The motorcycle racing weekend of the San Marino Moto2 Grand Prix took a very strange turn for Kenny Noyes and his Jack & Jones By Antonio Banderas Racing team, and would be capped by the tragic death of Noyes’ fellow competitor Shoya Tomizawa.
The team was split into two halves for the weekend, with Kenny’s teammate Joan Olive trying a different chassis to the Promoharris bike that the team has been using so far.
The test certainly produced interesting results: Olive finished ahead of Kenny for the first time this season, but the change meant the garage was divided into two sides.
Putting this to the back of his mind, Noyes focused on trying to get the best from the chassis he’s been using all season. After going back to using the older swingarm on Saturday morning, Kenny immediately dropped two seconds off his best time from FP1, but there was no more room for improvement during qualifying.
His grid position became irrelevant, though, as the clutch cable popped out of its retainer on the warmup lap, leaving Noyes to start from pit lane, and negotiate Misano’s armco-lined chicane which marks pit lane exit.
A typically tenacious performance saw the American grit his teeth and slash his way forward through the field: from 39th at the end of the first lap, Noyes went on to finish 24th.
Kenny Noyes says: "It’s been an unusual weekend with everything that’s been going on, and with my teammate running a different chassis, there have been two sides to the garage. We just tried to stay focused on what we were doing and figure out why we’re dropping behind the other guys a little bit with our bike’s performance."
"Basically we’ve had to go back to base settings, to the sweetest spot we’ve found on this bike. Saturday morning was OK, we got back on the pace, but I couldn’t improve any more in qualifying. It’s kind of frustrating not being able to get where we want to."
"I think we had a decent base at the beginning of the year but it hasn’t improved, we’re riding basically the same bike we had at Qatar. I know the team’s working hard, and I’m sure we’ll find a solution one way or the other."
Shoya Tomizawa’s tragic death in a crash on lap 12 cast a pall over the aftermath of the race, and helped Noyes put his tough weekend into perspective.
"I was feeling kinda sorry for myself, but then finding out what happened with Tomizawa puts things in perspective. Right now our thoughts and prayers go out to Tomizawa’s friends and family. On the track he was a real fierce competitor, a real fast guy, but round the paddock he was really nice, always joking and friendly."
"I got to do a few Arlen Ness events with him, and though I didn’t know him very well, it’s just terrible. What happened with Peter Lenz at Indianapolis and Tomizawa here at Misano reminds us all that this is a dangerous sport; it’s beautiful but dangerous also, and this is the darker side of it."