Austin DeHaven checks in from the penultimate race of the AMA Road Race season at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ.
Hey everyone, it’s Austin DeHaven checking in from the AMA Supersport Championship season aboard my 2009 Yamaha YZF-R6.
My race weekend in New Jersey started off slow with rain in the first half of the day on Friday and a dry track the second half with Saturday and Sunday having amazing warm and clear weather.
Even though this was only my first time at the track, I felt I learned it well within the first couple minutes of the first session.
First Qualifying was held Friday evening with a second qualifier on Saturday morning. Both sessions went pretty well and I ended up with an overall position of 7th even though we had a few rain related problems with the electronics on our bike, leaving me without the quick shifter and some high rpm mapping issues.
In the end I thought both sessions were productive and all the track time I could get was needed because of how well the local fast guys knew it already.
Just a few hours after Saturday’s early morning qualifying session was race 1 of 2 this weekend. Going into race one we made some pretty major changes to the bike’s suspension and we were feeling confident that it would go the distance.
I got off to a bad start, leaving me around 13th on lap one but I got into a rhythm and worked my way back to fifth. I had a great battle with James Rispoli and we traded fourth place a few times before I pulled a great setup pass at the line to finish 4th overall. Close to a podium but not quite there; luckily I had one more chance the following day.
In race 2 we again made some major changes with both suspension and gearing, trying to find that extra speed. I got a pretty good start putting me in my qualifying position (seventh) after the first lap. I got stuck behind another rider for a few laps, letting the leaders get away, which is something I know I have to improve at the next race.
Once I finally made my pass and got a clear track ahead of me, I just started to put down consistent fast laps. As the race wore on I had caught and passed 1 rider and 2 had fallen, leaving me in 3rd place just three seconds behind 1st and second.
I started to push hard trying to reel them in, but after a few laps I decided that 3rd was a good position to settle with and that the pace the leaders were doing was about equal to mine making them hard to catch in the few laps remaining.
The weekend went very well and I am very happy with my season’s performance so far, considering in four AMA race weekends I have two podiums and all top five finishes save for one top 10. I just have to thank my dad, Chief Mechanic Robert Ward, and all my sponsors and supporters for getting the bike working every weekend and helping out on and off track.
Next race is September 24th – 26th at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. This is a winner take all East vs. West Supersport Shootout for the Championship and I am going all out for this one. I want that first win!
See you all there,