I was more than a little apprehensive when I arrived at the gates of Thunderhill for Round 3. I’d opted to skip the Friday practice earlier in the day due to work obligations (turns out gainful employment is pretty critical if you want to race motorcycles), so I was coming in with a bit less seat time than I would have liked. The good news is that I was able to make it to an annual private trackday that was held the previous week, where I spun a few laps on the ZX6R and familiarized myself with the track once more. The bad news is that I was turning rather lukewarm ~2:05s at that event. If I wanted to have a chance at a podium finish, I knew I needed to run sub-2:00s (ideally 1:58s, but let’s not get greedy). Can I pull more than five seconds out of thin air and start hanging with the leaders?! Let’s find out!
I got a decent start, kept third for a bit, and then hesitated for too long behind lap traffic and lost two positions in one unfortunate instant. Oops. Next I botch turn 5-6 and lose another position. Double oops. Somebody must have went off-track somewhere though, because I ended up taking 5th by then end. Not a stellar start to the weekend. However, I did crack into the 2:00s on old tires, so there may be hope for me yet.
Saturday morning brought some great track temps and fresh set of slicks for the ZX6. Time to see if we can win some little plastic trophies!
Another decent start landed me in third. A position that I promptly traded for fourth by turn three. Which changed to fifth in the entrance to turn two in the next lap. Meh. Not all was lost, though! I was within a few bike lengths of third and fourth positions for the rest of the race, and made an (ill-planned) attempt at a double pass on the outside of turn 14 during the last lap. It didn’t work because I have the racecraft of a ten year old and neglected to take the inside, but hey, sometimes you just have to show ‘em some sweet endos. Trying to claw my positions back during the last two laps also brought me down to 1:59s, which was neat.
I got another good start in this race, but pushed the front a bit too much in turn three, swung wide, and lost a painful three places. Thankfully I was able to claw one back by the end of the first lap. The rest of the race was spent catching and challenging #927 Eric Hasserjian for fourth; I made a few attempts at passes, but he didn’t make any major mistakes and I lost the number four spot by a few feet.
This race started off extra spicy. #882 Chris Stewart went for some style points off the launch, only to find himself getting up close and personal with #778 Grant Boldt when his front wheel returned to the ground. It was some pretty light contact though, and both riders made it into the first turn without too much more excitement. I captured fourth by turn two, but lost one position to #733 Norman Alexander Balladares in the middle of turn three. I managed to catch him in lap traffic a couple laps later and regained fourth. While I had second and third in sight, I didn’t manage to catch up to them by the end of the race. The good thing, though, was that I managed more steady progress and broke into the 1:58s on the last lap!
I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize that I was first wave for this race (derp), so my launch wasn’t stellar here. The race quickly made a turn for the better though; I was able to slap down some consistent 1:58s, made a few key passes, and found myself in a position where I was mixing it up with the expert group. By the time the checkered dropped I’d advanced seven positions, placed eighth overall, scored second in my class, and clocked a new personal best of 1:57.7!