Before we get too far into this one, let's just say that we like Milller Motorsports Park, we really, really do. It's just that Miller doesn't love us back. Historically speaking, Miller Motorsports Park has always been that one circuit that just doesn't jive with the vibes we lay down. Call it an energy vortex, call it a disruption in the force, whatever you want to call it, the RoadRace Factory and Miller Motorsports Park just don't get along. This year's trip to the world class facility was no exception. What the heat didn't drain from our bodies, the track took from our wallets. There was one bright and shiny point in this weekend's racing for us and that was the continued progression of rookie Cameron Petersen.
Like ripping off a band-aid, let's just get into this weekend shall we? Friday's first practice session was where it all started. The trio of riders had all gone out together. Tomy was immediately fast and was running pretty consistent lap times despite struggling with some set-up issues. Ben was getting quicker as the session went on and Cam was going quick for a rider who had never turned a lap around the 3.08 mile track. It was about 3/4 of the way through session one when Cameron had his mistake. Nothing big, clipped the curb coming through the Attitudes and off into the desert he went. The desert is what mechanics have nightmares about. Running off track at MMP is akin to dumping a few buckets of rocks and talcum powder over your motorcycle and pouring some into the airbox for good measure. His crew had some work to do before session two.
Session two was later in the afternoon and it would be a qualifying session. Time to start laying down quick times because they now matter. Tomy was doing well and Cam's crew had clearly gotten everything sorted out as he was flying around the track. Benny was also getting faster and faster. At the midpoint of the session, he had just competed his fastest lap and was entering turn three at over a hundred miles per hour when the back end of his R6 stepped out and regained traction. Now in the motorcycle racing world, this is called a "Highside". In this case it should've been called a "Moon Landing". Benny was violently removed from his motorcycle and that separation occurred at such a velocity as to completely destroy his R6 as it bounced and tumbled through the high desert of Utah. Benny would land on his feet on the curbing and the force of that impact literally ripped the soles off his boots. He suffered a concussion and was sent to local hospital for evaluation. He would be released hours later and under the new MotoAmerica Concussion policy, he is not allowed to race for 7-14 days. Day one in the books and already one rider was out and one machine totaled.
Would Saturday bring a turnabout of fortunes? Would the team finally shake the monkey from their backs? Would Batman finally defeat the Joker? Sorry, getting carried away.
Saturday morning would be the final qualifying session and the, now duo, of Tomy and Cam would be seeking to place their machines on the best possible grid positions. Grid position means so much at MMP. The first corner is "two states" away and a "few feet back" translates to miles behind by T1 so qualifying is everything to these two. Cam continued to just be on the gas. His crew had found something that was working for him and that allowed him to just run wild and pursue his highest qualifying position in the US. The fates had other ideas for Tomy. They twisted his strings and finally cut them early in the session. He would make a minor mistake and low-side at the bottom of the Attitudes. Reference earlier rock / talc sentence. He would remount and limp the bike back to the pits without a clip-on on the throttle side. It would take his crew most of the session to make the repairs and by the time he got back onto the track, he could only make one lap. He would have to rely on his previous times to grid. Races would begin with Cam sitting a few positions ahead of Tomy and Ben up in the commentators booth
Race one was held under the blistering high desert sun. Heat waves rising from the tarmac, riders being soaked with ice-cold towels, fuel tanks being shrouded by reflective covers as all awaited the horns to sound that would clear the track and allow the racing to begin. The track was cleared quickly and the riders took to their sighting lap. Riders lined up, revs climbed and the heat from the starting grid was intense. Lights out! Riders began their interplanetary trek towards T1. It was a pretty close grouping for the first few laps. Cam didn't get the start he had hoped for while Tomy flew off the line and was heading up the chasing group. By the midpoint of the race, the leaders were clearing away and the chase group had begun to string out. Cam would make some brave passes and would catch David Anthony. Tomy was struggling with set-up again and would be unable to join his teammate in the fight. Cam was able to pass David in the corners but lacked the speed in the straights. He was setting up to make his move into the final corner on the final lap but was unable to pull it off. He would cross the line in P6 while Tomy rode alone into P7. It would seem that things were looking up and maybe Sundaywould bring about solutions that have the guys fighting closer to the front.
Desert mornings are deceptive. They are usually cool and pleasant. Sunday was exactly that. Leaving the hotel and heading to the track, the crew and riders were optimistic that the weather would be cooler and maybe even "nice". No such luck. By 8am it was getting hot and by race time it was surface of Mercury hot. Not an opinion, it's science. The morning warm-up session served to shake down the bikes as they had been overhauled over the night. Again, Tomy and his crew tried a different set-up and while it was better, it still wasn't ideal. Cam and the CamP45 crew were pleased and ready for race two.
