It appears that this season, the paddock just can't really catch a break. Two weeks ago, we encountered conditions that would make the Deadliest Catch crews think twice before going outside, and this past weekend we jumped onto the Devil's Skillet. What's next? Another morning snow storm followed by 90 degrees in the afternoon? That's happened at Miller before... but let's not think about that just yet. We have to review Barber Motorsports Park and Round 5 of the MotoAmerica Series. The quick pace of the season's schedule means that there is little time for riders and teams to dwell on the previous race. This allows for a more focused approach to the task at hand. For our Supersport Trio of Tomy, Benny and Cam, the focus was solidly on the technical 2.30 mile rolling circuit.
Barber Motorsports Park is a place where a person can easily be distracted by all the art installations, Vintage Museum (loaded with the best collection of vintage two wheeled candy) and fan activities. But this past weekend, all attention was on the Supersport class. This is just about the best racing in the US and our trio is right in the thick of the battles. Would we see a repeat of a two rider podium? Would we see a RoadRace Factory bike leading another race? Would we finally find out who shot JR? Only time would tell. At 9:30 am the time was right for the story to unfold.
First free practice was a time spent immediately getting to speed. This is the only track that rookie Cam Petersen has previous experience at so, for once there wasn't as steep of a learning curve. The heat was going to be a problem in that it would create a slippery track surface over the course of the weekend. With the help of Penske Racing Suspension and Dunlop Tires, the Supersport crews got right to business. Over the first practice session, all three riders were feeling comfortable and their times had placed them solidly in the top ten with potential for break top five. By the time qualifying session one arrived, the heat had increased and each crew was still searching for the ideal set-up.
Cam and his guys were hunting down ideal shock settings as the exiting T4 perhaps imparts the greatest down force of any corner on any circuit we visit. Tomy was circulating well within the top five and Benny was holding a solid top eight. By the time the session ended, Tomy was P6, Cam was in P7 and Ben was P8. The crews for each rider would take the data and work through the night and prepare for qualifying session two scheduled for first thing in the morning on Saturday. Unlike other rounds this season where the rain or track conditions prevented riders from going faster in the early morning second qualifying session, Barber Motorsports Park provides ideal conditions in the morning so times were definitely going to be coming down. The session was green flagged and our trio took to their tasks of grabbing the best possible grid positions. Speeds were up and times did fall. Over the course of the 40 minute session each of the RoadRace Factory riders lowered their times and when all was concluded, Tomy and Cam had each improved one position to P5 and P6 respectively while Ben had maintained the P8 spot even with an improved time.
The grid was set for the first race under a bright and sunny Alabama day. The heat was still climbing in the afternoon and the humidity was also on it's way up. Riders on the grid were doing everything possible to keep their core temperatures down as the crews worked to do the same for the bikes. The horns sounded, the grid was cleared of all but the racers and it was now time to see who could survive the conditions and bring their bike home first. When the lights turned off the riders headed towards the downhill turn one in a massive group. Supersport is one of the largest grids in the series and when they launch as a group, its an impressive sight. All three of our riders got off to a good start and by the third lap the groups had settled into a single file line. Tomy was the closest to the leaders in P5 with Cam following on David Anthony's rear tire in P7 and Benny right on Cam's back in P8. As the race worn on the lead group, lap by lap, would pull a gap over Tomy and the chasing pack. While Cam would battle with David Anthony, he couldn't reel him in to make a pass. When the checkered flag was waving, Tomy crossed in a lonely P5, Cam maintained his P7 while Ben kept his P8.
Race two was set to be another 21 lap affair, but after a mishap during the Superbike / Superstock race one, the Sunday afternoon race was shortened to just 18 laps. Something that maybe the overheated riders and crews would appreciate. Feeling confident that their crews had found some extra speed over the night, each of the RRF trio lined up for race two with a lot more enthusiasm for the 18 laps that lay ahead. When the lights went out, it was a nearly identical start with one exception, Cameron had made a heck of a start and was on the factory Yamaha riders tails. Tomy was right there with him and Ben had improved a few positions as well. As the race was nearing midway, Cam was running in 5th entering T5 when he was inadvertently run wide and got dropped back to 13th. Tomy would continue to battle with David Anthony for the 5th position while Ben had a duel with Kyle Wyman all race long. Cam would ride like a man on fire as he fought his way back to 7th and his times were close to the leaders times. At the line, Tomy would cross in P6, Cam grabbed 7th and Ben was nipped by Kyle and would finish in P9.
A hard fought race weekend and now the team is off to reboot and conduct training at American Supercamp at the team's Race House in Fort Collins. This is a great way to rebuild and reboot after a long season so far. Up Next: Miller Motorsports Park.
4th in Series Points
"Overall was a good weekend for me and my crew. We learned a lot and try so many things on the bike and it gave us a little more ideas where to work in the next rounds.
First race went pretty good with a smooth P5 and consistence lap times.. For Sunday we made a couple changes and the bike was better but I didn't got the start I needed.. So I had to work my way up and work hard to catch the guys in front of me. I had a really good battle with Anthony and try to pass him at list three times in the last lap and made a little contact with him in the last right hander but I couldn't make it happen and I finish 6th.
Logan, Evan and all the RoadRace Factory crew did a great job this weekend and I can't wait for Miller !!
I want to thank Mick, Danny Walker, RoadRace Factory, Cards for Caring, Addict by Bosi Indeportes Antioquia and all the sponsors for make this possible for me.
Also GeoCrash for all the photos and videos from the race weekends so I can keep all my fans and friends back home updated!"
6th in Series Points
"A tough weekend. I wasn't struggling from the heat it was with rear grip. Especially in race two. That race was shorter but it felt way harder than the longer race one. But overall we made improvements and moved forward and got closer to the front.
Phil and Tom worked their butts off and the big results will come soon"
9th in Series Points
"Barber was a positive weekend for the team and I, although the results were not what we wanted we made a lot of progress and I'm starting to feel really comfortable on the bike.
I got off to a bad start in race one but I felt like I had a good pace at the beginning of the race. As the tires started to drop I felt like I could no longer hold the pace and ended up 7th. Race 2 I had a really good start and was 5th going into turn one, for the first few laps I was able to run the pace of the guys in front of me until JD had a moment coming out of turn two and we lost some time. Then unfortunately I got bumped off the track in turn five and dropped back to 13th and worked my way back to 7th.
Overall I'm happy with the pace I was able to run and look forward to Miller and working with the team there."
"We came into this round knowing we had made some positive steps forward with the set-up of our bikes. After freezing our collective rears off at Road America, we kind of welcomed the chance to race under clear sky's and a dry track. The heat is always an issue here. It plays havoc on suspension and tires. The track gets pretty greasy at times so hunting that ideal set-up is a session by session task.
Our guys had a good, solid weekend. We didn't get the results we wanted but we again saw that we are capable of running up top. We have to find that little extra something that we are lacking to really put us up front and fighting for wins again. I'm confident we'll be there next round. Tomy is performing well but he's had some lonely races lately. It seems after the first few laps we're losing touch with the lead group. So there's a mystery to solve there.
Cam was running great in race two. His guys fixed his set-up and it made a big difference. It's unfortunate that he got bumped, but his climb back from 13th was impressive and it demonstrated his talent and poise. Benny had another solid performance. I think this week we have some work to do with his body position so we'll be doing some work at the Race House this weekend with American Supercamp.
Overall, I'm still really happy with my guys. They're inching closer to where I know they can be and I'm confident well be on the podium again soon."