Round 1 Report: Michael Leon

CSBK Round 1 Race Report: If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It! 

Hello Everyone,

I’ve decided to try writing my race reports in the first person this season. A little less formal and a little more personal. Here we go.

Except for the final result, the season opener, held this past weekend, May 21st at Shannonville was an amazing weekend for our team. I was able to find out that I do want to continue racing and that I’m still fast! Going into the weekend I wasn’t sure about either. 

The past few months have been very difficult. In April, I made the trip to Road Atlanta for the MotoAmerica Superbike race. The goal was to qualify, make it on the grid and race, as preparation prior to the Canadian season. Unfortunately, I crashed in practice, catching my left pinky finger between the handle bar and the asphalt and damaging it very badly. The surgeon was not able to save the finger and the last two phalanges had to be amputated. Thank God for the FIM insurance, the trip to the hospital cost $24,000.

In the weeks that followed, I really struggled with whether I wanted to race again. I considered trying to find an available top rider to race the bike at Shannonville to represent Royal Distributing and our other sponsors. I was pretty lost for a while. I unplugged from social media for a couple weeks and simply focused on healing and figuring things out.  I have an amazing wife and daughters. Jen, Jaimie and Jayden never once asked me to stop racing. They encouraged me do what was best for me. I am truly blessed and am a lucky man to have such support.  As we got closer to the race weekend, I made the decision to give it a try, to see if I could still ride, if I still wanted to ride.  I didn’t want to end my career on a sour note. 

Once I got out on track on Thursday, I knew I had made the right decision. The first session was intimidating, but aside from some phantom pain, I could still do it.

Our team crew chief Kyle Blakely (Windmill Motorsports) was joined in the pits this round by good friend Jaret, who is also an avid track day rider and a fellow S1000RR owner. These guys did an amazing job all weekend. Kyle was at the top of his game and things just clicked for me and the team. Jon Cornwell consulted with us continuously and we just kept chipping away at the setup and getting progressively more comfortable.

When we ended the Saturday morning practice session 2nd fastest, riding on a used Dunlop 0129 compound tire that was a take off from Road Atlanta, I knew that we had a chance at a good result. Turning that time on a used 0129 also gave us a good indication that that compound would go the distance in the race and was valuable info about the tire choice.

In the SuperPole qualifying session, I finished in 5th. The field was very tight and my time of 1:05.309 seconds was 0.28 from the pole time. It was a time that I set on my own, without a tow. The team was stoked, we had never been that close to pole position before.

During post race inspection our BMW had 194 bhp on the dyno. We were the 3rd strongest bike. The top bike had 198 bhp. I have to shamelessly plug Pro 6 Cycle for the amazing engine build, which is holding up well.

Things continued to look promising during Sunday morning warm up.  We were 3rd fastest.

In the superpole qualifying session, I finished in 5th. The field was very tight and my time of 1:05.309 seconds was 0.28 from the pole time. It was a time that I set on my own, without a tow. The team was stoked, we had never been that close to pole position before. 

During post race inspection our BMW had 194 bhp on the dyno. We were the 3rd strongest bike. The top bike had 198 bhp. I have to shamelessly plug Pro 6 Cycle for the amazing engine build, which is holding up well.

Things continued to look promising during Sunday morning warm up.  We were 3rd fastest.

Sunday afternoon, it was time to race. At the start, I botched the launch and ended up running in 8th place. Daley crashed in the hairpin moving me to 7th. It took several attempts to get past Trepanier. I then set off after Williams and was able to get him on lap 5. Now running in 5th place, I could still see the leaders. I was riding very hard and had pushed the front tire multiple times. I was trying too hard to make time on the corner entries instead of focusing on the drive out which is the correct way to squeeze those last few tenths. It bit me in the ass. I tucked the front in the last corner on lap 6. An easy lowside, I jumped up and OK. No injuries. The machine not damaged except that the fly by wire throttle connection popped out of the connector and threw an error code. I was unable to continue.  I blew it.

While I was moving through the pack, I set the fastest lap of all the riders in the race! I have never done that in the dry before. Our team did everything right and I managed to come out of the weekend with a big goose egg for points. Damn it!

Despite the crappy result, it was a good weekend. Probably our strongest ever.

There are so many people that I need to thank. My family is amazing. I am so lucky to have Jennifer Jaimie and Jayden in my corner. I love you girls. Huge thanks to Kyle, Sandy and Jaret for being there with me in Atlanta and helping me get through a tough time. Kyle has been spinning the wrenches for me for the past 4 seasons, through the good and bad and never gives up on me. You guys have my back on track and off! Couldn’t be going so fast without Jon Cornwell’s advice on for both setup and racecraft. Thanks Jon, for telling it like it is. Thanks to Steve Walker for the medical advice and always being a phone call away.

Without our sponsors, our team would not be on the grid. Royal Distributing has been supporting our efforts since 2008. I can’t wait to put the Royal Distributing S1000RR on that podium for you guys. Thank you to John Mochrie, Scott Spark and Jordan Smart for believing in our program. It’s time for me to stop throwing the bike down the road and get you some results. To any fans that are following our team, next time you are looking for some gear consider stopping by Royal, consider giving your business to a company that supports the sport.

So, to make a long story short I HAVE figured some stuff out. Yes, I do still want to race. And, Yes, I am still fast, even without my left pinky finger. And, Yes, I did mess up again and crash out of a race. Racing is hard, and that is probably why I like it so much. If it was easy, everyone would do it! 

See you at the track.

About Royal Distributing:

Since 1990, Royal Distributing has built a reputation as a leader in aftermarket motorcycle, snowmobile, ATV and bicycle products. Royal carries all the gear, parts and accessories for sports enthusiasts of any age. From protective gear (jerseys, gloves, pants, helmets and boots) to casual wear and accessories, Royal Distributing will appeal to even the most discriminating shopper. There are 4 “superstores” located in Guelph (head office), Innisfil, Sudbury and Whitby. All are fully stocked to make sure you get the best possible ride, at the best possible prices with service from an amazing staff. For more information visit one of the Royal Distributing stores. Or online at http://www.royaldistributing.com/

The Royal Distributing Racing Team would like to thank Royal Distributing, Pro 6 Cycle, Dunlop USA, BMW Motorrad Canada, Windmill Motorsports, Bell Helmets, Joe Rocket Canada, Five Gloves, TCX Boots, Hindle Exhaust, Liqui Moly Canada, Motovan, Perry Performance, GianMajor Inc., Armour Bodies, MWR Air Filters, Bickle Racing, Dave Smith and Vortex Racing Sprockets.

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