Round 4 of the CVMA 2015-2016 Winter Series happened last month (Jan 9-10) and it was a super fun weekend! It’s pretty tough to beat the weather in San Diego in January compared to other parts of the country when it comes to racing motorcycles, but it was a bit colder this year than previous years. The high only reached the low 60s and it was in the 40s for morning warmup. But when the sun was blasting down midday, it might has well have been 85, it was glorious! The small bike grids were packed, 27 bikes lined up for Saturday’s Ultra Lightweight Shootout race! Here’s a couple shots from the start of the race, look at all the bikes:
It’s fantastic that so many people are coming out racing again, and every round there are more and more of the new generation bikes, Yamaha R3s, KTM RC390s, Ninja 300s. The Honda 300s are still scarce, except when Ari is around setting track records…which fortunately for the rest of us, he was absent this weekend. My new friend, and fellow R3 racer, Hammer (Jason Madama) was back in town from Colorado to redeem himself after only a 2nd place and a few 3rd place finishes back in October, and the usual fast guys Shane Liberty, Josh Fogle, and Duncan Mardling were on site. There were also some newer faces and young rising stars out and plenty of RC390 cup bike kids to battle with. This was also the first weekend I’ve had my bike out since repairing my crash damage from October and finishing my backyard YamahaR3Racing.com paint job (I have a writeup planned explaining how to achieve an awesome quality paint job yourself for a very reasonable cost) and graphics by Owen Palmer aka 5ZERO4 Designs. The bike looks amazing, I don’t know if I’ve ever owned anything so pretty lol.
I was testing some new equipment this round, as it seems like I always am. There’s so much stuff to try out!! Over the holiday break I sent my forks back to Traxxion to remove the Damper Rod Kit and install the highly regarded AK-20 Axxion Cartridge kit, I was very excited to break these in. I also removed my rearset riser kit after I crashed in October and broke the OEM foot peg off the right side. After carefully monitoring the market for available rearsets for the R3, I picked up a set of the Sato Racing ‘Race Concept’ rearsets. Sato Racing seems to be the only company besides me who noticed that the OEM rearsets on the R3 are just WAY WAY too low. Sato’s standard set offers a larger rise and setback than every other set on the market, and their Race Concept version is even more extreme, and almost identical in adjustment range to my rearset risers, and perfect for use with the taller Hotbodies Race Seat/Tank Cover. I will publish a separate report on rearset options this spring, but if you will be using the taller Hotbodies race seat, do yourself a favor, trust me on this, go straight to the Sato Racing ‘Race Concept’ rearsets. I promise you will not be sorry.
After October’s races, I removed my Annitori Quickshifter Pro and sent it back to Annitori so they could test the shift switch and try to figure out why I was getting the extra ignition kills. Because they were just releasing a brand new Quickshifter Pro with several awesome improvements, they decided to just send me a new version to test out. Unforunately, I forgot to tell them I moved last year and it was sent to my old address, then forwarded to my PO Box, then forwarded again to my new address and it showed up at my house on Saturday after I was already at the race track…oops, so no quickshifter for me this round.
I also was considering testing the Bridgestone slicks (90 front, 120 rear) that I picked up from Shane in September. I was thinking if Saturday went well testing the suspension, I would try the new tires on Sunday.
Saturday morning warmup was tough for me. The 40 degree air was bone chilling, and I hadn’t ridden the bike since I crashed in October. My hands were frozen solid after a couple laps, and I could barely see out of my fogged up face shield. Actually, I could see just well enough to notice Hammer blowing by me at breakneck speeds in first warmup. I guess he’s used to racing in 40 degree weather from running MRA. He put down 2:04s in his first warmup, only a second or 2 off his fastest race past from October. I was probably running 2:24s. It was clear that he was ready to party lol! After winning the MRA championship on the Dunlop Alpha tires which he wasn’t very fond of, and testing the Dunlop 125 GP slicks in October when he struggled to keep up with Fogle and Shane, Hammer was still searching for a DOT race tire that he liked for the R3. He had raced Pirelli Supercorsa tires on his previous bikes, but last summer, Pirelli didn’t offer a 140 rear Supercorsa. Well, they do now, and Hammer was rocking the SC110 front and SC140 rear for this round. Apparently with the icy cold morning air, and the Pirelli tires, he felt at home. Through practice and qualifying, I struggled to get back up to my pace from October and qualified with a 2:09 and would be starting from the 4th or 5th row.
