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Robem Engineering Road America 2020


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Road America 2020 was full of ups and downs for the team.

I had completed Darren's bike in record time and bodywork arrived from the painter the day before we were scheduled to leave Ohio when I got the call confirming Darren James would not be able to attend the race due to Covid closing any crossing from Canada to the states without needing to quarantine for 14 days.

Major bummer for the team.

The team would only be fielded by Toby K, Jackson Blackmon and the fastest plastic surgeon in MA, Carl Price.  Having watched the Suzuki's struggle last season I prepared for an uphill battle.   The #18 bike was still sporting the later version of the 2019 motor and not the 2020 spec motor.   6 rounds on the motor, countless hours on the dyno and 1 round of testing I told Mike we would pull it after this weekend and do a refresh but it was making great power and didnt want to pull it before the weekend.  

First practice bikes had a small stumble in partial throttle not noticeable in Roebling Road testing.  Looked at the logs and could confirm the events described but couldnt see the cause in the fueling or ignition timing when crossing from tables to explain the event.  With Q1 coming I rebuilt the files knowing I had just been storing over the original file since day one and the possibility of corrupt data was a possible cause.  

Riders finished track maps and looked at splits to see what changes needed to be made to the bike before heading to qualifying.  Q1 went well with Riders pitting to let us know the issue was gone at partial throttle.  Both riders spent the session pushing their own air and MPH was close to the FZ's which helped knowing the countless hours and late nights weren't in vain.

Q2 went out on fresh tires and hoped the changes made by Eric at Velocity Calibrations to the suspension would drop the lap times even further.  Toby K was able to get in a clean flier and improve to P4  and Jackson was able to hold on to P6.  Not bad for just the second time riding the new bikes.

Race 1 was a quick start, why arent all races quick start?  So much easier than jumping the wall and putting stuff on stands and waiting for the horn to take it all off again.  Flag dropped kids got a good start looking to run with the front pack.  Luck wouldn't have it today.  Toby had previously had a clip on come loose at the shake down at Roebling  and despite torquing it down it rotated in the kink on the clutch side and struggled with the issue the rest of the race.  Jackson was struggling to pass Jason Madama's bikes outright speed and at some point started pushing oil.  Not sure exactly when and didnt see any tale tail issues in the log, they always go the fastest before they go, right?  Riders finished 5th and 7th for the kids and Carl came across in 16th.  Solid but upsetting result.

Jackson didnt realize the issue on track and I noticed it when putting the bike on the stand for inspection.   Go racing they said, its fun they said... bike released from technical inspection wanted to see what we are working with.  Confirmed oil pushing through the breather no time to trouble shoot, pull it and toss in the 2020 motor from the trailer.  Start to finish 3 hours to and time for bed.

Sunday practice tossed in a bit extra fuel and dropped the rear tire pressure to slow Jackson down a bit and get the tire moving.  Break them in hard right?  Replaced Toby's entire clip on and labeled the other as defective.   I think we are ready to roll or as close to ready as we will get.  Practice went without issue but Toby mentioned he hit a false Neutral with the transmission.    New transmission with 1 testing weekend on it...really.  Jackson's new motor had good MPH time to race.

Race 2, out of time to make changes and out of tire stickers lets time to run what you brung...Good clean start and both kids in the main first pack of riders going into braking cant ask for more.  Toby I think was still mentally wounded from Saturday and going well but was giving up ground and positions.  Jackson was putting on a charge to not let Rocco and Kaleb run away, pasted Madama and skipped the tail tap this race and put his head down to catch the lead riders.  Watching the riders circulate and eyes on live timing Jackson was making good ground and in the process broke another lap record pushing Rocco's record from the day before from a 28.9 to a 2:28.5!  Jackson brought it home nipping Rocco at the line for 2nd place in a fantastic finish trying to set up a double draft at the line.  If you haven't seen the finish its for sure a race to watch.   Toby arrived in 6th place shortly after and Carl was having a ball battling for 17th with Cichielo Jr.

Solid results but small issues to work out in the down time before Round 2 and looking forward to getting Darren on the bike and mixing it up with the grid.

All in all solid results and feels super rewarding to be working with kids as they progress in the sport.



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Get your MT07 & FZ07 racing parts at https://www.robemengineering.com/fz-07-products


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