Aug 29, 2001
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By David Swarts<BR><BR>Dr. Rob Tuluie's Tul-aris 780 finished in third place in Unlimited Grand Prix and Heavyweight Grand Prix at the hands of rider Steve Johnson during a CRA event at Heartland park in Topeka, Kansas Sunday, August 19, marking the exotic bike's first race finish and first podium finish.<BR><BR>The weekend did not start out well for Tuluie's creation as Johnson struggled with the Tul-aris on Heartland's bumpy surface. Most racers would find a compromise and make do. Dr. Tuluie's answer was to take shock dyno data that he collected from experiments at the MTS labs, data gathered by the Tul-aris' PI data acquisition system, and design a new rear suspension link on his laptop computer in a moving vehicle as it drove 70 miles to a shop where Tuluie machined a new suspension link.<BR><BR>The next morning, Johnson was able to drop three seconds off of his best lap time on the Tul-aris. However, the 286-pound Tul-aris was still having troubles with the stiffness of the softest available 16.5-inch Michelin tire's sidewalls. After trying a 17-inch Michelin and with practice time running out, Tuluie decided to go back to the 16.5-inch rear tire for the races.<BR><BR>Although the Tul-aris' Hot Seat Performance 780cc engine performed well during the weekend, the non-power-valve engine lacked the bottom end power to drive out of Heartland Park's many slow corners. After taking third in Heavyweight GP, Johnson finished a close third in Unlimited Grand Prix behind Robert Jensen, on a Suzuki GSX-R750, and winner Shane Stoyko, on a Suzuki GSX-R1000, while turning lap times that were close to the leader's lap times.<BR><BR>Tuluie and his crew were very happy with their result considering the difficulties that they encountered and overcame in their first visit to Heartland Park. Tuluie looks forward to having his power-valve-equipped engine available for the Tul-aris' next outing, September 14-16 at Brainerd International Raceway.<BR><BR>The Tularis Project is sponsored by Hot Seat Performance, Ohlins USA, Michelin Tires, Nutec Fuel, Yoyodyne Titanium, AP Racing, MTS System Corporation and Lofgren Racing/Manley Cycle. Steve Johnson is sponsored by Mason Racing Tires, Hi-Per Sports, EBC Brakes and Lockhart-Phillips USA.<BR> <BR>