Race two time was a little later in the afternoon that it had been on Saturday. That time baked the track surface a little bit more and when the riders took to their positions, the heat was full on. This time, Cam would get a good start and as always, Tomy would make one of his almost perfect starts and pass a few riders to get within one bike of Cam. They would set out to chase down the lead group. Up front, Yamaha's JD Beach put on a clinic and checked out of the race leaving Garrett Gerloff, Bobby Fong and Josh Herrin to duke it out for the podium. Cam's nemesis, David Anthony was already behind him by the mid-point of the race. It would be a lonely ride for Cam as he chased the lead group. Tomy, struggling with continued set-up issues, was again riding around the track a few tenths off the pace. The cumulative effect was a solitary P7 while Cam scored his US best P5.
In the end, Miller once again took its toll on the team. Tomy left searching for an ideal set-up and Benny had to sit out. The bright spots were Cam's performance and the fact Benny wasn't more seriously injured. Now with a little break until Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the team will use the time to recuperate and heal. Riders and machines have been pushed non-stop since the season began and now with a little time off, it's time to recenter and come out swinging for Round 7.
5th in Series Points
" Really hard weekend for all the RoadRace Factory Team and wasn't different for Evan Logan and me... Had a really bad front chatter all weekend and in both races and a little problem with the gear box in race 2. Didn't get the results I wanted for that weekend but now we are looking forward to Laguna!
Thanks a lot to all the RoadRace Factory crew after long nights working at the track everyone was smiling and giving us the best they could for the races! We will get there!!"
7th in Series Points
"The weekend started well with a nice short drive from the race house then a great first practice, hopes were high for first qualifying.
I went out stuck in a group then managed to split and make my way away just after a few laps there was a red flag, came back chilled out then got going again. I only had about 5 laps that session and we tried a hard rear and with the heat it was no good, zero grip since the word "go" and I wanted to try it to maybe see if it would work in a race simulation. But nothing and unfortunately it sent me to the sky.
After waking up in the ambulance and then again in the med centre it was clear then that my weekend was over, but I tried to stay positive but it came down to the doctors saying "No" I woke up Saturday battered and bruised. Q2 came around and I was there to cheer Tomy and Cam but after wishing my luck to Cam I had to leave hot pit as it brought tears to my eyes watching everyone head out and me sitting there.
About 10 mins to go I thought I better head back to be there to cheer the guys on so I did, it wasn't easy but they did a wicked job!
Thankfully I was up in the commentary booth for races 1 and 2 to keep me away from the emotions! It was a difficult weekend but I'm thankful to hobble away in one piece and be ready to for Laguna!"
8th in Series Points
"So far this has been my best weekend of the season, we started off a bit slow with a crash and some bike issues but Sean and DJ put in some hard work to make sure my bike was working perfect.
Race 1 I got off to a horrible start and had to push hard to get through the field and had a good race with Dave Anthony and ended up P5.
We made a lot of changes for Race 2 and the bike was working awesome, I put my head down and was able to get away from the guys behind me and did my best lap time of the weekend and ended up in a season best P4.
"This was a really tough weekend for us as a whole. I don't have a great deal of things to say other than we survived and I am thankful that Ben is relatively ok. We all know that racing is a dangerous sport and when you see a wreck like that with a rider who is unbroken and able to walk away, you just thank the powers up above. It's a testament to the safety standards of the sport. Bell Helmets make an incredible product and if it weren't for that, Ben would've been in much worse shape. His bike is broken in places I've never seen a bike break and the fact that he was sitting in the pits and later in the commentators booth is just amazing. He's headed home to rest and repair his body and this break is exactly what he needs.
As far as Tomy and his efforts this weekend, I don't know. It's hard to say what the issue really was. I know he and his crew worked hard to find the right set-up but it just escaped them this weekend. It happens and now his crew have their work to do before Laguna where Tomy goes well and I expect the results will be there.
Cam had a great weekend. A minor get-off early on but no real harm to either him or the bike. He showed that he's clicking with our program and I think if we get the bikes even more sorted, he'll be up front fighting for podiums.
We'll take this weekend as our learning experience. Count our blessings and focus on Laguna. We go well there, and I'm looking forward to putting on a show for the World Superbike audience."
I'm having so much fun riding my bike and working with the team and we're going to build off this momentum for Laguna, I just want to thank everyone behind me Trek Bicycles, Bell Helmets, RS Taichi, Racer gloves, Danny and Mick and my Dad and the rest of the RoadRace Factory Team"