Round 2 Report: Michael Leon

Pressure Makes Diamonds

Good day everyone,

Finally, our team managed to get through a race weekend with a solid finish!  It has been a while.  During the second round of the MOPAR Canadian Superbike Championship held at Grand Bend Motorplex on June 9th, I rode the Royal Distributing S1000RR BMW to 5th place.   It was a breakthrough of sorts for us.  I was able to lay down some fast lap times, very comparable with the front runners, WITHOUT throwing the bike down the road.

The weekend was not without its challenges, race weekends never are.   Following Rd 1, I was invited to coach at the Pro 6 Cycle Trac School.  It was a terrific event and fun to work closely with the students, and to hang out with some other competitors, who were also coaching, without the pressure of racing.  I highly recommend this school to any track day riders that want to step up their game.   

During the last session of the school day, the S1000RR began to make some noise that we thought was coming from the cam chain.  The bike went to Pro 6 for assessment.

The boys found some wear on some of the valve train parts.  After a few calls, we were super fortunate to have Ben Young’s crew member and engine builder, Scott Cartier (who also works at Hindle) find the parts that we needed.  Some parts he had in stock, some he tracked down at BMW Toronto for us.  The BMW family sticks together.  Thanks again Scott! 

Back at Pro 6, Craig Atkinson prepared and re-installed the motor into the superbike, which I picked up on the way to Grand Bend.   There is a pattern that will occur in this race report that will keep coming up: There is no way I would be able to race without these guys. 

Practice for our team began on Friday morning.  We ended 8th in the morning and 6th in the afternoon.  Kyle and I worked throughout the sessions making changes to the setup to try to get a compromise to allow the bike to change direction easily in the slower sections while still providing good feel and feedback from the front tire in the faster carousel section.  We tried two front tires, the new super soft 0129 front as well as the 2662 soft front.  Jon Cornwell helped choose which changes to make and we chipped away at it, making progress with each change.  Again: There is no way I would be able to race without these guys.

We were on the way to finding a good setup, with only one problem, the cam chain noise started to come back at the end of the Friday afternoon session. 

We let the bike cool down, and it was gone.  We changed the cam chain tensioner and put it on the dyno.  It made no strange noises on the dyno and it made good power.  Whatever it is, it only occurs under load on the racetrack, because it came back again on lap 2 of Saturday morning practice.   The good news is that that whatever it is, it isn’t catastrophic because the bike is still very strong and fast.   Anyhow, we parked the bike.  Friend and fellow racer Jeff Williams and his crew Jim Brown immediately offered up their spare stock motor.  Again: There is no way I would be able to race without these guys. 

Kyle and I jumped right into it.  Before the session was over, we had the motor out.  (We had a little extra time because there was a red flag delay during the session).   Shortly after lunch, we had the borrowed motor in and were back on the dyno to make sure there were no leaks, etc.   All was well.  Kyle worked his butt off and smiled the whole time.  I’m so proud to have him on the team and to call him my friend.  Again: There is no way I would be able to race without these guys. 

Next up was Qualifying and Superpole.  During the opening laps of Q, I knew we had a great bike.  I was able to use the front tire to really force the bike to follow the line I wanted and had lots of grip at the rear.  We progressed to Superpole in 5th place.   Kyle put on a new rear tire and we set off for the 10 min Superpole session.  Heading out when the track went green ended up being perfect timing.  There were 2 riders about a corner ahead that I was able to use as a carrot, reeling them in.  I was even able to roll off for a lap to give myself a little room to make a run on them.   Bam!  I set a time of 1:03.508 seconds.  My fastest ever at GB by over a ½ second.   It turned out to be good enough for 3rd and a front row start.  When I came into the pits, Kyle had the quote of the weekend.  He said, “Pressure makes Diamonds!”  

On Sunday, for the race, we chose the soft 2662 front and super soft 0129 rear compound Dunlop tires.  During the grid roll out, I felt good.  It’s exciting to be on the front row.

At the start, I got the hole shot and led for the first few corners.  When Ben came by on the straight, I was able to tuck in behind him and cross the line in second.  This was the best scenario; I was hoping to be able to latch on to Ben and possibly Jordan if he came by, and break away from the rest of the field.  Red flag!  Darn it.  Unfortunately, there had been a crash in the first corner at the back of the pack and the rider had to be attended to.  The riders returned to the pits.  Later, we found out that I was called for a jump start.  I admit that I creeped about an inch or two while the lights were on, but I was stationary when the lights went out and didn’t gain any advantage.  It didn’t matter anyhow, because the race was to be completely re-started.

About 20 minutes later, they gridded us up again.   This time, my start sucked.  I was 5th into the first corner, following Nickerson.   In the opening few laps, I had to force myself to relax a bit and not panic about the leader’s getting away.   After losing a bit of ground, I put my head down and made up the distance to Nickerson.   He was riding well, and I was only able to challenge once, but couldn’t make it stick.  In the closing laps, the rear tire started to fall off and I couldn’t maintain the pace to challenge him again.  I realize now that I was riding a little too aggressively on the corner entries, scrubbing off a little too much corner speed and then hammering the rear on the exits to do the lap times that we were running.  I abused the tire a little too much and had nothing left for the last few laps.  5th is were I ended up.

The opening laps of the SBK race.  Leon runs in 5th place, behind Nickerson and ahead of Trepanier, Casas and Williams. Photo by Steve Bailey

Kyle, Jon, Sandy, Joe, Craig, Jeff, Jim and Scott I can not thank everyone enough, again: There is no way I would be able to race without these guys. 

Considering the difficulties that we had at the start of the season; the Royal Distributing Superbike Team is pleased with the results.  We will take it and build on it, going forward.  The motor is at Pro 6, they will figure it out.  The next event is St Eustache, which should be a great race.  Our motorcycle is working well, and I can turn competitive lap times, closer than we have ever been.  If we can just get some better starts and tweak our race strategy a bit we should be in the mix!  There is ALWAYS something to work on. 

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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