The Progress Continues
Braselton, GA – Patience is perhaps the mantra of 2017 for the Genuine Broaster Chicken / Honda team this season. After an opening round that saw the newly minted Honda CBR1000rr SP2 snag a third place and a DNF, the team was cautiously optimistic. With a yet undetermined electronic issue that was believe to have been resolved during a Dunlop Wet Tire Test in Birmingham, AL, the first practice on Friday morning would be very telling. Had the gremlins been exercised? Would the data from COTA show a clear path forward in the set-up of the new bike? Would a track that the team has typically performed well at provide any positive feedback for the 32Crew? All these questions would be answered in one 50 minute practice session.
It didn’t take long to get those answers. What happened that session was something 180 degrees from history. Jake headed out for his first few laps and everything seemed okay. His pace was off but that’s expected until his confidence comes back. After three laps, Jake pulled into the pits. It would appear that the gremlins had not been chased out, they had in fact relocated. Laptops were plugged into the bike and Jake waited while new maps were loaded. Jake was sent out and immediately pulled back in.. Rinse and repeat for almost the entire session. By the time the first session was called, Jake had only completed a handful of laps and was down on the timing sheets.
It was a flurry of activity during the break before the second practice slated for the afternoon. It would be another 50 minutes and this time, track time was the focus. Coming up with an intermediate solution for the electronics, it was decided to just let Jake turn laps and collect as much data as possible. This would prove to be a solid plan forward as Jake got comfortable and his confidence came up. His lap times got quicker and quicker. Still off the pace from where they would like to be, it was enough for Jake to qualify for Saturday’s Superpole. With a chance to move up the starting positions looming, the hardest working crew in the paddock worked through the night to continue to hunt for resolutions.
Saturday morning was a dull and overcast morning. With the threat of rain for the afternoon, the goal for the free practice session was to ride, come in, make small adjustments and head back out for a few more laps. At the conclusion of the 30 minute session, there were no major issues but also no major solutions. “Good” was the attitude going into Superpole. A super quick 15 minute all out sprint against the clock, wherein the riders utilize the new Dunlop Pre-Qualifier for the first few laps then change to the super soft Qualifier for full-on flying lap. The goal is to go as fast as physics will allow and put your machine in the best possible starting position. Jake’s attempt at this landed him in the 10th starting position. Outside of the fourth row… Smack center of the starting grid.
Race one was only an hour and a half after Superpole, so the time to make last minute adjustments was precious and fleeting. The “Middle Ground” approach was again decided as the best solution for the race. Jake would be left to his own devices in order to get his Genuine Broaster Chicken / Honda around the 2.54 mile Road Atlanta Circuit. Meaning, the electronics had been set to “0”, Off, Null however you want to say it. Jake would have to channel his inner Moto-crosser to finesse the big bike through race one. As the lights went off and the grid raced through T1 and up the hill to head down the famous S’s (turns 3-5), Jake would be holding steady in that mid-pack grouping. For all the drama that was developing at the front of the race, Jake would find himself alone after the fifth lap and holding steady. As the fighting between Toni Elias, Cameron Beaubier, Roger Hayden, Josh Hayes was going at a fever pitch with bikes and riders bumping and bouncing off each other all the way to the line, Jake took the checkers in P10 overall taking the final Superbike position. That afternoon / evening, after rider – crew chief debrief, it would be a silent night in the pits. Only the sounds of ratchets spinning and tools clashing on aluminum workbenches broke through the Georgia night.