Wind Challenged Racers at Arroyo Secoís Round 2
Riders were treated to an extra challenge during the April track day at Arroyo Seco Motorplex (Deming, NM) with winds gusting all day long. At one point during the afternoon, a dust storm swept across the track during a practice session, and visibility for the riders was almost zero. The people observing from the pits couldn’t even see the riders out on the track until the dust storm blew through.
By the time the track day came to an end, both Zac and I were more tired than usual, having fought the winds on the bikes all day long. But we were both happy with surviving the day without crashing. The track didn’t stay very warm with all of the wind blowing across it, and several people went down on cold tires. The April track day and races were run in the counter-clockwise direction at Arroyo, so Zac and I spent the time remembering lines and braking points going this particular direction while doing last minute adjustments to the bikes.
Towards the end of the day we both switched to a new set of tires, and got enough practice in to have them scrubbed for the races the next day. I was happy with the gearing change on the MZ, going from the stock 38 tooth rear sprocket to a 42 tooth. Arroyo is an extremely tight and twisty track, so gearing the MZ lower put it more in the powerband for the corners of the track. Maintaining good corner speed on the small MZ is the only way I can keep up with the bigger bikes, so getting the gearing right was key.
Sunday morning was cooler than expected, and I decided to ride conservative during the morning practice sessions. Like the day before, a few people went down in the morning sessions due to cold tires on a cold track. During the first race of the morning, Formula 2/Lightweight Twins, I took the first few laps a bit slower than usual to allow the tires time to start sticking. Unfortunately, about 3 laps into the race, Brian Bernard had a bad high-side on his SV650, and the red flag came out. Up to that point I had been dicing with Chad Barten (SV 650), but Chad had bike problems and was unable to make it to the re-start. After the paramedics checked Brian over to make sure he was OK and the crash truck had cleared the track, the race re-started. We only had about 4 laps left to go, so I didn’t have too much time to work on catching the group in front of me.
I finished the race 6th out of 10. Zac was in Race #2, 750 Superbike Amateur, so I was able to catch the last few laps of his race after coming in from mine. There were 7 racers in this class this time, and from the last few laps that I was able to watch I could see that Zac was trying his best to catch up to Trent McCalmon, who was running 3rd. Zac ran a good race, but was unable to reel Trent in at the end, and finished 4th. Zac had a bigger grid of racers to run with in Open Amateur, and had a good time dicing with a group of riders that he was hanging with. He finished the race 12th out of 16.
My first race right after lunch, Southwest Thunder, was pretty uneventful, so once again I used the time to focus on running the track as smoothly as possible and finished 6th out of 6. Both Zac and I ran in the 600 Superbike Amateur class. Zac hung on to the first group of guys for awhile, while I quickly got sorted to the back, unable to keep up with the power of the 600s on the straights. I ended up chasing Hunter Coates (Kaw 600) and Dr. Bob Dillow (Suz 600).
At one point I was able to pass Hunter in the big carousel, and right as I started working on Dr. Bob he passed me again on the back straight heading into Turn 1. After that I was unable to get around either of them, so I finished 10th out of 11. Zac ran a strong race and finished in 5th place. The final race of the day for both Zac and I was the Formula Amateur race. This is a new class at Arroyo, and allows the amateurs to run a longer race. Rather than the usual 9 laps, this would be a 20 minute race, requiring a bit more endurance. The heat of the afternoon was a further tax on endurance, but Zac and I were both able to run pretty consistently throughout the entire race.
At the beginning I was able to get in front of Dr. Bob Dillow, and open up a bit of a gap. There was quite a gap between myself and the next rider in front of me, so I tried to run at as much of a consistent race pace as possible. Zac ran a good race, and finished 8th, while I finished 11th out of 13 riders. A few people ask me why I run the classes at Arroyo with the bigger bikes where I am clearly under-powered. Since this is my first year of racing, I’m focusing on getting as much experience as possible. I can’t rely on horsepower to go fast around the track, so it pushes me to be a smooth rider and hold as much cornerspeed as possible.
The MZ certainly isn’t the most powerful bike on the track, but I’m learning a lot by racing it this year. Zac is also learning a lot this year with the R6. He’s a bigger guy, and needs to be on something like a 600 rather than the lightweight Ducati he raced for the latter half of last year. The bike is currently stock except for the bodywork, steering damper, and 520 chain conversion. As he progresses in his riding he is planning on doing just a few odds & ends to the bike (forks, exhaust, brake lines), but nothing too major.
The R6 seems to be a good fit for Zac, and it looks like he will have the bike for some time. The next ASMA race at Arroyo Seco is May 3-4, and the track will be run in the clockwise direction.