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Year in review

Sep 15, 2005

It’s very hard to put the highs and lows of an entire season of racing into perspective but here is my best shot... Fernando Peris, Chris’ Dad

The year started off with a fleet of new Yamaha R6s. I set out to hire the very best engine and suspension tuners I could find, as my ultimate goal was to spend the least amount of time going from privateer to having a job with a factory team. I hired Willie Vass of Vass Performance to do the engine work and Max McAllister of Traxxion Dynamics to do the suspension and chassis tuning. Both Willie and Max served as Chris’ pit crew, and I did “tire duty” for the team. Other than the three of us, we had no outside help (except for continuous phone conferences with Nick Ienatsch, Chris’ coach).

In spite of the fact that Chris and the team were unfamiliar with the bike, as well as each other, our first race outing was tremendously successful (5th in the Daytona 200). We were not allowed to do any preseason testing with the factory teams, and Chris’ very first lap on an R-6 was on the high banks of Daytona. We were competing against teams with riders that had up to three years of development and seat time with the same model of bike. According to Max, “Anytime you go to Daytona, it is hard to succeed. If you can ROLL your bike into the trailer, your rider isn’t injured, and you score even one point, it is a total success. Anything past that is simply icing on the cake.” As far as the team was concerned, the year couldn’t have started any better.

As the year went progressed, Chris finished in the top 10 in both AMA Supersport, and AMA Formula Extreme every weekend. He finished as high as 4th in FX and 6th in Supersport. Based on his performance, our hopes were that he would actually get the elusive “Factory Ride”.

The stats on Chris’ finishes are no secret, and although he was the best “Non-18-Wheeler-Guy”, with no US factory support, we decided in the last two rounds to throw caution to the wind and the team told Chris, “Just go for it”. If we finished 5th overall or 10th overall in points, we didn’t care. Only winners show up in the record books!

Chris had raced in 42 races and up until the last two AMA rounds he had completed 41, the one race that he didn’t finish was due to a rare mechanical failure, (while he was running in 3rd in FX and looked like he would get his first podium) which is totally beyond anyone’s control.

The discussions revolved around getting a podium and getting the bike in the “Box” (The Box in this case, is the field of view of the television cameras. This makes it impossible for the TV announcers not to speak about you). Chris rode his heart out and was in the running for a podium both races in the last two rounds (VIR and Road Atlanta). The amount of commentary from the announcers was awesome! The team got a kick out of that, and it was very much appreciated.

In FX at VIR he was on his way to a podium when another rider took him out and spoiled his chances. In the Superport race he was also running in the top three for the first half of the race. Later on, Ben Spies and Chris both lost their fronts on what is believed to be, a fluid of some sort on the track.

Spoiled again you might think, but in reality, the team was overjoyed to see Chris actually get a look at “daylight” as he attempted to drive around the outside of the Hayden brothers and try to take the lead early in the race. We all knew he could finish 8th, but to see him fall down trying to put it on the box was inspiring. We know there will be more crashes in the future, but once you get to the next level, it takes time to adjust, and we know that will come with a little time. Some people may not know, this is only Chris’ 3rd year in the AMA on 600’s and only his 5th year on motorcycles.

Road Atlanta was a bit of a problem for us, since it has a very long straight that goes from 1st gear to 6th gear. We didn’t build superbike engines for the FX class, but opted to run supersport spec engines all season to keep reliability high, and cost low. So we were at a noteworthy disadvantage at this track, but Chris just rode even harder, and impressed us all the more. He ran as high as 4th, got into a 4-way dice, and ended up 6th We thought this was pretty good, but Chris was not happy with his outcome, and came back with a vengeance for the Supersport race Sunday.

Once again we told Chris to go ride for a podium, and whatever happened was OK with us. Chris ran a strong 3rd for 6 laps in front of every factory backed Yamaha, and fell behind in 4th for the balance of the race till lap 13 of 15. Chris was pushing his privateer bike beyond its capabilities and tucked the front. He ran every single lap below a 1:27.6 lap time, and a best time of 1.26 975, which is absolutely incredible!

On a high note!

Our Canadian series was a tremendous success Chris only ran 6 out of the 8 rounds and finished 3rd overall (due to date conflicts with the AMA rounds). Chris was on the podium 100% of the time. He received two 1st place podiums, two 2nd place and two 3rd place podiums. (He said he was doing the Noah and the Ark thing) Some people think he could have won the number one plate if he had gone to all the races. (Congratulations Steve Crevier and Diablo) The Canadian Series is a little different than the AMA. In Canada you have a horsepower rule set at 115 BHP to even out the playing field. The talent at the top is just as competitive as the U.S. Series. The difference is, the equipment is less of a factor.

We also had an opportunity to race in a World Supersport event in Misano, Italy. This was an unbelievable learning experience for Chris and although his results may not have shown his talent, you have to understand, to race in a foreign country on a new track, a different bike (Suzuki) with different tires (Pirelli) against the World’s Best and only two hours of practice, is difficult to say the least. Chris finished 25th out of 31 riders. Another interesting fact, from pole position to 31st place only three seconds separated the grid; unbelievable! In an AMA or Canadian event you can have as much as 10 seconds separating the grid and sometimes more.

Overall I don’t think our team could have done any better. Chris constantly amazed everyone in the paddock, and certainly did more with less than any of the factory teams. Since I don’t see anyone on a factory team retiring any time soon, I’m not sure where that leaves us for next year. Time will tell. We need to find an outside corporate sponsor or get a belated call from one of the factories. I hope some Team Managers get to read this!

I don’t mean to sound discouraged, as we had the most spectacular year in our racing history and Chris has shown he can run with the big dogs. Regardless of how it turns out, Chris will race next year; we’re just not sure in what series or country. Chris has accepted a ride in NEW ZEALAND this “winter”. At that time of year, it’s very cold in Canada, and very warm in New Zealand. Chris will ride for a new team formed by multi-time Champion Shaun Harris, who is starting a new “rider exchange” business, where North American riders can go race where it’s warm to stay in shape for the upcoming races on our continent. Sounds like a great adventure!

Thanks for watching us this year and I’ll keep in touch.

Bill, Chris, Fernando, Max, Nick and Willie (alphabetically, not by importance)

Favourite expression all year .. How Fast Is Your Wallet.

Thanks again to all our sponsors!