May 22, 2011
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Front brake lever guard on Dane Westby's GSX-R600 at Infineon Raceway. Photo by David Swarts/Roadracingworld.com.
Dane Westby's mechanic Chuck Giacchetto has developed and is now selling front brake lever guards built out of Kevlar and carbon-fiber composite. Giacchetto calls the device the Pro Lever Guard and sells it out of his race shop, Performance Cycle Worx in Holly Springs, Georgia.
Westby ran one of the guards on his M4 Suzuki GSX-R600 during last weekend's AMA Pro event at Infineon Raceway and unintentionally crash-tested it during a solo fall in a practice session. That crash revealed an unintended side benefit: The guard kept Westby's hand and fingers from contacting the track surface (or being trapped) when the right handlebar hit the pavement.
On the first lap of the Sunday Superbike race at Infineon, Westby's teammate Chris Ulrich crashed when his front brake lever contacted another rider's machine; the cart-wheeling racebike flew into the air and hit Ulrich's head and back when it landed, fracturing two lumbar vertebrae and causing internal organ bruising. Cat scans at an area hospital showed that early concerns that Ulrich may have suffered bleeding on the brain were unfounded, but he was held overnight to ensure there was no internal organ bleeding. He was released Monday and is recovering at home in Lake Elsinore, California.
The M4 Suzuki team has now announced plans to install front brake lever guards on all its racebikes, starting next weekend at Miller Motorsports Park.
In addition to Ulrich in Superbike and Westby in SportBike, the team also fields Martin Cardenas in Superbike, Santiago Villa in SportBike and Elena Myers in SuperSport, and provides racebikes and technical support for GEICO RMR Suzuki's Danny Eslick in SportBike.
Westby crashed at about 170 mph on the last lap of the Daytona 200 in March, when another rider's elbow hit his front brake lever in the run to the finish line. Westby suffered a broken left thumb in that crash.
Four riders crashed in two incidents set off by front brake lever contact at Infineon last weekend. The crash involving Ulrich was one of those incidents, and the only one to result in serious injuries.
Giacchetto can be contacted through his website, ~