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Here’s my rambling track day report.

Grattan raceway, Apr 30th.

"They" called for 100% chance of rain. Its Michigan though isn't it?

Typically I do one or two track days a year; I'm going to change that though. The last time that I was at Grattan was 2 years ago, before that, another two years when I low sided the 996 in turn 4. Same bike, same track. I have done some modifications in the last two years that have helped the bike in the performance department. UM222 chip, Full system, light flywheel, 520 conversion with 15/39 gearing, lightweight wheels, Ohlins shock - dialed suspension, iron rotors and galfer green pads. There are a few other minor things but that's the jist of it. This time around I ran the new Power race tires too. Plus I was wearing my new Kushitani suit and Arai helmet so I felt lighter, more protected and ultimately more confident.

Friday afternoon I leave home around 7pm anticipating the worst because of the weather forecast. Well, I spent $145 on the registration so I’ll be damned if I’m not going to go out there. The drive was great, only one traffic jam and the total time was 2 hours. So I show up at the track, expecting to camp but the ground was wet, the wind was blowing and it looked like rain. So I drove 5 miles east to Candlestone inn where I got a room for $48. BTW, they offer a discount for folks that are attending an event at Grattan. Before going to bed, I stopped by the lounge area to see if anyone was there as I noticed a few trucks/trailers in the lot with bikes in/on them. I was greeted by the owner of Trackoholics- Jim, Jen Ramey, Don Proctor – Bridgestone tire tech, Mike Ngo – marketing rep for Kushitani leathers and another rider (forgot the name). We had a few drinks b-s-ing about one thing or another and decided to hit the sack. For some reason I couldn’t sleep well. Anticipation, most likely but it’s never been this bad.

The next morning showed no signs of rain though it was quite nippy.etc….etc……

Jump to the first session.

10 riders in my intermediate group. That’s excellent because it’ll give me plenty of room to “crack the rust off” I spent the first session remembering my previous braking markers, lines and taking note of any changes in the track. There are tons of patches so I figured there might be a few more.

The mods that I had made to the bike came to life on the track. The gearing was still a bit tall, I was not able to top out 6th on the straight, maybe 5,000 rpm so I bet I could go up another 2 in the back because there were other spots on the track where I was in the correct gear but a bit too low in the rev range. The full system really came to life on the straight at about 130mph and up (it just kept on pullin’) whereas I didn’t really notice it riding on the street, or at Gingerman. With the flywheel and the cold track I had to be real conscious of my throttle control, the slightest input made a huge difference. I’m realizing that all of these modifications are pretty much meaningless on the street, but make all the difference on the track.

The 10 spoke forged alum. Marchesini’s were awesome, I felt as though the transitions from one side to the other were able to be made much quicker and with more precision. I didn’t have any problems with the suspension either. Except with braking hard for the bus stop. Here I felt some shuddering in the fork, perhaps I need to slow the compression a bit but I know squat about suspension and left it alone. The brakes….THE BRAKES!!! They felt awesome. Before getting on the track, the lever felt spongy, so I bled and bled them but that didn’t help. I was a bit nervous at first but man, the feel and power were a million times better than the stock set up.

So the mods made a difference. Good, money well spent. Finally some justification there. Previously my times were in the 1:34’s and the morning sessions got me back to those times. I didn’t have a timer but this is what I felt. I was at a point were I was comfortable going at that pace but I wanted to know what I could do to improve. So I asked my good friend Nathan who incidentally races AMA and is the Lead instructor at T-oholics to follow me around for a few laps. His comments were mainly to improve my line through 3 and 11/12. Also to be conscious of my throttle control in conjunction with my lean angle. Then it was my time to follow him around. Uhhh….. Duhhh……now I feel slow. Why did I do that? The last time I was following him was when I crashed in 4. So again, I’m nervous. But his lines were great! Smooth, flowing, precise. Mine were wobbly and too swoopy in comparison. Hello, my name is Sally.

So here is where I made a noticeable improvement.

Turn one. I’m now later on the brakes and have more entry speed.