My first race Saturday wasn’t terrible, but I definitely felt slow. My best time of 2:07.9 was a couple seconds off my fastest from last round at 2:05 and change. My bike felt fast in comparison to the guys around me, but I could tell my corner speed was lacking. I didn’t feel confident entering corners at the same speeds I was in October and I was getting eaten alive by Zeke (Sergio Rodriguez II) on his Ninja 250. I was running in 8th behind Zeke and Gray while apparently there was an epic battle going on at the front between Josh Fogle, Shane Liberty, and Jason Madama with more than a dozen position changes before Shane and Josh collided in turn 16 with a lap to go and Shane went down, putting an end to the race. However, because of the way CVMA scores partial races, the race was rewound back a lap to a point where Hammer happened to be leading and Hammer was given the race win with Fogle in second. Hurray!!! A victory for my friend on an R3 is almost as good as a victory for me hehe 🙂
Here’s a video of the shenanigans from Hammer’s bike. This is what small bike racing is all about!![av_video src=’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNsz23ZdlAk’ format=’16-9′ width=’16’ height=’9′ av_uid=’av-eziym’]
My second race on Saturday was 350 Supersport and it was a much more exciting race for me. Because of some crashes and a late start earlier in the day, the last few races were cut short and we were only running 4 laps, which probably worked a little to my advantage in this case. I got a good start but soon lost time to the lead group with their faster corner speed. Zeke blew by me in the bowl and I battled with him for a few a few laps. He showed me a wheel several more times, but I picked up my pace a bit, got back down to 2:06, and was able to catch Gray on the brakes at the end of the front straight from a good distance back. Zeke was ridiculously fast through the first few corners and the bowl and passed both Gray and I around the outside in the bowl. I had a very close call when he clipped my front wheel coming around me after passing Gray and sent me into a mild tank slapper (you can see his bike wobble a bit in the video). I was a bit shaken, but kept the throttle open and recovered, caught back up to him with my extra HP down the back straight, and passed him on the brakes into turn 10. That felt good 🙂 Even though my confidence carrying good corner speed into the corners was down, the bike felt amazing and planted on the brakes, likely due to the fantastic AK-20 cartridges and I was able brake very late into the corners which helped me keep Zeke and Gray behind me. I held them both off, turning in early the last few corners to close the door on them, and finished a quarter of a second ahead of Zeke to take 5th place. Woohoo!!! Fifth is my best finish on the R3 so even though it came with Shane out of the race from his crash earlier in the day, and Ruben Casarez (who is usually near the front) going off track, I’m still thrilled. And with all that going on, Hammer was taking the win. It was a good race for the Yamaha R3s and YamahaR3Racing.com!
Here’s a shot of Zeke and I side by side battling during the first lap and chasing Gray:
Of course, my GoPro failed to record this race (they always fail at the worse times!), but luckily Zeke was recording, so here’s footage from his GoPro (keep an eye on his tach, it’s crazy, I think his shift light stays on for the whole race lol):[av_video src=’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYRcmPz87mE’ format=’16-9′ width=’16’ height=’9′ av_uid=’av-2fqwsu’]
And here’s the official results:
After a good 2nd race Saturday, I decided to try the Bridgestone slicks for Sundays’ races. Unfortunately my pace was a little off again on Sunday and I was back in the 2:07-2:09 range. Again, I didn’t feel confident with the speed on corner entry and mid corner. Since I wasn’t feeling great Saturday either, I’m going to wait to give me impression of the Bridgestone tires. I don’t think I was going anywhere near fast enough to properly test them. My first race Sunday was going okay, I got a good start and was in 4th going into the first corner, just behind the lead group, when I upshifted instead of downshifted, doh! I lost a little time, and soon lost a couple spots. Later in the race, I was in 8th and was chasing down Arek Stanton after he passed me earlier. Again, my bike felt awesome on the brakes. I ran him down going into turn 16 after the front straight, same place that I passed Gray the day before, except, I ran him down too much, almost rear ended him, then almost endoed my bike and got a tank slapper with the rear wheel off the ground, holy crap! That was a new experience that I hope to never repeat. I ran way out wide, kept the bike upright, and pulled back onto the track, but well behind Arek. I finished the race without losing any positions, but wasn’t in a hurry after that. Two scary tank slappers in a weekend is enough to rattle me.
I gridded up for my last race of the weekend. It was going a little better, and I was running in 8th again and leading a large group of guys for much of the race. I’m pretty sure they were all gaining on me mid corner, and then I was pulling away just enough on the HP driving out of the corners to keep them back. Then, on the last lap, Arek made a pass between turns 10 and 9 (the numbers go down when running CCW). I immediately countered in turn 8, but driving out of 8, I usually shift up mid corner. This time, when I slammed that gear with no quickshifter, while pushing to get back ahead of Arek, I slid the rear bad, nearly highsided and was bucked into the air. I was lucky enough to land on the bike, but was greeted with a third, nasty tank slapper. I tried to grab a handful of throttle to take weight off the front wheel, but I had the clutch pulled in. Amazingly, the front settled on it’s own, and as I took a breath, still on my bike, 5 riders all passed me lol. I finished my race in 13th, happy to still have the rubber side down, and pulled into the pits. What a ride! I’m definitely getting a steering stabilizer before next round.
I had an absolute blast racing this weekend, even with the three near misses. I had my best finish yet on my R3, 5th place, and Hammer won 3 of his 4 races and took second in the 4th on his R3, definitely a successful weekend! I drank a bunch of beers with a bunch of rad guys and gals, got to know a feel of the racers a little better, and we all watched supercross on the projector while BBQing Saturday night. A bunch of us even busted out our Team Unicorn Awesome hoodies to really represent small bike racing in style. Left to right, here’s Josh Fogle, me, Hammer, and Shane Libery, and that’s Hammer’s ass kicking R3. Yeah, that’s a unicorn barfing and pooping rainbows on our hoodies…don’t ask me where we found those.
I can’t wait for next round, thanks for reading!