2007 USGPRU Race Reports:
The trip out to Salt Lake City was quite interesting. I drove out with the Olsen's on Thursday, leaving Kelso Washington at 6:30 in the morning. Somewhere on the I84 in Oregon heading east, we had the first of two tire blowouts on the trailer. We eventually made it to Salt Lake at 12:30 at night.
Friday we get to the track before 7am, Sean Wray is at the front gates waiting to get in. I go register for the practice day and we head in to the garages in the pits and get setup. I go out and get in 3 quick practice sessions in the morning before lunch. Then I rushed off and changed out the pistons as they were close to the recommended mileage. Everything seemed to be going not too bad in practice, could dive in pretty good into corners, but the midcorner speed was really lacking due to the previous chassis issues i've been having to fight with this entire season. I'm running unleaded fuel this weekend so i'm playing it a tad safe with the carb. settings since I dont have a detonation counter installed on the bike yet. Afterwards I head out for some quick dinner with Dylan and his dad Scott, then back to the track to figure out whats causing the stiction in the front forks on my bike. I didn't get to sleep until 2am.
Saturday was filled with practice all day and timed qualifying at the end. Dylan is on his new 05 yamaha tz250 and is turning off some quick 1:41 laps. I'm having troubles breaking into the 1:44's all day as the chassis just wasn't feeling any good in the corners. I was trying hard to match up and get more corner speeds but the bike just wasn't having any of that. Fustration as usual sets in. I should be running up front with the leaders and Dylan, well I think I should since Dylan has never been able to beat me outright ever (until this weekend). I think I ended up qualifying on the 4th row, 4A to be exact. Nothing to be excited about. I head off for dinner at the end of the day with Dylan and his dad again, came back and I stayed up late in the garage fiddling with the bike trying to find anything to get more speed in the corners.
Dylan Olsen's BRIGHT Orange 05 Yamaha TZ250
Sunday, Mark "Bigman" Kelly from Celtic racing comes over and helps out with setting the powervalves. Wow what a difference as the bike felt alot more quicker on the top end. Unfornantely this track doesn't have any real long straights so it wouldn't do much for my laptimes. I was going to ask him with some help with the chassis setup but time ran out and we had to get out to our grid positions for the race. I get a decent start off the line heading into turn 1. After that things didn't go well, as I knew going in i'd never be able to match the front runner bikes in the chassis department yet again. I worked my way up into 11th, and kinda rode alone for the rest of the race. I could see 10th and 9th not too far ahead but the laps ran out and I there was nothing I could do to catch up, I was riding as hard as I could but the times just weren't showing it. My friend Dylan finished a strong 5th right behind Mark Kelly of Celtic racing. Nice to see him do well considering he highsided himself out of 3rd at Portland back in July. I really wished I could figure out why things aren't going well this year. It's been a disaster, I really wanted to be up front with Dylan this weekend, just like we were last year on the 125's, but i'm struggling alot with this bike and I dont know why. I'm putting in as much effort as I always do but the laptimes & results just dont show it. It's not like i'm getting outbraked or anything. I know I could be more aggressive but I feel the bike has kinda put me in a bad mood due to it not working right and it translates into my riding both physically and mentally. Almost like i'm stuck in a mental block, and I can't figure out how to dig myself out of it. I'm suppose to be heading down to Willow Springs for the Roadracing World's Annual 250/50 race in 2 weeks, but I think i'm going to stay home and just recollect my thoughts on this season and why things went the way they did. I'm not sure if there would be any use in going to Willow. Instead I'll put in some relaxing testing days later this month and start fresh, get back to the basics and try to enjoy my riding instead of putting so much pressure on myself. and of course forget about this entire 2007 season. Get myself prepared early for 2008, by doing some testing days this fall/winter and get some new HRC parts on order to test out, try to find a good baseline setup and get some feedback from John Bowman on bike setup now that the machine is back in Canada.
