CALproject Daytona... The Motorcycle Diaries of Dave Moss
Installment 1: Prepping the Bike
Installment 2: Track Day Testing
Installment 3: Race Report, AFM@Thunderhill
Installment 4: Dyno Testing/Fuel Map Tuning
Installment 5: Cylinder Head Analysis
Installment 6: Infineon Raceway, AFM event
Installment 7: Buttonwillow, AFM event
Installment 8: Infineon Raceway, AFM event
Installment 9: Last Races 2005, Schedule 2006
With the support and enthusiasm of CalMoto owners and staff this project became a team-based reality. With the blessing of Kari Prager, Mike Meissner found a 2004 press pool model for me to purchase from Triumph directly and the bike was duly torn asunder. Paul in the Parts Department acquired all the race bike components needed in very short order and Master Tech Jim Williams helped me with some key tasks in prepping the bike for racing duties. With Josh Rado and Amelia Price helping with design and Amelia being the overall project coordinator doing an excellent job in a "new" role, progress was quick yet incredibly thorough. This was a full dealership team effort, so my sincere thanks to everyone for their support and contributions in getting this bike ready for the track.
All street bodywork was removed and boxed and the wiring harness modified for the required race changes while still allowing all stock plug ins to be relocated once the season was done (side stand kill switch, tip over switch and clutch switch). The head bearings, shock linkage and swing arm bolts were removed, greased and retightened to complete the chassis overhaul. The rear inner fender had to be substantially trimmed in prep for the race bodywork with saws and a Dremmel which is always fun!
While the bike was apart, it was simple to access all components that needed to be drilled for safety wire to meet AFM requirements. Having marked everything while in the stock position with a Sharpie pen so that holes aligned correctly, all were center punched and drilled and then reinstalled one bolt at a time (front brake caliper bolts, front fork pinch bolts, oil and coolant line bolts, sump drain bolt, oil filler and radiator cap, exhaust can mounting bolts for the sub frame and can locating bolt to the pipe hanger, rear brake caliper bolts & rear axle nut). In most cases, hitch pins were installed so that re-safety wiring was kept at a minimum for such things as wheel and oil changes. Once all the drilling was complete the coolant was removed and the system flushed and water wetter installed. Finally, all hose clamps had to be safety wired (and that is really tedious but essential).
The tank was removed and the air box accessed to substitute the stock air filter with a high air flow K&N. The secondary butterflies were removed from the throttle bodies in order to allow unhindered air movement through the throttle bodies into the intake ports. At some point a velocity stack kit will be added to the bike as those become available.
The engine was left stock for reliability. A Power Commander was purchased from Snarlsport who were also extremely generous in providing all the fuel maps they had created for their 2004 AMA Daytona 600 race bike to use as zero maps. However, in order to fully tune the fuel map an O2 sensor elimination kit must be installed and the new M4 full race system has no insert point for the stock O2 sensor. As the eliminator was not available until the Fall this required a O2 sensor mount be welded to the mid pipe!?! To make things more complicated, with the O2 sensor in place the ECU will automatically manipulate the fuel injection to 3,000rpm, so no tuning using the power commander below that was/is possible.
The OEM front forks and rear shock were sent to GP Suspension (www.gpsuspension.com 503-723-7793) for a complete overhaul including new .97kg fork springs, CNC machined internal compression and rebound pistons and modified valve stacks. The new "star" pistons are the latest design from GP Suspension, and the new valve shim compilation the result of hours of dyno testing for optimal damping performance. Their products are highly respected (see Sport Rider article, August 2005).
Once the forks and shock were returned they were installed to remove the chassis from the cradle it was suspended in. Having a rolling chassis now gave use of the workbench, and that helped speed things up.
Next on the list was to install the German LSL rear sets. With a little bit of patience, guess work on German instructions and overall head scratching, the rear sets were assembled and then placed on the bike to check for fit. The only visible problem was that the shift lever sat too high, so the shift rod had to be trimmed by 4mm at each end to get the shifter correctly aligned for foot position. Once that was done, the rear sets were taken apart and reconstructed using blue Loctite.
With the chassis completed, the Sharkskinz bodywork was fitted to the bike. Due to the excellent moulds used in construction this took very little time indeed as all the drill points are marked and some holes pre-drilled. Only the lower belly pan needed a little modification as the center hole was located too low. Total installation time was less than 30 minutes!
