NEWS: Back in Action! (Finally)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Back in Action! (Finally)

14 months is a long time to go between race reports.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve last had to write one.
After a career highlight of finishing on the podium last July, followed by a career lowlight of breaking my pelvis the next day and then breaking my collarbone in early May, our race program has not gone to plan in 2023.

It was great to return to action this past weekend at Shannonville Motorsports Park to participate in the Shannonville Super Series regional season finale. I rode our new 2023 Royal Distributing BMW S1000RR Superbike to 2nd place finishes in the Saturday’s Sprint Cup and Pro Superbike races. On Sunday, I finished second again in Sprint Cup and had a DNF while running in second in Pro Superbike, when the chain jumped the rear sprocket due to a chain adjuster malfunction.

I have been riding a fair bit this summer, doing a lot of coaching, and helping run the BMW demo program with Pro 6 at Calabogie, but it is simply not the same as racing. The goal was to get back out and compete at a low-pressure event and find the joy of racing again.

Mission accomplished!

It was so much fun to return to the Super Series at Shannonville, having spent so much time racing there over the past 3 decades. The participant turnout was light, not helped by a conflicting date with a SOAR regional event. There weren’t very many familiar faces left in the paddock from when I raced with the Super Series from 2009 – 2018. The good news is that those who are now participating in the series are very passionate and there is a welcoming community vibe in the paddock. There have been many large and small improvements to the facility. It was a little strange to participate in races that are run based on the amount of time instead of the number of laps. I’m still not sure why they choose to do it differently than every other road racing series that I’m aware of, worldwide, but hey, I just tried to go with flow and enjoy the racing. The double header format of races on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t leave much time for bike setup development. Once Friday is done, there is only a cold 10-minute practice at 8:50 AM each morning before they jump into qualifying. We made the best of it, focused on the good, and we did have a lot of fun. One thing I could see firsthand is that the new owners mean well and are fully engaged in trying to make the series successful.

It was harder than I thought it would be to get back up to speed. Fortunately, Kyle (Windmill Motorsport) was on hand to help tune the chassis setup, electronics (and rider too) to get things sorted. He helped me stay calm and focused. We work well together. Sandy from Pro 6 Cycle was there on Friday to help dial in tire pressures of the new construction Dunlop tires that we were using. I can’t thank them both enough and I would have been lost without them.

We made steady progress over the three days, and I was able to get down to a 1:06.8 laptime in each of the Sunday afternoon races. For comparison, at the 2019 CSBK National, I was able to get down to 1:05.2 lap time there. So, I’m not 100% back, but I know with more time we will continue to improve and get back to where we were last July. No matter how fast we go, it is never enough, but I am very content with the weekend after more than a year away.

I can’t thank the folks at Royal Distributing enough for their patience and understanding while I have been on hiatus. A few weeks ago, I reached out to let them know that even though I was very close to being fit enough to race at the Mosport National, that I wasn’t going to race it. After being away for more than a year, I just felt it was too risky for me to try and sort out riding on the new CSBK series spec tire brand, sort out a new bike and get in the racing groove again. All while doing it during a high pressure, triple header National, at a very unforgiving (dangerous) track. The reception that I got from them was overwhelmingly supportive and understanding. They made it clear to me, that I should only return to action when I was ready. I’m so proud to represent Royal Distributing, since 2008. They are good people.

The best news after this past race weekend, is that I’m still a racer!

That sums it up for our team for 2023. I’ll be at working at Calabogie for the last track day weekend from Sept 16-19. After that, we’ll go into winter mode and start planning what, how, and where we will race in 2024.

Hope to see you at a racetrack soon.