Like the first two rounds, this was the first time that the rider and team had ever seen the track and it was another lesson in fast learning for Javelin.
The Dynojet rig got a prime location in the paddock, which was great for our friends and fans to stop by and say hello. Thursday was setup day for the team and also a chance to tech our bikes early and get some prep-work done. The bikes were in fine looking form as we packed up for the night to await the morning’s first practice session. We were feeling the pressure a little more this weekend as we now understand the situation we are placed in visiting these new tracks and having very limited time to come up to speed.
Friday morning’s practice was a bit of a struggle as we tried to find a good setup while Javelin was still trying to learn the track. The team made a bunch of changes in gearing and suspension to see what we could do to help but it was a constant struggle as the faster the pilot went, the more changes were necessary. The times in practice were not where we needed them to be and Javelin was having difficulty in the chassis. We did what we could to prepare him for qualifying in the afternoon. We were surprised that the qualifying session was going to be broken into two groups because there were so many riders registered to race (52 in total). This meant that instead of getting 40 minutes in Q1, we would only get 20. This was of great concern for us and I am sure many teams as we were still learning the track. Javelin went out and pushed hard in Q1 until he had an unfortunate crash coming off of turn 11. He jumped up right away and proceeded back to the pit where we had his B bike ready to go. Getting on the B bike was a revelation as he felt much better on that bike for whatever reason and was putting in faster times. The order of the day was – the more laps he got, the faster he went. We had precious little time that qualifier and could only muster a 29th place grid position out of 52 riders. Not bad but still a ways back.
Saturday morning saw the Q2 session; historically, the second qualifier is slower than the first since it is early morning when the track is cold. This time, we elected to run the B bike only and Jav managed to move himself from 29th up to 22nd by the end of the session. That is where we would start our weekend’s races.
The first race was that afternoon and we felt pretty good but perplexed with the A bike. We would do some investigation with it later but for now we needed to keep Javelin on the bike that held his confidence. The first race was pretty decent; Jav made up positions as usual throughout the race, continuing to show dominance under braking. This is a skill that takes a long time to develop and our rider has very good control of it, consistently making up positions by driving under his competitors. The race finally flagged with the rider crossing the finish line in 17th position which was great for us. Staying in the top 20 riders having never seen the track before is very promising. At the end of the day, we worked hard trying to isolate the issues with the A bike and we did find a few things we thought might help. The A bike is more refined to us than the B bike so we thought it best to try whatever we could to get him back out on it.
Sunday morning warmup saw Javelin back out on the A bike to see if any of the changes we had made were helping but he quickly came in asking for the B bike again. This was expected and the B bike was hot and ready to roll. The warmup went well and we were ready to see what we could do in race 2. Once they fired off the grid for the second time, we thought we might be able to make up some more positions than Saturday but the race was plagued with red flags. It had to be restarted a number of times but each time Javelin was pushed higher on the grid order as they would start where they finished on the red flag. On one restart he got an amazing launch and picked up some positions but the race was flagged again. We finally got to pull off a shorter race by the end and we came in 17th again. Still not bad with all things considered: a new track, issues with the A bike, a practice crash, etc. We all packed up happy that we had continued to make strides forward and so far, have never gone backward in a race.
The team is now in prep for the next round at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, May 26th – 28th. This is an important event for us on a number of levels. First, it is a World Superbike event and that means a huge turnout of fans and teams from all over the world. It’s very important for us to race in front of an international community and we anticipate that the weekend is going to be a great deal of fun. Second, this will be the first time this year that we will race on a track we know!! Javelin is very excited as it presents a different challenge. Not necessarily learning the track but rather maximizing what he can do on a track that he knows well. We expect higher qualifying position which hopefully can get us closer to a top-10 finish. The Dynojet / ZAG Racing team is working hard here in Vegas to get the bikes sorted out and prepared for this event. Our goal is to provide a machine that is ready for what the rider wants to squeeze out of it. The pace will be very fast and we are ready for the challenge.
Big thanks go to our friend Chris Paige for helping us at Infineon. The extra help was needed and he did an exceptional job. Thanks also to Andrew Trevitt for the constant encouragement to rider and team plus the invaluable data that has helped our rider and crew learn these tracks fast, and of course our awesome Dynojet guys – Dusty, Chris and Chuck – for all of their valuable input and assistance!
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