Oct 30, 2012
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Danny Kelsey (34). Photo by Brian J. Nelson, courtesy of RPSRaceTeam.com
KELSEY CELEBRATES WITH VICTORY AT THE WERA GNF
Georgetown, Texas rider Danny Kelsey finished on the podium in all four of his races while also capturing a big win at the inaugural WERA Grand National Finals held at scenic Barber Motorsports Park. As the racing year winds down, RPSRaceTeam.com headed to event with another opportunity for the current CMRA #1 plate holder Kelsey to compete against some of the best racers in the country.
The weekend started with some mechanical drama as the team's Suzuki GSXR-750 suffered electrical issues that provided a significant challenge to diagnose and the intermittent and varying nature of the issues left no clear indication of the problems. The team was assisted with advice from several respected mechanics in the pits as well as over the phone. Over 40 electrical connections and wiring routes were examined and inspected. Crew Chief Marcus McBain felt that the main culprit however was the wiring coming off the clutch cover as it had its sheathing worn from constant clutch plate service over the 3 years the team has operated the RPSRaceTeam.com Suzuki GSXR-750.
B Superstock was the first the race of the weekend. It was not only an opportunity for the young Texan Kelsey to start his run for the weekend, but the first chance to ensure that the bike was repaired. The team discussed the electrical issue, and if any issues arose during the race, Kelsey would "park it" for the weekend for safety reasons. Although Kelsey had been able to run 1:34's when the motor cut out while reaching over to cycle the power with the key on the track to get the Suzuki running again, the tight racing at the front made this too dangerous of a proposition to use as a racing practice.
As the green flag dropped for the 24 entrants in B Superstock, Kelsey quickly put the Michelin shod GSXR-750 in the top 10 after starting in the back half of the grid. At the end of lap one, Kelsey was in 5th place and in a dogfight with four other riders. By lap six, Kelsey had moved to third place with first and second place in front of him. Danny made several attempts on the last lap to get by second place, but he would have to settle for third place at the checkered flag 4.425 seconds behind the winner.
The team was very happy with the finish as it was apparent the "electronic gremlins" were put to rest and Kelsey would be able to compete in his remaining 3 races of the weekend. With only about 18 laps of total practice completed Thursday and Friday (because of the electrical issues), the team was using the race as the first real "setup session" for the weekend. Adjustments were made, and Kelsey would now be ready to start the next race with all of his attention on the competition.
B Superbike was the 2nd and final race for Kelsey and the team for Friday. The bad news for the team and Danny was that he would now be starting further back (row 10) than the first race of the day, and this was going to provide an even bigger challenge as the competition was proving to be stout.
Kelsey got a great start in B Superbike, but was now faced with more riders to pass to get to the front. At the end of lap one, Danny found himself in 6th place with five riders in front of him aggressively holding their positions. Despite this, Kelsey was able to move into through the pack. Kelsey moved quickly through the field to 2nd place, but he could not focus on putting in the laps he was capable of while having to "guard his position" with the third place rider nipping at his rear tire. With the race leader taking advantage of the battle behind him, he was now almost 4 seconds in front of Kelsey. Regardless, Danny was closing and by lap 7 was within 2.2 seconds of first place. Third place was not relenting on his attacks and Kelsey focused on holding his position and took the checkered flag in 2nd place 2.112 seconds behind the race winner.
The team reviewed the Friday performance with mixed emotions. "I was really pleased with the final outcome from the day. We were one issue away from having to pack it up for the weekend. That puts a lot of stress on the team and the rider. I was really proud of Danny's riding. When you have to ask a rider to not only go up against his competitors, but also pay attention for an issue that is going to require quick evasive action (motor cutting out) and park them for the weekend, it is not an easy situation to deal with. Danny once again showed why we keep acquiring sponsors with his display of talent and mature decision making", reflected crew chief Marcus McBain.
