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Championship Cup Series (CCS)  Round 3
Firebird International Raceway - Main Track
Encore Performance Racing April 22-23 2006

RACE (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

PICTURES (1) (2)

After breakin in the new leathers and testing the durability of the race body work, it was time to get to work  putting the bike back together. The most pressing item was the water pump housing. The Hyosung GT 650 has a lot of good design ideas.... the water pump isn't one of them. It sticks waaayyy out there. However, it is a straight forward fix. Swap out the old broken pump for a new one, and you're done. Be prepared to shell out about $170, because they don't sell just the housing, you have to buy a whole new pump. Jim Chapman got to it on the bodywork, he's quickly becoming a fiberglass expert. We also made a few adjustments to tuck the bodywork in tighter. We now had a tighter body and flowing water ..... there should be a joke in there but I can't find it. Anyway, on to the next item, BRAKES.

 I was on the hunt for a high performance race pad. A little research uncovered that the calipers on the GT 650 are the same design as those used on a 1986 Honda Rebel 250. Calls were made to EBC, Vesrah, Galfer, Ferodo, Braking, SBS, etc. all in vain. There were no high performance pads available, period!  If we were to get some more stopping power the stock calipers had to go. A little time on EBAY and some Tokico 4 piston calipers from a 2003 GSXR 750 showed up for $89.....SOLD! While we were at it we swapped out the stock master cylinder for a Brembo unit that was laying around the shop. The donor MC came off a Moto Guzzi V11 Sport that was crashed, by yours truly....does anybody else see a pattern here?! A new bracket to hang the calipers was fabricated and shimmed, and on went the Tokico calipers. I made the mistake of  filing away on the fork mounts for the calipers. When I eyeballed the mount it looked as though the right hand caliper was crooked. I ended up causing  more problems than I fixed. Thanks to Jim Knaup staying late one night, he righted my wrongs and we had an operating front brake system.

At the last race, the bike started to hesitate at higher RPM's ( 8,000 -10,000).  Seat of the pants, it felt like the bike was being starved of fuel. A little more research and I found that there was another company in Oklahoma that is racing a GT 650 and they were running 155 main jets. So, in went a pair of 150 mains (up from 140) hoping this would solve the problem. Once again we didn't get the bike ready until the night before I had to leave for Phoenix, so we couldn't test ride the bike with the new changes.  Good thing I'm an eternal  optimist or this might have made me nervous!


Saturday morning came early, but this time I was more familiar with the registration and tech process so I felt a little more comfortable. I went out for the first practice session and two things became immediately obvious. The brakes worked phenomenally, and the hesitation problem had gotten worse. First the positive, the brakes were AMAZING, pull the lever and try not to fly over the handlebars. What a difference. The negative, the bike now hesitated (badly) from 6000 rpm on up. It wasn't too noticeable on the tight back section, but the front straight utilizes the dragstrip and is a half mile long. The bike wouldn't go over 85 mph and it bucked worse than a rodeo bull. I tried to ride through it and learn the track, but it was frustrating. It was plain to see that we had gone in the wrong direction with the jets, the bike wasn't being starved of fuel it was getting too much. Before the next practice I pulled out the air filter in an attempt to lean it out. I got the filter out just in time for the next session and as soon as I tried to leave my pit the bike died, it wouldn't run without the filter. Needless to say I didn't make it out for the second practice. The air filter went back in and I made it out for the third and final session and did my best to put in some consistent laps.

By this time, Tim and Annette, my faithful pit crew had shown up and we began putting the 140 main jets back in. Tim and I were getting pretty good at changing the jets, each working on different parts of disassembly and assembly we had new jets in less than 30 minutes. All we could do now was wait for the first race and hope the 140 jets would get the bike running better.

Lightweight Supersport:
The new main jets made it better, but still didn't fix the problem. I was improving my lap times and learning the track. The track is pretty scary at first. There's not much run off room and it gets really tight in the last couple of turns. The worst turn has to be Turn 9. It's a 180 degree left hand turn back on to the straightaway, right next to the wall for the dragstrip. You come out of the turn in full lean trying to get the best drive possible, the whole time trying not to focus on the concrete wall immediately to the right, protected by only a few hay bales. I kept flashing back to the riders meeting in the morning..."watch yourself in the final turn, your coming on to the straight covered in paint and fresh VHT from last nights drag racing. There's been a few accidents in this turn, people losing their legs etc..." That's not word for word but close enough to stick in my mind. I made it through the first race uneventfully and finished a disappointing 9 out of 10.

