Mixed results show the path forward for the Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda Team
Danville, VA – There’s a feeling one gets when things aren’t quite going as planned, the sense of foreboding, the feeling of frustration at the universe for not giving you a break. That’s how it feels when heading into a race weekend when all you need is track time, consistent dry conditions in order to allow for proper set-up and data collection and the weather forecast is showing rain and cold. If it were a solid heavy rain, that’d be better than what the team was looking at when they pulled into Virginia International Raceway. After a muggy set-up day where the threat of rain was high all day, it looked as if the weather experts were wrong. The rain may hold off, until.. Well until it didn’t. On Thursday night, a storm rolled through the track that was one for the ages. Not quite the rip the canopy off the transporter micro-burst that the series experienced the year prior, but a rain that seamed to drain the heavens.
Friday was a chance for the team to develop their wet set-up. With the cold and wet conditions showing no signs of lifting for the day, the team was confident that with the electrical issues behind them, for the most part, they could focus their energy on a proper wet set-up which they had started to track down during their test at the Dunlop Tire Testing Facility. Well, this wouldn’t be development work if everything went according to plan. First time out, Jake didn’t even make it to Turn One before he was seen pushing the bike through the wet grass and soaked red clay. Immediately the crew runs down to the track side to meet Jake and push the bike back to the pits. There’s no time for a deep dive into the inner workings of the electronics, it’s just a “grab and pull” bonanza as connectors are unconnected and reconnected. With no data to help confirm the issue, a reset was conducted. Once that had been done, Jake was sent back out only to meet the same fate. Within seconds he was back to running through the track side muck whilst pushing his bike.
In a scene straight from a Hollywood blockbuster, Crew Chief Scott Jensen directs the crew to make specific adjustments and when completed, to push the bike behind the pit wall. Scott runs down the length of the pit wall, discards his clipboard and jumps on the bike to ride it through the access roads and see for himself what the issue is. On a day that was more Isle of Man than Virginia, this former TT competitor dressed in shorts and crew jacket ran his riders machine through parking lots and access roads to diagnose an invisible issue. Jumping off the CBR and running back to the pits with a sense of urgency, the crew was able to remedy the issue and get Jake back out on the track with minutes to spare. That was all Jake needed! Having lost 80% of the track time, Jake got out and made the most of his remaining minutes. Immediately fast and with increasing pace, Jake finished the session 5th fastest. In an amazing turn of events, the team had turned a possible lost session into a Top 5 performance. Brilliant!
By the time Superpole was set to start, the sun had yet to make an appearance and the track was now dry but cold. None of that mattered to Jake. He just got out and rode as fast as the Genuine Broaster Chicken / American Honda would go. With only one lap to set his mark, Jake would climb the timing sheets to P6 for the races and be only .6 off the leaders. That is a huge boost going into race one only a matter of hours away.
What a difference a few hours makes. By the time the riders took their starting positions, the Virginia Sun was out in full glory and temps had increased considerably. Feeling good about his chances to have a strong showing and a positive race, Jake came back from his sighting lap stating that he was ready to get racing. As the revs went up and the riders their bikes at bay until the lights went out, fate was already dealing its hand. As the field wound its way through the woods of Virginia, Jake was in a good positon and appeared to be holding strong. However, by about lap three, Jake knew that something was wrong and his new CBR1000rr SP2 was going in the wrong direction. It was visible on track that he was doing all he could, but eventually he would have to pull into the pits and retire with a fried clutch. It was a hard pill to swallow as Jake and his bike were showing great strides in race pace.
On Sunday morning, the sun was out and conditions were set to be perfect for a new race. Overnight, the 32Crew had rebuilt the clutch and were optimistic about being able to compete with leaders. After a quick 15 minute shake down session in the morning confirmed their optimism, the team prepared for Race Two later in the afternoon. Under ideal conditions, the riders were freed from the Hot Pit to make their sighting lap. Once again, Jake was feeling great and was amped to be racing. Having been moved up one position on the grid due to a rider penalty from race one, Jake was positioned for a cracking start. However, the start would be the most critical part of the race for Jake. Having suffered a clutch failure in race one, he would have to protect this new clutch. When the lights went out, Jake didn’t make the best of starts. A little slower than normal to get off the line, Jake would be back in P8 by Turn 1. As happens at VIR, the riders formed a single file through the first several laps. This allowed Jake to move up the order and dice with the tail of the leading group.
After having a decent battle for much of the race with Mathew Scholtz and Kyle Wyman, Jake wouldn’t be able to maintain the pace. Feeling as if his clutch may be letting go again, he went into protection mode and maintained a solid pace and finished the race in a solitary seventh position. While it’s still not the position that the team would want to be in, it was a finish. It was more than that, it was another solid race wherein the new Genuine Broaster Chicken / American Honda showed consistent pace and faster trap speeds than at previous tracks. Race two showed that the forward progress is still happening and that the team is moving in the right direction.