Motorcycle Racing @ Road America 2023- Wisconsin
This weekend MotoAmerica hosted the races in Wisconsin at Road America. Wisconsin is not only known for its cheese, but it’s the birthplace of Harley Davidson, and with MotoAmerica’s bagger class, the spectator turnout was unbelievable. If this wasn’t a record breaking weekend for the number of fans, I’d be shocked. It’s so fun being around the excitement of so many motorcycle fans.
Since the Twins class had a “bye” week, the N2 Racing/BobbleHeadMoto team let Blake get a taste of racing in the Supersport Class aboard their Yamaha R6. Blake didn’t know what to expect as far as how he’d do, but was excited about having the opportunity to race a faster motorcycle with faster competitors.
Knowing every nuisance of the pavement is a skill that racers have. Blake will be talking to other racers and one of them will mention a specific dip or crack in a particular turn at a particular track. I’ve heard him talk about avoiding or sometimes using a bump to do, I-don’t-know-what, while he’s racing. The point being: they’re very in-tune with the surface of the track. For that reason, the repaved track caused a bundle of emotions as racers, crew, and Dunlop techs anticipated what they would find on the new surface. Road America was unmarked territory this year.
PRACTICE & QUALIFYING 1
Practice Friday was Blake’s first chance to get out on the new pavement and said it was amazing. He felt pretty good having the 10th fastest lap in the session. He stayed in 10th after Qualifying 1 and after having more time on the motorcycle, they made some setup changes to prepare for Saturday’s Qualifying 2.
Even with the changes, Blake only shaved a half a second off of his time. Towards the end of the qualifying, he had gone green in sectors 1 & 2 (green is the color timing and scoring shows your sector time when it’s the fastest you’ve gone in that session) when a red flag ended the session. His lap times put him starting the races in 11th. He was bummed to not practice starts and to not be on the third row of the starting grid. He was going to have some work to do for the races.
Normally, this is when I start to talk about the race and say, “Blake got a good start,” but not this time. He commented that launching was a lot different on the Yamaha R6 versus the Yamaha R7. He seemed to
struggle getting around some of the slower guys and had a couple of “moments,” as he calls them. On one lap, he went by on the outside of a rider as they were braking into turn three. Just as Blake tipped into the turn, he heard a motorcycle crashing and watched it slide by, narrowly missing him and scaring him to death!
Apparently if you run on the outside curbing for too long, there’s a large bump and on one of his laps around, Blake jumped it. The motorcycle went into an intense head shake and shook the brake pads
apart. It sounds crazy that these guys can lose their brakes like that, but with the force of the shake, it happens. Fortunately, pumping the brakes is the fix and that’s what Blake did, but he still didn’t have full brakes going into turn 3. He went wide and lost a lot of time. That mistake cost him the battle for 7th, fell back and finished 10th.
For race 2, the team made some more changes to the set-up, consulted with Dunlop, and went with a different tire compound. Those changes made them feel like Blake had what he needed to have a good race. He got a better start and going into the first turn, he and another rider made contact. His bodywork got banged up, and his clutch got flipped up out of place, He banged his lever back to where it was supposed to be and continued with no problems.
Blake got off pace when a rider in front of him started blowing oil and smoke, but once they finally got off the track, he got into a fun, tense battle for 6th. Going into the last corner on the final lap, Blake tucked the front. He saved it, but it caused him to get a bad drive out of the turn allowing his competitor to beat him to the line by .04 of a second. Blake finished seventh.
For his first Supersport race, I’d say Blake had a pretty good weekend. He finished 10th and 7th and got some good experience under his belt. I thought it was interesting that Blake said racing the Yamaha R6 wasn’t anymore physically demanding, but that it was a lot more mentally draining. I don’t understand everything that goes into swinging your leg over a motorcycle and racing well over 100 mph, but I’m glad he’s using his brain so much it’s draining!
The Loudon Classic is in two weeks. I’m excited to see that event– Apparently it is the largest motorcycle event in the country. Blake will be competing on his Biothermal/Blake Davis Racing Yamaha R6. It’s built to MotoAmerica’s rules for the Daytona 200, so he won’t have the power he’d like to have, BUT no experience is wasted and he’ll for sure be grinning ear to ear under that KYT helmet he wears!