The Curse is Real!
Utah Motorsports Campus – Tooele, UT
What must a team do to exorcise the demons that haunt it? What more could they possible sacrifice to the gods of two wheeled motorsport to lift the curse that has become Utah? Coming into the Utah Motorsports Campus this past weekend, the team was well aware of the past performances at the high desert facility. In previous visits to Tooele, the team has experienced everything from their first ever race win to complete disaster ever since. The past two seasons alone have seen championship leads cut significantly as they left with no points scored. It’s hard to admit, but there seems to be no real solution for the team at this track.
There were moments this past weekend that seemed as if the curse had been lifted, as if this was going to be the weekend that the team turned their Utah misfortunes into successes. After the pace that Jake displayed in Race Two from Road America, it was evident that 32Crew had found the missing mojo and the bike was running strong. Jake was as ready as he’s been for challenging course. During the practice / qualifying sessions, Jake was as far up the order as P3 and ran in the top five consistently. Things were going great until, they weren’t.
After strong showings in all three of the practice sessions, Jake and the team were really optimistic.. cautiously optimistic knowing that at any moment, the demons could come calling. Heading out for his first lap in Superpole, Jake was setting the pace for the rest of the MotoAmerica field. As he was rounding the final corner, those demons that were thought to have been banished, reached up and grabbed Jake’s Genuine Broaster Chicken / Honda. Just as Jake was getting onto the gas, his tire stepped out just ever so slightly and in the midst of a recovery, the demon known as “Physics” took over and rapidly converted the potential energy into kinetic energy which equated to Jake being forcibly separated from his machine. When the other demon called “Gravity” took over, Jake landed on his back while his Honda took the brunt of the impact. Rolling and sliding through the Utah silt, his bike came to rest in a cloud of dust and gravel. Jake was able to walk away while the motorcycle was in need of some care.
Once the Genuine Broaster Chicken / Honda was delivered back to the team’s transporter, it was immediately pulled apart and assessed for damage as race one is scheduled to start in just two hours. After a thorough cleaning and cosmetic disassembly, it was determined that the motorcycle had suffered too much damage to the custom parts that the team had built and didn’t have spares for and there wasn’t enough time to repair them. It was a hard call but the team had to decide to withdraw from the afternoon’s race one. This would give the team more time to work on the repair and be ready for the next day.
Overnight, the 32Crew, did what they do best and that is build a motorcycle. With the assistance of the custom fabricators themselves, the crew was able to put the bike back together and it was ready to ride by the morning warm-up. Jake arrived at the track a little stiff and sore but none-the-less ready to ride. Jake was able to get out and give the bike a proper shake down during that short 30 min warm-up session. Everything was in order and so the debrief between Crew Chief and Rider and Team Principal began. The main focus of the discussion was centered on risk vs/ reward. Jake was confident that he could ride and Scotty knew the bike was up to the task. However, the decision was made to once again withdraw from the race that afternoon and concentrate on a full recovery for Laguna in two weeks. The team has had a goal all season, and that goal would be measured at Laguna in front of Honda’s home crowd. The desire to put on a maximum effort in front of the World Superbike audience became the over-riding decision.
It’s never an easy call to not race. In this particular situation, the prevailing wisdom of “More to loose than to gain” became the team’s mantra. The team now looks forward to putting on that show at Laguna. Jake proved that the team has gone in the right direction with the bike. He was running his strongest sessions of the season. The bike was working the best it had all season. The team is confident that they will be running up front at the world famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.