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Shannonville Motorsports Park

RACE Report: ROUND 1
May 15, 16 & 17
Shannonville
Pro Track

Friday May 15, 2015:

Cold. I think the temp Thursday night was somewhere about 1-3 degrees Celsius. Going up to Shannonville Thursday night seemed like a good idea until about 4 am Friday when I couldn't feel my toes or really anything for that matter. With the temp being so cold, the morning was delayed as no one opted to be on the track right away due to track temps being dangerously low. This gave me a perfect time to drop my leathers off to Mr. Bickle to have some minor repairs and altercations done, as well as visit with Mr. Kennedy of Kennedy Motorsports to discuss what tires would give me the best chance out on the track for the upcoming weekend.

After the temperature got on the rise, I got myself suited up and took to the Pro track layout riding the new to me 2001 GSX-R 600. Even though I had just run the bike at the test day 2 weeks prior, everything felt weird. The bike did not seem to want to respond well to anything I did while riding, being as new to this as I am, my explanations, of what the bike was doing, to my father was next to useless. Knowing that something needed to be done, my father took the bike out for the next session and immediately knew what I had been trying to explain. My dad managed to settle down the bike a bit, but shortly after tweaking the basic adjustments of the bike, we learned that the rear spring on the shock that is currently on the bike is much too soft for the weight of myself and my gear. So we asked around and got given pointers from some pro riders with experience on that style of bike, to raise up the ride height on the rear to keep the bike more level and not have it squat so much when under acceleration. After adjusting the ride height there was a noticeable difference in the responsiveness of the bike and we never looked back from there.

The only other issue found was when we went to swap over to the set of new rubber from Michelin. Upon inspection of the rear wheel it would appear that the bearing had disintegrated and the rim had taken some damage as there were metal shavings and ground down rim where the sprocket and carrier made contact. After speaking with the previous owner of the bike, there was realization that a spacer had been left behind during the gearing swap for Pro track layout. Minor hiccups that come with the learning process of a new bike. Thankfully it was at the cost of a new wheel bearing and some more serious damage didn't occur. Friday lap times were in the high 1:19's and making me more and more nervous for the upcoming challenges of heat races and finals.

Saturday May 16th, 2015:

I woke up Saturday feeling good and wanting to go fast. The temperature wasn't so bad as the previous night so I was eager to get out on the track as soon as possible. The first practice went slower than expected but I was more focused on my lines and trying to get more comfortable getting off the bike and shifting my weight around the track. After completing my 2 practice sessions of the morning the best lap I had run was a 1:16, right on pace with my best time from the final round of RACE I had run in 2014. not bad.

Start of the Novice 600 qualifying heat race. What. A. Mess. To start on a good note, because of registration being the grid decision, I had pole. Cool, now to the mess of a race. I had never even once practice launched this bike, I didn't know what to do or expect. I completely botched the start and ended up way at the back. Not a big problem, I like chasing people down. I got passed a few people and was chasing down Steve Cole on the back straight and let my inexperience get the best of me and decided I wanted to try overtaking him on the brakes. I ran straight off the back straight on the first lap of the race, How embarrassing. I was pretty down on myself but I figured I would do my best to try and save what was left of the race after such a bad first lap. I pushed hard and managed to catch the back of the pack within the next 2 laps.

This is where it gets weird. I was catching the other riders as we all received the green and blue crossed together rolled up flags meaning halfway in the race.. I made passes throughout the 3rd lap and had placed myself in 3rd place. The 1st and 2nd riders were long gone and I didn't expect to catch them but I was sure ready to try. I put my head down and pushed on and as I was coming up to the final turn on the third lap, I noticed the first and second place riders sitting up, one hand on the bar, the other on their hips. That's different, I ignore them and blast by them onto the front straight. I get myself a good lead and end up taking the checkered flag in first place, putting me on the pole for the Novice 600 Final.

After the race I had to go talk with the other riders and see what had gone on, I found out that the 2 new riders that were way out front had never seen the crossed blue and green flags and didn't know what they meant and had thought something had happened and the race was over, giving me the easy pass to win the heat race. Something tells me I wouldn't get that kind of break again. I ran a 1:14 in that race and that was my new personal best time with the track layout. I was hungry to go faster.

