Thursday, July 20, 2017

AFM Round 4: Thunderhill: Back with a Heat Stroke

The 4th round of AFM was back at Thunderhill on July 15th and 16th.  Round 4 was unusual as AFM has been avoiding racing in July and August both due to vacation time and because of the potential for an extremely hot race weekend.

About the heat, this weekend did not disappoint with the temperature peaking over 110F ambient and track temperatures recorded over 155F.

Friday Practice

Friday was spent getting acclimated to the heat and getting up to pace.  I went through my normal routine on a Friday test:

  • Session 1: Does the bike feel right?  Any strange sounds or behavior?
  • Session 2: Find the reference points. Have they moved? Are they gone? Are there new ones?
  • Session 3: Get my head into the game. This means turning off (or distracting) my conscious mind so that my subconscious can focus on hitting the points and feeling the tarmac below my tires.
  • Session 4: Pick up the pace.  How fast can I go with traffic?

At this point, my rear tire was done and got flat out cooked from the heat. I decided to switch to a softer compound rear for the weekend and to use the final sessions to make sure it was dialed in.

The rear immediately provided more grip in the heat but the suspension wasn't quite right, and it was tearing.  Fortunately, Dave Moss was on the case, and by the end of the day, we were able to adjust the suspension and heal the tear.

All ready for Saturday

Saturday: Formula 40

Green flag dropped, and I got one of the best starts of my career.  I went into T1 right with the pack and started looking for opportunities and weaknesses with those in front of me.

I finished the race in 8th and the customary smile on my face.

Sunday: F4

Sometimes it is amazing how I can go from a fantastic start to a comedic start as I had in F4.

The clutch started to slip from my hand, then I pulled it back in, then out again and a wheelie.

By the time I settled the bike down the race was long gone ahead of me.  Time to practice at pace and with no traffic :)

I finished last but surprisingly not too far behind the next rider.  A fun race for me but not a spectacular result.

Sunday: 450 Superbike

Another frustrating launch that left me in last place going into T1.  Surprisingly a Novice 450 rider slotted in front of me and provided an interesting race.  I saw several opportunities to pass him but felt myself holding back as the passes weren't the cleanest and I didn't know the rider well.

I finished the race behind him but with a decent pace.

Could I have gone faster?  Difficult to say.

Now I need to work on my aggression with passing at Thunderhill.

Sunday: 450 Superstock

Final race of the weekend.

A decent start, not great but not laughable.  As I started into T1, the same novice slots in front of me again!

Determined to pass him quickly so that I can start to pull in the next racer I pushed my pace.

Last race of the weekend, why not right?

Every lap that I pushed it was like he was reading my mind and would push just as hard.

Finished the race with my best time of the weekend: 2:06.6

Not as fast as I was but a huge improvement.

Wrap Up

Very few crashes this weekend, no life flights out, a great weekend overall racing with friends.

The race craft is coming back and the weekend inspired enough confidence for me to sign up for the Sonoma round of Moto America.

More to come!


I have said it many times before, but it bears repeating.

None of the racing would be possible without my sponsors. I trust my life to their products.

When you are looking for upgrades to your bike, you would be hard pressed to find better gear.

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