With the bodywork in place, the paint design scheme was the next agenda item. Thanks to Josh and Amelia for their contributions! After a couple of design iterations, a final scheme was created including all appropriate decals. Once done on paper, blue masking tape was applied to the race bodywork to get an initial impression. Josh created his template for the front air scoop flames that were applied and then cut out from the masking tape for the front upper section and the rear wheel hugger. After the masking/cutting was completed, just in time for an overall inspection by Mike Meissner prior to the painter's arrival. It is somewhat nerve racking creating a design and then letting people react to it, but it was well received. Within a few minutes of passing "inspection" Jeff of Mountain View Cycle & Paint arrived and looked the design over. With a smile and a nod along with a couple of finesse details/comments, the finished product was agreed to with only the blue Triumph color to be decided.
Deadline for having the bike completed was June 15th, in order to be able to race at the AFM Thunderhill event.
Within 10 days the bodywork returned and everyone pitched in to get the bike done. The bodywork was remounted and the windshield fitted. Holes were drilled in the upper to secure it to the fairing stay. The lower was trimmed to allow for the different position of the M4 exhaust (not sure what they used other than stock exhaust for the mould). Once the lower was mounted the tail was put in place and secured. We now had a race bike that was ready for the next step – graphics.
For this we took the completed bike to Zip Showkett of Race Graphics (www.race-graphics.com 415-892-5606). With the decal design in hand, Amelia went through the whole bike to ensure there were no misunderstandings or discrepancies and the bike was left for a week. Zip went to work and acquired and re-designed all the logos for his die cut printer and made everything including the (to spec) AFM numbers. Once done, he taped everything into place and arranged spacing accordingly to make the graphics fit correctly. Once he was happy, the Windex was applied and the decals set into place. The final product is clearly spectacular!!!!!!!
Fortunately we were well in advance of the race date deadline, so we were fortunate to have the luxury of some testing. The Daytona had it's first official race pace test at the boiling (110 degree heat) Thunderhill track courtesy of Michael Earnest and Pacific Track Time who gave me a day prior to the race event to get familiar with the bike. That allowed most of the suspension and geometry set up to be initially completed. Keigwin's at the Track provided a second practice day, so the bike was thoroughly prepared in all aspects. Unfortunately it was clear that the forks were sprung to stiffly with .97kg springs so almost an inch of travel was lost even with all preload removed and compression damping left wide open. That provided some very limiting characteristics for the race bike on corner entry and mid corner speed!
CalMoto provided a different fuel map to try out after the track day practices (# 20012) as the Power Commander zero map used required the oxygen sensor to be removed (the net result was that once the throttle was shut for deceleration, the engine would stall). That made for some occasional extreme stress when entering turn one at 100mph! The revised map still had idle problems at full pace, but the engine never stalled, so that was a huge relief!
Sunday morning practice was very cool (only in the 90's) and the morning practice was very encouraging. Races entered were 1 and 3 on the schedule, so thankfully I would be done by 11am. Race 1 was Formula 40 and I was positioned on row 5, position 23. Very fortuitous numbers being the month and date of my birth! The start was uneventful and got me a few spots right away. Traffic quickly filtered into the conga line but the heat got to a few racers by the second lap. One bike high sided in front of me to such height that it put a momentary crick in my neck as I watched it soar upwards (ouch!). The next corner 2 racers collided and the following corner after that another racer fell off. I settled in a started clicking off laps and slowly reeling in riders. With a great dice developing with riders in front of me, I caught up the group and got to work in trying to gain positions. The only problem was that the engine power was considerably down so I was left far behind on the straights and had to catch up again. So, it was time for clinically ruthless race craft to gain positions, so I worked in areas where I knew I had an edge: - brakes and cornering. That allowed me to gain a couple of positions and by the checkered flag I was scored by the pit crew (therefore unofficially) 17th-19th. Lap times were drastically reduced but under duress the front end would slide mid corner, so absolute corner speed was severely limited. The forks will be optimized for the Infineon!
