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Motorcycle Racing @ Laguna Seca 2023- California

This weekend we were at Laguna Seca for Blake to compete in MotoAmerica’s Twins Cup races. The weather for practice on Friday had us “California Dreamin’” because there was no California sunshine or warmth. In fact, it was so foggy and misty Blake only went out at the end of the session for a few laps and I reckon MotoAmerica felt bad for the racers because they added 10 minutes to the first qualifying session, just so the riders could get a more genuine feel for the track!


PRACTICE & QUALIFYING 1


Blake finished 8th in the practice session Friday but without really being able to run his N2/BobbleHeadMoto Racing Yamaha R7 very hard, he didn’t get a very good feel of the setup.


By the time Qualifying 1 rolled around, later in the day, the clouds had burned off and it looked like the racers would be able to get some good laps in.


A little bit about qualifying sessions; they are NOT races. The goal for each racer is to run the fastest lap they can, to obtain a good spot on the starting grid and you shouldn’t be screwing up other racer’s laps. However, when you have a bunch of competitive people that are talented racers, vying for the same race lines, there will be a lot of what looks like racing and a lot of “disagreements” on what is appropriate for a qualifying session.


Sometimes a “jerk move” (that’s my motorcycle lingo) is totally inadvertent. Sometimes it’s one racer trying to pluck another racer’s nerves, sometimes what one racer sees as a jerk move another doesn’t see or intend it to be that way at all. In other words a “jerk move” is pretty subjective for all parties.


You could say Blake and another racer had such a disagreement regarding appropriate passes for Qualifying 1. As a result, the other racer made an obscene gesture to Blake and as Blake got ahead of them, he responded with a wave and at another point that racer passed Blake and waved back. When the session was over, Blake was fourth and the other rider finished ahead of him.


After the fact, we learned Blake thought the hand wave was the best way to “laugh off” the insult. However, his crew chief strongly reminded Blake that he is to ignore any antics and just do his job. I totally agree. We all know that sometimes it’s hard to control emotions in the heat of the moment and you DO just need to laugh-it-off and move on.

QUALIFYING 2


Saturday’s qualifying and the subsequent races, showed that not everyone moves on. As a result, there were arguably some “jerk moves” that Blake had to adjust for, but he continued on, doing his job. His efforts, secured him a 4th place in qualifying 2 and his spot on the starting grid.



RACE 1

The team switched to the STM clutch this year and Blake’s been getting great starts every weekend. Off the start of race 1, he got to first place, but by turn 5 was getting passed by the obscene-gesture-racer who seemed to look at Blake and push him off track. Was it one of those “jerk moves'' or was it racing? Only MotoAmerica can make that call, but when he got back on track, Blake was in third. Intent on getting ahead, Blake also had a questionable moment. He went in for a tight pass but couldn’t hold it tight enough and bumped into his competitor, Blake had to stand his motorcycle up and ran himself way off track down off the infamous Corkscrew. Did Blake do one of those “jerk moves”' or was it racing? Only MotoAmerica can make that call, but as Blake got back on track, he could hear more racers coming, stayed off the race line and found himself in 5th. Pushing hard, he got back up to 3rd, but not without 4th and 5th right on his tail. On the last lap, he got passed but had a plan to square that racer up for a pass in the last turn. But, he foiled his own plan when he held the brake a little too long in the turn just before, almost tucking his front tire. That mistake allowed 3rd to pull enough of a gap that Blake couldn’t make the pass and finished fourth!



RACE 2


Both Saturday and Sunday were sunny, as you expect California to be, but it was still pretty chilly and windy. In race 2, Blake found himself mixing it up with the same riders from the day before for a bit, but they managed to pull a gap. In 3rd place, Blake led the next group of motorcycles for a good part of the race. He especially loved how the team adjusted his STM clutch and dialed in the right amount of slip for his corner entries. However, the racers behind him were using each other’s drafts to gain on him; it was just a matter of time before they caught him. Meanwhile, first place crashed out of the race, putting Blake in 2nd until one of the racers breathing down his back got by him. Those two were battling back and forth, 2nd to 3rd, putting on a show, right behind them were other racers waiting for them to make a mistake.


On the last lap, they came up on a lapped racer, at that point Blake was in third. The second place rider got by the lapped rider, but Blake and the next two racers got caught behind them long enough Blake couldn’t close the gap to overtake for second and the gap behind him grew as well as those riders were held up even more. Blake finished on the podium, in third.


RESULTS


A third and a fourth place finish is nothing to be ashamed of, but it does mean that Blake has given up his lead in the Twins Cup Championship points. Currently, he is 3 points from first and 3rd place is 15 points behind him. You would think that with the drama this weekend, I might say it wasn’t such a good weekend. The drama and losing the points lead was disappointing, but I’m proud of Blake’s good attitude both on and off the track and his determination to always do better than before.


WHAT’S NEXT


Blake had a pretty cool opportunity come up when the Alpha Omega endurance team asked him to join them and race a stint in the N2 Track Days/WERA endurance race July 15th at Roebling Road Raceway. He was excited to join the team, but declined the offer. Now, if you know Blake, you know all that boy wants to do is race motorcycles. BUT, he’s got to trust the motorcycle and even though Alpha Omega has built a great Yamaha, they weren’t using Dunlop tires and that was a no-go for him. Since then, Alpha Omega has come to the “other side” and will be running Dunlop tires.

The Alpha Omega endurance team line up is a good one with the likes of Anthony Mazziato, Emerson Amaya, Eziah Davis (no relation), Stephen Roth and now, Blake. Not everyone races every weekend, so I’m not sure who Blake will be swapping stints with this weekend, but I do know he can’t wait.

The next MotoAmerica weekend is July 28-30th at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. Blake will be aboard a Yamaha, but there is no Twins class competing that weekend. So, he’ll be on the N2/BobbleHeadMoto Racing Yamaha R6 racing in the Supersport class. He’s only doing a few of these races to give him some experience on a bigger, faster motorcycle. Since, you know, faster is better. (At least that’s what they tell me.)


Come out to a race, teach someone to ride, watch the races with some friends, shop with some of our other sponsors/supporters - and thank you, we love that you support the sport!


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