Roadcraft Motorcycle Academy

Roadcraft Motorcycle Academy

Race Report – WMRC Round 1

The weather forecast had us all hoping we’d have a dry race track all weekend but once again the 2017 weather was there to spoil the fun on Saturday morning. I’ve done more than my fair share of riding in the rain and I really don’t mind it but I do prefer a dry racing surface, especially since every crash I’ve had since 2015 has been on a wet track.

I would have been happy enough to sit in my lawn chair and skip my practice sessions until conditions improved but I was instructing one of the groups in the WMRC New Racer School so the lawn chair wasn’t going to be in the cards for me all day even though I would skip all of the morning racer sessions. Thankfully my students all did an excellent job of riding in the poor conditions and they made lots of progress with their riding. Nice job guys, you made my job easy.

Sunday brought clear skies and the track would indeed be dry all day. YES! As we drove to the track I was actually excited and anxious to race and I can’t remember the last time that happened just driving to the track. Lately I haven’t felt that way until we are called to pre-grid for a race.

Morning practice went reasonably well and I was able to start slowly picking up my speed but I was well off the pace I’m capable of running and I didn’t think I would have anything for the fast guys on 300s in the lightweight classes. Oh well, time to find out….

Lightweight Supersport: I started from second but by turn one I was back in third behind the two fastest Ninja 300 riders; #705 Shin Furukawa and #90 Jay Tait. Shin had flown past me in practice a couple times and I knew I had nothing for him today but if I could stay with Jay for a bit perhaps that could help me drop my lap times down closer to where they should be.

That first lap was good and I was so close to Jay through two my front tire must have been within two or three inches of his back tire. He opened the gap from three to six but I was able to close it right back up through seven, eight and nine.

Half way through lap two Jay either found his groove or mine got worse because he was able to open up a bit of a gap. I closed up a couple of times but by lap four I knew it was over unless he made a big mistake. Coming out of three I looked back and saw nothing but clear track so I knew I was free to just run laps and work on my riding without trying to catch someone or fend off any attacks. Then came the traffic….

Holy crap do we have LOT of new 250 racers in the WMRC! Awesome! Welcome to the WMRC, we’re glad you are out there racing with us. However, “new racer” + “fast” rarely go together so there was going to be lots of lapped traffic to deal with LOTS. Maybe Jay would get held up by a group of them and I could bridge the gap…. Well one can hope, I’m told that even fools have hope.

It wasn’t to be though so P3 would have to do today. I can’t say I was disappointed as I figured that was the best I could do anyway. Beside’s “it’s not whether you win or lose its how you play the game” right? You can be certain that whoever came up with that line lost the game.

Lightweight Twins: This time traffic would work in my favor.

I would be starting from pole but this race is made up of two different classes; Lightweight twins (open to 500cc 4-stroke twins and up to 250cc 2-stroke twins) and Formula Classic (vintage 1979 and earlier with unlimited displacement and 1980 -1990 bike with up to 576cc displacement).

The Formula Classic bikes start from the front of the grid meaning that today pole position in Lightweight Twins actually meant starting from 8th.

I got an average start; #705 Shin Furukawa got a better one and I saw very little of him after that. Shin is riding incredibly well. I can’t believe how fast he was going right from first practice, wow dude, just wow! I hope I can pick up my pace and make Shin’s races a little more challenging later on this year but right now I’m not even close.

As we tipped into turn one for the first time I juuuuuust managed to slip up the inside of one of the formula bikes but holy hell it was TIGHT. That was good but even better I knew that I had put that rider between myself and #90 Jay Tait, cue a Mr. Burns style “Excellent!”

As we charged towards two I thought that I might be able to get up the inside of George Filis on the #66 FC bike but I didn’t quite have the jam to get it done. I was on his inside turning in but I wasn’t sure he knew I was there. Come on George please leave me just a little space buddy because this is going to be damn close! My tires were up against the curbing, I held my breath for a few seconds and tried to make sure our bikes didn’t touch. Luckily we both made it through unscathed and George was able to pull away from me but that was fine, the first two turns really couldn’t have gone any better for me.

If I put my head down and ran some good laps maybe I could keep Jay behind me for a bit but I knew he would be coming. It was inevitable; it was only a matter of time and probably not a very long time. The turns started to tick by; three, four, five, six and I hadn’t seen Jay’s front wheel yet, how odd.

Seven, eight, nine and down the front stretch, nothing. I held a tight line into one and Jay still hadn’t shown me his front wheel. Interesting, this is a good sign, he must have been held up more than I expected. No time to look back; head down, bum up, FOCUS! And the laps started to roll by.

When I saw the first of the lapped traffic up ahead I knew that could work for me or against me but before I started to work my way through them I needed to know where Jay was so I knew how aggressively I was going to have to try to get past. Coming through two I glanced over my shoulder and saw a white bike entering the turn just as I was about to leave it. WTF? Jay??? I thought it was him but how could he still be that far back? Did I see that right?

When I came out of three I decided I better take a really good look this time and sure enough that was Jay and I had a good little gap. Well OK then, with a little luck in traffic I might just be able to seal the deal on a second place and more points than I expected.

I got around the first couple groups of traffic quick and easy without losing much time and based on where I caught them I have to think that Jay didn’t have it quite as easy. Tough luck Jay, I expect to see a lot more of your back wheel at round two.

I’m not sure who was on that FC bike I passed in turn one but I should find out and buy that guy a beer. You too George, thanks for leaving some space for me.

250 Production: Now we were all on 250s but fellow Roadcraft Instructor #962 Jeremy Karlson was going to make me work hard for this one.

My start was OK and I led into turn one but it was awfully noisy in there. That’s not just the sound of my motor, that’s two motors. He was RIGHT behind me. Turn two was more of the same, way too noisy, not good. I needed some good laps while I have a clear race track in front of me.

The rest of the first lap went well but coming through two for the second time the rear tire started to slide, uh-oh. Settle down now, there’s no need to go do an air fence inspection right now. Once I had gathered up my rear tire I noted that it was quiet exiting turn two this time, good.

Coming out of three I took a look back and found I had managed to open a bit of a gap but not a big one. He was able to close up at times and apply enough pressure to keep me working hard all ten laps but not enough to mount a serious challenge so WMRC win #1 for 2017 and 25 points.

Damn, that was a good day! I had a great time, everyone went home safe, my students that raced all stayed upright and they seem to have caught the racing bug.

Thank you to the WMRC Executive, the race day staff and the volunteers, you folks put on a great weekend.

Thank you to Roadcraft Motorcycle Academy, Scott and Monica at Racer X Leathers, Blair at SV Racing, Burnaby Kawasaki, MSpeed performance, “Over What Hill?” Racing, and thank you to Patty for your endless love and support.

The next Roadcraft Control Skills Upgrade class runs May 11,13,14 and there are just three spots still available.

WMRC rounds two and three run on May 20, 21 and PCMRC round two runs May 28th. Come out to watch the races, come out to volunteer for the best seat in the house, or better yet come out and find out how you can get started racing.

Steve McKenna #49