National Motorcycle Racer -

Date: October 29 - 31
Location: Valencia Spain

Classes raced and results

BMW BoxerCup- 10th



Why the BoxerCup

Some of you reading this report might not be familiar with the BMW BoxerCup and what it entails so I will briefly describe what this unique series is about. The BoxerCup is exclusive in the fact that every rider is racing the very same machine, the R1100S, with little to no modification being allowed other than preparing the bike for track use (removal of mirrors, signals ect.). There is even a spec tire used and the rules are very clear about what can and cannot be done to the motorcycle. What this creates is a series where the emphasis is placed primarily on the rider and his or her abilities as opposed to the advantage or disadvantage they might have because of machinery or budget. The circuit is contested by riders from all over the world and it just so happened that I was the first Canadian to compete in this series. So I found myself traveling to Valencia, Spain to represent Canada.

The trip over
After some thirty plus hours of traveling, Dan and I were finally in Valencia, tired but both eager to see what the weekend would bring and what the MotoGP paddock and lifestyle was like. We weren't to be disappointed. Although I have been to Europe several times for testing etc., it was actually Dan's first time over the pond and I am so fortunate that he agreed to come with me. Having Dan as a team owner, crew chief, and personal friend has been a major contributing factor to any success I have had on the race track. In this sport you're only as good as the people behind you and as I am continuously reminded, Dan is one of the best.

Motorcycles and the sport of racing them take on a whole new form in Europe with Spain being particularly "bike mad". There was advertising everywhere displaying MotoGP bikes and their riders. Of course there was extraordinary attention given to Spanish riders like Sete Gibernau and the Spanish telecommunications sponsor Telefonica which were seen quite literally on every corner.

Day 1 - The MotoGP experience
To get to the BMW paddock Dan and I have to walk through the MotoGP village. There are few words I can use to describe how grandiose everything is. Lush transporters with every conceivable trick option are lined up in an endless row of gleaming paint and chrome. Everything is immaculately clean right down to the team pit scooters and riders' personal motor homes. Hospitality centers for the specific race teams are clearly an exercise in the extreme where one to two tractor trailers are utilized to create a small exceedingly elaborate and professional looking building. You have to see it to believe it and also wonder about the logistics required to operate this organization with the precision and efficiency that they do. Incredible!

We finally made our way to the BMW BoxerCup paddock and were greeted at the gate. Not to be outdone by the MotoGP teams BMW had created a small city that included displays of current vehicles, enclosed tents for the racing motorcycles, huge trucks, and a hospitality tent larger than most school gymnasiums. Everything in the BMW paddock is exceptionally organized; all our needs were catered to with a full crew of mechanics and technicians at our disposal. It was almost too much to absorb in a short period. After brief introductions to key people Dan and I were escorted to the garage area and shown the bike that was assigned to me. Besides being perfectly clean, the bike was clearly very well prepared and sported a few trick items like a quick shifter and carbon fiber tail section. Nice!

The track
As I had never seen the Valencia circuit before it was critical that I get a first hand look at the layout to create a visual map in my mind of where the track went and how I might navigate a motorcycle around it. Now previous experience has shown me that BMW do things more professionally than anyone else, so when I enquired about the possibility of walking the track, they far exceeded my wildest expectations. They escorted me to the pit lane where a large group of people had gathered around some BMW cars. It appeared that the MotoGP riders were being given the opportunity to test BMW's latest creations with a few short laps of the circuit. Sure enough Dan and I were escorted through the crowd, taken directly to the front of the line, handed the keys, and helped into the vehicle. Here I was in the driver's seat of a brand new 545 with Dan in the passenger seat looking just a little bit nervous. Hilarious! I started the car and proceeded out onto the track. Once on the straight I floored the big five series and was greeted with a rush of serious acceleration and a "Holy S**t" from Dan. This thing was a rocket. We took it relatively easy on the first lap discussing each turn as we went through. Exiting the last turn I put the pedal to the floor and continued for a flying lap. I have never driven a car that bestowed such an enormous sense of control even though it was sideways going into almost every turn. I did take it somewhat easy as I wasn't too sure Dan had the same level of faith in the car and, more importantly, in my abilities to control it. What an experience.