Turn 3, my line protects the inside better and sets me up cleaner for 4 but 3 is still a nail biter for sure.

4, I’m on the gas all the way through 4 now and that puts me in a predicament for the jump.

The jump. This was my weakest area before. I would brake hard before the jump and coast over it. Now I’m on the gas until right before it coasting over it and not using any brake before 5. I suppose I could carry more speed there but one step at a time.

The esses, since I’m coming in there faster than before, I’m only using a little gas through the transitions, just enough to keep the momentum up.

The bowl. Not much different than before, I’m just going through it faster.

The sweeper. I’ve found a line that works pretty well here and I can carry tons more speed than before.

The bus stop. No real improvements, just hit it with a late apex for a straight shot up the hill to 11.

11/12. Previously I was cutting 11 too sharp and that was putting a lot of stress on the suspension. Nate said, just move over 12 inches and it’s like butter. It was.

That’s just about it. I didn’t crash, I learned a lot. I’m exhausted. I can’t wait for next weekend when I can do it all over again.
 
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Re: April 30th Gratton raceway trackday report. (Capt. Home Slice)

Groovy. Positive recollection and analysis lowers your time, and relaxes you more, abling you to get and stay in a zone.

I often treat a trackday as fun, fooling around with parts and settings, and not wanting to time myself. I hate times! But for practice on a track that you'll race at, it's obviously vital.

It's a great thing to work and improve your riding manners and lines as well though. I'm too scatterbrained to focus on that during a trackday though.

Glad you had a good time.
 
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Re: April 30th Gratton raceway trackday report. (996miami)

Thanks.

I don't race but certainly enjoy a bit of dicing with the others in the session. IMO the main purpose is fun and increasing one's skill level in a safer manner.

Pics can be found here.http://ducsunlimited.com/gallery/album81?page=1

Top four are from 2 years ago.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Cool, do you know what times you're turning? I never have enough balls to take 5 as fast as it should be taken...
 
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Re: (Capt. Home Slice)

Were you at the SST event this weekend?

I talked to a bunch of Ducati riders but didn't find you.

I was instructing the novice group both days on a blue/orange R6 and my girlfriend was a control rider in the intermediate group on a 125GP.

BTW: I felt like a dork asking people if they were Capt. Home Slice
 
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Re: (Capt. Home Slice)

I went over there on Sat and asked about you - they looked at me like I was a weirdo


I was the novice instructor for the girl group on Sunday - I had all three of them in my group by the end of the day. I was digging the pink hair.
 
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Re: (Capt. Home Slice)

orange/blue/white Vansons.

This is me trying to not run over the girl's bike.

 
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Re: (Eddie)

Damn, I don't remember seeing you. Are you going to the Sect8 weekend at Grattan next weekend?
 
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Re: (Capt. Home Slice)

No, I would like to, but I don't have a Ducati anymore (for now).

Plus I am going to a private track day at Grattan on May 31st, and I might do the STT Pro School there in the beginning of June.

Not having been to that track in a decade, I am going to be getting a lot of time on there in a short period.
 
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Re: (Eddie)

Good luck with the pro school. A couple of Ducs Unlimited members attended one and said it was pretty good.

What happened with that girl on the EX500? I saw the crash and took the pics but I couldn't tell what the heck happened.
 
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Re: (Capt. Home Slice)

If I do the Pro school, it will be as an instructor. I did one last year with them at beaverrun.

That girl was getting a lot quicker. She was following the red head and looking real smooth, but then she just ran wide and jumped the inside curb of the next turn in the esses.

It looked like the cars must drop a wheel there and dug out a hole inside the curbing. When her front tire hit the curb coning back on to the track it threw the bike sideways. I think that she was just getting mentally tired at that point. She had only been riding motorcycles of any kind for 3 months and I think that she was improving every time out. I hope that didn't mess her confidence up too much. I talked to he and her father, and she wasn't hurt at all in that crash.
 
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Re: (Eddie)

That's good, yeah, it looked pretty freekish like someone put a "stick in her spokes".

It's always good to see women, and all people for that matter get out to trackdays.

so if you're going to be instructing the pro schools then....
 
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