600 Superbike really highlighted the lack of power, as bikes hurtled past me from the start (the average rear wheel horsepower of other bikes being 120-130). I started way back and went even further back initially. This race is renown for erratic riding and the first 2 laps showed that with alarming clarity: - riders overtaking each other in the dirt, showering the track with debris and re-entering the track at 60 degrees to oncoming traffic as an example. I fought my way from the rear of the pack forwards as diligently as possible, but was only able to get to the mid 30's by the end of the race. In all straights, 5 or more bikes would go by and then I would have to track them down and pass others. Very frustrating!
All in all though, a very good first weekend on the Daytona with only one practice before taking the track to race! Next race will be at Sears Point, so there will be some significant chassis changes for that race.
Having raced the bike at the July AFM Thunderhill event and completed the first shakedown phase, the next major milestone was to get the bike on the dyno to deal with the obviously rich fuel map and poor engine performance. For this we went to Derek Capito at Motolab (www.moto-lab.com 650-363-0535) to get a basic understanding of the engine and fuel map. Derek's dyno allows the engine to be loaded at the rear wheel at any throttle position in order to tune the fuel injection system very accurately. This type of dyno produces very precise results and will also correct aggregated readings for ambient temperature in the dyno room. I was present at the time of testing for the 100% runs.
As a reminder, the engine was stock as were the spark plugs, engine ignition & cam timing. The air filter was a K&N and the exhaust was an M4 full race system with the O2 sensor in place.
The Triumph fuel map loaded was # 20035 and this was by far the best available OEM fuel map for the race pipe and K&N air filter. While it gave decent power in the mid to high range, it was very rich with even some racers commenting on the smell of gas after the race, not to mention the thick black and sooty exhaust. Clearly, there was a lot of work to do with the fuel map! To help with this process (as we had no software to manipulate the OEM ECU), Derek chose a map from the selection provided by Snarlsport as a zero map to work from.
NOTE: with an O2 sensor fitted and operational, the OEM ECU will control the engine's fuel injectors and throttle bodies to 3,000rpm, so nothing could be done to help tune the fuel injection in that range.
Derek spent approximately 8 hours tuning the zero map, using throttle positions of 100, 80, 60 & 40% in 250 rpm increments from 3,000 to 13,250 where power fell off. Focus was placed on the 3-6,000 rpm in the 40 & 60% throttle position to get rid of the sinkhole evident in the map. Target for CO readings was 5%.
The final data from all revisions using 6th gear showed some very interesting results, with the main points being:
- At 100% throttle opening maximum power at 5% CO was 93.5bhp at 13,000 rpm. However, the hydrocarbon readings ranged from 1,156 to 3,101 (should be around 4-500), so there were significant issues with the fuel burn. Between 7 and 9,000 rpm the hydrocarbons would stay in the mid to high 1k range, but from 9,250 rpm and up escalated into the high 2k and low 3k range.
- At 80% throttle the hydrocarbons decreased somewhat overall (889 to 2,693), with no readings in the 3k range. The 2k range was not reached until 9,250 rpm and stayed below 2.5k until 13,250.
- At 60% throttle there were significant issues from 3 to 5,500 rpm with the hydrocarbons ranging from 651 to 4122.
- At 40% throttle only two-rpm ranges recorded hydrocarbons over the 1k mark, while the numbers below that mark ranged from 305 to 883.
Educated guesses were:
- Squish clearance between the piston and head was too large causing very poor fuel burn (measured using electrical solder was 1.1mm).
- Engine timing may have been too advanced or not advanced enough. This requires software access to the OEM CPU in order to advance/retard the ignition. Alternatively you can manually insert a 4-degree ignition advancer Woodruff key on the end of the crankshaft.
- Ignition spark may have been too weak, so the ignition system may require an ignition booster. Checking the spark plug color may not provide a clear understanding of this, nor would running a hotter plug help cure the problem.
- In regards to the squish area, 1.1mm was confirmed as the clearance. In measuring an OEM head gasket, it was determined that splitting a new gasket into its two components and using one piece would provide better clearance and therefore not require any immediate milling of the head.
NOTE: the TT600 and the 600 Daytona have the same head gasket.
- For ignition timing, it was determined that installing a 4 degree ignition advancer from Factory Pro would only assist with fuel burn for pump gas, but have a negative effect for any oxygenated fuel such as VP's Ultimate 4.
NOTE: The ignition advancer was installed after the dyno runs were completed, and prior to any road test of the motorcycle.
