AFM round 2, 2012 updated!

Posted: 10th May 2012 by GoGo in RACE STORIES - 2011

It’s MONDAY NIGHT, the race weekend is overwtf happened to me!  Oh the plans of updating this blog throughout the weekend..  The deams – it was all going to be so different – what happened…?

 

…well I’ll tell you what happened.  It was different.

 

Sometimes it’s all you can do to survive race weekends spawned from venom spewing monsters out to rot the very fabric that forms your passion.  Other times in racing, no matter how hard you love it, racing just won’t love you back.  But if you stick with it there can also be times, rare and special times, when racing carries you to places simply unreachable by any other means.  This weekend was one of those.  I might have felt like I was twenty out there this weekend but I really sucked on a bike when I was twenty.  Thirty couldn’t hold a candle to Sunday either.  I’ll stop there.

My goals this weekend were to continue building a difference in our program – in our approach, in our execution, and in our results.  We accomplished that.  My  next goal was to win.

2012’s first practice saw me break a career-long record.  I got in trouble quicker than I ever have before – in just three laps of practice.  What for you ask?  SOUND.  Our RC8R has a factory Akropovic race pipe.  It’s pretty trick but it’s nothing monstrous – they make bigger pipes for this bike.  But our RC8R pipe is low, and aimes sideways – usually directly at the meters as we race by.  This is bad for Infineon, and now that Thunderhill has a new sound regulation, it’s bad there too.  As a result we had to dedicate our Saturday practice to making a sound-deadening baffle out of a jar of peanut butter and chewing gum, rather than to going faster.

….so much for track time.  But ironically, if you walked by our pit Saturday, I was all smiles.  Not a stitch of stress.  My radar was pretty keyed-in on the horizon and after riding our bike Last Tuesday, I didn’t see one blip.  Like I have said before, racing is a bit like baseball – it’s mysterious where your confidence can hide sometimes.  Nothing hid this weekend.

Michelin’s new rubber is apparently molded around cords with confidence weaved into them.  These tires, and I sincerely mean this (we pay for our tires, and there is NO Michelin contingency this year), have helped re-define my passion for racing.  I haven’t found full lean yet, but I am anxious to keep searching.  I haven’t found full drive yet, and we already come out strong.  I haven’t found the balls to sweep through T-hill’s fastest turns like our tires keep telling me we can.  These subtle things take laps for me to find.  We lost those to T-hill’s new sound meter..

They say it’s amazing what a coat of paint can do.  I had no idea ours would do all that it did.  I not only felt better about our bike, but about our entire program as well.  It just feels more professional, looking professional.  I heard this over and over Saturday and Sunday.  One passer-by even said ours was his favorite bike in the paddock.  That makes those rainy days wet-sanding well worth the effort.

I was very cautious heading into Formula Pacific Sunday.  Our RC8R is a 2009 and it has three full seasons on it’s stock motor.  If that’s not bad enough now we had to race the fastest bikes in the west with a banana peal jammed up it’s tailpipe.  WTF!

Keith installed a new clutch pack to start our season off right which was a smart move to make.  Only problem is this put our clutch stack to a thickness not the best for launches.  It seems this RC8R likes a clutch stack about .5mm thinner than we now had, so on launches it was locking up a bit.  We still got a decent launch, I think fifth into turn one.  We will improve on that next round.  It felt really good being inside the Formula Pacific pack like we were for three turns.  Quite an honor actually.  I have a habit of practicing alone out there.  I usually go out in the gaps.  I think I need to end that habit.  It was good seeing up close some of the differences there are between us and the front runners of FP.  One obvious difference is mid corner speed.  The FP crew all turn at a higher rate of speed than we do.  I felt limited out there, like I couldn’t stay on their lines at equal speeds – instead we went a little wide.  The other difference was once our throttles were twisted to the stop.  It would be easy to say there’s nothing I can do about that but there is.  I believe if we can turn better, we can drive better.  And if we can drive better there will be a far greater difference in our trap-speeds.  This will surely get us around the clock quicker.