With no races for the team on Saturday and very drastic weather changes, Kelsey and McBain focused on some small items to address for Sunday's races. As the single round of Sunday practice started, Kelsey was quickly in the pits reporting "the clutch was about to go". Crew Chief Marcus McBain again scrambled to now piece together a clutch out of 4 "dead clutches". It was a nearly impossible task, but after two efforts to install a serviceable clutch pack the team pieced together a solution that was within .2mm of the Suzuki's minimum tolerance for total pack thickness. This was completed within an hour and half, and Kelsey was relieved as this left time to spare for him to "test things out in the paddock" despite the schedule being "pushed up" on Sunday in response to the prevailing weather conditions. Again Kelsey would be racing with some distraction as the clutch was not expected to hold together if there were any red flag restarts.
Grids were better for Kelsey on Sunday, and he would start no further back than row 5. This would be a tremendous help in his pursuit of the wins Danny and the team came for. He would compete in 750 Superstock and 750 Superbike with many of the same tough competitors from Friday. With some minor suspension changes to the JRi Shock and GP Suspension cartridges, Kelsey was now ready to run at the front.
The start of the 750 Superstock race demonstrated the confidence Kelsey had in his crew chief as he quickly passed his competitors and at the end of lap one he was in second place with the 1st place in his sights. The first place rider and Kelsey quickly separated themselves from the pack with a very quick pace. On lap 3, Danny put in his fastest lap of the race and prepared to take the point. As lap 4 completed Kelsey was in the lead, but second place was not going to allow Kelsey to enjoy a moment of it as he provided several assaults on Danny over the next 3 laps. Despite the pressure, Kelsey continued to lead laps 5, 6, and 7.
Although Kelsey was in the lead and riding an almost "perfect race" (with no lap time varying more than 0.637 seconds from his fastest lap time), the second place rider was hanging on and pulling up and by Danny in several turns. Kelsey's only available action to prevent the lead from being "taken away" was to brake later and harder in the turns. This caused the front end to collapse too much for the setup, and front end chatter developed. As the two riders battled and Kelsey attempted to "put this this race on ice", he ran wide in Turn 7 after the front end started to chatter and the 2nd place rider wasted no time in going by. Despite his efforts, Kelsey would finish 0.213 seconds behind the race winner at the checkered flag.
Kelsey was undeterred by the tough race, and gave his crew chief instructions on what he needed to win his next and final race (750 Superbike). He would without any doubt win his final race of the weekend. At the drop of the green flag, Kelsey wasted no time and by lap three had a 4 second lead in the race. By lap 6, it was over six seconds. At the checkered flag, Kelsey won by over six seconds. Both Danny and crew chief Marcus McBain were very happy with the win, and it was a fitting way to finish a championship weekend were the competition performed at a high level.
"I was really pleased with the weekend. There were some really good riders out here and I absolutely had my hands full in all of my races. I realized that I was going to have to be patient in my races as we didn't get much practice on Thursday and with the bike quitting again Friday morning, we were just going to have to setup the bike with what we were learning from the races. I want to not only think Marcus (McBain), but also David Hirsh & Walt Schaefer from Michelin. They were a great help to me and my team all weekend long and the tires were incredible."
"I am speechless. You can't expect a rider to perform like Danny did with the type of problems we had to overcome. To assume your rider is not going to be distracted for a lap or two when he gets to the grid, is foolish, but Danny (Kelsey) is a freakin' machine once the visor goes down. I also realize that our Michelin tires, GP Suspension Cartridges, and JRi Shock are an incredible package. They provide us a tremendously strong baseline so that even when things are "not quite right", we are still going to only be a few tenths of a second off the pace"¦and Danny is always able to ride around that kind of a problem."
The team now heads to Texas World Speedway for the final round of CMRA Sprint Championship Series racing action in November. Kelsey will be battling fellow Texan Ty Howard in his effort to retain the CMRA #1 plate. Howard and Kelsey are 1-2 in the points battle respectively, and the two riders will continue their season long battles for both the CMRA #1 plate and class championships!
RPSRaceTeam.com would like to thank its sponsors KMC Controls, Rig Tech, Chris Hamilton, JRi Shocks, Motopiacafe.com, Shoei Helmets, Eagles Canyon Raceway, Komodo, Lone Star Track Days, GP Suspension, Dynojet, DP Brakes, LP Racing, Hotbodies, Arata, K's Motorsports, Vortex, WRW Racing, Sam's Cycle Salvage, and Island Racing Services for their continued support.
