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Sep 5, 2012

Eric Wood Clinches 2012 LRRS Middleweight Grand Prix Championship At NHMS (Updated)

Eric Wood (5). Photo by Arcy Kusari/On Track Media LLC, courtesy of NHMS.
Wood, Breen, Mullin All See LRRS Checkers

NHMS Hosts Labor Day Weekend Races

Round 6 of the Loudon Road Racing Series was held on September 1-2 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Special events were on tap for the Labor Day event weekend, which included a Pit Bike & Scooter Race as a fundraiser for the Karen Hornbecker Injured Riders Fund and also featured the annual "Larry Lap". The lap, led by Larry Hanlon and his fundraising efforts, allows racers, spectators and family members to take two laps around the NHMS Road Course with a small donation to the New Hampshire Brain Injury Association. All participants receive a commemorative t-shirt. Hanlon, a former multi-time LRRS Champion, is proud to be a top fundraiser, year after year, with this event.


Middleweight Grand Prix, "Dash for the Cash"

The final event of Saturday's schedule had the paddock buzzing. Shane Narbonne was racing the event and to get some track time for his upcoming national events. Shane was quick in practice and in his races earlier in the day and was keen on making Eric Wood, who has been dominating all season, battle to the finish.

Scott Greenwood got the holeshot at the drop of the green flag with Wood, Jason Carter, Cory Hildebrand and the rest of the field giving chase. With the field gridded by points, Narbonne had a Row 3 grid position and his work cut out for him to catch the leaders.

Wood, aboard his Penguin Racing Ducati 848evo went to work by taking the lead entering Turn 6. He immediately put his head down and tried to build a gap as soon as he took the lead. Narbonne made quick work of the field and slotted into third position by the end of Lap 1.

The second lap saw Wood starting to breakaway. In the process, he laid down the fastest lap time of the weekend at 1:11:184. Narbonne caught Greenwood during Lap 2 and made an inside pass entering Turn 3 to take the position. He then put in a valiant effort to mount a charge to catch Wood, dipping into the high 1:11 range on his new Suzuki GSXR-600 but could not match the pace set by the dominant Wood. Narbonne would have to settle for second.

Greenwood, running times in the mid 1:12's, was left to ride by himself as the two leaders stretched a gap over him and in return he was able to stretch away from the battle for fourth position between Michelin/Moto-Race's Carter and Dunlop's Hildebrand. These two riders battled for the duration of the 12-lap event with Hildebrand leading most of the way.

On Lap 6 Carter was able to work his way past Hildebrand entering Turn 6 and hold the position. Hildebrand was able to regain fourth position on Lap 8 with a late braking move into Turn 3. Carter was looking for a last lap pass as the riders ran nose-to-tail but Hildebrand rode mistake free and was able to hold the fourth position. Ronnie Poulin, Riley Rodgers, Brian Killmeier, Jason Staley and Alex Guilbeault rounded out the top 10.

On the podium, a disappointed Narbonne said, "I had a good start to get to third by the end of Lap 1 and was able to get into second on the next lap, but by that time Eric had clear track and a big gap over us. He was putting in some pretty quick times today. I tried to cut into his lead to make a race of it but it wasn't to be. This is our first weekend on our new Suzuki 600 and it worked well. I just needed to be closer at the start and try to run with him."

A victorious Eric Wood said, "I knew I had to be on my game today with Shane on the grid. It's great to have motivation and we are all here for the same reason competition. Its really a win-win, Shane is here racing and riding hard while preparing for national events and it motivates me to be as good as I can be to try and win these races."


Unlimited Grand Prix

Cory Hildebrand jumped out first at the drop of the green flag aboard his Yamaha R1 followed closely by Dennis Levesque (Ducati 1098), Scott James (Yamaha R1), Rick Breen (BMW 1000) and Robert Bloodgood (Suzuki GSXR1000). Levesque held second position until Breen used the BMW power to roar past the Ducati down the front straight at the beginning of Lap 3.

From there, Breen set out after race leader Hildebrand as the pack ran in a fairly tight formation. So tight, in fact, that the top five riders best lap times were only separated by 0.6 seconds. Breen hounded Hildebrand as the laps wore on and was able to make a pass into Turn 1 at the beginning of Lap 7.

From there Hildebrand tried desperately to regain the lead and showed a wheel a few times but Breen was not having it. On the final lap, Breen was able to put in a solid final circuit to keep Hildebrand at bay. At the flag it was Breen over Hildebrand, Levesque, Bloodgood and James.


Lightweight Superbike

Rick Doucette, for the most part, has owned the lightweight races this season. He has multiple Suzuki SV650 motorcycles in various levels of tune (Superbike, SuperSport and Production) and is always on his game with his racing and most importantly his race craft.

Track announcer Bruce Berlinger talks at length about how "Ricky" is able to stalk and wear down most racers over the course of eight laps and has an understanding for when to lay back and pressure and when to pounce and snatch the win from his competitors. He also knows when to pull the trigger from the green flag and check out of the field leaving others on the grid often asking out what they need to do to "beat that guy."

Scott Mullin is often the prey of Doucette. With his Kawasaki EX650 Superbike out of commission and with him riding the wheels off of his Supersport EX650, he has been the one rider to steal a win here an there over Doucette.

The trump card is held by Mullin's father in law, Dan Frisbee. Dan is a long time LRRS racer and former official and owner of a fast Ducati Sport 1000. The Ducati has been undergoing a season long rebuild and made its debut by Frisbee this past weekend, where he was victorious in his own events. Simply put, Mullin is a weapon aboard this Ducati. With just one practice session aboard a bike he had barely raced in 2012 Mullin was hoping to turn the tables on Doucette!.

At the wave of the green flag, quick starter Peter Gaboriault launched his Suzuki SV650 into the lead. Sean Byrnes slotted into second position with Mullin and Doucette in third and fourth at the end of Lap 1. Mullin was able to make quick work of Gaboriault and Byrnes and grab the race lead by the end of Lap 2 with Doucette mirroring his passes and glued to the Ducati's tail section.

Mullin was able to turn his quickest laps ever around NHMS, a 1:14.663, but Doucette was able to counter him with a 1:14.405 to keep the battle very close. As the laps wore on and the leaders encountered traffic, Mullin was able to slip through with relative ease, while Doucette was caught out a few times. This allowed Mullin to pull away and take the victory by almost three seconds over Doucette. Brynes (SV650) came home in third position with Gaboriault fourth (SV650) and Seth Hahn fifth (SV650). Returning to LRRS action was Todd Babcock (Suz SV650) in sixth, while Doug Fogg (Buell 1200), Christopher Rau (Yam FZR560), Ted Temple (Suz SV650) and Ryan Hobbs (Suz SV650) rounded out the top 10.