- To further assist with fuel burn, ND - IU27A iridium plugs were fitted to the bike, again post dyno runs.
The intake portion of the head was fairly free of rough spots and only needs minor clean up. However, it was visually evident that there were huge amounts of carbon build up on the exhaust side of the head. This was the case with the surface of the valves and exhaust port with the post combustion soot showing inside the head/header gasket, clearly delineating where the exhaust gases needed to go.
This backed up Derek's theory of reversion and also solidified the hydrocarbon data, so a lot of porting work on the exhaust side of the head would be required especially in removing the flat ledge located just after the valve prior to the head/exhaust header junction. Work on the cylinder head will commence in the off-season.
This would be the first test of the new fuel map compiled by the very talented Derek Capito of Motolab (www.moto-lab.com) in tandem with the 4-degree ignition advancer and iridium plugs. He spent approximately 8 hours doing 40, 60, 80 and 100% throttle openings at every 250rpm starting at 3,000 and working to 13,250 when max power fell off. We decided to use pump gas (VP Fuel's Ultimate 4 being the only other option) for this year's race effort given the poor performance of the stock cylinder head.
With only very limited track time on Saturday morning the difference in performance was immediately noticeable. The 10 -13k rpm range showed massive improvement with the bike readily accelerating to 14,000 rpm and beyond for over-rev. The changes from re-mapping at 80 – 100% throttle openings really paid dividends, especially when carrying high corner speed.
From 7 – 10k, the motor was sluggish and slow to build power. With the correct external gearing for the track this became frustrating in the slower corners as one had to be patient and wait for power to build.
Bottom line – a “new” bike that could hold its ground with fellow stock 600's so kudos to Derek and his expertise in making the bike competitive on pump gas!!
However the increased speed and performance began to overwhelm the stock brake master cylinder and lines in hard braking areas. By lap 5 there was nothing left in the lever, so it was imperative that I changed something. Bleeding the brakes did not help, so Jeff Viets of Viets Performance installed Galfer braided steel brake lines and a Brembo radial master cylinder. As he pointed out, fading brakes were too much of a safety issue and needed to be replaced.
The next major change was to replace the .97kg straight rate springs and go back to the OEM .91kg springs. At race pace at Thunderhill there was still an inch of unused travel, so rather than change oil level to accommodate the stiff springs, and the softer set up was chosen. The preload adjuster was all the way out and the compression adjuster was set at 5 clicks in from full soft. I changed to a Dunlop medium compound 180-rear tire, but retained the Bridgestone GP 250 front tire to keep stock geometry.
Sunday's race day was cool due to overcast fog for most of the day and the warm up practice first thing in the morning showed how good the new brake set up was, but there would be some adjustment time needed – and that would be the first race. Unfortunately I was competing in the last 2 races of the day. I had several bikes to work on during the day for suspension set-ups and component changes, so that helped pass time. Nothing like staying busy for 9 hours while you wait patiently for your race...
Race # 1, 600 Superbike:
There was the same liberal humor from the friends I race with about this time perhaps having the paint sucked off my bike at the start, but then I had not said a word about the changes made. With the prominent memory of seemingly being chained to a post at Thunderhill in the July race (even though I got a tremendous launch off the line), I was smiling in my helmet while sitting on the grid knowing that some people were about to be a little shocked. Ah yes, there would be some confusion provided I got a good launch off the line, even though I was against the wall on the inside rather than the preferred outside slot.
An excellent start launched me a couple of rows forward and then I moved quickly to get the outside swoop on riders bunching up on the inside in turn one leaving me in prime position for the inside of turn two. Having negotiated the difficult part and getting through turn two cleanly, I settled in to get the feel of the new engine and brakes at race pace.
The 15 x 48 gearing ensures that the race bike only has a 5-speed transmission (first is eliminated after the start), so there is a lot less shifting around the track. The big test of the motor is from turn two to three and a lot of passing is done there. On the second lap, the front end (much to my surprise) came up in the air exiting the corner under 80% throttle, so I duly noted that body position was now a factor as the bike could easily power wheelie. On the slower corners between 8-10,000rpm, the engine was sluggish so higher corner speed was needed to get close to the 10k engine rpm mark to not lose ground to other bikes when accelerating out of the corners. While the Bridgestone front has excellent turn in characteristics and feel, under full load the carcass would give and the front tire would push, so I had to be careful with maximum corner speed and not tuck the front. By mid race, I had pretty much figured out the characteristics of the engine and revised chassis and had started to haul in riders in front of me. Unfortunately that progress was halted by a red flag and the race was stopped.
