CSBK Round 2 from Grand Bend Motorplex Race Report
We arrived at the track on late Thursday night. Parking was at a premium and the paddock was already rammed. Thankfully our good friend and competitor Neil from 187 Racing had saved us some space and we would be pitted together for the remainder of the weekend.
Friday morning came and we got ready for practice. Having the wealth of previous track experience from years of SOAR racing I opted to sit out the morning Amateur Sport Bike session to make sure everything was ready, and to see what kind of times the other competitors could lay down. Ready to roll I went out for the morning Amateur Superbike session and starting turning laps. I came off second fastest in the session(1:09.2) and a few tenths quicker than I had gone at SOAR the previous round. I had started to run into suspension issues the harder I tried to push and the tires, the same ones I had been running all year, were really going off. We missed the afternoon Sport Bike session trying to dial in the suspension on both my bike and Neil’s. Back out for the afternoon Superbike session and while the suspension had improved the tires were far past their prime and I could not even replicate my times from the morning, while the competition had already cracked the 1:07s. The plan was to mount a new set of tires and go hard in qualifying on Saturday.
After witnesses the absolute destruction of the soft rear by most of the paddock on Friday I elected to go with the soft front and medium rear combination to hopefully get more life out of it and still go fast. I ran a few laps in morning practice to feel out the new tires and suspension tweeks and immediately dropped into the 1:08s, but elected to come in and save the tires for qualifying. We were close but I would need to go faster.
Sport Bike qualifying was up and Neil and I rolled into hot pit with 2 seconds on the countdown clock and were the first on track. The plan was to go out together so we could push each other and both lay down our best time. With Melanie and Amanda in Hot Pit monitoring our time we did our best to lay down some fast laps. A few laps in I entered the carousel only to find my right knee puck gone. Crap. I pitted off and Drew from Trackside Cuts came to the rescue with a spare puck off his suit. We checked the times and I was at 1:08.2 and currently fourth spot. Back on track and trying to push as hard as I can on the brakes into the carousel and boom, knee puck gone again. I couldn’t bear going to tell Drew I lost his trademark smiley knee puck after only one lap so I would just have to go without. The tires started to go off and the session was almost over so I pitted again. No quicker did Melanie say P2 did I get pipped by Aaron Burns by a tenth and pushed back to P3(1:07.8). I went back out with only 2 minutes left to try and pull something out of the bag but the tires were sliding all over. Just as I was about to pit off I came out of big daddy to find Aaron and pole sitter, Samuel Desmarais, had both crashed going into T4 but were thankfully unhurt.
I was very pleased with my qualifying result as the top 4 were covered by only two tenths of a second and I would be starting on the front row.
Superbike qualifying was not the same story. I flipped the rear tire as the right hand side was cooked from Sport Bike qualifying and hoped for the best. Again Neil and I went out together to employ our strategy but fatigue from the earlier session was getting to us and the rear tire was past its prime. Pushing hard I was only able to get into the low 1:09s and was sitting in sixth spot when I came in to pit. Another few laps and I was in the high 1:08s but still in sixth. With 1:30 left on the clock Neil and I went out for a last ditch flying lap and then a practice start. We both felt like we rode our worst laps of the session and missed our marks. By some stroke of luck it was actually both of our fastest laps. However, not improving on sixth place for myself. Not what I had hoped for but still a decent grid spot and would allow us to get into the fight in the race.
Finally, it was here. Race day!
Another new medium rear went on I went out in morning practice just to scrub it in. I opted only to do 2 flying laps and pit off to save it for the race. The bike felt good, I felt good, we were ready.
The girls trucked our stuff down to the Hot Pit and we got ready. All the pit spots had already been claimed by the time we arrived on Thursday but Daniel Errett and Mack Attack Racing were gracious enough to let us use their hot pit spots for the Amateur races.
