Shift Racing Report
Hey everyone, its Austin DeHaven from Los Angeles California, racing in the AMA Super Sport Championship aboard my own 2009 Yamaha YZF-R6. I just got back from attending my second AMA Pro Race, The Red Bull US Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.
Going into the weekend I felt more prepared then ever, mentally and physically. I knew it was going to be a good weekend but was unsure of the final results considering the deep 36-rider grid. Rolling into the track mid day on Thursday we got to work on the bike, doing some final prepping before we were to go out on track early Friday morning. Because this was the same weekend of both AMA and Moto GP, the paddock was tight and there were tens of thousands of fans walking around.
Friday morning was the first AMA practice session and I felt good, setting a pace of 1:30.4 putting us on top of the time sheets. But as Friday came to a close, I knew that was not the race and that everyone would pick up the pace tomorrow.
Saturday started early with our qualifying session at 8:45 a.m., leaving the track a bit cold and foggy with reduced vision, which is the typical Laguna Seca weather. I started off the session feeling really relaxed and knew what I had to do. The pace was getting faster and I needed to pick up my speed right away.
I went into the left-hander just before dropping into the corkscrew on lap 2 and tucked the front sliding into the gravel trap. I got up and ran to the bike hoping it was rideable, as I wanted to get it back to the pits in order to try and finish the session. I got the bike up and luckily made it back to the pits.
As I entered the pits I began to feel a sharp pain on my finger, and wasn’t sure if maybe it was fractured. Even though it hurt, I slid my glove back on and went back out on track. With 7 minutes left, I had about 5 laps to get in a good qualifying lap.
I focused on building my pace back up to where I was the day before. In the end I posted a lap time of 1:29.978 leaving me qualified in third position. The top four riders were separated by .1 of a second and the top six by 1 sec leaving the grid very close together.
The race took place the same day beginning at 5:30 p.m. As the race neared everyone began to prep. As Pit lane opened, we all rushed out onto the track following the pace car to the grid. Unfortunately at the start I didn’t come off the line as planned leaving me somewhere in fifth position. On lap 5 there was a crash, causing a red flag and a race restart.
With 13 laps left in the race my restart was better, working my way through turn 2 and pushing to get back up to the front from my second row start. I worked my way up to 3rd place. With Scott Gilbert, another fast national racer, following close behind and Tyler O’Hara and Huntley Nash leading about 2 seconds ahead I knew I had to try and gain on the gap in front of me.
I picked up the pace, and working hard I eventually closed the gap to the two leaders. Suddenly Tyler O’Hara tucked the front in Rainey Curve, moving me up to second position at the finish, behind Huntley Nash who was leading. This being my second AMA Race and overcoming the issues resulting from my earlier crash that day, I was extremely happy with my result. I definitely could not have done it without my Chief Mechanic Robert Ward and my dad.
I can’t wait for the next AMA race, the Suzuki White Lightning AMA Pro Superbike Nationals at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, August 13-15. See you all at the track.