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:
Team Suzuki's Brodie Waters dominated the national Supersport support races at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island in Victoria at the weekend with a clean-sweep aboard the race-proven GSX-R600.
Fresh from a number of guest races in the British Supersport Championship, Waters claimed pole position for the weekend and went on to win all three races in front of a record crowd at the picturesque 4.445-kilometre GP venue.
Said Waters: "It was a good way to finish off the year; we were lucky enough to be quickest in the first practice and backed it up with qualifying on pole and taking three race wins. We had a disappointing final ASBK round, so it's nice to bounce back with a win here and I can't thank Team Suzuki enough for the effort they've put in with the GSX-R600 this season."
The Superbike category saw elder brother and newly-crowned Australian Superbike Champion Josh Waters race to third overall despite starting from 10th on the grid after a frustrating qualifying session in mixed conditions on Friday. Waters sliced his way through the pack in each of the four Superbike races to score 3-2-3-3 results, but saw his hopes of victory vanish due to his third-row starting position aboard the GSX-R1000.
"It's tough when your main competition is on the front row and you're on the fourth row, but I'll learn from it and make progress," Waters said. "I kind of got caught out in the conditions, I knew the weekend would be hard after that, and it was. The GSX-R1000 was great all weekend though, it's nice to be on the podium; and I know that for sure next time we'll be a lot stronger."
Team-mate Ben Attard was fifth overall for the weekend, the experienced Queenslander taking home 5-3-6-5 results across the races. He was frustrated with the results in a trying weekend, but was content to finish out the season inside the top five.
"It was a tough weekend with the weather conditions for everybody, so it wasn't great for us," said Attard. "I would have liked to have better results, but it wasn't to be and we'll focus on the next event. Thanks again to the team, who always put in 100 per cent and do a fantastic job."
Team Volvo Group Suzuki's Robert Bugden claimed the fourth position overall for the weekend following a consistent effort, finishing sixth in race one before wrapping the weekend up with a trio of fourth place results on his satellite supported GSX-R1000.
Team Suzuki is now gearing up to defend its Australian Endurance Championship title, which will take place at the Phillip Island 8 Hour on December 1-2nd.
More, from a press release issued by CayloR-Made Motorsports:
CayloR-Made Motorsports closed out the 2012 season with a strong showing at the WERA Grand National Finals held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. However, it wasn't without adversity.
On Thursday evening, just after practice had concluded, Matthew "Donk" Dalke suffered a season-ending injury before he even got to race his motorcycle! While on a bicycle training ride, Dalke was reaching down for his water bottle and simultaneously ran over some debris on the road. Matthew fell heavily directly onto his right side. The result was a fractured hip. Matthew is now recovering from his injuries following surgery at an Alabama hospital.
CayloR-Made Motorsports sponsored Team Skyler rider Wayne Degourney also suffered injuries when the back tire of his ex-Opie Caylor Suzuki GSX-R750 lit up going over the crest of turn 4. "Big Worm" was slammed to the ground hard and suffered a badly broken right ankle. We wish both of our riders a speedy recovery.
Despite the adversities, CayloR-Made Motorsports riders soldiered on to achieve some excellent results. Opie Caylor's riding duties, as a member of the BEI/Dunlop Development Endurance Team, were completed at the last WERA National Endurance round held at Road Atlanta. BEI/Dunlop Development swept the 2012 National Endurance Series and has now won two championships in a row. Opie attended this years' GNF as a support member for the CayloR-Made Compound.
Opie's support of the CayloR-Made Compound came mainly in the form of encouragement. With both Matthew and Wayne going down to injuries, the spirits of the other riders were somewhat low. "I showed up here on Friday morning with a plan," said Opie. "These guys all know how to ride and they are all on good equipment. I just felt like it is more about where each of them was mentally after Donk and Big Worm got hurt."
