Monday, September 10, 2018

AFM 2018 Round 6: Sonoma

Sonoma Turn 1 -- Oxymoron Photography
I have a strong love hate relationship with Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon, formerly Sears Point). I love the layout of the track, I love the flow of the track, I love how it makes it work for it.

On the other side, the track surface has degraded to the point of it being painful to ride. Bumps, cracks, seams splitting, this track has it all. I suspect more than one crash recently has been due to the poor surface conditions.

But I love the flow and going fast on this track means something to me.

Friday Practice

Friday practice was hosted by Keigwin’s @ the Track and it was announced that they are shutting down at the end of the year. That news was a sad blow as they are a great track provider.

Practice through the day went extremely well. I signed up for the middle group (ostensibly the “A” group) and unfortunately pace wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it was great for passing practice and for using alternative lines into the corners :)

No issues through the day and by the end I was down below my previous personal best at this track. Ended the day with a big smile on my face and very happy with the way my bike was performing.

Saturday AFM NRS

At this round I ran the New Racer School instead of going out for practice. Getting new racers into the club is an important part of keeping the grids full and keeping the club healthy. I am honored that the club trusts me to perform this vital role.

We had a great group of students and were able to complete NRS in record time. Other than two minor miscommunications everyone completed NRS before lunch and were able to get some practice in before their races in the afternoon.

We wrapped up so smoothly that I was able to go out for a practice in the afternoon and get my qualifying in for my Sunday Formula race.

I set a very pleasing 1:54.77 in qualifying, recording the fact that I was below my previous personal best.

After qualifying was time for the Formula 40 lightweight race. The race was reduced to 6 laps due to some issues with crashes earlier in the day which was unfortunate for me.

The race started smoothly and I was pleased with where I slotted in during the first lap. I wasn’t last and I had a rabbit in front of me to catch.

I got so focused on catching that rabbit that the race ended before I realized it :)

I didn’t catch the rabbit but I set a new personal best: 1:53.938!

Another second down.

Sunday Races

Sonoma T9 -- Oxymoron Photography
My first race on Sunday was race 6 which I like, especially at this track.

There is one practice session in the morning but Sonoma is so cold at that time of day that I really do not like going out for it. Since my race was so much later in the day, I didn’t bother.

Race 6 gridded up and launched. We had an overly excited novice crash in the first lap and took out another rider which caused us a red flag.

After the regrid, the race launched smoothly (minus the overly excited novice) and we got in a very fast 7 laps. I finished the race in 9th place with two riders in my sights.

When I looked at the data I discovered I found another second; new personal best is: 1:52.1!

My two races in the afternoon went smoothly. No red flags and other than my lap timer failing on me they were uneventful races. I did not repeat my new personal best but every lap was below my old personal best.

Could I have gone faster? Yes

What was different? The lap timer plays a bigger role in my racing than I expected, that is ... interesting.

The other difference in the afternoon races was the lack of a rabbit on the horizon. In both of my races in the afternoon I didn’t have someone close enough to potentially catch.

Not sure which item effected me the most but I definitely need to work on my pace when alone in a race.

I ended up losing a position to Steven Smith in my third race due to slowing down. I did a great lap early in the race and then slowed down into the 1:54s. Would I have lost that position to him if I had been more focused? Not sure but definitely need to work on that!

Wrap Up

This was a great weekend for me. The track flowed well and I felt truly in harmony with my bike.

A big part of that harmony comes from Dave Moss of www.feelthetrack.com. His tuning and mentoring is an extremely large portion of my successes. He never ceases to amaze me with his generosity and guidance.

In addition to Dave, there is Z2 Track Days. I love helping other riders learn good habits on the track and become safer. As a part of that, the other instructors at Z2 also help me to correct my bad habits which in turn leads to better lap times. Working with them has helped me to become a better, safer and faster rider on the track.

As always, without my sponsors I could not do what I love so much to do. If you are wondering which parts to put on your bike, look at my sponsors page.

I trust them with my life every time I go on track and they do not disappoint.