The next heat race I was in was the Rookie Cup race which was the back group of a combined race between Lost Era and Rookie Cup, again due to registration, I was on Pole but starting in row 4. I got a really good start this race and immediately charged to the front. Within a couple of corners I was right behind my dad who was competing in Lost Era. After following him I made it by him exiting turn 1 entering turn 2. Not my most comfortable places to pass but it worked and part of me knew that as soon as he knew I was there he wasn't going to try to stuff me or take me out (something to do with being his firstborn). --- Edit by Dad 'You are correct Aaron!

I then set out to chase down the leader of the Lost Era race and managed to stay tight to his tail but never could get by him. I'm sure if I had a few more laps I could have maybe gotten by him but I was very happy with the results of that heat. I beat my dad and I set the lap record for Rookie Cup running a 1:13.203 which shocked me and I think my dad because he has never ran a time that fast. Now to get another set of new tires for the finals tomorrow.

Sunday May 16th, 2015:

Practice went well, No real issues just worked on my lines and tried to get more comfortable late braking and trail braking.

First final of the weekend, Novice 600. I knew the guy that had been beating my times and all through practice would be an issue, but I just needed to run my race and do what I could. I got a decent start and tried to push hard to keep up with him but Steve was having a good day. He had just finished 3rd in AM 600 in the final right before ours so I was hoping he would be tired and I would have a fighting chance.

I was wrong. He ran hard and got away from me quickly. I ran my race and had a really good scare coming onto the front straight when the back tire decided to step out of line while under heavy power. I bobbled hard but managed to keep the bike on 2 wheels and myself on top, during that process I caught myself staring at the wall along the front straight and immediately drove through the grass between the wall and the front straight. Looking at it after the fact, there is only about 1 or maybe 2 feet of grass between that wall and the pavement. Talk about a close one. After that little escapade I looked back and realized there was no one behind me that I could immediately see. I decided to slow my pace a bit seeing as I was not going to be catching Steve at all and I was more than content with a 2nd place finish. I rode clean and took the checkered in second for my first final of the weekend. Not a bad start.

The final of the Rookie Cup was another mess of it's own. The 2 class combined Race meant I was on pole starting in the 4th row. Not a problem for me until I realized all the riders in my class were lining up in the 3rd row. So after I quickly moved ahead I was not straight in the starting grid and the light was about to go green. It was an interesting start and by no means was mine good. I made quick work of catching back up to my father and was pretty good with just following him around the track as we were by ourselves and the Lost Era leader was long gone. I was running right behind my dad trying to decide if I wanted to pass him or not when I got fixated on the tail of his bike and followed him on a terrible line through turn 2 which almost had both of us exiting the track 1 after another.

He looked back and waved me by and then I set out to go after the leader without any real intentions of catching him. I finished the race cleanly with a Contour Action camera dangling off my ram air tube holding on only by the safety tether. It made for some interesting footage. Who knew those tethers could actually hold the camera at 200+ KPH. After finishing the race, I rounded to pick up my checkered flag for the celebration lap. Even with the tinted visor on my full face helmet I pretty sure everyone could see the giant smile I was sporting with waving that checkered flag over my head.

All in all, it was a good weekend. I learned a lot about the bike and how important sun screen is when the sun is out all day at the track. I went from running a 1:19 Friday to consistent 1:14's with a couple 1:13's which I think it an amazing feat to accomplish. I am slowly getting better at focusing on what I actually need to work on instead of just going out there and going as fast as I can because I've learned it takes practice in every little aspect, to add it up to a quicker lap time. I'm learning more and more about how the trailer should be packed up and made easier to repack once the weekend is over and you have little energy left to pack.

Racing is also about the people you meet and just in the first weekend I have met people that I can already tell I will have great at the track friendships with and that is what makes me love this sport more and more. I would like to thank all my sponsors, friends and family for making my first race weekend of the year so successful and I'm already looking forward to the upcoming rounds.

Sponsors:

Riverside Ford Brockville
Napa Auto Parts Cornwall
Marriner Design
Kennedy Motorsports
Michelin
613motorsports
ShawnAir
Road Racing Stars of Tomorrow

   

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