That encouragement was all Ron Gaither needed. Fresh off the heels of his first-ever win at the last round in Senior Superbike Novice and following Opie's "halftime speech," Ron was ready to go! Off the line, Ron didn't get the greatest of starts. It didn't matter though as Ron was going to the front. Ron ran the race leader down, caught him and passed him just passed the halfway mark. Throughout the race, Ron battled back and forth with the other leader as they diced in and out of traffic. At the end of the race, Ron came up just shy of pulling off his second win in as many races. But, it was a well-earned second place. After the race, Ron said, "I rode as hard as I could the whole race. My GSX-R750 had him on handling but his 1000 had me on motor. I got held up by some Expert lappers, but after Opie's speech, I was determined to leave it all on the track and that's exactly what I did!"
CayloR-Made Motorsports had another rider doing the business this year as Novice 600 rider Carson Zinger put the finishing touches on what has been a breakout season for him. Carson put together a strong race in 600 Superstock Novice and ended up a well-deserved second place. But it was the 750 Superstock Novice class that Carson earned his first-ever National Championship in. Carson also won multiple regional championships.
CayloR-Made Motorsports also wants to give a shout out to Alastair Douglas and the McDonald Brothers for their successes at the 2012 WERA GNF as well. Great job guys. And last but certainly not least, a big thanks to everybody that helped to make the 2012 GNF and the season so rewarding for CayloR-Made Motorsports. Other riders and members of the compound include CCF Office Solutions' Fred Turner, Barber's for Real-sponsored Kevin Mills, Dave Krier, Derek Mugge, Dani Mugge, Gavin Mugge, Jeremy White, Debbie Degourney, Robert Bradley, and Marcus Dorsey. See you next year!
More, from a press release issued by Jimmy Merck's publicist:
JIMMY MERCK WINS MULTIPLE CHAMIONSHIPS AT THE WERA GNF
Atlanta, Georgia's Jimmy Merck competed onboard his Vesrah-sponsored GSX-R600 at the 40th Annual WERA (Western Eastern Roadracing Association) Grand National Finals Pirelli Sportsman Series held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, this past weekend with exceptional results.
After a season culminating with 31 race entries, 9 wins, 8 seconds, and 6 thirds, Jimmy was on the gas at the GNF. With a full day of practice on Thursday, Jimmy was able to consult with Mark and Tony at Vesrah with setup on the bike and was poised quite well for Thursday afternoon's 600 Superstock qualifying session. Unfortunately, an error with timing and scoring resulted in an inaccurate lap time and subsequent 12th place starting position.
With gorgeous weather continuing from Thursday's practice day, Friday started with fast laps on a warm track. Jimmy lined up for the 750 Superstock race onboard his Vesrah GSX-R600 and came away with a 5th place finish among the larger bikes. With a weather front moving in, the temperatures dropped and the winds picked up for the weekend's events.
With Saturday came slower lap times with a cold track. Lining up for the C Superstock Expert race in 12th, Jimmy battled competitors and grip a sideways excursion exiting turn 4 had Jimmy up over the handlebars and staring down at his Pit Bull damper! He battled back for a hard fought 5th place finish.
Sunday's event includes the points-accumulating WERA National Challenge Series. First up was 600 Superstock Expert, and again after some tough battles Jimmy took 5th place. Next up was 750 Superstock competing against the larger-bore bikes, Jimmy dropped the hammer and took the win, along with the National Championship! Finally, 600 Superbike was a full grid of fast competition. With a slight points lead, Jimmy worked hard to finish second and solidify his second National Championship!
In addition to the 750 Superstock National Championship and 600 Superbike National Championship, Jimmy was also fortunate enough to compete in the WERA National Endurance Series, with another National Championship in the Mediumweight Superbike class!
Jimmy wouldn't have been able to achieve these results without the outstanding support he's received all year. A big thank you to Mark and Tony with Vesrah, Bru and Paul with Dunlop, AGV Leathers, Chris with MPH, Vortex Sprockets, Silkolene Lubricants, Pit Bull, Cycle Gear, his father Jimmy SR, and girlfriend Bobby Nguyen.