It didin’t take long for us to lose touch with the leaders, but it was nice to still see them up front for a while.  The number 5 bike (Martin Szwarc) finished 5th, one spot ahead of us.  He is my new FP target.  His bike is monstrously fast.  Right now at T-hill he runs a clear 2 seconds from us.  It’ll take one hell of a push but I think we have 2 seconds in our bike.  That will put us at 1:50s flat.  Maybe that’s unreasonable with a stock motor pumping out 2005-era hp numbers, but I left the FP race knowing exactly where we can go faster.  In my head I visualized a map of the track, viewed from above – then pictured filling in each area where I know we can go faster with a red magic marker.  Once my mental lap was complete I was left with the entire track colored in red.  I think that’s worth two seconds.

Trust me we did NOT finish a lonely 6th in FP.  The number 7 bike (Jason lauritzen), was right there with us all race long.  In fact he shot by mid-race down the front straight and under us into turn one.  I felt uncomfortable behind him.  He is new to running big bikes at speed.  You could tell he was busy making corrections up there.  Sometimes mid-turn, sometimes on exits.  I could feel his pain, I have been there myself more often than not.  I tucked in close behind him next run up the front straight, broke for turn one close as I could, and rushed over the hill into turn two underneath him.  That’s the last I saw him, but it is NOT the last I heard him.  He’ll be back…

Open Twins went about as well as a race can go.  We took the holeshot and lead the race all the way to the checker.  Not very dramatic, I was ready to fight Tiger Boy for every inch on the track, but I’ll take it.  This win marks our first since 2010.  It’s been a very long road coming back.  Not saying we are here, yet, but something is definitely changing.  I have a confidence now that I haven’t felt in years.  More than that I have an understanding that I have never had.  Not just of the bike, or of my abilities as a rider, but I have a much clearer idea of what is possible out there and were.  I know exactly where we can improve, and I know how.  This is very different.  Used to be I just went out there and rode as fast as I possibly could.  Then I’d come back and check laptimes.  Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were horrible.  While out there riding though, I really couldn’t tell the difference.  It all felt the same – I was riding hard as I could.  Now I can feel time.  I can sense opportunities, both gained and lost.  I can feel seconds now – the ones ahead of us and the ones behind.  It’s very interesting and I have no idea where it came from.  I only know when it started – and that was the very first lap I ever turned on our RC8R once we got it back from Jerry Piazza of GP Frame and Wheel.

So good things are ahead.  I can sense that too.  It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do…

Tonight I head up to the city, to meet Tiger Boy himself.  This is part of a special project that I’ve been dreaming about forever.  If we can pull it off, this year will be far more interesting than any before it.  Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

 

GoGo

Special thanks to Tri Valley Moto (soon changing their name to Cal Moto Livermore), Barry Wressel, of KFG Racing, for helping us with suspension.  He knows his $&*@#.  Alex Florea for his guidance and support on our Michelin mission.  Jerry Piazza, of GP Frame and Wheel, for his vital help sorting our RC8R out and turning it into a bike I feel comfortable on.  Keith Rodriguez for his thorough nature behind the wrench, Dannyboy Boyd for always being there even when he’s not able to be, and finally thank you Mike & Lou Meissner for EVERYTHING ELSE

It’s THURSDAY NIGHT, we’ve got a race this weekend and we’re NOT busy working on the bike until 3am.  WTF is going on?  Can’t be we’re finally growing up, can it?

I shot up to T-hill this past Tuesday to run around and knock the rust off.  Can’t believe it’s so late in the year and we haven’t raced yet.  Usually we get the jump on the east coast when it comes to starting our race season but not this year.  AFM doesn’t race in the rain, and the rainy season came late this year.  Not a good combination..

Anyway the bike feels great.  Gone are the hellacious shimmys and shakes of RC8R past.  Gone is the bikes tendency to steer wide, to change it’s line mid-turn, to shake it’s head like a Blue Marlin hooked on 200lb-test line.  It’s awesome to ride now.  And it looks awesome too.  On top of that our leathers are new, our helmet is new, the guys put a new clutch in today, we’ve got new Vesrah pads coming Saturday, Michelin’s got brand new slicks for us this year..   The list just keeps getting better.  I am genuinely psyched to get back to racing.

