© 2016, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
by David Swarts
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Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is unraceable on a motorcycle when wet. That’s
the determination of the AMA Pro Superbike riders who evaluated the 2.4-mile
natural road course in the rain Saturday morning.
AMA Pro riders and officials were greeted Saturday morning by
a track soaked by overnight and early morning rains, causing the first
qualifying sessions for SuperSport and Daytona SportBike to be cancelled.
AMA Pro Racing’s Road Racing Director David McGrath then
called a rider’s meeting and proposed that the more experienced riders of the Superbike
class go out as scheduled at 9:25 a.m. to give the wet track an evaluation.
Six riders went out on rain tires: David Anthony, Frank
Babuska, Jr., Cameron Beaubier, Chris Fillmore, Josh Hayes and Chris Ulrich.
Five riders came back on their tires, as Babuska, a rookie in the Superbike
class, crashed on his out lap.
Roadracingworld.com polled all five riders who returned to
the pits, and all of them had very similar comments.
Josh Hayes said: “It’s slippery. The track’s covered in
sealant. The back straightaway is not exactly where I’m going to test it, and I
think it’s a deal-breaker for the rain. And I think that was decided a long
time ago. But they wanted an evaluation. So I went out and looked around. It’s
slippery in a couple of sections that kind of surprised me. The track looks OK,
but the bike came around on me and we weren’t going that fast. I think there
was a reason they didn’t put up timing and scoring.”
Cameron Beaubier said: “Honestly, I went out there with the
same mentality of riding on slicks [in the rain] at Road America. I was just
putting around trying to get around the track. It was super slick. There was standing
water in the kink on the back straight. It’s super unpredictable with the
sealer all over the track. I don’t think it’s safe to ride a race, obviously.”
Chris Ulrich said: “For sure it’s slick. It’s the same
situation in 2006 when we tried to race here. You couldn’t get any good
consistency in the surface. What sealed the deal for me I’m tip-toeing and the
bike’s moving at both ends. That’s OK in the dry, but it wasn’t normal rain
stuff. For one, you can’t feel the tire. The first lap I came down the front
straight and lit the thing up pretty good and fishtailed it off, which was
unexpected. That set the tone for the rest of the lap. Then you come through everything
else, ‘OK, I can survive a few more laps.’ Then I saw [Frankie] Babuska over
there off the track. Then coming off the back straightaway, I just touched the throttle
in Turn Seven and it came around sideways. ‘OK, we’re done. Just survive the
rest of the lap. We’re done.’ It’s a situation where you can go around and
circulate, but when you add in the egos [of a race] you’re going to have a very
David Anthony said: “It’s pretty slick. It’s hard to predict
the surface, for sure. It would be hard to race on it. I [told McGrath] it’s
not really rideable.”
Chris Fillmore said: “It felt a little like riding at Road
America in the rain on slicks. It’s been a while since I rode in a proper rain
race [on rain tires], but Road America in the rain on slicks, it felt a lot
like that. It wouldn’t be a race. It would be survival. The track grip is too
inconsistent. I couldn’t even lean my bike to turn it.”
After Anthony completed his fifth lap and pitted, AMA Pro
Racing stopped the session with a red flag and put all activities on indefinite
hold due to weather.
Another rider’s meeting has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m.