We were told to go back to the pits, but my next race was imminent so I went back to the staging area where Amelia and Cheryl were waiting with water and Gatorade (thank you!!!!!). Having wrenched for three days with suspension set-ups on almost 50 bikes and in combination with having inadequate riding time, I was starting to get serious arm pump. It also occurred to me that this was due to the fact that I had to wrestle the bike through the turn eight “S” complex, so I needed to change technique so that I could rest my arms by using my feet a lot more to peg weight the bike. That would work in the interim, but now I was riding faster I would need to revise the geometry, so more testing was needed at this track.
Race # 2, Formula 40:
With 5 minutes rest (what a godsend) the arm pump reduced enough that I could use the controls. We went out for the warm up lap and I relaxed enough to just mentally prepare. This class was more important for points as I was in the top 25 from only a handful of races! My grid position was again 23, an outside slot – perfect! I looked over and three very good friends; Dennis, Eric and Ginnie were in the same row, so more pleasantries were exchanged (they were not in the last race) and then the 2 board went up. Visor down; make sure all the helmet vents were open and the slot the bike in first. The Daytona shot off the line in front of my friends who must have been amazed, and I ran the outside to try to gain some positions. Unfortunately, a rider moved way out and blocked my line so my friends got around on the outside of turn two.
From that point on for the next two laps we hounded each other, and that was a lot of fun! Dennis on a 2005 GSXR 1000 came charging up the inside in turn one on lap two, but I closed the door on him by staying on the gas. For the next lap he kept using the power of the 1000 to try to pass, but I kept my braking later and maintaining higher corner entry speed to keep slamming the door on him. He must have been steaming. On the front straight on lap three he motored by again and had too much distance for me to safely repeat the move. Ginnie gave it too much gas after exiting turn two and brought the rear wheel of her R6 around. She stayed in the throttle to her credit but the wheel came further around so she low sided facing us! No time for target fixation, so Eric and I carried on and resumed racing. We stayed in the same fight for position until the end of the race. The Daytona held strong with his GSXR 750 by getting on the gas as early at corner exits to stay with him. Definitely a testament to Derek's tuning!!!!
After the race we all got together and laughed a lot about the race, tactics, and the nitrous button I had concealed on the Triumph. The respect for the bike is coming. Maybe next race when they are looking at the tail decal that will say “You are behind a Triumph”, it will be well earned!
1. Using some mathematical formulas from flow bench testing, we measured the intake and exhaust ports and valves to create some empirical data. After compiling all the results, master tech Jimmy determined that the engine needed to spin to 16,000 rpm in order for the head to work correctly on the flow bench. Given this information and knowing that the OEM ECU only allows 14,500 rpm before the rev limiter kicks in, we need to find a way of getting into the ECU in order to re-program the rev limiter. However, to spin the engine to that rpm, valve springs become overly stressed. Rather than take the head off and replace them every three races, we are researching into BMW valve springs and other aftermarket components built specifically to handle this stress.
2. Spare cam gears have been slotted 5 degrees in either direction for the sum total of one tooth to advance or retard the ignition. We need to do some more research on cam timing; duration and overlap to see what cams might work best (TT and Daytona cams have different profiles). It may work well to go back to the old trick of using two intake cams to improve the cylinder head performance, but again, more research is needed.
3. AFM allows a 1mm overbore in both production and superbike classes, so the cylinder liners will need to be removed. Pistons have to be acquired and then sent with the liners to a specialty Nickasil shop for boring and replating so that they can be matched. >From all research done so far, there are no readily available pistons of the required dimensions. After one complete day of Internet research for Europe, Australasia and the USA it became readily apparent that there are no readily available 1mm oversize pistons!!!!!!!
- As the cylinder liners are part of the case and the bore and stroke of the Daytona 650 are different, there is no way to swap cylinder liners and pistons. An alternative option is to use the 650 pistons provided that they fit on the 600-rod correctly.
