Motorcycle Racing @ The Ridge 2023- Washington
Mount Rainier is a beautiful backdrop for the races at The Ridge Motorsports Park. This weekend Blake was back on the N2/BobbleHeadMoto Racing Yamaha R7 as he competed in the MotoAmerica Twins Cup Championship.
In the practice session he went out and was, as he said, “feeling out the track, shift points, stuff like that.” He had some handling issues with the motorcycle and finished p5.
Every race weekend, the team spends Thursday putting new parts in and adjusting other parts on the motorcycle based on Blake’s feedback from previous races and their notes from that track last year. So, the practice and sometimes the qualifying sessions are used to tweak the motorcycle to its potential and to Blake’s liking.
Thank goodness Blake has spent plenty of time working with Coach Aaron at Cornerspin. There, they do a lot of drills learning to regain control of a motorcycle after you’ve lost traction. In Friday’s practice and qualifying 1 the motorcycle was having some handling issues. Blake was losing so much traction during those sessions, he ground a hole through his new knee puck down into his leathers because of all the “saves” he was making. He ended up 6th in Q1.
Of course, the team was not okay with that, and they went to work. Blake went out for the 2nd qualifying session Saturday morning and I was afraid it would be hard to get any faster since the track was so cold. However, Blake said the motorcycle was feeling a lot better, shaved a little more off of his time and finished in fifth and that’s where he would be gridding up for the races.
Saturday afternoon, the sun was high, bright, and warm. The wind, however, was blowing like crazy and it was a cold wind. If you were standing in the sun, it felt good. If in the shade, it was cold. When the officials opened pit lane for the motorcycles to go on track for Race 1, a crew member took off the front tire warmer and even though the light was on, like it was working, it and the tire was cold! That is bad, really bad, you want hot tires when you go on track. Thankfully, his crew chief always has a back-up plan and there was an extra front tire already on warmers. So, she told Blake to take it easy going around the track to get to the starting grid and they changed his tire there.
Blake said his motorcycle finally felt really good and at one point, in the race, made it up to second place. Towards the end of the race, he started having some front-end issues and dropped back down to 3rd and that’s where he crossed the finish line. Blake and the other podium winners gave their speeches and accepted their awards.
Before Blake made it back to our pit, we learned that the first-place winner was penalized two positions for passing under a yellow caution flag. That meant Blake was awarded second place.
The wind died down Sunday and it was beautiful weather for Race 2. He had a better start for that race than
he had on Saturday, making it to 3rd off the start. He was frustrated with himself for not getting around the second-place racer sooner, allowing first place to pull a gap. However, after passing the second-place racer
he was able to increase the space behind him. With about four laps left, the other racers were catching up and one guy got by him. Blake knew if he waited and stayed behind him, the two of them would be faster and might get away from the group behind them. He patiently waited and on the last lap, on the brakes, into turn 13, he made a beautiful pass and made it to the line, finishing 2nd!!!
Two second place finishes allowed Blake to keep the lead in the Championship standings. It’s way too early to get excited, but collecting points is always a good thing. I believe from his first practice he ended up shaving 3.5 seconds off his lap times while there this weekend.
July 7-9th MotoAmerica we will be at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California where Blake will continue to try and collect points for the Twins Cup Championship. There is a lot of stiff competition. This championship will not be handed to anyone, these racers are going to have to battle it out on the racetrack.