JULY 1, 2012 - THREE ACES FOR KELSEY AT NOLA 

 

Three Aces for CMRA racer Danny Kelsey at NOLA         

RPSRaceTeam.com sponsored Danny Kelsey posted three wins during the inaugural event at NOLA Motorsports Park with WERA. A combined sportsman series and national event, the WERA event provided a great opportunity for Kelsey to experience the fast NOLA 2.7 mile track while participating in a national level event.

The tam and Kelsey made the decision to participate in the event on Monday as the AMA teams were preparing for their first test of the facility. This only left the team two days to prepare for the race. At the time of the decision, the team’s GSXR-750 lay was in pieces as all the Dynojet equipment was sent off for troubleshooting at Dynojet headquarters. Additionally, the team’s Penske 8970 shock was sent off to OnRoad OffRoad Cycles to have some dyno numbers prepared for a couple of our development partners so that technical information could be shared for analysis and mutual development.  

With less than 48 hours to receive the parts and re-prep the GSXR-750, a time crunch quickly developed. Team manager Marcus McBain traveled to Austin to ensure that the bike would be ready and that the team’s hauler was ready to leave for NOLA Wednesday evening.

As Kelsey and the team traveled to Avondale, La. to experience the well-known Louisiana hospitality, reports from AMA teams and riders through social media and phone calls brought light to the concern of significantly accelerated tire wear. Although concerned, the previous event at Cresson, Texas in CMRA sprint racing action demonstrated that the combination of the Michelin Cup tires and RPS custom suspension solutions could overcome any issues and provide the wear that ensured that this did not become a “tire purchase festival”.

As the team prepared for Friday practice, Michelin’s David Hirsch and Walt Schaeffer provided RPSRaceteam.com manager Marcus McBain a few recommendations to ensure that Kelsey would be able to not only string fast laps together with the Michelin Cup tires, but have the longevity required for Kelsey to learn the track as well as battle for every lap of his races.

As Friday practice concluded, the team and Kelsey were both excited and disappointed. Kelsey learned the track quickly and was up to pace. The tire wear was phenomenal for the team. The numbers and suspension setup on the Penske Shock and GP Suspension Cartridges provided for the Michelin tires to come in looking like “new”. This really helped the team get the bike dialed in quickly.  An error in the second of the three sessions had Kelsey go out with gearing that was “completely off” and he had to quickly push in the final session to continue to lower his lap times and be prepared to contest the weekend races.

Several other observations from practice were noted by the team about NOLA and the competitors. The first observation being that the track was definitely a “horsepower track”. If you didn’t “bring the ponies”, it was going to be hard to win. Several of the 600’s in practice were as fast as some of the “club level 1000’s”. The RPSRaceTeam.com GSXR-750 was fighting to even stay in the draft of at least 4 of the 600’s that Kelsey would be racing against. The second observation was that although some “technical features” were provided in the track design to “level the field” to some degree, it was still about acceleration and keeping the throttle pinned. Third, the team’s tire wear was probably the best in the paddock and this was going to allow some more “aggressive setup” numbers to be used without having to worry about the tire wear. Lastly, Kelsey “picked up the track” in about 15 laps. Although it had been awhile since the team had “gone to a new track”, Danny’s fundamental racing skills and the RPS development structure shined during this event.  

The first race up on the Saturday schedule was the combined WERA Sportsman B Superbike race with 28 riders taking to the grid. With some final suspension and tire adjustments providing additional performance, Kelsey took the green flag and quickly took the point in turn 3. Kelsey took the lead and set the pace. As the race continued, Kelsey strategically paced the RPSRaceTeam.com GSXR-750 and took the win by 8.8 seconds. “Danny did a great job, he was flawless in his execution during the race. He had to set the pace of the race and then he did so with no mistakes or errors”, noted team manager Marcus McBain.