Before my next race a lady in the pit next to me needed to borrow our gas jug. Her husband was running a 30 minute GT race and would have to pit for gas. We dumped the rest of our race gas into the Hyosungs tank and handed over the empty jug.

This was by far the most fun race I've had so far. Normally I get a good jump off the line and then fall back and run a pretty lonely race towards the back. This time I was running with an SV piloted by Joel Dennis. We were putting in the same lap times the first couple of laps. By lap 3 I was running right on his rear wheel in the back section and I knew I needed to pass him somewhere. I hadn't had the chance to pass anyone in a race yet so I didn't want to screw it up and take us both out. I could tell I could get through turn 7 quicker than he was, so on the 5th lap I decided to make my move. Well, just as I feared I almost took us both out, I missed my shift into 2nd and unknowingly went into neutral. I had taken the inside line and when I let the clutch out, instead of engine braking and finishing off the turn, I just kept coasting. Luckily, Joel was on his toes and avoided me T-Boning him in the turn. He pulled away on the straight again, I was still only hitting 85 mph. I caught him in the back section and passed him in Turn 6, he repassed me in Turn 8. The next couple of laps I would pass him in the back section and he would blow by me on the straight.
On the second to last lap I was pushing pretty hard and all of a sudden I felt a tug on my left knee and heard an unfamiliar sound. HOLY CRAP! My knee hit the ground. AHHHH what a feeling, finally. After I got over that little high point I put my head down and tried to get past Joel again. On the final lap I passed him on the final turn, and the drag race was on for the checkered. Well the bike spit and coughed and generally ran like crap to the finish and Joel repassed me by the line. I came in 6th out of 8. But man it was fun. Joel and I had a good time talking about the race afterward and both agreed it's much better to have someone to race against than putting in laps all alone.

After the race, the lady that had borrowed the fuel jug brought it back to our pit.... half full. Turns out her husband ran out of gas on the back section and wasn't able to refill or finish the race. She thanked us for the use of the can, and we thanked her for the gas. They were pitted with a pretty nice setup; toy hauler, pit stands, tire warmers, lots o tools, the whole works. So I figured we must have lucked out and gotten some good U4 race gas! Nice....


Practice went uneventfully and we sent out some of the pit crew (umbrella girls) in search of smaller jets. By the time they got back it was too late to put them in so we had to make due with what we had. By the end of practice we were running pretty low on fuel so we dumped a gallon of the "mystery gas" into the tank and got ready for the first race.

Lightweight Superbike:
A pretty disappointing race overall, but with one major difference. The bike was running much better on the straight. It was still hesitating, but not nearly as bad. Must  be that good race gas I thought.  I ran laps all by myself and finished 9th out of 14. Chalk it up to getting more track time.

Back from the race and I wanted to know what kind of gas was making the bike run better. I walked over to the VP guy, gas jug in hand, to get an expert opinion. He looked at it for a second, popped the top off, inhaled deeply, and said...."pump gas".  WHAT!!?? I couldn't believer it. So I took a whiff. Now, I'm not a fuel expert but I can tell the difference between race gas and pump gas and sure enough, it was good old 91 octane unleaded. I walked back to my pit happy that the bike was running better, but I little upset that I had spent a lot of money on race gas and it only made the bike run worse. Back in the pits I told Tim and Annette what the VP guy told me and she quickly proclaimed the bike the "COSTCO Flyer"! COSTCO, if your reading this, we are looking for sponsorship and would be happy to put your name on the side of the bike. Just think what everyone will think when we win the race on pump gas when everyone else is spending $8 a gallon on race gas!

Lightweight GP:
Last race of the day for me was like starting all over learning the track. With a tankful of premium unleaded the GT was like a new bike. It still coughed a little at the very top end but nowhere near as bad as before. Instead of only hitting 85mph on the straight, I was reaching 125-130 mph. The first turn came up much quicker than before and my old braking markers were now way off. Even on the tight and twisty back section everything was different. Instead of short shifting to stay out of the "hesitation" zone, I was able to lay into the throttle at will. I used the race mainly as a practice session, learning new braking points, entering turns in different gears, and most importantly dragging a knee!

All in all it was a great weekend of Firsts. First time on a new track, first time with my knee on the ground,  and my first pass in a race! A few things were learned this weekend; don't make more than one major change to the bike at a time. We simultaneously increased the main jet size and started running 100% race gas. The combination of the two left us wondering which direction to go to fix the problem. Thanks to a little dumb luck with the pump gas helped us out immensely.

Before I started this I read on quite a few  boards that racing was like Crack. I knew I would have fun, but had no idea how quickly it would get inside of me and take hold! Thanks again to everyone's help this weekend. Can't wait for Vegas.  I need my FIX!

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