Road Atlanta and RPS GSXR-600 wrap-up
There are times when you can try your best and not end up with the results you wanted. This is what happened to me this year with my racing endeavors and the GSXR-600 project bike. Road Atlanta is absolutely a blast to ride and I enjoy getting the opportunity to ride there every year. It is just a lot of fun. Enclosed is a two part write up on the Road Atlanta trip and the GSXR-600 bike project.
I drove straight from Motorsport Ranch to Road Atlanta to get to setup Monday
Evening. Torrential rains slowed the drive from a 12 hour trip to a 16 hour
marathon. We got there Monday night and setup. A couple of my customers pitted
with us from Colorado (Mark Nudelman and Mike Applegate). I was actually excited
about this. It kinda reminded me of several years ago when I would just be able
to race with my friends. Tuesday practice started under threatening skies, but I
got a session in (as well as Mark and Mike) before it rained hard. The rain
exposed the newest problems with Road Atlanta. Once again, the track made
changes that made the course more dangerous. It absolutely fucking amazes me
that the track makes so many changes and no one from the motorcycle
organizations has any input. This year, they re-polished/ground down the track
in the T5 area. It was OK unless you got a little off line in the morning.
The week sucked a bit because I got really sick with a cold/sinus infection that just got worse through the week. This also put me in a position to have to tell the guys I was going to endurance race with that I had to pass. This sucked too because I didn't race any WERA regional races, the only race for the week would be the cup race. That sucked. Oh well, at least I had a chance to race. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were all the same routine. I would tip toe in my first practice session as the track was usually bone cold, then I would start to warm up the second session and then the day was over.
Saturday is when things began to finally happen. We had the best weather of the week so far and I ran my best practice times of the week (1:36's) and felt like I wasn't even riding hard. I was excited as I was sure I would get into the 34's when the track was warm for the 15 minute Suzuki 600 cup qualifying. There was a small hiccup in the day as Mike Applegate banged his head hard and all of us in the pit had to figure out the logistics of getting him to the hospital. Renate took him to the hospital with David Starks riding shotgun. Mike hit his head so hard that he did not know who my wife was. As it turned out, Mike was OK, but sore.
Qualifying started off and I was really pumped up. The first thing I noticed though was the front end of my bike had a terrible chatter. I hadn't noticed any of this all week long. I made some adjustments, but it only got worse every lap. I was disappointed to find that I only ran a 1:35. Although that is a decent enough lap time, it put me dead ass last. I was kinda mad, but at the same time, I knew I was riding fairly hard and felt good about my riding. I checked the rotors once the bike had cooled down and sure enough, the left one was warped. That sucked. $350.00 fixed (New Rotors) the problem, but damn I hated it!!!
Sunday started off like normal. Kinda cool and damp in the morning. I just rode to make sure the rotors were right. I also noticed I screwed up the front end suspension when I was trying to get rid of the the chatter on Saturday and changed my settings back to were they were before I tried to adjust for the bad rotors. That was OK, it was just practice. Well, I was the first race after the lunch break and was trying to get psyched up. I felt really positive and felt for sure I should be in the 33's or 34's based on running 35's with the rotors like they were. Long story short, I rode as hard as I could and it just wasn't happening. I ran a best of 1:35.3 and finished about 15 seconds behind the guy in front of me. Not one of my laps varied by more than .2 seconds which tells me I was doing as well as I could. The reality is that I didn't ride a whole lot this year and I was for sure in the most competitive class of any of the cup races. Every single rider for the 600 cup would have qualified for the AMA 600 race based on lap times posted. I mean it was a tough class. I was in the only race that no one got lapped. Our lap times for the 600 class were just as quick as the 750 and 1000 classes. Wholly crap!!! If you want to look at all of the classes and who ran what, go to:
Suzuki 600 Cup
Suzuki 750 Cup
Suzuki 1000 Cup
I really have to thank my wife Renate more than anyone else. She really is the one that makes this stuff happen for me. To everyone else that was out there from Texas and Colorado: Mark Nudelman and Mike Applegate were great teammates for the weekend. Connie Kassel and Bradley Champion are always fun to visit with. It is always good to see the normal CMRA contingent of Logan Young, Shannon Ball, Craig Montgomery, and Brett Champagne out there. It was also great to see Carlo Garavaglia out there. Carlo got out there Friday after noon and did not realize the challenge of Road Atlanta. Basically, he was just absolutely overwhelmed, BUT if you could have seen him when he met Kevin Schwantz. It was just a pleasure to see how much fun he was having. Absolutely a blast.
GSXR 600 final thoughts
When I first purchased the GSXR 600, I was really excited about what the bike represented and what the potential was. The Showa forks looked like they could be the best OEM forks on the market and the motor had the titanium valves that allowed a newer higher revving motor. Here is my thoughts on the bike by component and what the overall enjoyment level was for me.
The engine on the 600 felt good out of the box. It revved nicely and seemed to pull very well. As I stripped off all of the street parts I unintentially made a tragic mistake. I removed the clutch switch. This is critical as the ECU senses when the clutch is pulled in to retard the RPM's. By pulling the switch off and putting a jumper in the wiring harness to get the bike to start in any gear, I was triggering the ECU to not pull all the way through the rev range. I later found out that the difference in pull was about one tooth in the rear from having the switch on or off.
Once the bike was in race trim, I dyno-ed the bike stock with a slip-on. It made miserable power. 95bhp with pump gas and a slip on. I then put the M4 full system on, but did not want to dyno until the hp problem was better understood. I talked to Jim Cambora of Raceworx. Jim is well known for the power he can get out of a bike. Jim flat out told me that all of the new GSXR's were not responding well to any modifications and that he would get back to me. As the season wore on, it was apparent, many riders were having issues with the new GSXR's power delivery. The 600 was the most glaring as 6bhp on a 600 is a huge difference. Because of the hectic workload with RPS, I just didn't have time to really dedicate to the project and just rode it as is 3 or 4 times the entire season. At the GNF, I went ahead and ran MR1 and on the cup dyno reached 106bhp. I was very pleased with that until I saw that most of the cup competitors were in the 114bhp range. Where were they getting their power?
I have speculated that there is not much power to be gained from headwork. The sensitive nature of the titanium valve train and the probability that the lift and duration of the cams is not sufficient to gain the type of power that you get through headwork that typically provides 5bhp-9bhp in an R-6 probably requires extensive mapping and hp gains through "other" areas of work. In short, bring your GSXR-600 motor to someone that can really go through the motor to get the type of HP you need to run at the national level. Otherwise, you need to just leave it stock and use a Power Commander and good race fuel to get the expected 105bhp-110bhp.
Suspension and Chassis
Suzuki has pretty much left success alone in this matter. The linkage for the rear is very similar to what they have used for several years and the fork internals are the very high quality Showa variety. The only issue with the suspension that I found was that you had to tweak the fork oil level to compensate for the awesome radial brakes that come with the new GSXR's. They are incredible. Other than that, they are sweet!!!
Good luck to you on your racing program,