I dont know what to say about this past weekend at Barber. I came here determined to get the bike to run properly on leaded racing fuel. As I mentioned previously, new parts arrived a few days before I left for Alabama. I arrived in Birmingham just before noon on thursday, after a long overnight flight that connected through Houston. This time I was able to get some decent sleep on the flight, and arrived at the hotel with lots of energy. It was blazing hot here, up to 42°C and really humid. I found Kory, and Mike working on there bikes in the parking lot. Pat Dowd arrived shortly after from the airport and I took time that afternoon to get the new Powerjet Controller wired up to the bike.
Then we packed up the rig and made our way to the track to sign in and setup the pit. Bruce was over in England for a few days stuck in business meetings and he flew into Atlanta that afternoon and caught up with us at the registration booth at the track entrance later on in the day. After that we grabbed some dinner at the Kobe Japanese Steak House, then checked in back at the hotel for the night.
Friday, up early and off to the track. Roll the bikes through tech inspection then off to get some practice in. Barber is a awesome facility, top notch world class, it doesn't get any nicer than this. I spent the day riding, coming in, tweaking the bike, going back out, etc. Trying hard to get this powerjet controller to work with no real success. Lots of stiction going on in the front forks, with real bad headshake/stability problems that travels from the front to the rear when under deep braking or sudden elevation changes.
The schedule for Saturday was pretty tight. I didn't get much riding in, 2 practice sessions in the morning and the CCS GTU right after lunch, which i used for more testing. Bruce would go on to break a finger which would require surgery, so Sean Wray drove him to the hospital and Bruce would stay overnight. Afterwards we all went back to the Kobe steakhouse, along with the commentary announcer guy, and the flag starter joining us for dinner. Kory drank too much sake and would go on to provide countless hours of entertainment.
Back at the hotel, I started to ponder and reflect back on this season. Honestly, i've been really dissapointed with my performance this year, it's been utterly miserable and crappy. I hit a low point at Loudon, after the 2nd lap I just pulled off the track in fustration and went back to the pit. I should be doing way better but i dunno what it is, whether it's me or the bike or both, I dunno. At first i've never felt comfortable on the bike on how it feels, I guess kinda like Carl Fogarty when he left Ducati to ride for Honda on the RC45 in World Superbike in 1996. Just not really been able to gel with the bike. It's easy to blame the machine but i'd rather not, even though i know it's far from setup or working probably. I've ridden poorly setup bikes in the past and was still able to go quick on them, so I dont want to say it's the bike. I was talking with Sean about it at the hotel that night, he kinda made me feel a bit better after he said when he was racing on a then brand new TZ250 in the AMA 250 back in 2001 I believe, he ended up like dead last in every race that year, bike ran like crap for him, he didn't like how it was working, he would be giving full effort while riding but the results weren't showing. So that kinda made me feel better.
Sunday morning, decided to try the standard unleaded cylinder heads with some C12, and leaded RS125 needles in the carbs. The results were drastically different, but not what I was looking for. Then I decided to try out some MS103 Unleaded fuel since the bike was originally designed to run on unleaded. The carbs were setup on the rich side to play it safe since there is no detonation counter installed. Unfornately there was no time to test the unleaded fuel except for in the 250gp race.
Celtic Racing decided to bring out ex MotoGP rider Chaz Davies to ride one of there Honda's. Anyhow, the short version of the race. Chaz wins, Perry Melneciuc came out of retirement to take 2nd on a Yamaha, my bike ran like crap again and brickwalled at 13,000rpm and finished 19th on a 27 bike grid.
Anyhow, i'm off to Utah next week for the round at Miller. We'll see how things go then.
This weekend I was suppose to be riding a TZ250 provided by the Olsen family, but due to a few circumstances I wasn't going to be racing. Dylan's dad still asked me to come down for the weekend and do some tuning for Dylan's bike. So I made my way down to Portland on friday night.
I was up early on saturday morining and off to the track to get to work. Dylan was complaining that his 2nd gear was too short for some sections, so out comes the transmission and get the 2nd gear replaced with a taller ratio. After a few practice sessions, I recommended that we should change the pistons before the 250gp qualifying during the lunch hour. It was a good idea too as one of his cylinders had some major damage, which probably came from when he last raced the bike a few weeks ago. After rushing with the piston change, we managed to get a heat cycle in before qualifying. After a short pep talk to Dylan, we send him out. He turned off a 1:14, a good 1 sec faster than what he normally runs here in OMRRA regional rounds. His time was good enough to put him in 5th on the grid. We clean up and went out to grab some dinner and discuss a few options for tommorrow.
