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Championship Cup Series (CCS) Round 2
Firebird International Raceway March 25th and 26th

EP Racing GT 650

RACE (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

PICTURES (1) (2)

    After years of dreaming about this moment and months of actual planning and preparation, I finally achieved my dream of roadracing a motorcycle. I want to first thank everyone who made this weekend possible. First and foremost Jim Knaup, owner of Encore Performance and main sponsor of the bike, without him none of this would be possible. Big thanks to Will Harlan for doing a lot of the prepwork on the bike including all the tedious details like taking the carburetors on and off 20 times to try out new jets. Jim Chapman for doing the fiberglass work on the body to get us past tech inspection. Tech didn't even bat an eye, I was in and out in a minute. And of course everyone who showed up at the track to help out and support our efforts. O.K. enough of this stuff, how about the racing.

    I learned a lot of lessons this weekend and although I didn't realize what the first one was until Saturday, it actually happened the night before. It was a mad dash all day Friday to get the bike fully prepped for the track. We didn't finish with all the details (thanks Jen!) until after 6pm. With the bike ready to go I began the task of  getting everything else you need for a race weekend loaded up. This was done very quickly and without any sort of list. Lesson Learned: MAKE A LIST! and make it well beforehand while you have time and can walk around and think about what you might need. There is no way that you will get everything you need on your first try, but you might be a little more prepared than I was. All loaded up, headed down to Phoenix Friday night.

    Things happen early at the track, gates open at 7am to start setting up. I arrived at the track just after 6 am and there was a looooong line in front of me. It turned out there were only a few people who slept later than I did and ended up in an even longer line. Setup was pretty uneventful, thanks to Andrew in the pit next to me for helping me put up my canopy. Lesson Learned: GET AN EZ-UP. Next up was tech inspection: like I said earlier, no problems here. Studying the rule book, asking questions, and looking at what's been done to similar bikes will really help with tech. I got suited up and made it out for the first practice session.

    We hadn't changed the setup on the bike since the last track day, which were:  
Static sag rear - 1.25"
Static sag front - 1.00"
Front rebound dampening - Full hard
Front compression dampening - Full hard
Main Jets - 142.5
Idle Jets -
Tires - Bridgestone BT014 120/60 -17 front @ 30 psi
           Bridgestone BT014 160/60 -17 rear @ 30 psi

    It was pretty cool for the first session @ 9am so I took it easy the first couple of laps to let the tires warm up. I didn't push hard and just worked on working my way around the track. Finding a good line, finding my brake markers, and remembering what gear I was in. The bike was working well. We had an engine hesitation between 9,000 and 10,000 rpm at an earlier track day and determined it was a lack of adequate tank venting. We drilled a hole in the gas cap to provide more venting and it worked well. Although I was still getting a little hesitation between 7,000 and 8,000 rpm. Lap times were in the 1 min 11 sec range (1:11.)

    I started going faster earlier in the second session, but on my third lap the windscreen decided to come loose, so up went my hand and I got back to the pits. Three screws on the screen had come loose which left half of the screen just flapping around. Lesson Learned: USE NYLOC NUTS!

    I got in a good groove in the final practice session and put in consistent 1:11's with a 1:10.65 on my last lap. The bike still had a little hesitation at 3/4 throttle. Up to this point I had been running premium pump gas. I had race fuel on hand and was going to switch out for my afternoon races.

