The second AFM Round of 2018 was following closely on the heels of the previous round, with a short month in between. In that time, I had a grand total of one whole day on track, and that was it, but I was seeing progress even on that one day. I was looking forward to my next opportunity to keep building with this bike and improving from where we started the year.
Since we had just been down here, I decided to drive down Friday morning to catch a couple afternoon sessions so I wouldn’t feel so pressured in practice. With the weather looking better, I figured my Saturday race was likely to run on Saturday, and I didn’t want to wear myself out for it. Friday went well, and I looked forward to continuing to move forward on Saturday.
Practices went well enough, and I was dropping a little more time, going just over a second faster in practice than my best race times the round before. Yay for progress! We had the bike set up and ready to go, and the afternoon races kicked off. I was in Race 3, AFemme, but our grid was a bit more full than last time, with Shelina Moreda there on her R1. I was hoping to give her and Valentine a run, although Valentine was holding steady on the time she had found at round 1, which was still quite a bit faster than I had managed on this bike so far.
The waves in front launched, and eventually our wave was ready. I had a decent start, but so did the other gals, and by turn one, I was behind Valentine and Shelina. I was determined to give chase, and was putting in a decent fight, but we were hitting traffic by our second lap, and those two did a much better job of getting through the traffic than I did. I started to drop back and pretty soon realized I was highly unlikely to make up the difference, so I kept my passes clean and neat, even though my laptimes suffered, my position in the race was pretty secure, so no reason to be too aggressive (besides the fact that is something I’m still needing to get back a bit after last year). I finished in a lonely third place, but was happy to have hung onto the tails of the other two as long as I did. Considering both of their racing careers, I’ll take it with my head held up!
That evening we hung out for awhile and then eventually went in for dinner and some sleep. Sunday was looking good, and I was determined to shoot for getting down below the 2 minute mark again. It would mean grabbing a couple more of those seconds I was missing, but there were a lot of places I knew I was lacking, so where wasn’t the issue, just a matter of execution.
My first race was Open Superbike. I had a pretty nice start, but something I’ve noticed this year is that I lose my fight into the first couple corners. This stems from knowing most of the grid is significantly faster than I currently am, so I don’t fight back like I should. One of those things that will start to come back, but hasn’t quite done so yet. Had a few back and forths, times got back down to where they were in AFemme, and I noticed a couple places where the faster guys were putting a decent gap on me.
One of those places was over the hill and into the last right of the Cotton Corners, and I began to wonder if I could get on the throttle harder and sooner than I was, that maybe I was being too patient out of not liking the camber and crest. I mulled it over a bit and decided to give it a try on my next race.
There wasn’t much of a break between races and we went out for Open GP. I was near the front on the warm up lap, so decided to give it a try now when it wouldn’t matter as much if it didn’t work. Well, I discovered the answer to my question rather quickly and violently. The answer was NO, NO I cannot get on the throttle harder and sooner over that crest. I went to try my theory, and almost immediately had an aerial view of my bike as I got launched into a low orbit. Thankfully Viserion decided that tossing my butt was enough and he pretty much just flopped over and slid rather than tumbling.
Many thanks to the rider behind me, Johnny, who did NOT run over my legs as I tumbled down the track right in front of his front tire!
The Dainese D-Air suit did its job, and once I stopped tumbling, took an assessment, and everything seemed to be A-OK. Got up and moved away from the bike until there was a pause in traffic at which point Max, the Oxymoron photographer, ran over to help move the bike and we pushed it out of the way, plowing through some deep ass dirt in the process. We watched the Open GP race from the sidelines, then between races pushed the bike over to the corner worker booth were I watched the next race until the lunch break when they brought the crash truck around to pick us up.
My awesome DareDevil Motorsports pit crew then went to work, fixing, cleaning, and getting Viserion into riding condition again. I took the time to relax, do a little more assessment of any potential damages, and get some food and water. They had him back together and reteched before Formula Pacific, so we all went and watched what was a pretty amazing FP race again this year.
The last race of the day was Open Superstock. My bike was rideable, but other than tech, hadn’t had a shakedown run, and we had also put in the Motion Pro race reel (instead of the one I had in there) while we had it apart, so I had a few things to be sure of during the race. Since I’m not fighting for any serious positions, it was a chance to go shake things down and get back on the horse so to speak.
I was definitely slower than I had been earlier in the day. My neck was a bit sore, nothing scary, but turning it enough to see through corners like the sweeper was tough. Plus I wanted to adjust and try out the new throttle reel without a repeat of earlier in the day. I wasn’t even close to what I was doing in the morning, but at least was about ½ second faster than I had been at Round 1, so I’ll take it.
That pretty much wrapped up my weekend. Monday I was pretty sore, but already a significant improvement by Tuesday. That D-Air did an amazing job, as did my gloves. I’ve got some pretty bruises but other than my neck, even my muscle soreness is extremely minor (I’ve been more sore after workouts than I am from this crash). Even the neck is quite a bit better, and my bike isn’t too bad off, so I’m looking forward to these upcoming trackdays to keep working on my techniques and learning to ride the bigger bike.A second here, a second there – we’ve only been on track a few times this year, and there’s been noticeable progress each time. I’m excited to keep nipping at