For a few months now I have also been dedicated to workouts.  The body feels good.  I had aimed to weigh-in at 192lbs this Saturday.  That’s not happening.  I did shed a good deal of winter blubber but I also packed on some muscle so my chassis is not overly light right now.  Still though, I should be 5lbs lighter than I am.  No excuses.  I’m a work in progress..  Usually I run through winters, ride in spring and summer.  But this winter my old knee injury has been haunting me.  I had my ACL replaced ten years ago and I think something’s up with it now.  I started wearing a brace a month ago to help stabilize it.  I was concerned about riding the bike without the brace but it felt ok Tuesday.  Didn’t slow me down at all.  In fact I actually fell right into a groove after just four or five laps.  Last time I rode was our last AFM race, before this past Tuesday.  I think if the bike was still a bitch to ride I might have gotten up to speed much slower, but this bike is a pleasure now.  Jerry Piazza and his GP Frame and Wheel business, I tell you that place is a gold mine.  We searched for solutions to our problems hard, and we couldn’t figure them out.  Jerry did.  …much respect

I’m heading up Friday night late, with the Michelin Man (Alex Florea).  We’ll run Saturday practice, then enter two races for this season – Open Twins and Formula Pacific.  I’m not sure how I feel about Formula Pacific yet.  We will most likely be on the slowest bike in the field.  These guys don’t screw around – most are over 200hp.  We’re still racing around on 2005/2006 horsepower standards.  I bet we have a solid 155hp at the rear tire.  That may sound nice but trust me, against the animals we’ll be facing this Sunday, we’ve got mountains to climb.  I say I don’t know how I feel about it because the flag hasn’t dropped yet.  Once that happens, and we get a few laps under our belt, I’ll be able to tell whether or not these mountains are climbable for us or not.  I for one, hope that they are.  As far as Open Twins goes, I am totally psyched.  Still we have the hp disadvantage but only from the elite in the field, like Steve Metz, Bud Anderson, and whoever else shows up.  You just never know who you’ll have to face until Sunday afternoon.  As far as the nature of Open Twins, somehow last year we lost something in that class.  The banter, the joking, the competitive yet friendly relationships between us all.  I aim to not only re-capture that this year, but to re-define it.  We will set new standards this year in sportsmanship, competition, and of course sharing – right here on Gotagteam.com.

I plan to update this blog throughout the weekend.  First time I’ve ever done this.  Again, it’s a new year and we’ve got a new set of standards.  See you Saturday!

GoGo

 

 


  1. Dennis D. says:

    “I plan to update this blog throughout the weekend. First time I’ve ever done this. Again, it’s a new year and we’ve got a new set of standards. See you Saturday!”

    Where did that plan go, GoGo?

    Hope the weekend went well! Though I do spy a P1 finish in Open TW over at the AFM site…

  2. Ben says:

    Dude finally you´re winning a race and all that´s worth mentioning to you is one little sentence? Wow.

  3. GoGo says:

    Trust me Ben on the cool down lap I was so explosively excited I actually broke my helmet in all the celebrations. Lucky thing we had a banana peal stuffed in our muffler or I would have been disqualified for wheelieing the entire track. I thought to share all of that but I feel bad, Tiger Boy was off his game. Next round will be a better fight

  4. Dennis D. says:

    My AFM Tailgate Crew and I will be there at the next round, looking for a good battle between you, Tiger Boy, and the rest of your grid!

    Thanks for all the updates!

  5. GoGo says:

    Dee, I was at your brother’s crib yesterday filming Brendan. Your name came up. He said I need to contact you about corporate sponsorship so we can all go world superbike racing. Come on what’ya think!!!!

  6. Dennis D. says:

    I think you got the wrong “Dennis,” hahaha!

  7. GoGo says:

    Listen, all it would take is about $175. I really think we can do a full world superbike schedule on that budget. No way can Direct TV cost more than that till October… :-)

  8. Dennis D. says:

    I’m with Comcast; internetz’ blazing fast, yo!

  9. RB says:

    Good recap Gogo, as usual.

    SB and I were talking, and we agreed…your bike is the best looking KTM we’ve seen. Nice work on getting it looking (and handling) the way it should.

    That start you got in Open Twins was incredible. I’ve got the video (I was directly behind you), and I’ve watched it several times. If I could get the starts you get, my races would be a bit different, for sure.

