July started off with some R&D to try a few things. The month kicked off with an odd beat when it was too hot to dyno test on Friday. We left San Diego extra early and now it was for nothing. Plus, it was so hot that we were stuck at the track so as to keep the dogs "cool". We couldn't go anywhere or they'd have to sit in the van while we ate. Eventually, it started cooling off and we could leave the oven.
Saturday started early so I could get in on the dyno, but someone beat me to it. I got on track and things seemed ok. It felt good to ride and put in some tack time and put the stress of testing behind me. As I started to get a feeling for the track, I realized I needed to go back on one of my parts, thus dictating my afternoon. It was hot enough that I needed to relax and chill out for the 20 lap Solo GT race. That's when the clouds came and liquid sunshine fell from the sky!
The rain wasn't bad enough to even cause a no slicks ruling, as there were no puddles. The oppressive heat was only temporarily displaced though. The brief cooling went away only this time the opressive heat had humidity with it as a value added bonus. I was worried about the bike overheating like last month, so for this month, I added some hi octane race gas. Not oxygenated, just lots of octane. It is supposed to help the combustion run cooler and I think it worked as my RS250 routinely ran in the upper 70s during the day. During the race, it seemed to have worked, as the temps stayed around 75 deg C.
Anyhow, we don't want to get too far ahead... As the race approached, I had some anticipation over the rain, but I wasn't too worried. We got out on the warm up lap and everything seemed ok. The front didn't instantly tuck in turn 1, it stuck in 2, so I got a little more confident and got things going. On the warm up lap, you really need to get some speed around the track in a smooth fashion to get the brakes and the tires and your mind up to speed. Everything was cool until turn 8. I didn't turn. In fact, I have no freaking idea how I didn't get through the turn. It's like I went in and absolutely no turning happened. Apparently, some kind of turning eventually happened, as I didn't crash.
Freshly rattled, I got around 9 and rolled up to the starting grid. I got a great start but of course, the SVs beat me into turn 1. I was 3rd into turn 1 and then another SV got around me at some point. I rode around scared for 18 laps and eventually finished 4th. The race was wierd. I could see lines where the bikes were cleaning the track and it made me mental. At least the last quarter of the race started feeling better. I was able to push a little and start to get some good feeling back. Afterwards, I realized that running the Solo GT (and trying to run OFF of turn 8) really hurt my confidence. But Sunday is another day and my races are late enough that the track should be ok.
Sunday dawned and I got out on the warm ups. My times weren't anything to write home about, but they didn't absolutely suck, either. I had some jitters before the 550 Superbike race, but I got a good start and started fighting with an SV for 3rd. I found I could pass here or there, but 5 was the place to really get business done. Each time I passed said SV in 5, I was wondering at what point it would be soaring past with its superior torque and power. I was straight up shocked to cross the start-finish line ahead of the SV. And then it ripped by. Hmmmm. We repeated this dance a couple more times and then I found I wasn't really able to put the same moves on. So there I am rollin up to the finish line in 4th when one of the Aprilia guys pips me at the line, demoting me to 5th.
We talked about it after the race and he said the diesel was really holding me up. Oh well, the race was done. I'd rather finish 5th with some semblance of comfort than have risked anything given where my mind was after the Solo GT race. The Aprilia race was up next. I knew that other Aprilia would be there from start to finish, keeping me honest. I got a great start and rode hard from the go, leading the way. For six laps, I concentrated on the next two corners, trying to put in a good pace from start to finish. I simply assumed that the other Aprilia would be my shadow. I tried a little extra on the last lap... then coming off of turn 9, I was very aware of the "one weave to break the draft" rule. Once past the pit entrance, I made a change of course to the right, I tried to make the move the correct speed and aggression. Too quick is dangerous, too slow: wasted effort. So I get to my one weave. As I start getting close to the right side of the track, that dang Aprilia shows up. We cross the line together. Once in the pits, we really couldn't say who crossed first. I find out later that he was granted the win. In talking to a few people, opinions were really mixed. Man, that was too good!
Anyhow, I know my dificiencies and the main one was that I wasn't fighting. I was surviving and riding. And in the Roadracing World 250GP race, I had a couple of things that I started working on. That race was 6 laps of practice. There were lots of "real" 250 GP bikes coming out, probably a function of the 250 50 race that's being promoted as part of the October Toyota 200 race weekend at Wilow. The track owner, Bill Huth, is putting up a $30k purse for this race. So my closest championship rival finished ahead of me this time, so we're tied in points now! I can't wait for the 50 mile "250 50" race! I hope I'll be able to race it... if there's qualifying, there may end up being too many racers for the grid.
I know what I need to do for next month to do the best to make sure nothing is "close". I think it's great to be able to have a more interactive outlook than to just ride around in circles. My slowest lap in the Aprilia race was a second faster than the best one while riding around with the SV in 550 Superbike, so there's going to be some work to do there, too. I think the biggest thing to fix for next month is the seat-handlebar interface!!