Insider Magazine Last Round Shannonville

Tomorrow morning I travel to Virginia International Raceway to take part in this weekend's GPRRA 125 event. This will likely be my last ride on a 125 GP bike. But more importantly, it will be my first visit to a track currently on the AMA racing schedule. The plan this winter is to get a taste of as many of the AMA venues as I can. This weekend I'll be in Virginia. Three weeks from now I'll go to the final round of the Formula USA series at Daytona. This winter I'll visit Fontana and Laguna Seca. Hopefully this will prepare me for racing in the AMA series in the near future. The Canadian national season ended at Shannonville Motorsport Park on Sept. 1. The good news is I won the final round of the Diablo Paintball Can-Am 125GP Challenge. The bad news is I didn't race my Honda CBR600F4i because of a crash on Sunday morning. I guess it's always good to have something to fall back on. The 125 race was great. I got the holeshot on my Honda RS125 but Nick Cummings passed me on the second lap. He stayed ahead for a couple of laps but I knew I was faster than him. I couldn't get by him at first but I didn't worry about it. I just waited for a safe place to make the pass. I outbraked him at the end of the backstraight and just pulled away. I think I won by something like 10 seconds. That was my third win of the year. I won every race in the series that I raced in, except the season opener and I finished third in points. Things had started off OK with the 600. I was slowly getting my times down and I was getting faster all weekend. Then in one of the practice sessions on Saturday, as I was coming through the last corner, my knee clipped one of the tires that was marking the inside of the turn. It pulled my leg back and pulled my groin muscle pretty badly. The bike was fine but I was pretty sore for the rest of the weekend. I had qualified 13th for the Yoshimura 600 Sport Bike race. But on Sunday morning in practice I had another fall. This time I came off the backstraight a little hot and that put me off line for the next corner. The bike pushed wide as I went over some ripples in the pavement, I hit the grass and I went down. We could have repaired most of the stuff on the bike but the clutch case had been ground through or cracked, and we didn't have a replacement. It was too bad because some of my family had come out to the race unannounced, including my two sisters and one of my cousins from Montreal. Before the Shannonville weekend we had been at Shubenacadie on the East Coast. I loved the layout and the track was a lot of fun. But the pavement was just so bad. In some parts there was grass growing through.

It was a difficult track to learn and really physically demanding. You have no time to rest there. I finished the season ninth in the 600 Sport Bike standings and fourth in the HJC Pro Rookie of the Year points. I definitely still need more practice on the 600 but the year was good training for me. I've ridden all the Canadian tracks once now and I'm sure if I can handle those I'll be ready for just about anything. Plus I've had a lot of fun, which is the main thing. Between the Shubie and Shannonville races I went to a track called Stratotech Park near Edmonton for a club race. That is a really nice track. The pavement has got to be the best in Canada, the traction is amazing. It's a lot of fun but it's also really short. It was made for go-karts and I'm sure no one expected to have motorcycles racing there. It's a very technical, tight track, about the same length as St-Eustache. I know some people have asked about having a national there. Do I think it's suitable? Yes and no. The track is good enough but I don't know if they have the space. The paddock is really small and there's not much room for spectators. I don't know if they would be able to expand it. Two weeks after the Shannonville race we went down to Willow Springs to take part in the Toyota 200, a big non-championship race. We still had a 600 down there that we've been trying to sell, so we thought it would be fun to go down and ride it. Well, I crashed the 600 in practice, but a friend of mine had an RC51 that he wasn't going to use for the race, so he let me ride that. Wow, that was a lot different than what I was used to. The bike was so much heavier than anything I'd ridden before. And I'd never been on a twin. The power comes on slower and smoother than a four cylinder and you don't realize how fast you're going. I think I was running in the top 10 in the first hour of the race but I could only do 40 laps before I had to leave for the airport to catch a flight home. Still, it was quite an experience. I also finished the CMRA season at Race City on our stock CBR600F4i. By the last weekend I was turning times as fast as I had done on the Honda Canada bike at the national in June, so I've definitely improved. When we go down to Daytona Honda Canada is supposed to be giving us one of my rebuilt 600s and we'll use that for the winter, with our stock 600 as a spare. We'll take the trailer down to California and try to get to as many events as we can. I'd like to do one race a month at least, and staying at one track all winter seems kind of pointless. I'll do a club race at Fontana and I'm supposed to take a three-day Keith Code school at Laguna Seca. It will probably be better to learn the track with an instructor. And I've started school again. I'm back for my second year at the Banff Mountain Academy. It's a sports school designed for students who are heavily involved in athletics. We spend four days of the week in classes and we have one day of activities. It's also structured to help students who are away a lot. It was started for ski racers who were training out here, but it has broadened now to include other athletes. But I'm the only motorcycle racer there! Anyway, I have to leave for Virginia at 4:00 tomorrow morning, so I should probably stop here. The next time I write I will have started my off-season American adventure. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.