We decide again that first thing sunday morning we would change 2nd gear out for a slightly taller ratio. This helped him alot as we noticed in practice. After doing some more tweaks to the carb setting of the bike, I'm pretty happy at how the bike is running now, as it can keep up with most of the honda's on the front straight and even draft past some of them. After another short discussion with Dylan, I send him out for the 250gp race. The 1st lap of the race was red-flagged and re-started after somebody crashed pretty hard in turn 5. On the restart Dylan ends up coming around after the first lap in 5th, right behind Kyle Ferris on his silver honda. The 3 leaders are slowly pulling away from them. Around lap 7, Vince Rolleri who's leading the race highsides himself out into the airfence in turn 9. This moved Dylan up to 4th right behind Kyle Ferris in 3rd. Eddy Brunet and Ryan Ferris are 10secs ahead battling for the lead. The next lap Dylan draft passed Kyle's Honda to take over 3rd. He would hold him off for the next few laps. Then on lap 10 of 15, while running in 3rd, Dylan highsides in turn3, the rare left hander at Portland, and crashes hard. The red flag came out and ended the race early. With Ryan winning, Eddy in 2nd and Kyle taking over 3rd after Dylan's race ending crash. Dylan was running in the 1:12's this race, 4 seconds faster than his usual times here. It was nice to see him do well, and working on getting his bike running strong. Hopefully I get the chance to race with him soon, as I miss our intense battles we had last season in the 125gp's.
It is the mid-summer break now, 3 1/2 weeks until I leave for Alabama for the next round.
Well where to begin. This time I met up with Pat Dowd from the BLRTC during my connection flight in Phoenix to Milwaukee. My flight from Vancouver left 1 1/2hr's late, and I barely made it on time for the connection flight. I arrived with Pat and Kory to the hotel just before 1am friday morning. Pat tells me that Sean Wray had a bad crash on thursday practice and broke his shoulder and some ribs, so he packed up and left on friday morning. Mike Orien had his motor let go on him as well and he called it quits and flew out early friday back home to Seattle.
After arriving at the track on friday, I quickly roll through technical inspection and get out for the 2 practice sessions in the morning. I went back and set my bike up identical to the HRC settings in the manual, and proceeded to do some testing. As a side note, I went into this weekend treating it as testing only, trying to get some kind of baseline setting with the bike and understanding how it works, since it is nothing like the Honda RS125 that I used to ride. After spending the day testing various setups and recording my data, I finished up the day changing out the top ends and doing various engine maintenance. I packed up for the day and went for a quick bite to eat at the local Subway with Mike Danielson and Chris Manfrin. Then back to the hotel for some rest.
Saturday we had the 250gp qualifying to do. I ended up qualifying on the 5th row. Quite a bit better than the past few rounds, progress I suppose, but not a whole lot. Eitherway it was something I was not paying attention to, nor did I care very much. During qualifying my clutch was letting go and overheating. I guess trying to ride the bike like a 125 all year wore out the clutch early. Another lesson learned. I spent saturday dealing with understeering problems, since the HRC settings for some reason encourage understeering. So I spent the day tweaking chassis geometry to get some more weight on the front end. By this time, I was running the smallest mainjets in my carbs since the powerjet cutoff on the standard ignition is way to high causing the top end power to be very poor and too rich when running a high compression setup with leaded fuel. Even with the smallest mainjets available in the HRC kit, the bike was still running the same as previous rounds. I finished up saturday rebuilding my forks and changing the springs out on the right fork leg and adjusting the oil level and ride height some more. Afterwards we all headed off for some dinner at a restaurant near the hotel. The food was decent, most of the other guys had a few drinks to relax with plenty of entertainment put on by Bruce's flatulence that night.
