Daytona 2003

Wednesday Feb 27th, Tim Easton was waiting for us at the Orlando Int Airport with the motorhome and trailer. I promised Tim a ride at the Team Hammer school at Daytona to go along with all my begging. If he'd drive the equipment down there. From California to Florida and back 5000 miles (that's love) Thanks Tim, you are the best!

Anyway, were on track thursday morning at 8:00 am sharp.

CCS/ Formula USA
Thursday, a beautiful day for practice, if we had known it was going to be the last beautiful day we would have appreciated it more. Chris's times were down to 1:58. just about where he left off last year, we suspected his times would improve throughout the two weekends. The bike ran well and the ride was incident free, except for that umbrella girl that kept chasing Chris around all the time. He's still to young to really appreciate that kind of attention.

Friday, was the first race, the GTU middleweight grand prix. the grid positions work a little differently than you'd expect, there's no qualifying, just how you finished last year or when you registered.

Chris was gritted about 30th position and had what appeared to be the worst start of his racing career, he entered corner 1 in about 40th position and then started to pick up positions, the race is only 5 laps and there isn't alot of time to get back up front. By the 1st lap he worked his way back up 22 place and then started to charge, by the 3 lap he was in about 10th place and kept going. By the 4 lap he was in the lead and stayed up front until the last corner and got drafted by the 2nd place rider, for a second place finish. Everyone said he took the lead a bit to soon, the last corner at Daytona is were the draft is so critical, you never want to lead going into the last lap. Chris had to pass a lapped rider and took a chance, it didn't pay off this time.

Saturday was a combination of rain and clouds the first race today was superbike series, because of a error he was NOT gridded for this race and had to instead run in the heavyweight race, he was gridded at the back, in last place. Not only was he gridded in the back against 1000's there was also a second wave. Second wave means after the first 40 riders take off they hold everyone back from the first wave and have about a 10 second delay. Chris rode from about 70th position to finish the race in 20th, not bad considering the wave and 50 riders ahead of him in only 5 laps.

The next race was the GT series GTU , once again a waved start and 5 laps. Chris was gridded in the second wave in about 60th position, one again he charged from 60 th to finish the race in 9th place. I should mention he had another miserable start. I was wondering what could be going on with the starts, and then we checked the clutch basket. At Willow Springs last month we had burnt out the clutch and put a new one in for the CCS races but hadn't noticed that the basket was all choppy and the clutch was not engaging properly. The more I do this, the more I realize there's a lot of moving parts to a bike.

On sunday it looks like rain again, for the Formula USA 600 race, everyone is scrambling around trying to figure out what kind of tires to use for half rain and half dry. This is the worst kind of race day, if it's raining, no problem rain tires, if it's sunny easy choice, but when it's a combination of both, it sucks.

Our decision proved to be the wrong one, what we used was a medium compound with extra cuts in the tire for water. It didn't rain like we suspected and Chris's tires gave out half way through the race. even though our choice was wrong he still had a respectable 7th place finish.

The next race was the Formula USA superbike race, Chris is still on his 600. The race started with yet another bad start, we didn't change the clutch basket yet as we didn't have another one. Chris was actually doing quite well in this race and was running about 15th place when his engine blew up, the connecting rod broke and he pulled off. The only fortunate thing was that I had a new engine coming from Toronto with John Sharrard, Chris's tuner. I got lucky.

AMA starts on wednesday, practice. John Sharrard was there on tuesday and changed the engine so we were ready to go. Chris goes out on the new engine and comes back saying there's something wrong with the bike and he can't ride it. We stress about what's wrong and have it dynode and it checks out very strong.

We were stumped and finally we figure out the transmission is different from his Honda Canada bike and the internal gearing is all different. This means Chris has to learn how to ride what appears to be a different bike. All the gear changes are all different now and instead of down shifting 4 gears into corner one, now he has to downshift 3 gears and one in mid corner, ETC....everything is different. Once he started to figure it out practice went well with Chris's times improving to 1.57's

Qualifying was on thursday as the race was supposed to be on friday. During qualifying on Chris's 4th lap his chain falls off, this means he was not able to get the full qualifying session, he qualified 24th.

The race is canceled due to rain and is rescheduled for sunday.

Sunday everything looks good, the weather is great, Chris goes out for practice and the bikes good but not as good as his Honda Canada bike had been. Chris comes in from the last practice and John starts getting everything ready for the race and notices that the head gasket has started to leak.

Now we have about 1.5 hours to change the head gasket. We decided we didn't have enough time to change the gasket and just retorked the head and bonded the head with JB weld. We finished just before 2nd call. I can't tell you how stressful this was, I was freaking out while John and Tim just remained calm and fixed it, the best they could. Very Cool those two.
Me, I'm not so cool.

Ok, the race starts, Chris has a good start now as the new engine had a good clutch basket. The lead pack of riders are all factory riders, no less than 10 Honda factory or factory supported riders, names like Duhamel, Roberts, Bostrum, Hadden, Chandler, and so on, then the rest of Factory riders for Yamaha and Suzuki..There was lots of them.

Chris rode well, but with all the factory teams and all the new bikes Chris was at a disadvantage. Chris was the youngest kid on the grid and had the oldest bike. This year is a learning year for Chris and so far we learnt allot. Chris was in 19th postion for most of the race, and once again at the last lap his luck changed, this time, he was not going to lead into the last corner so he backed off a little and let the two bike behind him go ahead. The problem with this is, sometimes it doesn't work out. Chris had a great drive and was ready to sling shot passed the two riders when at the very last moment, he drafted passed one rider and then was about to draft pass the next rider when the sneaky little bugger pulled into Chris line and Chris had to brake to aviod hitting him. Good strategy. Wrong outcome.

Chris got his times down to a flat 1.56 and so close to 1.55 which was his goal this weekend. Chris would lose about 2 seconds on the banking and about .5 to .75 on the back straight so if you add that back in, he was very close to the front runners. I know you can't do that but with Daytona being such a horsepower track, it seems fair to make mention of it.

We've ordered our new bikes 2 new Honda 600 CBR rr's but they won't be here till May sometime and then we have to set them up, I suspect we'll have them for Brainerd. The next race was the 750 race, it it was rained out. We stayed till monday and everything looked good again. Wrong. The start went very well and three laps into the race the engine starts to surge on the banking and Chris has to pull off. we still don't know what's wrong and we'll have to wait till Fontane to fix it. Wish us luck. Right now we have another engine coming and one bike that's not running well.

That's it for now and this email is just my impression of the facts.

Take Care,
Fernando Peris