2012 Road Atlanta AMA SuperSport iReport
Hi everyone! This was a short and hectic week with our race at Miller Motorsports Park completed over the Memorial Day weekend and a quick turnaround to head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for the Road America round.
Before I go any further I first want to recognize the weekend for our men and women in uniform that are protecting our freedoms so we can do what we love, race. I especially want to thank the National Guard for all their support.
Our Miller weekend in AMA SuperSport was one of those weekends that you learn so much about yourself and your team and the reason they call what we do racing. I recently heard an interview of one of the F1 team managers define racing as “managing challenges.”
He said the team that manages challenges the best over the course of the season is usually out front. Well I can say without hesitation that this weekend my Celtic Orient Express team and I managed our challenges pretty darn good.
Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park
The weekend started out looking a little grim weather wise with the wind blowing and scattered showers making it very chilly. We were able to get in a dry first practice and I slowly eased my way up the time charts getting use to the bike, making setup changes and just getting a feel for the tracks grip in the cool conditions. I finished the session in P2 position which wasn’t bad especially knowing I wasn’t pushing at all.
The next session was our first qualifying session and it had rained earlier in the day. There were a few drops here and there and we knew we had to get out there and make it count from the very first laps. We went out on tires from the last session just to get in some warm up laps before we would change and get down to business.
After a few easy laps I came in to get a fresh rear. Our qualifying session was short so everyone was prepared to get me out quickly. Unfortunately the unthinkable happened. The rear axel nut spun when they tried to take it off.
My mechanics William and Dustin tried every trick in the book to get it off. When they started we had plenty of time and I really wasn’t too worried as long as the rain didn’t come in. The minutes ticked away and I went from second to twelfth as everyone else got their new rubber and laid down runs.
Now I was starting to get a little anxious as the team decided to also start preparing my “B” bike. This was an important qualifying session since this was a one race weekend and qualifying counted as points in a race.
That meant every place not in the number one position meant I was giving up championship points. There wasn’t much time and my B bike was set up for rain. Tires, shocks all had to be changed and guess what, I had no laps on the bike in the last session so it was going to be a “Hail Mary” qualifying session for sure.
The team got me out on the B bike with enough time to get a warm up lap and two flier laps before the entire session was over. I just went for it……On the first flier I went from twelfth to eighth. On the second and last lap I knew I was ripping. The bike wasn’t handling exactly like my A bike but I was able to hold her in tight and continued to wick up the throttle.
I finished out the lap and ended up second on the time sheets only three tenths off the leader. We knew we could do better but that gave us points, and points are what we’re after. That was the start of how our team over came the challenges thrown at us over that race weekend.
Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park
In the morning we had our second qualifying session but it was raining. We all knew we would not come close to our Q1 times from the day before so our team just concentrated on giving me a good rain set up and sent me out to practice.
I have very limited experience in the rain and in the past feared it a little. This was a good time to overcome those fears, listen to my coach and work at honing my rain skill for when I need them. Lap after lap I got faster and faster and eventually was dragging a knee and moving up the time charts. By the end of the half hour session I was in P3 position and was really happy with how I felt out there. The bike with my KTech suspension gripped great and I was ready in case rain was what we had to race in later that day.
Miller Motorsports Park AMA SuperSport Race
The weather cleared up by the time our race was scheduled to go off. We finished signing autographs and got ready to race. The wind was blowing a lot but the sky was the clearest its been all weekend. I set up in the second position on the grid and waited for the flag to drop.
I got a great start, moved right to the front and took the lead for the first lap. I was able to hang in there for two more laps before the bike started to feel a little funny. It caught me off guard a little and I made a few mistakes causing me to slip back. I tried my best to hang on and after around eight laps and going no where I remembered what my riding coaches Mark Gallardo and Jason Pridmore told me.
They said there will be days you just don’t have the set up to win. When that happens recognize it and do whatever you can to salvage as many points as you can. I realized if I pushed too hard I would crash so I did the next best thing, I managed the challenge and brought it home in eight place grabbing a bunch of points and minimized my points loss. It was the right thing to do and I was so happy I had such good coaching otherwise I may have pushed and threw it away along with the championship.
That’s it! To sum it all up I know I have one of the best teams in the paddock behind me. Together we are racing, over coming challenges and we’re all getting better at what we do. I want to thank my entire team, especially William, Dustin and Eric for doing everything it takes to give me the best race bikes on the planet. They are the best. To Barry, Skip and everyone else who came together to help this ride open up for me I say thank you! I will do whatever I have to do to be ready to race for every event. I am now at Road America for round 5, June 1st-3rd, another west coast round that counts toward my AMA Pro SuperSport West championship.
Till next time do what I like to do, GO FASTER…
– James “The Rocket” Rispoli