Amateur Sport Bike was up first and we gridded up. I have never been a great starter but I surprisingly got a good launch carrying an awesome wheelie all the way to corner 1 and tucked in behind Aaron Burns in fourth for the run down the back straight. I pulled out of his draft and dove down the inside on the brakes into the carousel just as Samuel Desmarais, the leader, tucked the front and went down. Thanks to his crash and the pass on Aaron I was now in second place!
Thankfully Samuel was OK but they red flagged the race and we went back to the pits. Damn. The race distance was reduced to 10 laps and we went for the restart.
I had a similar launch but once again found myself in fourth through the first few turns. I out braked the third place rider into T1 and was immediately back on Aaron Burns’ back wheel. The next lap he made it easy for me and I made the pass for second into T1. Next up was JF Aubin but he was already out to a decent lead. I put my head down and concentrated on hitting my marks while looking for the signals from Melanie for the gap back to third place. In the closing laps I could see the gap to third increasing to a safe distance and I was starting to catch Aubin. He caught a lapper through the fast kink section and got held up a bit getting me even closer. I tried hard but was really feeling the heat in the last 2 laps and couldn’t make any more progress. I came across the line 1.2s behind JF Aubin for a solid second place finish and first CSBK podium!
After watching the thrilling Pro Superbike race we were once again up for our final race of the weekend, Amateur Superbike. I was unsure of what to expect from this race. We flipped the rear tire after Sport Bike and did our best to re-hydrate.
I once again got a decent start and only lost one spot all the way to the back straight even while going two wide through both fast kinks. I hit the straight with Neil just in front in sixth spot. Frank Bragagnolo used his superbike horsepower to blow by on the straight but almost outbraked himself, narrowly missing Neil’s back tire going into the carousel. He ran deep setting me up for a good drive onto the front straight and down the inside into T1. Almost immediately after, Dominic Bechamp-Theberge lost the front on the exit of T3 and crashed giving both Neil and I another bump up in position. Another lap and I made the pass on Neil going onto the back straight and set my sights on Samuel Desmarais. I passed Samuel with a sneaky move on the inside of T2 to take over fourth spot. The front pack had already pulled a large gap on me and fatigue was really setting in. The chances of catching them was slim so I just settled into a rhythm and paid attention to the ever increasing gap back to fifth place. I brought it home in fourth, the highest placed 600 in the field. I am really happy with the result considering how tired I was, running against the more powerful bikes, and using the same tires from the sport bike race.
All in all two great results and a really great weekend!
I of course couldn’t have done it alone and I have a fair amount of people to thank for their help and support throughout the weekend.
Firstly would be my fiance Melanie as she did everything for me other than ride the bike. Never questioning my decisions, just doing her best to get everything ready for me so I could concentrate on going fast. She did also pay for my Sunday tire which really helped me get the great results!
Secondly would be the 187 Racing team of Neil, Amanda, and her dad for all their communal help over the weekend. We basically became one big team and helped each other however we could all weekend. Melanie would be doing signalling while Amanda would be in Hot Pit in case their was a red flag. I don’t think either of us would have done as well as we did without the team effort!
Thanks to my mom and dad for always coming to my races and helping out however they can!
Aaron and Alan Burns for finally having the epic showdown we talked about all those years ago. It didn’t disappoint. Happy Birthday to Alan you old fart!
Uchi and Mindy for their help in hot pit and post race tech inspection. Even after Uchi tried to convince tech I was running illegal fuel. Fuck you Uchi!
Craig “The Wookie” and Victoria for their help in hot pit and for all the great stories about getting a finger up the butt after taking way too much ibuprofen lol
William Cosby for always coming through with my last minute requests for decals
The Kingwaugh’s, The Willis’s, and Guy Cooper for cheering me on when you should be marshaling!
A big big thanks also goes out to all my fellow SOAR racers who came out to support us! Whether you were riding or not you guys made the weekend way more fun like always!
There are too many more people to name, but you guys and gals know who you are. Thanks for the support!
Last but certainly not least thanks to St. Onge Recreation for their support this year, and all years past!