Marcel crashes out of the lead in 750 superbike.
Marcel slides out of the race in style.
OMRRA Round 5, Portland International Raceway, Portland OR, September 25-26, 2010
After Kelowna BC’s Marcel Irnie equaled his best-ever US finish with a 4th place at Seattle in mid-September, he was anxious to get back to the Pacific Northwest for more spirited competition. This time Irnie traveled to Portland International Raceway, to race with the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association (OMRRA). Irnie had not raced at PIR in three years, so he would have to reacquaint himself with the flat, high-speed course. Irnie scrutinized the course through the Friday practice session. On a well-worn set of slick tires, he managed to set a respectable lap time of 1:11.55.
Saturday morning brought sunshine and beautiful racing conditions. As the morning practice session unfolded, the knee pain that plagued Marcel in Seattle, began to recur. To relieve the pain, Irnie made a significant modification to his riding style. While cornering, rather than leaning in with his knees and elbows down, Irnie would rest his chest on the fuel tank; thereby relieving knee joint pressure. While creating a weight bias toward the front, he seemed to be able to carry good speed and possibly extend rear tire life. It was unorthodox, but it was working as it allowed Irnie to shadow one of the region's most decorated racers, Oliver Jervis. Hanging around this fast company lead to a quick lap time of 1:10.16.
Marcel rests his chest on the gastank to reduce knee pain.
The first race for Irnie was the 600 Supersport class. Starting from row 7, Irnie got off to a decent start, but was contending with very heavy traffic. He was able to make up four positions in the first two laps. While Irnie felt that he had his gearing dialed-in during practice, he was finding that the bike would not achieve top RPM’s in the race. The four GoPro HD cameras that he had installed for the race were creating enough drag to inhibit 6th gear. Irnie battled with Bryan Rothenburger for much of the race finishing 9th by just meters. Irnie best lap of the race was a modest 1:11.498.
Bryan Rothenburger passes Marcel one second too late...
Next up was the 750 Supersport race. Starting from row G, Irnie left the line in first gear; only to have his transmission jump into neutral. Irnie desperately searched for a working gear, thinking that the transmission in his AMSOIL / Falco / Seattle Tool 2005 zx-6rr had finally expired. Second gear engaged and he was able to slowly accelerate into battle. He passed four riders in corner three. He then battled with several riders and recalls the action. “I passed Jason Gasparinatos before the lap ends and then Tony Porter on the brakes into corner one. Then I caught Drat Diestler and now I’m behind Kevin Klemmer from the WMRRA. I quickly pass Klemmer entering corner three, followed by Geoff Klassen exiting corner 3. Now I am alone and attempt to reel in the front runners. I work at it, but can only make out a rider way ahead on the straights. A few laps go by and out of nowhere Tony Porter drafts me on the straight and drags his foot peg into corner one. On the next lap I passed Porter on the brakes into corner one. I finish in 7th.” For working his way from 19th position to a 7th place finish, the OMRRA presented Irnie with the “Hard Charger Award.”
Marcel earns the OMRRA "Hard Charger award" battling from 19th too 7th in 750 supersport.
On Sunday morning, Irnie woke up to the sound of steady rain. Knowing that a system was likely settling in for the day, Irnie forewent more sleep and opted to rush out for some rain practice. He was soaked, but he got a good feel for the PIR surface in the wet.
Marcel's vision is blurred, and foggy. Irnie follows Ancien, Degross, and Jervis in 600 superbike.
Irnie finished 3rd for his first USA Podium.
First up was the 600 Superbike race. Irnie opted to use his underpowered Bluestreakracing.ca / Kreater 2008 zx-6r which seems to offer superior handling in wet conditions. Irnie got off to a great start; passing 6 riders before corner two and another by corner three. Now he was in 4th spot and had only Mark DeGross, Christopher Ancien and Oliver Jervis in front. Visibility was very poor as he rode in the wake of the front three riders. On lap two, Irnie passed Ancien in corner three and then DeGross in corner five. Irnie then set his sites on Jervis.
Irnie passes Jervis on outside of corner 9 for the lead.