Sunday was blazing hot outside. I noticed my bike running a tad hot in the morning and I knew it would be a problem in the afternoon when it heats up more. I rip the fender off before going out for the 250gp race to get some more airflow to the radiator. I had a decent start off the line, a huge pileup into the first few corners as everybody tries to squeak by. The first lap in the Canada Corner, Danielson crashes out as he and another rider make contact. I'm riding behind with Chris Manfrin for a bit, he's been struggling all weekend with his setup. I get by and end up riding on my own for rest of the race. I shorten up my gearing before heading out having a feeling the bike would be overheating, which it was. Was down on top speed by a huge margin. Hopefully i'll have these engine technical issues solved for the Barber round next month with some new parts from Steve Patrickson over in the UK. I would have to say, even though I didn't perform well at all again this weekend, I came away pretty happy with all the data I gathered on the bike and now have some stuff to go over, with what works and what doesn't.
My flight back to Vancouver wasn't until later in the afternoon on monday. I check in a bit early at the airport in Milwaukee. About a hour before my flight leaves, it gets cancelled due to thunderstorms rolling into the area. I ended up taking a 2 1/2 hr limo ride to Chicago in hopes to catch a 5:30 flight connection flight back home. I get to the Chicago O'hare airport at 5:30 and find out the flight i'm on to vancouver is delayed for several hours as the thunderstorm had rolled into the area here as well. I eventually get back to Canada by almost 1am, but my luggage didn't arrive, but that is a whole other story. A west coast Portland round is also coming up this upcoming weekend, i'm not sure i'll be riding since my bike wont be there, but I have been offered a bike from one of my friends I met last year while racing against in the WMRRA.
Until then, Barber Motorsports Park next month, hopefully I can make some more progress while there.
Oh man, this season is turning out to be really crappy. I'll get to that in a minute. I was booked on a redeye flight to arrive in Boston early thursday morning. I met up with Bruce at the airport while we waited for our flight. 5 hours of flying, we finally get into Boston at 6:40am and proceed to head to the track 1 1/2 hours north of Boston. I tried to get some sleep on the plane but i had difficulty trying to. So I arrived at our pits really really tired. I spent the day doing setup on my bike, getting the suspension redone, forks rebuilt and new springs as well as the shock. Finally we all decided to grab some dinner before going to the hotel for some rest.
Friday morning was really busy. It was the Loudon Classic Bike Week going on, so lots of folks on there Harley's around everywhere for parties and such. Anyhow by the time i get to the track, I proceed to registration and get myself through tech inspection. I was able to get 1 lap in before my first practice session ended. I came back in, made some more tweaks to the chassis and went back out for session #2 not too long after. I would finish Friday with more practice sessions trying to get my chassis to work and get rear end grip out of corners. Unfortantely i'm still struggling with getting the chassis to work, just like the previous 3 rounds. Afterwards we all head over to Sean Wray's place as he lives nearby, for some dinner.
Saturday morning, more practice. At this point fustration is starting to kick in. After doing more tweaks to the bike, I managed to get my best lap times for the weekend in during my first practice session in the morning. After that, I kept on tweaking the bike more and my times get worse. I'm starting to get annoyed, especially since I can't get any grip out of the rear to get on the throttle hard and early coming out of corners to pickup corner speed. Sean spent saturday rebuilding his motor that he blew up on friday. Mike Orien lightly seized up his JHA Powervalve kit Honda RS125 so I lent him some spare parts so he could get his machine back together for Sunday.
Sunday, is when things just kept on getting worse with the bike. No matter what I did, I was still suffering the same problems as before. I threw on fresh tires on the bike after getting tired of them breaking loose really easy the previous 2 days. I ended up doing 2 laps in 250gp qualifying and pulling in. After trying out a few more different settings, I head out for the 250gp race in the afternoon. I ended up starting on the back row, after a poor start, I catch up to the large pack of bikes heading into turn 1. Struggling to keep pace, again I fall back lap after lap. I was putting 110% effort into my riding and each lap after looking down at my laptimer, my times were getting slower each time. Fustration kicks in and after my 4th lap, I just pull in, annoyed and angry at the bike and outcome of how things are proceeding. As for the rest of the guys, Bruce crashed out on lap #5 in the Bowl section after he tucks the front, he was ok. Sean took 3rd after the guy ahead of him crashes out on the final lap.
