George McConnel's RC51 BLOG

Date:April 4-6, 2008
Track:Talladega Gran Prix Raceway
Bike:2002 Honda RVT1000 (RC51)
Weather:Lots of rain and storms, highs around 70, lows in the 50s.
Conducted By:WERA

Track Diagram

The Talladega Gran Prix Raceway is designed to be run either clockwise or counterclockwise. This weekend's events were conducted in a counterclockwise direction. The redesigned track has been run in clockwise direction once since the repaving, owing to safety concerns.

Rain and storms were the order of the day.
The Nationals round at Talladega was made interesting by a lot of rainy weather. In spite of the rainy conditions I headed down Friday to do the WERA track day. I pretty much had the track to myself whenever I was out there.

I rode my first session on a very wet track. The only chance I had to ride the track in the dry all weekend came right after the lunch break as the skies cleared for the entire lunch break while nobody was on the track. But the powers that be decided the dry track would better be used for hosting the endurance qualifying round (that was supposed to happen at the end of the day). So I watched as the endurance qualifying proceeded and the clouds began rolling in. Needless to say, about the time the endurance qualifying ended the rain resumed. Bummer.

Since nobody else seemed to want to ride on a wet track I just got out there as much as I could and rode. For the most part I just worked on reading the track. Tiptoeing around the track, I struggled to put up laptimes in the low 1:20's. Still, I was faster than the one other guy who was out there with me during most of the sessions. Practice was halted for awhile due to tornado warnings, but nothing came of that other than some strong rain.

Saturday morning it was the same thing for the one session of practice -- wet track with rain. This time I was just about the only person out there. I did 14 laps in 20 minutes, starting with a 1:32.4 and ending with a 1:24.8. Again, just tiptoeing.

Some hot riders during the endurance race.
Saturday afternoon there would be an endurance race. It was cold and misting throughout most of the 4 hour race. I just sat there under my pop-up tent enjoying a cigar and a few beers, watching some great racing action. It was very enjoyable, and as it turned out it may have been the most enjoyable part of the weekend.

My first session on April 6
Sunday morning I finally got to ride on a dry track, but the first session was very short due to a red flag. I only got 4 laps in, the quickest of which was a 1:15. It was getting discouraging. I was back to running the kinds of times I was running when I first started racing two years ago.

From a distance on the "Bowl"
The second session Sunday morning wasn't much better. They gave us the normal 15 minute session this time but I was still struggling to get any quicker. I strung together 9 consistent laps all of which were in the 1:14's except for the first lap, which was a 1:15.1. The good news was I was consistent. The bad news was I was consistently slow, not even approaching the 1:12's I had done last year. It wasn't a lot to be happy about.

Sunday afternoon I attended the rider's meeting, then leisurely headed over to the turn 6 area to hang out and watch some racing action before my race (which was going to be race number 5). As race 3 was on their cool-down lap I started back to my pit to begin gearing up. On the way I heard my name mentioned on the P.A. system. Jeff was announcing the grids for the race and I was on it. To my chagrin it was at that moment that I discovered they were not running race 4 as a separate race, and I was supposed to be on the track right now.

There were lots of disappointments during this weekend, from slow laptimes in practice on a wet track to missing my only race of the weekend entirely. I packed up and headed home.

Most important lesson learned during this race day: Listen closely to everything that's said during the rider's meeting. Often they hammer on trivial things and gloss over major things (like completely rescheduling a race!)

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