Fortunately, I had some rare testing time at the Zoom Zoom track day two days prior to be able to get up to pace and reset the geometry and suspension as needed. The problem was that the tires on the bike had 4 track days on them and one race weekend, so they were substantially below par in terms of grip. However, I could still get a baseline set up to then work on Sunday morning as needed.
The first session was used to check out the track surface and look for new severe depressions and take off ramps (the track surface is not the most consistent). For the most part, the track was still extremely bumpy and rough with one new additional area at the long right hand sweeper where the front wheel would literally launch into the air for about half a second. No turn in at that point!
As the day progressed the shock was softened by ¾ of a turn off the spring and 2 clicks of compression removed. This gave really good drive off the corner, and that is essential at this track. The forks still proved to be too stiff with the .91kg stock springs in, so the oil level was dropped. This provided better overall action in compression action.
In the afternoon, time was spent taking people around the track who were racing and had never been there. It was good to help people find their way around this tricky track! Lap times were in the 2:04 range with very little effort so I felt that the bike would do well in the races given this set up.
Sunday morning's practice was excellent with relatively low numbers of riders in the group (overall attendance was significantly down) and the new tires were scrubbed in for 3 laps. I went for two further laps to then get a feel for the chassis with the new traction and everything went very well. Being race 4 and 9 though meant a long break between races, but that would allow time for any changes to be made.
Race #1: 600 Superbike
I started one spot lower in 24th position and was hoping to be able to move ahead and get some more points to get into the top 20 by the last race of the year. All the fast riders in the class were there as there were only three events left in the season, so every point counted. The grid position was on the inside, and that is a bad lace to be at this track, much the same as it is at Infineon. I could not find a gap to get to the outside so I was boxed in and lost a huge number of places at turn one. The same occurred at turn two where I had no chance to move out. Once exiting turn two I had a small window and took it to get out of the crowd and start moving ahead. I fortunately did not clip anyone but it was a tight squeeze!
From that point on I tried as hard as I could to catch riders one at a time and then pass them I could out brake the mid pack riders and overtake other riders in certain sections of the track. Once I had made my way back to the faster riders, I would pass them on the brakes but then be left behind on power. There was no point being frustrated and I worked clinically to try and attain any advantage possible to continue to move ahead. By the end of the race I made it back to 22nd place, so I did finish ahead of where I started! The rewarding part was that the bike and I managed to run sub two-minute lap times for the first time on this bike.
Race #2: Formula 40
In this class I had moved up to 15th in the points, so I was on the 5th row. Exciting stuff! There were many talented riders ahead of me on various bikes (you can ride anything in this class) so the trick was to out corner and out brake as many of the bigger bikes as I could as early in the race as possible. The only problem to the plan was that yet again, as # 15 on the inside; the riders ahead of me would make it very difficult to get to the outside. Fortunately in this case I was trapped, but on the outside several riders bumped with a couple leaving the track. Good fortune for me in this instance! I made my way to the outside in turn two and got away again and started to move up as a lot of the bigger bikes had shot past me a the start. I had progressed to 17th when I got caught behind two bikes, one of which was really hard to pass. It took a couple of laps but by that time the pack had left and it was a solo ride. The race was suddenly halted for a crash and we were given a full restart, so back to the pits and gas up as well as down some water.
After a much better restart I had maintained my position from the grid, much to my amazement. As turn two approached, the rider that slowed me up was right in front so I made a clean block pass and hammered the throttle to get away as quickly as possible as he had more horsepower. I made the pass stick and then concentrated on bikes ahead of me with the lofty goal of getting a top ten finish. Unfortunately, the bikes in front of me were all far more powerful and I tried to use brakes and corner speed to pass, but as usual was immediately passed back. That made the final few laps very entertaining being a few inches from another racer and trying to politely take the position in a safe manner. The overall finish was rumored to be 12th, but I did not get the official results prior to leaving.
I did learn a lot about the chassis at this pace and there is a lot of work to be done before the next race at Infineon in 2 weeks! I was scraping the foot pegs in the off camber turns so the bike needs to be lifted with rear ride height. The stock shock and mounting brackets won't allow that, so I have to lower the triple clamp on the front forks and get off the bike more. This should also help transition the bike, as once again I got really bad arm pump even after consciously using my feet to counter steer the bike. The transmission was also becoming a little awkward, so we need to check the oil level and make sure all parts of the linkage are tight.