It's been a fustrating season so far, round 4 at Road America is in 2weeks, so I have lots more work ahead of me to try out with the bike before that round. I really really hope I eventually find a good baseline setting with the bike, I need this real bad.
I dont know what it is.... well I do know what it is, I just dont know why the string of bad luck this season. After I got back from the Kansas round last month, I contacted TSR in Japan and had them send some replacement powervalve parts over right away. I had a pretty long flight out to Dulles airport in Washington DC. There was a 2 hour lay over in Atlanta before reaching Dulles. I was off the plane and waiting in baggage claim at midnight. I didn't meet up with the rest of the BLRTC at the hotel until around 3am.
Saturday morning I arrive at Summit Point and quickly had the powervalve in the lower cylinder replaced by lunch time with fresh pistons in the motor. I finished off Saturday afternoon with a few practice sessions to get myself familiarized with the course. Summit is a decently highspeed track with rough pavement and a few rough patched up sections. Has some mix of both high flow sweepers and tight corners with decent elevation changes. As expected, I was still suffering the same chassis issues as I had earlier in the year.
I spent all of Sunday during practice fiddling around with the chassis setup and geometry, but it just made things worse. I had a 5.8kg spring with me that I tried to replace the original 6.5kg currently on the shock, but the 5.8 ID was too small and would not fit. So I was again stuck with the old stuff, very fustrating to say the least. I raised the rear up a bit and tried to ride the front through the corners since I wasn't getting any rear traction.
In qualifying I managed a poor 1:25.770, which put me in 20th. Again not very happy with how things are panning out. Right before the end of the day, a thunder/sand storm hit us in the pits and engulfed everything with little sand pebbles. We luckly survived it without any damage, but a few other people had bikes falling off tables and doing some hefty damage. When it was all over, our pit was flooded so we packed up our stuff into the rig and went out for dinner at the local japanese restaurant.
On Monday, I was testing out more chassis setup options trying to find anything that would help with rear traction. In the LWGP heat after lunch, teammate Chris Manfrin had his throttle stuck open on his Yamaha TZ250 and he went off dirt tracking landing up on his head, he was hauled away to the hospital and wouldn't get released until later in the evening. We are soon called up for the 250 race, so I fuel up and head out to pre-grid. After a few minutes sitting in pregrid they send us all out for the warmup lap. Once the race started, I got myself a decent launch. There was a big traffic jam pileup heading in the inside of turn 1 so I go aim for the outside and get around a few guys while heading down to turn 3.
On the third lap my bike starts to fade and I start falling back in positions. By then the red flag is out signaling everybody back to pregrid. Alex Welsh and Todd Puckett collided in turn 1, Puckett was hurt pretty bad with a broken pelvis, so the race was stopped while the medics hauled him away to the hospital. After waiting in pregrid for awhile, they send us off for another warmup lap and restart the race again. Again right away my bike couldn't keep pace and began fading again, eventually I ran out of fuel coming onto the front straight. I realized I didn't have enough fuel for a restart. So I pull off in turn 1 and my race was done.
At the end of the day, the rest of the BLRTC head out to the hospital and pick up Chris Manfrin. He was alright, just a little sore and tired. Afterwards we caught a late dinner and we all parted our separate ways for our way home. Pat Dowd and Mike Orien had a hotel room booked near the Washington DC / Dulles airport, so I followed them back and crashed at there place for the night before my early 6:30am flight back home. Round 3 is fast approaching, it doesn't leave much time to try and solve this bike out. I wont say too much more except I have some more parts on the way which will hopefully solve the setup problems that i've been having.
until next time....
