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RnR Cycles Race Report: Round 3, ASRA Team Challenge, Road America

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The 18 hour trip down to Road America for the third round of the ASRA Team Challenge series was hellacious.  We rolled out of RnR Cycles late, and headed out down the road by 6pm, Wednesday night.  Richard drove solidly until about 1:30am, when we pulled into a rest stop for the night. 

I wanted to get there, so I set my cell phone alarm for 5 and 5:30am.  The alarm sounded too soon, and of course I kept hitting the snooze button on my cell until we wrestled ourselves out of bed at 6am, Richard leading.  Richard was not too happy since he was hoping for an extra hour of rest, but by the time we washed up and got our coffee, we were back on the road at 7am.  As we traveled through the steady and sometimes hard rain, we eventually popped a tire on the trailer.   That was followed by the loss of a whole wheel later that day in Portage, IN—200 miles away from our destination, Elkhart Lake, WI.  This was taking forever! 

The wheel studs were sheared off.  You would think having this happen before, we would have spares just waiting, but unfortunately, we only had 2 out of the 5 studs we needed.  With the aid of GPS and a 3G air card, we were able to locate and limped along slowly to a trailer/truck stop a few miles away.  Luckily, they had 2 more of these special-sized studs, which was good enough.  Once we had the wheel back on, I located a specialty trailer shop 10 miles away in Valparaiso where we bought 8 more studs and an extra tire.  It tacked on another hour and a half to our travel time, but without the technology today, this stop would have probably been a half-day affair. 

We finally pulled into Road America at about 5pm, Central time, and unloaded.  Unfortunately, there was no practice day before the race.  It had been since earlier last year that Richard and Krishna had raced Road America at a MOTO-ST race, and I had only 15 minutes of practice on it then.  Jason had absolutely no time on the track.  With both Jason and I racing the GTL class on a Suzuki SV650, we were at a definite disadvantage on a couple of fronts.  That meant that the next day’s practice sessions in the morning would have to be used to their fullest to get everyone to either learn or re-acclimate themselves to the track. 

Unfortunately, one of the Kawasaki 636 engines were malfunctioning after the 2nd practice session on the track.  It was a good thing we brought a back-up bike!  Practice sessions started getting combined due to the smaller racer turn-out, which gave us a full 20 minutes for the second practice session.  That was good because I needed some more time on the 636, and with only one 636 bike left, Krishna and I decided to split the last practice.  After some parts swapping by a quick effort of the team, Krishna went out first and after 8 minutes, I flagged him in knowing it would take him over 2 minutes to get around the track again. I saw him acknowledge me and I got ready, anxiously waiting in my leathers, ready to hop on as soon as he got in to hot pit.  I waited, and waited, getting fidgety.  Where was he?  It’s been a while…  That’s when my friend Matt from Central States Racing informed me that his teammate, Paul, had been by twice already in the time I had waved Krishna in.  My heart sank.  I hurried up to an official, “is bike number 6 down?” 
“Not that I’ve heard on the radio,” the official reported.
“Here comes Paul again, for the third time,” Matt said. 
“Damn it!”  He has to be down.  Frustrated and thinking the worst, I stomped off to our pit, knowing I would not get any time on the 636.  “Richard!  Krishna is down,” I yelled as I approached our pit.
“He’s down?!?  Are you sure?!?” lamented Rick urgently.  He knew as well as I knew that if this bike was in serious condition, we were in trouble for the GTU Team Challenge race.
“Well, Paul has gone around 3 times since I waived in Krishna,” I informed him.
That’s when Krishna showed up sitting on top of the #6 bike in the bed of Road America’s trash truck.  “It’s just the shifter, it’s just the shifter,” he exclaimed, averting our fears of worse damage.  With Rick on the bike, it was only a 10 minute fix. 
Thankfully, they had scheduled an extra, separate, 20 minute Team Challenge-only practice session for Friday.  I still needed time on the 636, so Richard graciously agreed, albeit to avoid any repercussions, to split his Team Challenge practice with me.  I got my time on the 636, starting to remember the track with each lap I finished, but I really could have used a whole day. 
Once Team Challenge practice was over, we had 1 hour and 15 minutes before the start or our endurance race.  We spent the time going over the bikes, schlepping what was needed over to our canopy beside hot pit with the tremendous help of Rick’s parents, who came down from Clintonville, WI to help us and watch us race.  XXand eating whatever extra carbs we could get a hold of for lunch. 
“Hey, should we put an extension cord out for tires?” I asked Richard. 
“Do they have power out there?”
“I have no idea,” Rick said.   ¬¬¬“Well, take this extension cord and splitter.  See if you can get power.”
I couldn’t believe my luck.  No one had tapped into it, but there was an outlet along the wall about 40ft down.  We probably won’t need it, but it was a good idea to secure it.  I wasn’t sure if it would power 2 sets of tire warmers since we had 2 teams, but Rick said we would switch the sets on and off if it came down to it. 
We started the race from our pits to make it easier.  After 3rd call, both Rick Beggs on the #6 bike for GTU and Jason Gibbens on the #9 bike for GTL headed up to do their hot lap and then grid for the race.  It wasn’t a full lap before 3 bikes piled up in turn 5 with a fire and a red flag.  Everyone came in as the race officials called for a restart in the original grids.  Meanwhile, we fortuitously had power to keep both bikes warm while others sat with nothing as the clean-up took up close to 20 minutes of the race! 
After that, the race was steady with Krishna Pribadi picking up the pace a bit when he jumped on the GTU bike, and I jumped on the GTL bike at the half-way mark.  Krishna had to make an emergency pit stop 8 laps, in as the shifter lever came undone.   Then he sped away after the pit stop finishing the race and securing 3rd place for GTU, while Jason and I placed 6th on the GTL bike. 

Both Richard and I raced together in 2 sprint  races afterwards.  The first was a combined Formula 40/Femmoto Lightweight race where Richard placed 2nd and I placed 1st.  The second race was a combined Thunderbike/Femmoto Middleweight race where Richard placed 4th and I placed 2nd. 
On our ride home, at 12:36am with 150 miles to go, we discovered we had been riding along less one wheel again.  How we didn’t notice is amazing.  It’s a different wheel, and oddly enough, the bearing went bad.  The remaining tire had held up for some time until we discovered it, but it wouldn’t last the rest of the trip.  We swapped the remaining wheel with another wheel that had a heavier duty tire.  What a helluva trip! 
RnR Repsol Racing would like to thank their sponsors: Repsol, Dunlop, Empire GP, Under the Black Hat Photography, Davisson Bikes, CFM, Lizzy Leather, Buell, and our newly acquired sponsors, Rudy Project!
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