As a precursor to the race weekend, Kari Prager was invited out to ride the race bike on the Friday track day. As part of that experience, all the sag, hydraulic and geometric settings on the race bike were changed to suit his weight and then further refined to match his riding style over the course of the morning. By the third session (and never having ridden slicks before), Kari relaxed enough to be able to ride the bike at pace and push the chassis a little harder to get the most of it. Kari's only experience was with demo bikes, so this turned into something of a revelation in having the Daytona race work perfectly for him. Needless to say, he had a great time riding the bike and really appreciated how important it is to have the bike custom fit to the rider.
As an unexpected benefit, Kari purchased gas for the race bike at the track. Not knowing what he had bought, the bike was regularly topped off for each session. At one point the gas can was placed behind the bike and I noticed that the exhaust had changed from black soot to a cream white. Obviously the current set up in the head/fuel injection was causing a flash burn of 91 octane, but with the higher octane there was a complete burn.
Kari had retired for the day with 2 sessions left so I took the bike out and it was noticeably faster with the better burn. At race pace, 116 proved to be too high an octane as the pipe was turning ivory white, so 112 was used next, and that changed the color back to a cream white. It seems that the hydrocarbon issue is "fixed" for now :-)
Kari also coordinated the dealership ride that weekend to the track on Sunday as this was the last AFM weekend at this track, while Amelia provided all the information to the RAT pack for them to attend.
With this being the last Infineon weekend, there was not a moment for practice on Saturday with so many riders now trying to make sure that they got as many points as they could with only one race remaining for the season. That left Sunday morning and one twenty minutes practice to get the tires scrubbed in and the bike ready. The races were 5, 7 & 13, so my first race was not until after lunch. That provided lots of time to talk to the riders that came from the dealership and to do some set up for individuals and their bikes.
Race #1: 600 Superbike
After an excruciating wait we heard third call and took the tire warmers off and went out for the hot lap. I was positioned on the inside wall, and with a full grid that was not a good place to be. After a good launch I managed to get to the outside but had lost a considerable number of positions. Thankfully having the inside on turn two allowed me to gain a few places back before turn three and then go after several other racers in front of me for the rest of the lap. I quickly made up my places and reached peers who had a little faster lap times than me. That pulled me along into a chase group where we swapped positions several times a lap, but that was a great deal of fun in having a private race within a race with riders that you totally trust. By the last lap, we were swapping at almost every corner, and in the last chicane I used the brakes to block pass two riders to take the inside line and defend it to the last corner before the front straight. In running wide on the exit it blocked the chasing bikes who had better horsepower, so I managed to keep the position :-) The only problem was that with the excitement I had been way too excited and had another case of severe arm pump and only had one race to rest.
Race #2: Formula 40
Now in the top twenty in points for the season, this was going to be an exciting race! A grid spot 4 rows back on the outside was perfect and after another good launch I had moved into the lead pack of R1's and GSXR 1000's. A glorious moment for half a lap as then they took off on the fast section of the track only to be seen in the distance for the rest of the race. In the first lap there were three separate crashes, with the worst one happening immediately to my left in turn 5 when Ginny Cutler's R6 spun the rear tire and threw her head down onto the ground narrowly missing the stator cover on my bike and then sliding past the rear wheel. The race was red flagged and we started over several minutes later. Ginny got out with only a twisted ankle.
Once again I managed to join the big bikes through turn six and then watch their horsepower turn on and leave me standing… I was joined by two R6's in lap three and then the race began in earnest with a very similar battle to race one. This time, we were only inches apart going around corners together and all the time I was laughing in my helmet, which helped relax me and get rid of the arm pump. This mini race lasted the next four laps and was an absolute hoot to the checkered flag!
Race #3: Formula 1
As there were so many supporters there for the day, I had entered a third race for them to watch. Some idle banter and a little discussion predicting the finish position was happening in the stands by all accounts on the warm up lap, so there was nothing to lose but go as fast as possible. This was a class that I had never entered so I started deliberately at the back row of the grid on my own to see how far I could get through the crowd. Once the green flag waved, the outside on turn one and inside of turn two were wide open so I made up a lot of ground there immediately. By the end of lap one I had made my way into the 40's and by lap two into the 30's. By that time I was racing against people with very similar lap times so passing became much more of a strategy. Trying to out brake 2 riders into turn 9 was going well until a false neutral appeared just before turning in. I had to give up the corner and wait for them to come by and then rejoin the race. It took almost half a lap to catch them up and then pass them both and by that time the pack in front had gained too much time for me to catch them. Final position was apparently 28th, but we will have to wait for the confirmed results.
