APRIL 16, 2012 - RPSRACETEAM.COM AND DANNY KELSEY CONTINUE TO FIGHT AT ECR
Georgetown, Texas racer Danny Kelsey continued to fight to gain momentum in pursuit of retaining the CMRA #1 plate. With the previous results of Texas World Speedway still stinging Kelsey and RPSRaceTeam.com, the team and Danny had a tremendous amount of work to complete in order to get the team's GSXR-750 back in race for round 3 of the CMRA Sprint Championship Series. The team completed installing a borrowed "junkyard motor" for this race 3 hours before they left for the CMRA races.
With Danny Kelsey and Marcus McBain arriving at Eagles Canyon Raceway for Friday Practice, the team realized the Kelsey and the chassis was ready to run at the pace need to win on Sunday. The goal was to run in the 1:48 range for Friday, and be ready to fine tune for any other needed advantage as race day progressed.
By the 2nd lap of the first practice on Friday, that plan was thrown out the window as it was apparent that the track had deteriorated at a level no one could have anticipated. With the team struggling to run in the 1:52 range, Kelsey and McBain "dialed the setup" to meet track conditions and by the fourth session, Danny put in a 1:50.7 lap. It was apparent that Kelsey was one of the fastest during Friday practice, but neither Marcus or Danny were close to excited as they felt that the track would change again by Sunday as the racing line would be "cleaned up" and likely some of the "rubber that would be put down" during Saturday's endurance race would improve traction as Sunday's sprint races took place.
The key change of the track aside from the ripple bumps was several spots in the turn 2 and turn 5 areas (among others) that had water seeping through the asphalt and leaving a "algae like" residue that made the surface unbelievably slick. The team kept notes, but realized the previous setup would not work NOR would the current settings if traction did improve.
As thunder storms and strong winds passed through Saturday night, Kelsey decided to skip Sunday Morning practice as no valuable information would be gained. With conditions quickly changing and Danny's first race the 2nd race of the day, RPS team manager Marcus McBain quickly mounted some rain tires and asked Kelsey to take a "sighting lap" so that an evaluation could be made on the setup for the first race. It was quickly concluded that there was still going to be considerable moisture on the track at the start of the 750cc Superstock expert race. Marcus decided with Kelsey to run a rain front and DOT legal rear tire for the race. Initially Kelsey wanted to run a DOT legal front, McBain convinced Danny to use the rain front for safety reasons. Marcus rationalized, "I don't care if the tire burns up out there in this race...turns 2, 3, and 5 are just too slick for a DOT..." Kelsey agreed and he prepared for the race.
As the green flag dropped for the 750 Superstock race Kelsey showed within 3 turns that he was up to the conditions and put the hammer down on the RPSRaceTeam.com GSXR-750 that was "hooked up" and optimally setup for the conditions. His first lap was several seconds faster than most of his competitors. By lap 3, Danny was almost 15 seconds ahead of 2nd place. Reading his pit board, Kelsey backed off his pace to take a 12.6 second win.
The team was happy and Kelsey showed his smooth and fast style was capable of mastering the tricky conditions, but the team immediately then began to address the changes that would take place on the track before the Open Superstock race within the next hour or so. As the flag dropped for the Open Superstock race, Danny worked his GSXR-750 through the first few turns in hopes of keeping CMRA pace with Ty Howard. At the end of the first lap, Kelsey was 1.4 seconds behind Howard with Guthrie and Cleland battling another 2 seconds behind Kelsey. By the third lap, it was apparent that McBain did not compensate enough for the drier conditions and the rear tire started to seriously deteriorate from a lack of rebound damping. Although Kelsey had a 5.5 second lead over the battle behind at the mid-point of the race, they were gaining at over a second a lap. Danny put his head down to finish in 2nd place and 3 seconds ahead of Brandon Cleland.
As Kelsey lined up for the 3rd race of his day (Open Superbike), he felt that the team had made the right adjustments to make a better run at Ty Howard. As the Green Flag dropped, that plan (like so many of the weekend) went out the window when an overzealous rider thought that bowling was preferable to racing and knocked down the CMRA #1 plate holder as well as scattering most of the grid in Turn 1. The RPSRaceTeam.com GSXR-750 was badly damaged with the exhaust heavily mangled, the brake master cylinder destroyed, and both handlebars damaged. Danny managed to complete one lap after remounting to gain minimal championship points.
As the team scrambled to install and bleed a new brake master cylinder and handlebars as well as "unbend" a lot of various parts and pieces, all remained in good spirits. The team's Suzuki passed the re-tech as the race before Kelsey's went out on the grid. Danny re-composed himself and Marcus re-inspected the machine to ensure the bike would last the 6 laps of the 750 Superbike race.
As the 750 Superbike race got underway, Kelsey dropped a blistering 1:54.000 on his opening lap. By turn 5 on the first lap, Kelsey had moved from the 3rd row on the grid to the lead with Derek Wagnon hot on his heels. The first two laps saw Danny on the point with Derek hanging back within one second of the race leader. On lap 3, Kelsey threw his hand up as the GSXR-750 sounded like it was running on 3 cylinders coming on to the front straight. Wagnon quickly motored by. The team was greatly disappointed. It appeared that all the work and effort that was put looked to be for naught.
As the fourth lap completed though, the GSXR appeared to be running properly again. Kelsey put in a monumental effort while having to keep up with the motor situation and finished 1.2 seconds behind Wagnon for 2nd place. The race was very frustrating for Kelsey who knew he has to start putting together 2-3 win weekends to have a chance to retain the #1 plate as well as the fact that all the hard work that the team had put in over the last 20 days was not reflected in the results. In the end, it appears the problem at the previous round and this round was a faulting secondary servo motor on the throttle bodies.
Team manager Marcus McBain was very proud of Kelsey's performance and noted, "Danny just keeps amazing me. He rode like a champion today. He did not have everything go his way and yet never let off the throttle and showed that he can keep pace with the CMRA's best regardless of the conditions and equipment. To not beat Ty (Howard) is not a failure or an excuse, he (Howard) is a champion's champion and I know he (Kelsey) will be racing head to head with him by the end of the year."
Although the team and Kelsey were very grateful for the win and the two 2nd place finishes, they realize they have to make a big step at Hallet to move back into contention for the #1 plate. The team is grateful to the sponsors including KMC Controls, Komodo, Lone Star Track Days, GP Suspension, Dynojet, DP Brakes, LP Racing, Hotbodies, Arata, Penske, Vortex, Michelin, and Island Racing Services
Associated Media from the weekend: