Team News: Calabogie Race Report from Leon Racing

Pace.  

The rider’s ability to string together multiple laps at, or near, his fastest laptime.  This past weekend, at the CSBK 2021 double header season opener race, we had the speed to fight for the podium, but ended up missing the pace to stay with the lead group and make a podium finish happen.

It felt great to finally line up and race after ten months off.  We were able to put all the cancelled events behind us and kicked off the 2021 season on July 11th with a two-race event at Calabogie Motorsports Park.  The track is one of the finest racing facilities in Canada and home of Pro 6 Cycle who co-promoted the event with CSBK.  I crossed the line on the Royal Distributing BMW Motorrad Canada S1000RR Superbike in 8th and 7th place at the end of the two races.  The results do not tell the whole story.

Over the winter, we updated the S1000RR’s electronics to the BMW kit ECU and dash.  The new kit allows almost infinite adjustments to the Traction Control and Engine Braking and also includes a data recording system.  A major step forward compared to the stock ECU that we ran last season.  This year Kyle (Blakely) will handle all the data and electronic adjustments.  In the past, I have tried to play the role of both rider and data engineer.  It was hard to let go of the data role because I really enjoy it and find it fascinating.  Having my focus on only riding we hope will pay off.  Kyle seems to really be enjoying his new role and is good at it.  Jaret (Whiteside) has stepped up his role on the mechanical side of things, to balance Kyle’s increased attention to the computer stuff.

The bike was working well throughout Friday Practice.  We focused on tuning the new electronics.  When we started rolling on new tires, we were able to improve our times, but not by as much as we hoped. 

My family joined us at the track throughout Friday and Saturday, to cheer me on and support the team.  It was great to have them there.  Good friend David Giorgi also came Saturday to lend Kyle and Jaret a hand with all the tire changes and work in the pits.

During Saturday’s qualifying session, our team was asked by CSBK to run an onboard camera for a new feature this year: Live Qualifying on the CSBK Youtube channel.  It was super cool to be part of and an amazing opportunity to help increase exposure for our sponsors.  The session started with a red flag, and I was interviewed by Frank Wood during the shutdown. 

After the interview, we got running again and when I came back in with 7 minutes left in Q, I was sitting in 5th with a time of 2:04.4.  Good for a second row start.  I decided to wait it out which turned out to be a mistake.  In the closing minutes, I was bumped to 7th, starting on the 3rd row. 

Saturday evening the team regrouped.  2:04.4 was slower than I had qualified last year and too far off the leaders.  We made some chassis changes, looking for a better weight distribution.  We changed the swingarm (chain) length, the triple clamp offset and fork springs.

Boom! Sunday morning, I found 0.7 second and was able to turn a time of 2:03.7.  The bike was more comfortable to push for fast laps. There would be work to do in the races, the leaders were able to run times in the 2:02s.         

I started Race One from the middle of the third row and got a decent start.  I ended the first lap in 8th and quickly moved up to 7th, running at the tail of the lead group.  On the second lap, I ran a time of 2:02.9, my personal best at Calabogie to date!  I tried to hang on the leaders but out broke myself into corner 5 on the 4th lap.  I managed to run off, without crashing and rejoined in 12th place. I was able to recover back to 8th place.

The start of Race 2 went better and I completed the first lap in 5th.  I dropped back to 6th in the opening laps and was able to, again, run with lead group and managed to turn another 2:02.9 lap.  Unfortunately, my visor came loose at the half way mark and I had to ride the rest of the race with difficulty seeing.  I must have not clipped the visor in correctly after cleaning it before the race.  100% human error and not an equipment failure.  Damn it!  I completed the race in 7th place.                 

The results are a bit disappointing.  As I look back on the weekend, I think we made the progress with the setup a little too late in the weekend for me to feel comfortable at the 2:02 pace.  The competition has stepped up this year, which is amazing for the series and will only help to push us to become faster.

There are many positives.  Kyle, Jaret and David did a great job over the weekend and gave me a better motorcycle to ride in each and every session.  We set a personal best time, cracking into the “TWOs” and we had fun doing it.  I am lucky to be able to spend the weekend with my teammates who have become like family.  

For the next event at Mosport, we will be looking for the elusive Pace to run at the front.  I am looking forward to seeing many friends and fans there.  

Yours truly,

Michael Leon

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