All in all, it was a very successful weekend for fans and the team. Now we have the final race at Button Willow in two weeks to round out the season.
The last race of the year is always a sad event for me. While friends remain, the companionship and good friends are gone for a few months as the track is quiet and devoid of the race spirit that is infectious and inspiring. However, there was the opportunity to revel in the event, have one last BBQ, and prep for the final races of the year.
Saturday was once again packed with work with the top 5 in each class fighting for points and positions, so every amount of adjustment was maximized to gain every ounce of stability and power transfer to the ground. With so much on the line for Sunday, I was glad when practice was done for Saturday and we could relax for the evening.
Sunday was my 20-minute practice and then patience in waiting for both races. That was not too difficult with every race having very close competition for all of us to watch :)
Race 1: 600 Superbike
As we started the warm up lap, the excitement was building and the verbal bantering from last night at an end. Focus was intense but quickly offset when a good friends belly pan came loose and fell under his rear wheel causing him to hit the ground quickly and very hard. Not the best spectacle to watch unfold so I quickly looked ahead, hoping that Bob was okay.
Set in 20th on the grid made for a good position, but I was on the inside and for this track, that was the worst possible place. The race start was tense as expected, and turn one was a bumper car fest with people jostling and contacting each other. Being trapped on the inside and with no avenue to get to the outside for turn one I was losing positions, so I moved the bike as aggressively as possible to the outside prior to turn two as this would give me an inside line for this off camber turn. I managed to regain several spots but was way back in the pack and had to be merciless in making my way back to the top 20. That included some passes that I would have been more patient about, but given the fact that everything rested on the finish position, I did not have the time to be nice.
After half way I was closing in quickly on 20th but there was a long gap ahead of that rider to the next pack. In order to reach the pack, I had to really focus and apply every ounce of attention to the task. With a lap and a half I had caught the pack, and starting moving into traffic. The competition was intense and no quarter given so position changes were frequent and very close :) This little game of chess ran intensely through to the finish and it was a tremendous last race in the class with my finish position rumored to be 17th.
Race 2: Formula 40
The announcement came over the P.A. that there would be a delay before this race while the presentation ceremony took place for Formula Pacific, the AFM's premier class. We all sat back and listened to the commentary, awaiting the final call to grid. We didn't hear one and I wondered what was going on. As I looked out onto the track to notice that the warm up lap had started, so I had to rush to the hot pit and join the grid without the hot lap. Lining up wound up tight, I was trying to force myself to relax and focus on racing, but that was proving difficult. Once the green flag flew I barged my way forward and managed to get to the middle of the track into turn one. That was fortunate as several riders ran off turn one followed by a couple of riders crashing in turn five. The race was red flagged and restarted, but for some reason everyone was very twitchy and bikes were moving radically in all directions until after the first lap when everything settled down.
Once again I was between two packs of riders and set about catching the front group with controlled aggression. Slowly but surely after two laps I had caught the group and once again it turned into a tight high-speed chess game and a tremendous amount of fun. This time it was a group that I regularly race with so the competition felt much safer with the odd glances exchanged going down the straights, no doubt laughing at each other. The following two laps were very intense and any opening left from a poor line was taken immediately, so it was a tremendous amount of fun to finish the year out :)
Next year the 600 will be turned into a superbike and the 675 Daytona will become the primary bike. We will not be seeing that until March perhaps, but that will give us plenty of time to get the 600 completed. Thanks again to all the staff at California Triumph for a fantastic first season of racing, and 2006 will be a lot more fun with two bikes and multiple races!
Race Schedule for 2006
- Sunday, March 26th, Buttonwillow Raceway
- Sunday, April 23rd, Infineon Raceway
- Sunday, May 28th, Infineon Raceway
- Sunday, June 18th, Thunderhill Raceway
- Sunday, July 16th, Thunderhill Raceway
- Sunday, August 13th, Infineon Raceway
- Sunday, October 1st, Infineon Raceway
- Sunday October 22nd, Buttonwillow Raceway