KELSEY BEGINS TITLE DEFENSE
RPSRaceTeam.com rider Danny Kelsey began his title defense while enduring a tough set of challenges during the CMRA Sprint Championship Series hosted by Mercedes of Sugarland Raceway located just south of Houston in Angleton, Texas. Kelsey scored a pair of wins and 2 more podium finishes. The event looked like another record weekend for the CMRA with entries approaching 800 and competition looked to be fierce with several riders that looked ready to take advantage of the conditions.
Track conditions were very tricky and many riders found themselves off the pace until actual weekend races. At the same time, the team endured one of its most challenging weekends in recent memory as Kelsey suffered a massive high side when a water hose failed as his first laps of the year were being completed.
The crash knocked Kelsey’s shoulder out of socket, heavily damaged the team’s GSX-R750, and caused a lot of general soreness. Crew Chief Marcus McBain worked through the evening and got the bike back together, but was hesitant to put Kelsey back on the bike. “I really had to wonder if that was the right thing to do. We run things as long as we can to enable us to race 11-13 weekends a year on a very tight budget,” remarked McBain. The team was able to overnight all new hoses in to give Kelsey confidence to throw a leg back of the red Suzuki that enters its fifth year into team service.
Kelsey was able to put together only 3 short practice sessions together Friday afternoon and this left the team scrambling to get a good setup on a track that Kelsey did very well at last year. With the setup numbers not working, the team was really concerned. They could not get the bike to track well in the last two turns. Unfortunately a wall sits directly outside of the last turn and Kelsey just couldn’t get the confidence he needed to run at the pace he did last year.
The competition wasn’t concerned for the team and Kelsey lined up for his first race on Sunday. As 750 Superstock got underway, Kelsey got a terrible start. He found himself back in 14th place as the pack exited the first turn. Although he put a spirited charge on M4 exhausts and Dynojet tuned GSX-R750, he was only able to move up to 5th place. It was a very frustrating start to the season.
Kelsey was able to get back on winning track in Open Superstock as he launched his DP Brakes fitted GSX-R1000 quickly into the lead and took a convincing win by 13 seconds. Using this as a warm up for the premier race of the day, Kelsey felt he may be able to secure a win in the Breast Cancer Research Awareness Formula One race and keep some momentum going. With special ceremonies taking place for a local injured fireman and over 35 entries, the class resembled a National event more than a club race.
As the starting lights launched the field for Formula One, Kelsey found himself in 2nd place. He was able to move to the point by lap 2 and felt he may be able to seize his 2nd win. He was quickly under siege though as he just was not able to keep the pace he needed to stay in front. Although he pushed on the new leader, he eventually found himself unable to push any harder. At the checkered flag, Kelsey found himself 2.5 seconds behind the race winner.
Kelsey noted, “That was a tough race. I was doing my best…and yeah I was definitely banged up from the crash, but really I just didn’t get to the pace I wanted to. I have to tip my hat to Eddie Thornton. He rode really well and deserved to be on top of the podium. I am definitely going to heal up and work to get back on top of the box next race. Congrats again to the competitors and the CMRA for putting on a premier race that drew 37 entries. That is impressive.”
Kelsey got back on the winning track in Open Superbike and took his 2nd win of the day on his Silkolene lubricated GSX-R1000. Several changes were made to ensure Kelsey would be able to run a winning pace with a key geometry recommendation by Jimmy Cambora of Raceworx. Kelsey finished the weekend off in 750 Superbike with a 2nd place finish.
“I feel like I did not have the bikes or the team ready to the level we like to compete at for this first race. With only a few months between the end of the season and the start of this year, we needed another month to get things in order. I feel like we will be much more prepared for Texas World Speedway next month, and we will be working very hard to get back to the level of competition we like to compete at,” reflected crew chief Marcus McBain.
“I was pleased to come away with two victories. I was definitely sore riding all weekend, but I also realize we did not get the bikes to the level of competition that we normally achieve. I look forward to Texas World Speedway and getting back up to the level we like to compete at,” Kelsey stated.
Danny Kelsey will continue to contest the entire CMRA series in his efforts to defend the number one plate. The team would not be able to compete at this level without the special efforts of KMC Controls, RS Taichi, Pirelli, Dynojet, Vortex, Motoliberty, South Central Race Center, Motopia, M4 Exhausts, DP Brakes, K’s Motorsports, GP Suspension, JRi Shocks, Lone Star Track Days, Shoei Helmets, Hotbodies Racing, Silkolene, WRW Racing, Barnett, Maverick Moto Media, and Chicken Hawk Racing. Kelsey will resume racing action at Texas World Speedway in March during the second round of CMRA Sprint Championship Action.