Well here we go, Round #1 of the USGPRU. I flew outta Seattle at 11:30am on Thursday and arrived in Kansas City, Missouri just before 3pm in the afternoon. Caught a shuttle to the Thrifty rental car place. Picked up a car and started making my way to the track to meet up with the rest of the BLRTC. There was a thursday promoter practice that I did not attend, but the others on my team did. I called up Pat Dowd when I got near Topeka, and he said they were all still at the track doing some work on the bikes in the pits. So I made my way to the pits and found all my stuff unloaded and ready for me. It was starting to get late and everybody was hungry so they all cleaned up and we went out for some sushi.
Friday morning was pretty crazy. Large lineups at registration to get our assigned transponders from the CCS officials. Then I made my way to the pits and did a once over on my bike to make sure it was suitable for tech inspection. Went through the tech lineup, came back to the pits, and started to get to work on the bike. I did a bit of pre-season testing earlier this month back home in Canada with the new 250. I've been having lots of problems with the bike. Chassis setup and trying to get the motor to run properly on leaded fuel. I was having lots of issues before with the spring rates on the both the front and rear of the bike. The guys at TSR in Japan were able to send me stiffer springs before I left for Kansas which was nice of them. But just in case the springs didn't arrive, I did some oil level changes in the forks to help with the bottoming. The biggest issue though is the rear as I can't get any travel outta of the shock, and this was going to hinder me all weekend, making the bike almost unrideable with no road holding feeling.
Anyhow, onto friday practice. Weather was iffy and it cut short everything. I got in 2 short practice sessions trying to get famliarized with the track. Then the rain came and shortly after it started to hail big ice balls.
Onto Saturday, it was 250gp qualifying. In the morning warmups is where things really started to go wrong. On my first warmup lap, I notice a sudden drop in power, and a strange ticking noise. I wasn't sure what was going on so I pulled back to the pits. I didn't have to much time overlook the bike as the 250gp qualifying was in less than 30minutes. So I quickly pulled the bodywork off, and found my powervalve bolt fell out of the cylinder into my bellypan. I also lost the nut and spacers as well as the collars (i didn't know about the collar part yet). I had to make up some spacers and find a nut that would work and knocked the bolt back into the cylinder. After doing this, I noticed the powervalve wasn't quite operating properly. I didn't have anymore time as we were all getting called out to the pre-grid for qualfying. So I quickly patched up the bike the best I could and made my way out to pre-grid. Right away as I enter the track for qualifying, I noticed the lack of power. The bike was so freaking slow. I knew right away something was wrong with the powervalve and it was probably not operating at all on the cylinder #1. I managed to circle around for a few laps trying to get a qualifying time in. I eventually ran out of fuel as I didn't have a chance to refuel up while I was frantically trying to get the bike out for qualifying. After getting back to the pits, I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the engine. I pulled my cylinders off and it was not pretty. The front cylinder #1 was toast. The piston was broken in pieces and chunks missing on the exhaust side. The ring was also broken.
I was amazed the bike even ran and not blow itself up. What happened was when the bolt for the powervalve fell out eariler in the day, the powervalves fell into the cylinder, and took some damage. I also noticed I was missing the collars for inside the cylinder for the powervalve bolt, which was the reason why the powervalve was not operating at all during qualifying. So I spent the rest of the day searching for some spacer/collars in the pits. The Celtic Racing guys bailed me out and had some used spare ones laying around. I then replaced the pistons and the damaged cylinder with a new one. Threw everything back together. By then everybody was hungry, so we cleaned up and went out for sushi again.
The mechanical problems on Saturday didn't leave me anytime to sort out my terrible chassis problems. So on the 250gp race on Sunday I was at the back of the grid, and well, kinda screwed. The bike didn't run very good, probably because of the damaged powervalves, and of course the chassis was terrible. The rear was so bad, i've never felt anything so horrible, it had no feeling or holding feeling. I'm going to have to get some new springs for the rear for next round. I can't remember at the time where I finished in the race, I was pretty angry with how things were panning out this weekend, just somewhere waayyy back in the pack. I have alot of hard work ahead of me to get things back on the right track. I dont know whats with me and poor showings on first rounds all the time, but it's time I get my act together and get this bike working properly. Round #2 at Summit Point is approaching real fast.