Hey everyone, Anthony here.
I know a lot of you have been wondering about how my first 600 Supersport MotoAmerica weekend went at Road Atlanta. I met my updated bike, ran quick laps, learned from some mistakes and came away with points. Here are the details:
Friday morning was the first time I rode my Yamaha Champions Riding School, N2-backed Yamaha R6 around the Road Atlanta circuit. I picked the track up quickly and soon topped the morning Group One charts at a 1:33.0 .
Back in the motorhome I went over where I was struggling and the team made changes to the bike involving gearing and suspension. I started the day running a medium compound tire and rode the second session on the same tire. Our changes helped a lot but the other riders were finding out how to go faster as well. I ended the session with a 1:32.3, dropping time slowly but steadily. The bike felt really good after this session and I was super excited to ride on the soft rear tire in Saturday’s qualifying session.
Saturday morning it was time for business. I went out for qualifying on the medium I ran on the previous day just to get warmed up for a few laps and instantly matched my time from Friday. I came into the pits to get a drink and switch to the soft rear tire. The smile on my face was ear to ear as I knew I was about to set a fast lap.
On my out-lap I cruised around making sure everything was good to go. I came storming up the shoot from 10b under the bridge and squared off turn 12 amazingly. It was time to go to work. This lap was pretty decent. I made a mistake into turn 10a running a little wide, but crossed the line at a 1:31.4 which would be my first and only hot lap on the soft tire.
I knew I could drop a lot more time if I could clean up all my small errors. I ran it deep into turn 1 and got an excellent drive up the hill. I tipped it into turn 2 at the top of the hill and as soon as I touched the brakes I was on the ground! I had gone in a little deeper than usual and I was on the white paint line. I tucked the front and that was the end of my qualifying session. I would be starting P13 overall on the grid for my first ever 600 pro race.
Now came race time. I was very excited to run with the top guys so I was a bit anxious. Since I am a rookie, all my practice sessions were in Group One but Group Two is where all the fast guys were. The race would be the first time I could run with the guys as fast and faster than me.
I got off to a great start and made a lot of passes putting me up to the 3rd position in my class within the first lap. Coming to the front straight I saw the leader right in front of me for the first time and was super pumped to be able to ride with the leaders.
I was on the outside of a SuperSport rider when I was pushed wide onto the exit curbing entering the front straight. Here is where I made my error. I had to make a decision: either roll off the throttle and lose my drive or stay in the gas and hope that the exit curbing has good grip. Of course, anxious racer instinct had me stay in the throttle with hopes to tag along with the leaders. I lost the rear faster than I could say “oh sh***t!” and had a pretty bad highside coming onto the front straight with many riders in chase. I am very thankful for the riders behind me for being able to avoid me. I got up and instantly ran off track and as I climbed over the wall I felt the pain set in. My right foot was throbbing!
I went to the medical center where the staff said I may have a fractured foot but it was hard to tell. I can’t thank Dainese and their Air Suit enough for saving my body in my crash. Also AGV Helmets for saving my head which I had hit very hard in my crash.
Sunday morning I was feeling pretty good. I was ready to ride in the practice session to see if I was able to race. 10 minutes before practice started, I was told I needed to take a concussion test. I hurried over to the test and passed. I was able to make my session and rode well. My foot felt good and was ready to go.
This time would be different. I was going to be patient and finish today’s race. The start of the race went well. I was able to battle for 7th with Braeden Ortt and Rafael Dasilva. On the last lap I played it smart. Rafael and Braeden had a braking battle into turn 10. Rafael ran wide into turn 10b and I took that opportunity to pass. I was then on Braeden. Braeden ran wide into the last turn but I was not close enough to square it off to pass him at the line. I finished 8th.
After the race my foot was in intense pain. 18 laps was rough and I felt the team had done a good job salvaging what we could. I can’t thank Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS), N2 Trackdays, Dainese, AGV, Markbilt, Woodcraft, Hindle, Yamaha, Yamalube, SBS brakes, Brothers BBQ, Blucru, Dunlop, and everyone who has donated to my racing and for everything they have done for me. It was a rough one but we got it out of the way at the beginning and I’m glad to be going into VIR with some points.
YCRS asked if I could highlight a Champions Habit that influenced my weekend. That’s a tough question because so many influenced my ability to run at the top of my group almost immediately…it’s also interesting that when I ignored a Champs Habit, it put me on the ground. Here’s my tip:
Champions Habits from YCRS teach us how to read each corner and ride it the way it needs to be ridden as well as determine the most important corners. I summoned these skills as this was my first time on a fast bike at R.A. and I needed to get up to speed quick. I approached every turn the same way:
- I squeezed on the brakes when I got nervous
- Stayed with the brakes until I was happy with my speed and direction
- Went to the throttle when I could see my exit and take away lean angle.
This habit got me to the top of my group within the first few laps. The habit I failed to have was one of the YCRS five reasons we crash our motorcycles: lack of focus. I should have had the focus to remind myself in turn 12 that although I couldn’t win the race on the first lap, I could lose it and although I couldn’t win the championship in the first race, I could lose it. In retrospect, I should have rolled out of the gas up on the curbing and went back after those guys in the coming turns. Lack of focus.
Well everyone tuning in, thanks for reading. See everyone at the next one!