OMRRA Round 1, Portland International Raceway, April 21st and 22nd:
Saturday, Novice 5 (1000cc): Resulted in a DNF due to a cracked piston. The race started off well, moving from 6th on the grid to 1st before turn one! By the second lap I could feel the power dropping off slightly on the straights and I was passed by another rider about halfway through the lap. He began to immediately put some serious distance between us on both the back and front straight, leaving me shaking my head as to why when I knew I wasn’t down on power compared to his bike in practice. Halfway through lap three my bike began to emit lots of blue smoke. By the end of the straightaway I saw the debris flag come out, then by turn two realized it was intended for me. I pulled off the track and looked back to see a massive blue cloud of smoke covering turns one and two! Fortunately it was only a cracked piston and no major damage was sustained to the rest of the engine. Thanks to EDR Performance the R1 will be up and running again soon!
Sunday, Novice 4 (600cc): Due to not having prior points in the 600cc class, I started last on the 600cc grid behind the 1000cc wave in front. I quickly moved up through the pack and within two laps was in the lead for the 600 race. I proceeded to put my head down and push to catch the liter bikes from the wave start in front of me. By lap seven I had passed all of the liter bikes and was still leading the 600′s. One of the liter bikes managed to pass me on the straightaway leading into lap eight, but I was able to move back into first in turn three and stay in front until the race was ended early by a red flag.
I really enjoyed racing at Portland International Raceway and hope to make it back there later this year for another round with the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association. Big thanks to EDR Performance and KFG Racing for all of the help over the weekend at the track!
WERA National Challenge Series, Miller Motorsports Park, May 19th and 20th:
After encountering some motor issues at Portland with my R1, my decision was then solidified to put aside the 1000 and concentrate on the 600. I had a couple of specific track dates that I wanted to do to prepare for riding the WERA National at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele Utah. One of those things was the Yamaha Champions Riding School two days prior to the race weekend being held at Miller Motorsports Park.
Going into the school, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I had some specific items I wanted to work on including my body positioning. The school instructors were very friendly, professional, and extremely passionate about instructing. I was amazed at how much I learned in just the first day from both on track sessions and classroom instruction. The second day of the school things really came together for me after having a night to go over things in my head. I worked with Shane Turpin that morning, and at lunch time watched video of my later morning session showing how much improvement I had made. By the end of the day, I was totally comfortable implementing the techniques the school taught me, and I also had the tools to continue self-diagnosing my own riding so I could keep improving. I was ready to race Miller.
Friday testing was cut in half due to rain in the morning, but in the afternoon I was able to get some good laps in on my bike, and I really got comfortable implementing what I had learned in the school on my own bike. Saturday was just a short morning practice, then hanging out and watching the endurance races and studying the track from a perspective other than on the bike. I went out again in Sunday morning practice, feeling relaxed and in control. I knew I had plenty of room to go faster for race pace.
With practice out of the way, I got ready for my first race – C Superstock. This was a single wave race, and there were over 40 bikes on the grid. I was a little jumpy from excitement – first race of the day and all. I had a good start, and was definitely pumped up. On the 3rd lap of the race, I got a little hard on throttle exiting the last turn onto the front straight, and ended up out on the rumble strips for a brief moment. I definitely didn’t want to end up in the dirt, so I continued to roll on the throttle and got the bike back on the track. I put my head down and focused on putting together good smooth laps. At this point the other racers started coming to me, and I picked them off one by one. At the checkered flag, I was in second place.
Race two was B Superbike. I had a good launch off the line, and caught the back end of the first wave going into turn 1. Traffic was sporadic, and even though I was running well, some people were taking lines that made them tough to pass safely. I just kept focusing ahead of me working to keep my eyes up and moving while making my way through back marker traffic, again finishing second.
My third race was Formula 1. This was a back-to-back race with B Superbike, so I didn’t get a break at all. I pulled off onto hot pit after B Superbike, and immediately went out on the sighting lap for Formula 1. I gridded up against the 1000′s, and went into turn 1 in 3rd place. I held onto 3rd for 2 laps before the motors on the 1000′s combined with a long front straight started putting some distance between us. I was still hanging fairly close with them though, and I managed a 5th place finish on my R6.
Next up was C Superbike. This race had a 3 wave start, and over 50 bikes on the grid. There was a red flag on the start for the second wave, so we had to wait while the first two waves completed another warm up lap and came back around to re-grid. I had a good start and was in second place going into turn 1. I started catching back marker traffic from the expert grids in front, but I just worked my way through it, and picked off the last novice in front of me before the 2nd lap of the race. I continued working through traffic, and kept everybody else from my race behind me and took the win, my first WERA National victory.
My last race of the day was B Superstock. Again, a good start put me into second by turn one. On lap 3, I had a little off-track excursion coming out of turn 4. I ran it wide coming out of the turn onto the back straight, clipped the curbing, stood it up, ran it just slightly off the track. Fortunately I was able to slowly roll back on the throttle and bring the bike back onto the track right before the braking markers for turn 5. The rider I had passed on the previous lap passed me back at that point, but I was able to stay in the race and caught him at the end of the front straight after a good drive out of the last turn. I finished in second, thus completing a very consistent and successful first WERA National Challenge Series weekend.
I had a lot of help throughout the weekend and also met some really great people. A huge thank you goes to my father, Tim Hines Sr. for working hard as crew chief and making sure the bike was always ready to go. Never once was the bike not ready and I cannot thank him enough for all his hard work. Also big thanks to Eric Dorn of EDR Performance for all the help tuning over the weekend and for putting together a killer motor. KFG Racing again did all my suspension for the races and made getting the bike setup correctly a breeze. Cycle Gear Spokane hooked me up with the last minute parts and gear that I needed to be ready for the weekend. I had a blast at Miller and definitely look forward to my next National event with WERA.