MARCH 24, 2012 - SUCCESS & DISAPPOINTMENT AT TEXAS WORLD SPEEDWAY
RPSRaceTeam.com headed into the 2nd round of the CMRA sprint series feeling very positive about the development of the team's GSXR-750. After completing the first round of the CMRA series at MSRH, team manager Marcus McBain wanted to make some changes to the chassis that he felt would allow Kelsey to up the pace even more and possibly contend with the 1000cc machines at the "big tracks" through optimal chassis development and Kelsey's riding skill.
After the internals of the GP Suspension cartridges and Penske Shock were reworked, Danny Kelsey conducted a test at Cresson, Texas during a Lone Star Track day event that was hampered by very unusually cool temperatures. Kelsey was not able to run within 4 seconds of his normal practice times due to the conditions and initial setup, but McBain realized that new internal builds on the GP Suspension forks and Penske shock were "on the money" and believed that some geometry changes as well as a stiffer rear spring would be the final ingredient in the GSXR's chassis evolution.
Kelsey's main rivals would likely be upping their game too! With the goal of having a chassis setup that would let Kelsey hammer lap after lap of quick times the order of the day, the team felt they would have a package to compete with several of the best racers not only in the CMRA, but the country.
As the team worked Friday & Sunday morning to complete the chassis refinement, they were very happy when Danny turned in a 1:45.8 during practice and the chassis did not waiver during practice with the tires holding up VERY well. The team and Kelsey felt very confident going into the first race having gotten the setup "justa right" on the final practice session.
The first race up was 750 Superstock. With Kelsey's main rivals Derek Wagnon and Dustin Dominquez on significantly upgraded machines since MSRH, Kelsey knew he would have to charge hard on the first lap to reserve a spot on the podium. Kelsey put in a 1:49. 6 on the opening lap from the front row. At the end of the first lap, Kelsey was in between a euro sandwich with the Triumph on the point and Wagnon's Ducati biting at his heals. As Kelsey tried to focus on making a move on Dominquez, Wagon would power by on the front straight and immediately put Danny back on the defensive. It was a dogfight the entire race with ALL THREE RIDERS turning in their fastest lap of the race on the last lap with Kelsey taking 2nd spot right behind Dominquez.
The team worked around feedback by Kelsey and made some adjustments that would allow him to run a bit harder on the initial laps without "falling off" the final laps.
In Kelsey's 2nd race, he would be battling against the GSXR-1000's and one lone Kawasaki ZX-10r within the field. The competitors Suzuki's were clearly gapping Kelsey by almost two seconds on the long front straight of Texas World Speedway. Kelsey dropped the hammer, but was having an issue getting to the front as he battled by a couple of Suzuki GSXR-1000's and his first lap was nearly a second slower than he is normally able to keep pace. As the pack was completing the first lap, Kelsey was already over 3 seconds behind the leader Brandon Cleland. Kelsey pushed hard and within 3 laps was within 1 second of Cleland. As he passed Carlos Lescale in T12 on lap 4, Kelsey worked furiously to be close enough to pass Lescale back into T1 as he knew the Kawasaki was dramatically faster than his 750 on the front Straight. Danny worked the GSXR-750 through the last few laps to hang on to 3rd place and podium honors.
With the lunch break providing a rest for Kelsey and the team, All were ready to put the GSXR-750 on top of the box for the 750 Superbike race. The first match up of Dominguez, Wagnon, and Kelsey showed that they were the fastest race of the morning and all had the capability of winning. Kelsey realized that to win the dogfight that was coming up, that he would have to put his head down and ride a hard race AND stay in the lead.
At the drop of the flag, Kelsey executed the game plan and put in a 1:49.036 on the first lap from a standing start to lead the first lap. Kelsey held off an initial onslaught from Wagnon. Danny then turned up the heat, and began to put in a 0.5 second gap as they entered turn 5. As the group came back into view in T8, Kelsey slowed dramatically when it was suspected the valve train on his GSXR-750 dropped a valve. This was very disappointing as it was the first actual engine failure for the team since 2009.
Although the team and Kelsey were very disappointed, the lap times and effort showed they are ready for any challenge that a rider or team can throw at them. The team is grateful to the sponsors including KMC Controls, Komodo, Lone Star Track Days, GP Suspension, Dynojet, DP Brakes, LP Racing, Motul, Hotbodies, Arata, Penske, Vortex, Michelin, and Island Racing Services
Associated Media from the weekend: