The Blysk Racing team from Montreal has made its first appearance in the American Championship, MotoAmerica. The doubleheader season opener was hosted at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on April 5-7.
The team had no data or experience at this blistering track but decided to take the challenge despite Road Atlanta being known as very difficult. The weekend's first goal was to get extra knowledge onboard for the Mopar CSBK Canadian National Superbike Championship starting in a few weeks from now and then see what kind of results they could achieve.
The weather conditions were up and down with chances of rain which kept the team even more busy with swapping from wet to dry setup all weekend long. Rules being different from the CSBK, down South only one chassis can be ridden per race weekend.
"Doing my very first laps at this track in wet conditions was not good or bad. It allowed me to first see the track at a lower speed, but then things you wouldn't normally pay attention to take some of your momentum away," said Samuel Trepanier while changing his rear shock spring with Martin Richard.
Despite the racetrack being a complete mystery at this time, Trepanier took advantage of his smooth riding style and placed the team in 10 position over 16 racers during the first session of the weekend.
The MotoAmerica schedule gets you right at work while the first two sessions are Qualifying Practices. These two will get you into the races as well as the Superpole on Saturday for the top 9 riders.
Friday was all about getting used to the track but also estimating the track conditions for the afternoon session as it was drying out slowly while the chances of rain were still pretty high. "At one point you just got to take a decision and work with it," said Beata Marszalik while reporting various track conditions from corners to corners around the track.
Trepanier finally had the chance to experiment on a dry track and get a feel of the corners, grip level, banking, elevation, bumps, gearing, suspensions, pre-setup feedback, and the fierce backstretch. "That thing is wild. You feel like a passenger on a rocket ship curving up to catch your target while being totally blind at high lean angle spinning the rear tire in blue smoke at 300kph, I've never seen or experienced anything like it whatsoever," commented the Blysk Racing rider after his first few laps in dry conditions.
This second and last qualifying practice of 45 minutes well qualified the Blysk Racing team to race. Starting in P-14 with a best lap of 1:30.9.
Race 1 went according to plan except for a clutch issue. The team was hoping that changing the hub would fix the launching process but the whole assembly needed to be replaced to have proper starts again. After settling up his momentum, Trepanier did a good and consistent race clocking most of his fastest lap after mid-race. "The new extra soft Dunlop compound is fabulous. Plenty of traction while having a tire that lasts," said Trepanier after completing his first ever race outside of Canada. Trepanier later told us that the motorcycle was not perfect, it needed some more work as the front end feel was not good and the brakes couldn't keep up with the hard braking zone which both elements were taking away his confidence to push harder.
These elements were to be improved and tested during the 15 minutes Sunday morning practice, although heavy showers were going on all night at Road Atlanta and caused a wet morning practice ahead of race 2. "The chances of confirming the changes we did last night are close to none right now," said mechanic Paul-Etienne Courtois while looking at the damp track.
Race 2. The necessary clutch parts weren't handy, so Trepanier had to go soft on the early race procedure and take the last spot going into corner 1. "I got stuck behind the rider in front of me for too long and it took me all the race to recover from it," said Samuel while debriefing with his team. Although Trepanier's wish was to try to stick with the group ahead of him, he was able to partially recover his initial loss. Ripping his fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:29.0 on lap 17 to make a second pass and take over P-11 on Sunday.
The team is very satisfied with the performances despite the weekend's package wasn't perfect, "We made the best with what we had and we brought it home which is most important at this point," said Trepanier. They are now looking on fixing various issues with the bike components and get ready to hit Virginia International Raceway for round 3 of Moto America in 2 weeks time.
Samuel Trepanier and his crew Beata Marszalik, Martin Richard and Paul-Etienne Courtois would like to thank the following sponsors who are onboard for the MotoAmerica project: MotoAmerica, Carrier BMW (Sherbrooke, Drummond, Trois-Rivières), Öhlins USA, Weir Everywhere Racing, M.M. Carrosserie & Mécanique, Lettrage T2 Design, Pro 6 Cycle, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires USA, Hindle Exhaust, Bickle Racing,Turcotte Performance, Pat Moto Sport, Dominion Tshirt, Hotbodies Racing and Sportbike Track Gear.
From a press release