National Motorcycle Racer -

Series NW Endurance
Location: Spokane WA

Classes raced and results
6 Hour Endurance - 2nd

It's been awhile since I ran an endurance race and, to be honest, I have really missed it.

This weekend was a little different for the team as it was the first time they were running the 2004 R1 they received a little over a month ago. What this meant for me was that we had an underdeveloped, unproven motorcycle to sort out and set-up before the race. Thankfully a number of things fell into place before the bike even left for the track. One was that they shipped the bike to Zlock Racing several weeks beforehand so that quick change assemblies could be fabricated. As usual Dan and the Zlock crew came up with a system that saw rear wheel and fuel stops taking only 20 to 30 seconds, while even front and rear wheel and fuel changes took only about 90 seconds. The other thing that fell into place was GP Suspensions' Dave Hodges re-valving of the rear Ohlins shock and working his usual magic.

Notes on practice.
I soon as I turned my first corner with the bike I knew we had some set-up work to do. The R1 required an extraordinary amount of effort to turn which didn't bode well for a six hour endurance race. An adjustment in rear ride height was the answer and by the end of practice we had the R1 turning in quite well. Good stuff!

Notes on the race.
Our team strategy was fairly simple. Each rider would do a 40 - 45 minute session, which happened to be our fuel window, and pit for a rider change. The rear tire would be changed every other session with the front and rear being changed at the half-way mark. I climbed aboard for my first stint as the team got me our in record time. The rider I had just taken over for was Keith Pinkstaff, who happens to be over 6 feet tall, and had placed the front brake lever at its outermost point which, considering his large hands, worked for him. However, for me, this was causing a great amount of frustration as the lever was just at the end of my reach. I attempted to just "ride around it" as I couldn't easily re-adjust the lever. What I ended up doing was straining my forearm in the process. Not a good thing to do while in an endurance race. I gritted my teeth and pushed to finish the session turning low 32's and a few 31's. When I climbed off the bike I knew I had done some damage as I couldn't even make a fist yet alone consider another stint on the bike. Thankfully a good friend of mine Katie Bladon (massage therapist) was there and saw that I was in pain. Sure enough with a little work she had my arm in usable condition in less than 40 minutes. Thank you Katie. With my arm feeling somewhat usable and the team in position for another good result, I readied myself for the last stint. Everything was working. My arm was okay and the bike and tires were also working well. That was until there was 10 minutes left in the race. I came out of turn 11 and shot down the long front straight just as I had done countless times before. However, as I approached the 120mph mark I suddenly noticed a vibration that only worsened as the speed increased. Now I had some decisions to make. Was it a tire issue? Was it part of the bike? Whatever it was, it wasn't good, and I didn't want to crash because of it. I simply couldn't diagnose the cause and with only a few minutes left in the race I had to make a decision. One was to pit and examine the bike to ensure nothing was critically wrong, and we would surely lose a position or two. The other option was to just stay out for the last 5 minutes, limp around, and try to maintain our position. I decided to stay out because we had been running for just under 6 hours and there was no way we weren't going to finish. Also I trusted that the vibration wasn't a chunked tire issue. Pirelli's don't chunk so I was confident that I would not be having a tire failure of any sort. In the end we got second overall with a relatively stock 04 R1. The vibration was sourced to a large amount of balance weight that had flown off the rear wheel. I can't believe how much it affected the bike at speed. Thankfully it wasn't anything more severe.

A big thanks to the team for all their efforts and for inviting me to ride for them. I am glad we could deliver a good result.

Thanks also to everyone that supports my race program. Without your help I would not be racing.




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