We wanted to try and figure out the hesitation problem before my first race so we started with the spark plugs to see how the mixture was. Ohhhhh, I forgot the spark plug socket, see lesson #1. The guys pitted next to me lent me the tools and we pulled the rear plug. It looked good, nice tan color. The problem still seemed like we weren't getting enough fuel. The GT650 has a vacuum operated petcock that gets its vacuum from the rear cylinder intake manifold. We decided to get rid of the vacuum setup and let the gas flow to the carbs all the time. We drained the tank and took the petcock apart to remove the valve that shuts off the fuel. We had to due a little modification to the gaskets to get the appropriate parts off. We put the petcock back on and tested for leaks. Sure enough, drip drip drip. Thankfully I had a great pit crew and they held the tank so fuel wouldn't leak out while I walked down to the on track vendor to get some silicone sealant. 5 minutes later and $8 poorer I had a tube of sealant. Petcock went back on and no leaks. We needed to plug up the vacuum line running to the petcock so I searched for a screw to plug up the hose..... oh that's right I didn't bring any extra nuts or bolts. This time I bugged Andrew, who was pitted on the other side of me, and he came through with a spare screw. Got the tank back on just in time for the first race.
    First Race, Lightweight Supersport: This is an SV 650 dominated grid, that does not allow for any engine modifications. I was on the second row for the start. I got a good jump on the start. The bike really pulls well and is definitely competitive with a stock SV in straight line acceleration. I was 3rd going into the first turn, but was quickly passed by all the experts. I fell back to 6th for a while and concentrated on being consistent. The hesitation problem had gotten worse and the bike was now backfiring like crazy. I tried to just ride through the problems and stay consistent.  My fastest lap time was a 1:10.243 and I finished in 7th (out of 8).

    Came back into the pits for a short break and started thinking about the backfiring problem. The exhaust can had lots of black at the end of it, so at first it seemed like it was running rich. We pulled the spark plug again but it looked the same as before. We contemplated changing jets (to a 140) to try and lean it out....oh that's right I didn't bring any extra jets!!! I stared at the bike for a while trying to come up with some idea of what was causing the problem. Then it jumped out at me, I forgot to plug up the vacuum hole in the intake manifold. Lots of extra air was getting into the rear cylinder causing all the backfiring. A quick snip of the hose and a little safety wire and the hole was plugged.

    Second Race, Thunderbikes: Again, a SV dominated grids but also a  Ducati 748. This class allows for engine modifications so we were definitely underpowered going in . I got a great start again but this time most of the bikes pulled ahead before turn 1. I was passed, again, by the experts and just settled into my pace. We're running stainless lines with Vesrah pads on the brakes but they started to fade by lap 8. We need to get some high performance sintered metal pads on the bike. I was really trying to stay on the same line and work on being smooth. THEY say smooth is fast. I finished in 9th (out of 10), with a fast lap of 1:10.246. At least I had gotten the hang of the consistency thing.

    I came into the pit after my second race of the day completely exhausted. Lesson Learned: WORK OUT MORE! Mike Duecy volunteered to pick up some jets on Sunday before the race, thanks Mke!

    Sunday morning came earlier than I would have liked, and come to find out practice starts an hour earlier. So a mad dash ensued to get ready, but I was geared up in time and made it out for the first session. Practice was uneventful and the bike was running well. I was lapping consistently in the 1:10.s. Mike showed up with some 140 jets but we decided not to put them in since it didn't seem to be running too rich. Finished the practice sessions, had some lunch, and rested for my one race of the day.

    Third Race, Lightweight Superbike: Another SV event with a fast Kawasaki 500. My goal for this race was to push a little harder and knock a second of my best lap. The Hyosung provided me with another good start but again I was passed in the first couple of corners by the fast guys. I got up to speed quicker than before and could tell by the tires sliding that I was going faster than before. I settled into a good pace and then at the Freeway Turn (turn 10) it happened. A combination of too much speed, too much brake, and not enough tire and I lost the front end. It was a low speed crash and I picked the bike up and was going to finish the race but I noticed the water pump cover had broken. Since the motor wouldn't last long if I was spewing water out the hole in the cover and the other racers wouldn't care for it either, I pushed the bike over to the tires and hung out for the rest of the race. Luckily my crash happened on Lap 9 so I didn't have to wait long. I got to take the Truck Ride of Shame back to the pits. The weekend concluded with me talking to various people about the crash, and listening to advice on how to avoid doing it again.

    All in all it was a great weekend. I want to thank everyone who helped make it happen! I couldn't have done it alone. If you want to see some pictures of the weekend click here. You can check out the official CCS website here. If you are interested in racing a Hyosung let us know and we will try to help out with as much information as possible. Check back soon for an update to the modifications we will be making to the bike.


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