the gravel trap. I tried easing my way into the corner and not go in too hard. It didn't matter though; I didn't even get the thing leaned over and I hit where the fluid was. You couldn't see where it was on the track, so I ended up just folding the front and piling into the fence.
"It looked like everyone was OK, which is the important thing. Unfortunately, the wreck broke the frame on the GEICO Honda, so we were done for the day."
Both GEICO Honda teams will use the valuable off time to get ready for the season-finale Kawasaki Devil's Showdown, Sept. 13-14, at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ.
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