I would like to specifically thank Brad, Cindy, Adam and
Erin Gua for their amazing support and hospitality and, as
always, my deepest appreciation to Dan Zlock and Zlock Racing
for the opportunity to ride their impeccably prepared machinery.
Welcome to the last round of the Washington Motorcycle Road
Racing Association's 2003 series. Expect rain and wind followed
by even more rain. :o)
Notes on practice
WMRRA elected to run the 600 Supersport and 600 Superbike
races on Saturday, which left room for only a short morning
practice session. I went out in the pouring rain on the 600
just to give it a shakedown. Everything was fine, as usual,
so I came in early to save the machinery and rubber for the
actual race. Dan requested that I next ride the "new"
ZX-9R Superbike to ensure its transmission was working correctly.
Picture this: The team owner has just asked you to take a
180-HP rear wheel-spinning Superbike and give him some sort
of usable feedback regarding the machine's performance. Well,
those had to be the most miserable laps I have ever had on
a bike in the rain. I disliked, no.hated, every second in
those conditions. I came in literally two laps later; the
team grabbed the bike and the questions followed:
Q: How's it running?
A: It runs.
Q: How's the transmission?
A: It shifts.
Q: Not much fun was it Oli?
Q: Would you rather go out on the 600?
A: YES, PLEASE!
As you can see, the work of "the rider" is not all
fun and games after all. I believe they actually sent me out
there on purpose... those sick twisted people... :o)
Race one 600 Supersport
Because we hadn't attended every WMRRA round this year, my
grid position was on the second row. I got a decent start
and was in sixth going into turn two. I made some aggressive
moves on the first lap to put me up with the lead riders but
I immediately noticed a vibration coming from the rear wheel.
It felt almost as though the wheel was out of balance. However,
the vibration only occurred when the bike was at lean, so
balance was not an issue. I continued on, but it got to the
point where applying full throttle out of fast corners was
somewhat concerning. But, I wasn't about to give up just yet.
I ended up having a terrific battle with Mike Sullivan for
third with Mike squeezing by into turn two on the last lap.
A great race! The vibration was later traced to an "unbeaded"
rear tire that was somewhat off centre.
Race two 600 Superbike
Much of the same in this one, however, with the vibration
no longer an issue, the times dropped and ultimately it was
a better race, despite the fact that my final position remained
the same. In my mind the second race was, for me personally,
a far better race.
This was kind of a weird day for us. Our one and only race
for the day was the very last race. So with the rain pouring
down Dan and I decided to sit out morning practice as yesterday
had provided ample rain riding. We got everything ready, sat
around, talked to people and watched the other races. Apart
from the wet and cold it was somewhat of a relaxing day. That's
Race three Formula Ultra
As usual the weather played a trick on us: about 30 minutes
before the race the sun was shining and we thought we might
actually get in a dry race and be able to use the Superbike
ZX-9R. It wasn't to be. Just minutes before the call to grid
it absolutely dumped, soaking everything. Out with the 600
yet again. This was going to be a tough race. I was one of
only a few on a 600; the rest were 750s or larger. Also John
Dugan was in this race, so to be at the front with him was
going to take some work (John is the runner-up for this year's
AMA Horizon Award). He is a fantastic rider with a lot of
experience and a keen desire to kick everyone's butt. A tough
combination to beat I assure you. I got the start I needed
and was right behind John going into turn two. I matched his
pace into three and was right on him going out of four as
the 600 was enabling me to navigate the back section with
a little more ease. However, when we got on the main straight
it was pretty much over. John's750 gapped me and I couldn't
make it up in the back. On the second to last lap another
rider got by me on the straight and I had to settle for third.
Not a bad race really.
So there you have it. A great race weekend really, weather
aside. From here, I am scheduled to ride as an instructor
for a Pacific Super Sport Riders track day at Thunderhill
in California, Oct. 29, (these tend to be a lot of fun). Also,
the "testing" season for new and upcoming models
is upon us so keep a lookout in Canadian Biker Magazine to
see where they are sending us this year. It looks to be an
exciting year with all the new models. Thanks again to all
the sponsors, advisors, mentors, friends and family that make
this race program possible. It couldn't happen without you.
Please click on image to enlarge
Action photos courtesy of Cindy Gua