So all during Friday's practice I was running 5-9 seconds a lap faster than any of the other novice riders in my classes. I figured I'd chase down some experts and race with them to keep it fun, but that this would be a walk-away in the Novice class.
Nuh-uh... This morning every Novice rider was within 2 seconds, and 2 of them posted times faster than mine (and I had dropped another second this morning!)
Okay, so there will be real racing this afternoon.
I got a jackrabbit start off the line, and even drove through the experts on the start to enter the first corner mid-pack with the experts. I left 3 of the experts behind and tried hard to hold with the front of the pack, but they started drifting away at a 1/2 second per corner.
I wish I could say that I never saw any of the novice riders, but it just wasn't true. On the 3rd lap Tryg Westby (a National rider) swept past me and ran away for the win. He was doing high 2:11s, almost 7 seconds a lap faster than me - I had no chance. But he'll only have 2 races in WERA West (the National riders move around from region to region) so he won't disturb my points lead.
Nothing to say here. It was Tryg Westby and me, and he just ran away with it. I had some fun dicing with Aron
That said, I now have a 57 point lead in that class. All I have to do is show up and finish one race and I'll walk away with the championship.
Finally there was no Tryg Westby sandbagging in the Novice class, so the race was on. Unfortunately this time I got a good start, but had to pick the bike up and almost run off when a novice came hairball-flying past inside me in the first turn. I got back on the throttle but entered Dreamboat almost dead last.
At this point I put my head down and started reeling in riders. I got 2 on the entry to the Black Rock Hairpin, and split between two riders (one wide and one tight) in Right Hook, got a third by keeping the throttle open longer through Witchcraft and blocked her on the entry to 1st Attitude.
By this point Michael Manner #99 (2nd in points and my chief rival at this point) had checked out 2-3 seconds ahead. I put my head down and reeling him in. Once I caught him, it was obvious I'd be able to make the pass so I bypassed a hard pass in Dreamboat or Scream and just did a (much more polite) block pass in the Black Rock Hairpin.
I did my fastest lap of the weekend trying to create a gap to make sure I didn't have to battle with him, and crossed the line with 3 seconds between us.
So I spent today at Thunderhill with the Keigwin's Intermediate school trying to work on my slow lap times and improve my overall comfort level. Unfortunately we had 20-30 *GUSTY* winds, and that was playing havoc with me - almost pushing me off the track. And on corner exit when I opened the throttle wind gusts would blow across my open carbs and create a small vacuum, over-richening the mixture and causing the bike to lug.
No fun. I only did a reasonable (not good) lap time in the last session of the day, after the wind had died down a bit. More hopes for tomorrow which has a forecast of no wind.
So the wind ignored the weather forecast and was back again today. Nothing for it but to put my head and ride through it. Some line alterations and frankly learning to just ignore it paid off, and I was quickly down to 2:10s.
I got some excellent advice on turn 2 and 9 and entry, and spent a while running around chasing some of the instructors. It was good fun. Just before lunch we had a mock 3-lap sprint race. This was totally unfair because my 70hp bike was gridded right next to 180hp 1000cc bikes, but I had advantage of more racing experience.
I got an *EXCELLENT* start, holding a 2-inch high wheelie for almost 200 hundred yards down to turn 1. (A small wheelie is as fast as you can possibly accelerate without pulling a stand-up wheelie and having to roll off the throttle) I was second into turn 1, and 3rd into turn two. 3 more riders got by me on the straights, but I totally held on to the front pack in the corners and finished 6th place right behind the top 5. I could have fought for 4th, but the two guys battling for 4th were getting a little sideways and running off the track and all that, so I decided to just roll in behind them and keep the bike upright. No plastic trophies for this mock race ;-)
I actually went out to the B-riders race as well, but started from dead last so I wouldn't interfere with their race. I passed 10 or so riders on the start, then 10 riders a lap until I was up to 8th place before I rolled off the throttle and let everyone pass me back so that I wouldn't end up taking a place away from anyone.