What a weekend! Getting the bike ready came down to the wire and I ended up opting out of installing my new bodywork. #123 Chris Dove and I packed up his box truck and my trailer on Tuesday night and headed up to NHMS on Wednesday afternoon, we were joined at the track by #112 Clayson Baker. The original plan was to do Thursday and Friday practice to shake the dust off. I got on the bike Thursday for the afternoon session and promptly threw it down in 1A. No damage really other than replacing a foot peg and lever guard. I felt horrible on the bike. Absolutely terrible. Super heavy on the bars, not engaging my legs, drastically exaggerating body position – none of these are good things. I decided to skip Friday practice, save the $150, as the conditions were basically the same as the day before. CMP also had 2 riders in Basic school so Chris, Clay, and I spent the day assisting them and watching them on track.
Two new CMP riders, GM Gary Pescatore and mechanic Jimmy Alessandrini, had a great day in Basic Rider School. It’s a chore for any new racer; seven 20 minute track sessions with all of your off track time occupied in the classroom. It’s a grind. There’s a lot of new information, a lot of stress, but it’s an awful lot of fun. The boys did awesome, both of them making it through the difficult conditions and passing rider school. The CMP garage pulled together and kept their bikes prepped for their track sessions and hopefully helped with good advice and positive words.
Saturday practice 1 for Group 1 was cold, I went out and just tried to work on engaging my legs and ease up on the bars. Ran a 1:39 in practice, probably should have used an hour glass for timing instead of a transponder. Not much changed in practice 2, but I started feeling a bit more comfortable.
Race 3: Amateur GTO
I did GTO round 7 last year and I love it, great way to open a race weekend. I wasn’t too upset with this race being shortened to 20 minutes considering the difficulty I’d been having on my bike. I had a couple of battles with other riders and picked up a couple of spots from my position off grid. This is a great race to start the weekend with as you get a lot of track time and it really helps you get into the flow.
Best lap: 1:29.646
Race 8: Heavyweight Superbike
Not an awful lot to report here, I was slow again but feeling a lot better and like I was starting to do the right things again. I had a couple of battles near the back of the pack and started really having fun on my motorcycle again. A bit disappointed in lap time when I pitted in but that wasn’t something i was going to let bother me this weekend.
Best lap: 1:29.604
Sunday practice went well. I was originally going to skip is because I figured the weather would be bad, but it turned out to be decent so I went out and turned 7 or 8 laps and felt great on the bike. I consistently ran 1:30’s through practice without pressing the pace at all so I felt pretty good going into racing for that day.
Race 6: Middleweight Supersport
I was gridded a several rows from the front and had already determined before the weekend started that I would not be pressing my nose into the turn 1 group off the start, it can be a meat grinder to say the least. Round 1 is all about finishing races and getting some points so I let that play out, then set myself to catching whoever I could. I made about 5 or 6 passes and had an absolute blast out there. It actually started feeling like I knew how to race a motorcycle again. I finished 18th and feel like I have nothing to complain about in arguably one of the most competitive races of the weekend. I also dropped 2 seconds of my pace from the day before.
Race Result: 18th
Best lap: 1:27.584
Race 10: Unlimited Superbike
Same strategy on the start. I caught 3 guys throughout the course of the race and needed spent the last 2 laps lapping novices and reeling in #858 Adam Kells and #876 Lloyd Palmer. I needed about another half a lap to get that done and finished about half a second behind them. Felt great out there. Dropped another 2 seconds.
Race Result: 15th
Best lap: 1:25.430
Huge thanks to Central Mass Powersports for supporting our team. Everyone in the garage helped each other getting in and out of races. All of my tools actually ended up back in my tool box where they were found. Clay got his first expert podium. Everyone chipped in for loading/unloading the trailers. Awesome time. Also thanks to Plaistow Powersports and the guys in 10/11N for their helping hands throughout the weekend. We’re in for a fun season in the CMP garage with such great neighbors.
Although I had a painfully slow start to the weekend, I was fairly happy with where I ended the weekend. I’m still a few seconds off my pace from the end of last year, but I finished all of my races, picked up points, and got faster every race I went out. That’s something someone can build on. I made big strides quickly when I started last year and I guess I expected to pick up where I left off and I was very disappointed to find that to not be the case. I’m looking forward to progressing as the season goes on and I’m fully expecting to be very competitive in the amateur middleweight class this year.
By: Duncan Wood