He managed to pass him briefly for the lead exiting corner nine, only to lose the top spot on the subsequent straight. DeGross soon passed him to claim second spot. This battle would ensue for the remainder of the race. Irnie describes the wild proceedings. “The next lap, I re-passed DeGross inside entering corner three again and one corner later I passed Oliver entering corner four as I held a tight line from a difficult inside entry. I pulled a gap on Oliver, but not big enough as he drafted by near the end of the straight. Then things got interesting! I went for the same pass again on the inside of four, but didn't brake hard enough and ran wide; so wide that the edge of the track appeared through the fog. I stood the bike up and went over the curbing into the grassy mud. Things were about to get much worse. I wanted to re-enter the track immediately, but the painted curbing was three inches above the muddy grass.
Mud bog anyone?
Any dirt biker knows you don't go over a wet log sideways or you’ll be down before you know it. My only option was to power through the very large mud hole directly before the curbing ended and I could rejoin the race. I dirt biked through and almost got stuck. I really didn't want to fall in that water hole as it was a foot deep! I finally made it through the obstacle and rejoined the race just as Ancien passed me. I really wanted to catch DeGross and Oliver again. I finally got around Ancien a few laps later and then put down some fast laps in the 1:20's, which seems pretty fast in the wet. After four more laps, I could see DeGross in the distance, but it was too late as the race was over and I finished 3rd.” This podium finish was Irnie’s best-ever US result. He was hoping for more rain in the 750 Superbike race later that afternoon.
Dirty Podium finish in 600 Superbike
After three hours the rain had subsided, but the track was still too wet for slick tires. Again Irnie opted to use his 2008 race bike. Starting from row D, Irnie didn’t get a great launch, but managed to pass four riders going into corner one and then another two in corner three. He was now in second spot with Kevin Pinkstaff in the lead. Irnie passed Pinkstaff in corner five and attempted to pull a gap. Irnie was then given a large dose of reality as Pinkstaff unleashed his gsxr 750 in the main straight passing Marcel and opened up a large gap. It was obvious that Irnie’s notoriously under-powered 600 was not going to hold a candle to Pinkstaff's 750 in the long straight. As underpowered equipment was a constant narrative for Irnie in 2010, this was not a new experience and he knew that he would have brake late and carry greater speed into the corners to make up time. Irnie was able to catch and pass Pinkstaff. He even created a gap at one point, but it was not enough to hold him off on the long front straight. The track was starting to dry and Irnie was becoming concerned that his rain tires would not withstand a hard effort under dry conditions. The tires began to chatter and vibrate under hard braking. Irnie passed Pinkstaff once again on lap 6. He describes what then unfolded. “Right as I hit the apex and slowly applied throttle, I lost the rear end. I let go of the bike as I headed for the curbing and grass. The bike hit and then flipped. The crash actually ripped the throttle grip right off, so I could not continue the race.”The crash ended the race and what could possibly be the final race of the season for Irnie Racing.
Finally got my elbow down ehh!
Check out my new Falco "white" gloves. First time wearing them too.
The money shot. Good thing I have aviation quality tools from Seattle Tool! Repair will be in order.
Irnie summed up the weekend, “Such an amazing weekend. Tough, tough competition in the dry as my results showed, but an amazing difference in the rain. It puts everyone on a more level playing field, where horsepower and new dry tires don’t matter as much. What a great way to end the year, or maybe not. I’m still thinking about going to Portland in October. I really want to race in the rain again and finish 1st this time. With more power next year, things could be very interesting. Expect to see me on the box more often.. Cheers.”
A Special thanks to Matthew Eaton from roadshowphotography.smugmug.com for the steller external photos.
Irnieracing.com (Marcel Irnie) is sponsored by: AMSOIL Synthetics, Blue Streak Racing, British Columbia Trailer, EBC Brakes, FALCO, Fluid Suspension Science, GoPro, Kreater, Magna-Tech Services, Muller Motorsports, Munro Cylinder Heads, Oneononedesign, Pinnacle Physiotherapy, Seattle Tool, World Gym, and Valley Moto Sport.
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