    Looking at your THill map, colored in with red, it’s hard to imagine that you’ve got THAT many opportunity areas for speed. Even around turns #4 and #5? And, the entire back side of the track? Is that a result of just carrying more speed from turn #6, which translates to more speed all the way through turn #10?

    I have focused on two things that you told me some time back. “RB, you just have to go faster in the fast stuff…” you said. And, “conditioning is more important than most other things as you prepare for racing.” As I’ve gotten more comfortable with those pieces of guidance, it has changed my results, and satisfaction. I’ve finally broken the 2:00 mark at THill (after years of trying), and won my first Sunday race (Super Dino). Thanks for your advice and encouragement – much appreciated.

    Looking forward to seeing you do the business in OT and FP again next weekend. We’ll be rooting for you.

    RB

    PS – Brian Mitchell and I are both in for your Open Twins series on video. I’ll send you an e-mail…

  10. GoGo says:

    RB, thanks for the good words. …and the questions.

    Yes I’ve got a lot of time I’m leaving out there. Basically the whole track. I’ll be there Friday to run all day. Joe is paying my way since I offered to run around with him. He told me “WTF, all of the sudden RB is kicking my ass! I need help!!!” …so I am helping.

    My lifestyle doesn’t fit the full-time on track racer help profile. I wish it did. I do have many ideas, many ways of looking at riding fast that I don’t hear talked about by others. Maybe I can find a way to share them here. Instead of helping one person so intensely on one day for huge return, maybe I can help a lot more people for just a tiny return. Not sure how to work that out but I am actively thinking about it.

    Far as turns 4&5, our bike is turning at a lazy pace. It leans over fine, it changes direction fine, but it rolls through turns off-pace. Something is wrong. I suspect tire pressure. I am getting a lot of input from Michelin (importers and distributors) to run our rear tire at extremely low pressures. It seems everyone is going in the low pressure direction these days but this new Michelin is very different. It’s carcass is super thin in the “tread” area of the tire. This, if you ask me, allows the tire to flex more there – which feels great. I can feel it flatten out on drives. Amazing grip. But I think such extreme low pressures, with these particular tires, is too soft. Too much flex. I expect that while at full lean our rear is losing it’s round shape, lowering the rear, and therefore pushing wide. Also with the flattened shape it grips too much I think, it’s difficult to spin and turn the bike – which we all do to some degree, but I would like to do more.

    Lots to think about..

    GoGo

  11. RB says:

    GoGo,

    That’s funny about Joe. He is such a great guy, and has honestly been responsible for some of my very best racing. He’s pushed me to do a little more, a little better, and I’ve achieved results at different times over the years that were in large part due to his influence.

    I hope you do make him faster, and better. Every time he improves a bit, it pushes me to do the same, so hopefully, I’ll benefit as his laptimes go lower and lower. My best to this point at Thunderhill is about 1:58. My goal for this year is 1:56. Not bad for a 108 HP Super Dinosaur bike (1999 Ducati 996).

    Interesting observations about the tires, and their effect on how a bike handles AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND LEAN ANGLES. I’ve never fallen for the “super low” tire pressures that have been floated by most of the manufacturers over the last few years. I’ve always depended on feel and tire wear to tell me if I was at the right pressure. While some people have run the super low pressures, and chewed up tires in 1 day, I would get 3 – 4 from a rear. I’m not nearly as good as the fast guys – like you – but I know when my bike feels right. In terms of handling, I only want two variables to deal with. Those are CHASSIS, and SUSPENSION. If I can understand and set those right, that’s all I need to feel comfortable, confident, and content. Throwing a third variable (like a wallowing tire) into the mix just confuses everything else, and I’ve seen more than one rider have major fits over this. Remember that time in 2005 when you gave me the Pirelli slicks to try? The nature of that tire’s sidewall wasn’t confidence inspiring (it wallowed a lot on corner exit), and I promptly removed them. I’ve found the lower pressures being recommended by some MFG’s has resulted in some of the same characteristics you’re describing…not a good feeling.

    Dave Moss is now running higher temperatures than recommended, and a few others have followed suit. If anyone understands chassis set up and tire wear, it’s Dave… I’m going to stick with the pressures I’ve always run, and which feel right with my tires (Bridgestone slicks – which have been fantastic).

    Good topic to explore…

    RB

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