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Motorcycle Racing @ Barber Motorsports Park 2023- Alabama

MotoAmerica at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama was as good as I expected; there were a lot of fans, racing, and even some drama. However, it didn’t start off looking too good for Blake.


After the practice session on Friday, Blake said the motorcycle did not feel good at all. He said, “I didn’t know what was up, but it felt like there was something wrong with the bike. He finished practice with the 6th fastest time. The team made some adjustments to the motorcycle before the first qualifying session and Blake was 7th at the end of the session. Blake hated to say it, but the bike still felt terrible. So, Friday night they tore the motorcycle apart, checked everything, got some input from Yamaha and discovered the motorcycle was out of alignment and got it fixed.


Blake felt like the motorcycle handled so much better Saturday in Qualifying 2, and finished 4th in that session. Making him the 5th fastest between both qualifying sessions, and giving him his starting position for the races. Blake said, “That just meant we had a lot of work to do, because by the time we got the bike straightened out, we were going right into the race. We were definitely a little bit behind, but we worked a lot of the problems out for the race.” Well, thank goodness!


The weather Saturday was cool and cloudy with rain in the forecast for the afternoon just in time for Blake’s race. The team had rain tires on warmers, just in case, but it looked like the rain was going to hold off. Blake sure does get some good starts and when the race got underway, he went from 5th to 2nd before the pack got to

turn one. The race was going along just fine and then we began to feel it…rain. It was sprinkling more than raining, but without rain tires, the track becomes extremely slippery. Blake slowed down and fell back down to fifth place and we were all waiting for MotoAmerica to stop the race to allow the teams to switch to rain tires, but the call was never made. Then it seemed like all at once 4 or 5 riders crashed out all over the track, including the leader. The race was red-flagged and Blake got back to the pits to get rain tires put on, but…the rain stopped. So, it was a game of waiting for the race to restart and just see what the weather was going to be doing at that moment. Abby made everyone laugh when she said, “How do you know you’re at Barber? The weather is in-between.” There was no rain when the racers were called back to grid for the restart, so Blake stayed on his Dunlop race tires.

This was going to be a 5 lap shootout, but before the lights went out (to signal the start of the race) the leader that had crashed out was pulled off the grid; MotoAmerica said he could not compete.

As you can imagine, that was the drama of the weekend. Despite that, the race started and Blake got back up to 3rd by the first turn. Abby and I were in the hot pit watching and I whispered to her that it looked like Blake was “tip-toeing” around the track and fell back to 5th. After the race he told us he had a big moment, aka almost crashed, in turn 2 so he backed off the gas, feeling like the track conditions were still sketchy. However, after he got passed by a few racers he knew he had to get on the gas. By the last lap, he caught up to the battle for 3rd, but it was too late to make any passes and he finished the race in fifth. He was upset with himself for that one, wishing he hadn’t misjudged the conditions.


Sunday was hot and sunny. Blake likes it that way and all the sticky grip he gets with his Dunlops. Blake took off on the start of the race and was headed into the infamous Charlottes’ Web turn, when he went to grab a down shift and missed it!!! He came out of the turn bogging his motorcycle and went up the hill poking, losing his position and was back to fifth. He got past one racer, putting him in fourth, but the top 3 had gapped him and then they were all spread apart, so he had a challenge ahead. He managed to run down and pass 2nd and 3rd place just in time because right after that two racers crashed out behind him. I was so glad he didn't get caught up in that, shew. He wasn’t able to catch the leader, but finished on the podium in 2nd place!


Blake would have liked to have done better than 5th place in Race 1, but a 2nd spot on the podium was good, making the overall weekend pretty good. It’s very early in the season and the points are close, but currently, Blake is 1st in points for the Championship. He just needs to keep working hard and being consistent and keep collecting points.


This year, MotoAmerica created their schedule so every class competes in 2 races every weekend. However, not every class races every weekend. Road America in Wisconsin is the next MotoAmerica race, June 2-4. The Twins Cup class will not be competing there so, his team will have him on their N2/BobbleheadMoto Yamaha R6 to compete in the Supersport class. It’s typical for racers “graduating” from the Twins Cup to move to the Supersport class, so this is a great opportunity to prepare for whatever may be next. To get some practice in, we packed up Sunday after the races and Blake left with the team to head to Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. Meanwhile, Mike, Abby, and I got home Monday morning, I got a couple hours of sleep and headed to Summit Point. I made it to the N2 Track Days event just in time for Blake’s first session out. Shiloh, his crew chief, had been making some adjustments to some of the ergonomic kinds of things so he’d feel comfortable. With each session out, he got faster and faster and ended up being 1.2 seconds off the track record. For his first time on the motorcycle, I’d say that’s not too shabby. Blake said he felt really comfortable and can’t wait to race it. June is going to be busy. The first weekend is MotoAmerica at Road America. The second weekend, Mike will be filling in for a rider at the WERA/N2 Track Day Endurance event at Carolina Motorsports Park, in Kershaw, SC. Then, June 17th is the 100th annual Loudon Classic followed by MotoAmerica at The Ridge in Washington state June 23-25. So, check out Blake’s schedule and try to get out to the races. It’s a good time; hope to see you out there!



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