The WERA Sportsman B Superstock race was expected to be a real barn burner and would be a great test of the team. It left no one disappointed who watched the race. With the race starting cleanly, Jimmy Merck was the leader on lap one with Kelsey in tow. Shadowing Kelsey was Nick McFadden who looked ready to pounce on any mistake by Kelsey or Merck. Kelsey looked for any advantage, but he was not able to draft down the straight despite a 150cc displacement advantage. Danny realized he was going to have to make his move in the final laps and have enough gap that Merck would not be able draft back by him in the run for the checkered flag. As Merck and Kelsey came up on a lapper, Danny made the decisive move, and was able to fend off Merck for the win.

As team reviewed the notes from Saturday’s races, they were very pleased with the exceptional tire wear that allowed Kelsey to all his Saturday races on one set of tires. At the same time, Danny felt some better performance from the suspension and geometry would help him make the type of improvements that his competitors were likely making. The team and Kelsey absolutely felt that the pace for Sunday would be over a second faster and improvements had to be made.

Kelsey was able to effortlessly match his fast race pace from Saturday in the Sunday race warm up. The team was very confident that Danny would have an opportunity to compete for more wins. B Superstock was the first race up and it would be a rematch of the previous event from Saturday. As the Green flag dropped Kelsey was not able to get off the line cleanly and entered turn one in 4th place. Compounding the problem was that he was “losing the front” immediately in the turn and was relieved to not crash. With a swarm of hungry riders, Danny had his work cut out for him. As he collected himself and adjusted his riding, Kelsey cleared the pack on lap 3. Unfortunately, Merck was on the gas and by the time Danny could focus on pursuing him, he had cleared the pack by 6.3 seconds. With only a few laps remaining, Kelsey realized that he would have to settle for 2nd. He was able to back off his pace and comfortably run to the finish in the number two spot.

With Kelsey’s final race of the weekend coming up (B Superbike), a review of the data showed front tire was not staying up in pressure. McBain made some adjustments to the front tire pressure as well as compensate for a fading rear shock that was “quickly” built within the short time frame the team had to prep. The team and Kelsey felt he was ready to run up front again.

As the flag dropped for B Superbike, Kelsey quickly moved to the front. As he began to pull away, James Dellinger was in tow and the two riders battled for 7 hard laps. The two riders generally never more than 0.5 seconds apart. On the final lap, Dellinger was looking for any opportunity to pass and as the riders came to turn 13, Kelsey went in deep on the brakes with Dellinger braking even later. As two riders turned in, it was apparent Dellinger had overtaxed the front end and was quickly off the track. Kelsey expecting the move avoided any of the aftermath and was safely through the turn and took the checked flag for his third win of the weekend.  

It was a rewarding effort for the team. On Monday before the event, the team bike lay in pieces. When the decision was made to go to NOLA, it was a great effort by the team and sponsors to get Kelsey to the races. The effort provided a great opportunity for Kelsey to show he can learn a track quickly and be ready to win under any circumstances.

For RPSRaceTeam.com manager Marcus McBain, it also was a chance to validate the ability to perform under pressure with winning solutions. “Our execution is based on the way a factory team performs rather than a club level team. Every weekend we are putting our own suspension valving and geometry solutions in play vs. just using standard numbers. Danny is then tasked with providing the feedback needed to fine-tune the setup. This is exactly how a professional team has to perform. The only thing we leave out is the horsepower (would increase our operating budget by over 100%), and that really isn’t necessary yet as our Dynojet and Arata combination with WRW Racing’s minimal setup provides enough horsepower that Danny can win so long as he continues to execute on the level he does. When Danny goes to AMA ProRacing full time, he will be able to compete immediately”, observed team manager Marcus McBain.

Kelsey and McBain enter their 7th year working together, and the two working together as well as the closeness of the sponsors makes for a very special winning combination.

RPSRaceTeam.com would like to thank its sponsors KMC Controls, Komodo, Lone Star Track Days, GP Suspension, Dynojet, DP Brakes, LP Racing, Hotbodies, Arata, Penske, Vortex, WRW Racing, Sam’s Cycle Salvage, Michelin, and Island Racing Services for their continued support. For more information about Danny Kelsey and RPSRaceTeam.com, please visit www.RPSRaceTeam.com.

 

 

  • Brandon Bones Photos from NOLA

  • RPS "Official Press Release" on RRW

  • WERA "Official Press Release" on RRW

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