Back to business.
Despite the relative fun we had in the BMW car, we quickly learned that Valencia was an extremely technical and demanding fourteen turn track. Lack of experience here combined with no previous experience on the R1100S meant that our learning curve would have to be extremely steep and swift.

Qualifying session 1 (no practice sessions)
Both Dan and I were extremely impressed with the crew we had working with us in Valencia. It was clear that they all had experience racing and more importantly racing the R1100S. Needless to say the bike went out every time with no issues whatsoever. My plan for the first qualifying session was simple; take two laps to see the circuit from a motorcycle perspective while becoming familiar with the BMW's characteristics; from there, build information on the consecutive laps for turn in points and apexes and then spend the rest of the session working on putting a lap together. For the most part I had the track figured out (i.e. where I needed to put the bike for a good lap time), however the character of the R1100S was throwing me a curve. Two things in particular were causing me grief, the first being the way the bike turned (or didn't turn) on the brakes. Primarily I use the front brakes to turn a motorcycle by applying them as I enter the corner. This compresses the suspension ultimately shortening the wheel base while it steepens the geometry enabling the bike to turn more efficiently. The big Beemer just didn't want to turn on the brakes and I was missing apexes, not the key to a fast lap on a technical circuit I assure you. The second setback was an inherent lack of ground clearance due to the cylinders. Touching them down did nothing but lever weight off of the wheels causing you to run wider yet. The key to riding this bike came down to using my body and its position on the bike to change direction and keep lean angle to a minimum. We ended up getting in eleven flying laps during the first qualifying session and posting the 25th fastest time. I wasn't happy with my performance at all, which is why having guys like Dan around is so important. He sat me down and reviewed the lap times. On each lap we had progressively gone faster right up to the eleventh lap which was the fastest. He told me to relax and not expect so much on my first session on the bike. He also pointed out that I only had eleven laps on a new bike and a new circuit where the others had been racing the series all year. I was also too tense on the bike during the first session causing me to get severe arm pump in my right hand, however BMW had a sports physician on staff specifically for the BoxerCup riders and they escorted me to his mobile clinic. He laughed when he saw me holding my right arm and in broken English said "tight arm yes?" He worked his magic and suggested that I see him the following day and before the race.

Qualifying session 2
With a solid sleep and a good breakfast I was raring to go. Dan and I came up with a plan for each corner on the track in terms of brake markers, gear selection, turn in and exit points along with apexes. I needed this mental picture and plan to deliver good lap times. Dan also suggested I do nine laps, come in for a soft rear tire, and go out for a few flyers to see what I could do. The session started well and I was easily going faster than my best time from the previous day. Each and every lap I would knock off a few tenths of a second as I explored deeper brake markers and turn in points. It was coming together. I came in and grabbed a new tire, however, traffic on the track became an issue for a really good lap. I couldn't seem to get a break and I was running out of time. I made a few rather aggressive passes but was only able to get one decent lap in before the session ended. In the eleven flying laps of this session we had managed to drop close to three seconds off my lap time. Unfortunately, with everyone else improving as well, we had only worked our way to 21st. Although I was happy with our progress in terms of lap times, I wasn't impressed with our starting position. 21st was not where I wanted to be. The field was exceptionally close so Dan and I looked into where I needed to improve for the race.

The race
Race day was without a doubt the most surreal experience of my life. During the course of the weekend over 220,000 spectators came to watch. The sound of the horns and the fireworks going off behind the roar of the immense crowd is something I will never forget. You simply have to experience it first hand. After my warm up lap I coasted to the starting line with nothing but a great start on my mind. Again, the character of the R1100S would be something different as a typical race start with high rpm would see the clutch slipping for the first two to three gears. What I had to do was fully disengage the clutch at 3000 rpm and let the torque of the motor do the work. I ended up with not too bad a start and risked a little by going to the outside of turn one. Turn two was a sharp left and I had projected that an overzealous rider might easily get into this turn hot and take someone out, so I stayed relatively right on the entry only to see two riders screeching off the track clearly entangled with each other. I told myself to relax and just ride the bike, hit my apexes, and the times would come. With all the bikes being identical you can imagine passing became a game of chess. What I had to do was quickly judge where my strengths (or weaknesses) were in relation to the rider in front and put together a pass two or three turns in advance, all the while not leaving any room to be passed from behind. Where I found myself having an advantage was on the brakes as I could downshift and actually hang the rear out going into some of the turns. I have to admit that the big Beemer slid and handled remarkably well at the limit. From here it became an absolute brawl to the front as I worked my way through the field. I wasn't giving an inch. Sometimes it took three laps to get by a rider only to have him and a pack of riders draft me down the straight. I have never raced so closely with that many riders. On the second to last lap I took my first look back only to see five bikes running nose to tail directly behind me. There was no way I was going to let them get by me. What I had to do was somehow keep them from drafting me down the straight. I left it so late going into the last turn I can't believe I made it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow of someone coming up on my left so I out braked him going into turn one. The rest of the lap was almost perfect and I managed to somehow get a few tenths gap on the pack behind me. Although I had no idea how I had finished, I was just happy with how we ran, I had given it absolutely 100% every lap. On the cool down lap I experienced yet another surreal moment. The corner workers all lined the edge of the track motioning for me and the other riders to come up to them. When we did it was as though you were their best friend that they had not seen in years. They had to touch you and the bike and they were so enthusiastic and such fans of the sport that I almost didn't feel worthy of they adulation. I have never seen people so inspired by motorcycles and the people who ride them. Incredible! I rolled into the pit where Dan and the crew were clapping. He came up to me on the bike, gave me a huge hug and then a rather violent shake explaining that I had come in 10th. That moment will stay with me forever. No words can even describe the emotions I felt. The lap times during the race kept dropping almost every lap to the point where we were running the pace. If only I could rewind to qualifying knowing what I know now.

The party
This happened to be the last round of the series so there was naturally a year end party with prize giving ceremony. And as you might expect BMW spared no expense and put on one hell of a show. Even the MotoGP riders came as it was apparently the place to be.

So there you have it, my adventures at the BMW BoxerCup and the MotoGP. As is always the case, none of this would have ever happened if it weren't for the support of my sponsors, friends, and family. I want to specifically thank a few key players for this round. Tremendous thanks to BMW Germany and BMW Canada, specifically Bettina Holweg, Andy Ederer, and Gemma Roura Serra, along with Chris Duff & Norm Wells. Thanks to Bruce, Adam & Kelly at Joe Rocket who always keep me safe and sound. Thanks to Phil and Cindy at CLS West for your undying belief in me as well as Mike Megson. And last but not least to Dan Zlock for making me what I am in racing. And to my family at home for everything.

Here's to dreams and the relentless pursuit of them.

Thank you


Please click on image to enlarge
Action photos courtesy Thomas Kittel Fotograf

A photo of me writing you this report at a resort in Southern Spain

The view from our hotel in Valencia

Typical advertising for racing

Our little rental car

A street at night

The view from our room at night

Another view

A typical street in Valencia

Max Biaggi's car

Extreme displays

Extreme displays

Dan in an endless row of trucks

Pit lane

BMW City

BMW City

Dan & I

Dan in the C1

Check out the name on the bottom of the scooter

My bike

My bike

Another of my bike

Quick shifter

Tail section

They even put my name on the windshield

Lap timer


Awesome crew

The team for the weekend

Valencia track

Look how safe this place is.







Look at the bruise on the palm of my hand. How hard do you have to countersteer a R1100S?

The doctor

The incredibly trick Honda



Rossi & Dan

Just me

The party

Dan & I

Andy, Bettina & I


Brian Parriott

Jeremy McWilliams, Shakey Burns

Randy Mamola

Gemma & I

The beach by the resort

Another beach shot


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