AMA Pro Supersport at Laguna Seca: Friday, July 23
The Friday morning schedule for the Challenge was, well, challenging. First we got 20 minutes of practice at 8:15am in the fog… my faceshield steamed up on the inside so I had to ride with it cracked open. Then we had 20 minutes of qualifying at 10:20am, I managed to post a decent 1:33.7 to qualify P8. Finally we raced at 11:50am …and I got the worst start of my life – front wheel up and down like a yoyo – a slew of folk going past me over the turn 1 hill. Furious with myself, I put my head down and pushed as hard as I could to get back past some of my competition. On lap 7, I nearly highsided my rearend to the moon accelerating out of turn 5 after passing Neil Atterbury… but I stayed onboard through superior luck. I wound up in 12th place at the end of the ten lap race – not good after starting in 8th position, but my best lap was a 1:32.5 which made me a little happier with myself.
I parked the 999 and walked down the hot pit to my world-class crew, who were ready with the 848 to start the 12:30pm Supersport practice session. At least I was warmed up and ready for bear. I put in a bunch of laps during the 50 minute session, partly to ensure our tire choice was going to last the 18 lap race, but mainly because the 848 felt surprisingly alien after the 999 and I needed the seat time to readjust my mental paradigm. As usual for Supersport, there were the plenty of kids in the dirt as they chased the glory of winning practice.
After our jam-packed morning we had the afternoon free, so we mounted a new set of the Dunlop AMA spec’ tires on the 848 ready for Saturday morning qualifying. We also spent some time race-prepping an electric bike, home-built by our new friend Alex Prilutsky, who works in battery R&D for Tesla motorcars. Earlier that morning, Alex had been looking for an AMA or FIM licensed racer to ride his bike in the FIM e-Power race, I was pitted nearby, and a coupla friendly AMA tech officials hooked us up. I was thrilled by the idea of getting to ride an electric bike in Sunday’s e-race.