Mother Nature Spares Loudon Road Race Series at NHMS
May Race Weekend Runs Under Unexpected Sunshine
The Loudon Road Race Series headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on May 17 & 18 for what looked like an ominous race weekend. Forecasts were calling for rain throughout, threatening to dampen the second weekend of the 2014 season.
After running some early practice sessions in a steady rain on Saturday morning, the clouds parted and the track dried. By the time the green flag dropped for a 12-race slate in the afternoon, the riders were greeted by blue skies and an ideal race temperature.
Wood Runs Away for First “Dash for Cash” Win of 2014
The Middleweight Grand Prix’s traditional “Dash for Cash” event was highlighted by an early battle between two of the premiere class’s top riders. Reigning class champion Scott Greenwood grabbed the holeshot on the green flag and was chased closely by 2012 class champion Eric Wood.
Riding his Superbike-spec Ducati 848evo, Wood made an outside move on Greenwood in the Turn 6 Bowl to grab the lead. Greenwood continued chasing him for the first half of the race on his Supersport Yamaha R6, before falling in turn 11.
Greenwood had been attempting to pass lapped traffic and tucked the front going through the turn. He remounted in 10th and was able to race his way back up to fifth by the finish, but Wood was long gone on an unchallenged run to the checkered flag.
“I did take a peek back with a lap or two to go, and said, ‘Huh, looks comfortable,’” Wood said of the final laps. “But, you know, every once in a while you take a look back there and miss the guy, so I told myself to keep my head down and keep going for the win.”
Christian Cronin’s Yamaha R6 benefitted from the Greenwood fall when he took over second. He received a challenge late from Jason Carter and Joel Allen but held the spot. Carter rounded out the podium.
Carter’s third-place finish makes him the only rider to have finished on the podium in both of the season’s races. He sits just one point back in the standings from Greenwood and Wood, who are tied with 57 points. The points leaders both race Dunlop tires, and Carter is pushing them on Michelin in an effort to dethrone Dunlop’s control of the series.
“I’m trying to get the bike dialed in for me,” said Carter of the early season success. “It’s an all new bike, and it’s been going really well.”
Doucette Back on Track in Defense of Lightweight Title
The Lightweight Grand Prix also raced on Saturday as one of the most competitive and popular fields in LRRS.
After having suffered an issue in the opening race of the season, reigning class champion Rick Doucette got himself near the front early and passed leader Seth Hahn midway through the race to pull away for the win. It was a familiar strategy from the 2013 LRRS Overall champion, who is known to stalk the competition with his Suzuki SV650 before showing them an unmatched burst of speed late in the race.
With Doucette pulling away, Hahn was left to do battle with the likes of April race winner Peter Gaboriault and Scott Mullin. Those two riders had different experiences with an early race red flag. Gaboriault used it as an opportunity to atone for a lackadaisical start, while Mullin was shuffled back after having earned the holeshot on the first green flag.
Gaboriault bumps a classification to enter the LWGP on his Supersport SV650, but does so with success. It showed as he overtook Hahn for second place on Pirelli tires to increase his point total to 66 on the season.
“We’ll see if I can hold on to it for the rest of the year,” Gaboriault said of his 14-point lead in the standings. “It’s not going to be easy. It doesn’t matter what place (Doucette) is in, he’s in for the long haul. I’ll feel him breathing down my neck the rest of the year for sure.”
Battling for the final spot on the podium, Mullin managed to race his way back up to third as Hahn’s bike seemed to be falling off.
“Going down into ‘The Bowl’ on the last lap, I don’t know if (Hahn) missed a shift, but I was able to get around him in the breaking zone,” Mullin said of his final-lap pass. “Then I just put my head down and tried to do whatever I could to keep him behind me the rest of the lap.”
Like Gaboriault, Mullin’s motorcycle, a Kawasaki Ninja EX650, tends to give up some performance to the standard Suzuki SV650 of the majority of the class. However, the two riders have proven their ability on the machines during the first two races. Mullin has 52 points in the standings and sits second behind Gaboriault.
The Loudon Road Race Series will return to NHMS as a part of the longest-running motorcycle event in the country, the 91st Loudon Classic. The three-day race weekend runs from June 20-22 and is a part of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
A complete list of weekend results may be found on the Loudon Road Race Series page on the NHMS website at: www.nhms.com/events/lrrs