What a way to spend a Saturday! So first off, Talladega GP is only 2 hrs and 20mins from my house, so I just left early on the 22nd and got there with plenty of time to get registered and setup. However, I wasn't able to make the first 10min warm-up practice since I had only 20 mins to cook the (old) tires, stretch and get suited up. Hard pass...
By the second practice I was very ready to get out there and start getting up to speed. The last time I had been to Tally with my ZX6RR was nearly a year ago when the bike was new to me. Back then I managed a quick lap of 1:08 with a lot of 1:10's. For reference, podium pace in Novice class is about 1:02/3's. So I was really hoping to have found some more speed with a tuned motor and some more seat time earlier in the year. In practice, I ran a 1:07.5...not bad but not what I was expecting. It didn't help that my shifter bolt backed out half way through the session and I had to roll out of the practice a few laps early. With a new bolt LOADED with red Locktite, we got back in the fight and put the mind to focusing on the race.
Race #4 on the schedule was my first event; C Superbike Expert/Novice 12 lap race. They run the 600's for longer sessions at WERA events because of the popularity of the class and the medium physical effort it takes to race them. All other classes were 10 or less laps.
At the green flag I got a better than average start (for me) and started making my way up through the gears headed into T1. At this point, I was sorta chill about what was going on, until I saw the entry of the front runners into T1! Holy balls, they just launched it in there and didn't even look like they cared haha! The initial race pace was on another level then what I've seen in the 300 classes. These guys mean business! So I pulled my head out of my butt and just sent it into T2/3 has hard as I could to stay with the main pack, but we where already stringing out going into T4. As I entered T5, a long left that connects to the back straight, up at the front two bikes came together and it was total carnage as they tumbled into the grass. All I saw was riders, bikes and dust flying everywhere. Oh great...a red flag, hope they walked away from it...
So we got a full restart and this time I bogged the start but was able to make up for it going in to T1 a lot faster than the previous start. The guys in front of me started gapping me by the end of the first lap and once they were too far up ahead I felt my pace backing off slightly. At this point, it was all about maintaining my position and pace to complete the race. There is no rest at the 1.3 mile track and you always are moving on the bike. The ambient temp was about 82 at that time, so this helped a lot! I crossed the line 7th having started 8th (taking profit of the riders falling in front of me and only getting passed once). Throughout that race I had multiple instances of missing an upshift due to Operator Error. I wasn't putting enough effort into moving the lever and it would drop back to the previous gear. So frustrating!
Preparing for the next 12 lap race, I made sure to take in as much water as possible and stretched to keep the muscles from getting too tight. I don't like to drink anything sugary or full of crap like Gatorade, so a little bit of heavily salted steak and water did the trick.
My launch for Race #12 (C SuperStock 600) was average on the day and I took advantage of the first race experience of T1 and sent it in there as hard as I dared with people in front and behind clamoring for position. This time I was able to stick with the lead pack for about 1/2 a lap longer but their pace was well above mine, so eventually they left me again. Having experienced the miss-shifts from last time, I made double sure to fully engage the lever when going up the gears and didn't have any issues all race. I kept my head down and pushed harder in to the braking zones but found myself over slowing for the corners. Then because I was slower at the apex, I squeezed the gas harder on the exit and was sliding around on the Pirelli SC2 rear much more than I should. At this point the tire was getting pretty hot and the edge grip started to get greasy. The SC2 compound wasn't the right choice for the temps but I'm still using take-offs as a learn so this wasn't necessarily a bad thing to experience at this point.
On lap 6 the rain flag came out...great haha! But because it wasn't anything more than just spitting, I pushed harder to keep the tires hot and was able to maintain my pace and made up a position in the process! I finished 10th out of 13 (having started 10th). So in the end it was satisfactory for my first race on a 600.
The stock suspension worked very well I must say. I used some settings from SportRider back in 2005 haha and it was fairly close to optimal. The forks were bottoming during the second race due to my aggressiveness but I'll be changing my riding style, so no setting changes at the moment. The shock was good too, but there was a slight "wallowing" on the exits of the fast corners that a little more rebound should clear up. I like the geometry of the bike at the moment, especially with the 3mm shim on the shock. Gives me a nice swingarm angle for turning the bike on the rear during the exit but was a little too aggressive on the longer corners. I'll be experimenting with softer tire compounds to see if its that or the geometry that's causing the excessive spin.
Anyway, hope you guys found this interesting. I'll have a video up soon that will give a bit more reference to all this! Thanks for reading and stand by for more pics as the photographers get them loaded up!