MRA Round 4 at Pueblo Motorsports Park; July 21-22

TL;DR: had a fantastic weekend, took another podium finish in Novice GTU, and had a great time learning the track.

This was my first race weekend at Pueblo, having only done a dozen laps or so during an open lapping day two months prior. Sophia and I decided to come Thursday night so we could get a full day of practice on Friday to learn the track. Good decision. I was able to get my lap times down to 1:42 by the end of Saturday morning's practice sessions and I broke 1:40 with a 1:39.164 by Sunday morning.

The afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday brought some light rain and high winds which complicated some races, but overall it was a good weekend.

Saturday, Novice GTU

Definitely the most exciting race of the weekend! Fantastic 4-way battle for the podium, lots of clean passes, and I ran VERY consistent mid-1:40 laptimes (all within 0.4s of each other).

My first race (and first ever on this track) saw me start in the third row. I had a great start, entering turn 1 in third place, behind #614 Tyler Weaver and #121 Tommy Darmstedter, with #301 Joseph O'Donnell right behind me. I was right behind them for the next 2 laps, until O'Donnell got a good pass on me in turn 4 taking fourth place.

Over the next few laps, the four of us exchanged passes, keeping within a second of each other. Coming into lap 4, I had a really good drive out of turn 10 onto the main straight; I drafted Darmstedter and passed both him and O'Donnell taking 2nd place coming into turn 1. However, O'Donnell made an inside pass on me in turn 3 pushing me back to third; he made an inside pass on Weaver in turn 7, taking and keeping first place.

I was hard on Weaver's tail throughout the last sector, trying to find a place to pass. Coming into turn 9, I found myself on the outside of him but carrying a little more speed. Weaver braked a little earlier than I expected and I found my front wheel rubbing side-to-side with his rear wheel just before we turned in. Once we got back onto the main straight I was able to make another dafting pass, taking and keeping 2nd place. O'Donnell had small lead on me for the last lap, but extended that to almost 2 seconds after I got a little caught up in lapping traffic.

Saturday, Novice GTO

For my second Novice race, I was gridded in the 6th row. I had a fantastic start, making me momentarily think I had jumped it; everyone seemed to react very late. I weaved my way through the grid pushing up 7th place by turn 2. After finding good drive out of turn 9, I took and maintained 6th place for the next 2 laps.

Coming out of turn 10, I got a great drive onto the straight, passing #301 Joseph O'Donnell and just barely NOT passing #121 Tommy Darmstedter. O'Donnell got back around me on the inside of turn 2, blocking me from passing over the next 2 corners.

As we headed down the hill into turn 5, Darmstedter's bike decided to throw a valve and he disappeared into a dense plume of smoke from a locked-up rear tire, leaving a small trail of oil on the track (outside the race line). Luckily, he was able to keep his bike upright and ended up in the dirt on the outside of turn 5. Not luckily, #391 Ben Bridgewater was able to take advantage of my distraction and push me back into 6th.

On the next lap, I mis-shifted, finding a false neutral while downshifting for turn 1. I was able to make the corner and get it back into gear, but not before losing a position to #808 Dan Spurlock. From there, I maintained and finished 7th place.

Sunday, Amateur GTU

Sunday morning, Novice/Expert mixed class for 600cc bikes and under. I started from the 4th row, pushing up to second place by turn 1, just behind #48 Jared Dear. However, #110 Nick Kaplan out-braked me and passed me on the inside, taking 2nd.

Jared disappeared, as usual, finishing in 1st place with an almost 13 second lead. I kept pace with Kaplan for a lap or so, but eventually fell behind once #301 Joseph O'Donnell passed me on the inside of turn 2. My pace slowed a little as the race went on, with O'Donnell and Kaplan running about 2 seconds per lap faster for the rest of the race. While I had dropped about 10 seconds behind them by the finish, I did end up keeping 4th place the rest of the way.

Sunday, Amateur GTO

AmO was a bit of a disappointment (both in terms of my performance and the race itself).

I started in the second row, right behind #48 Jared Dear. I had an amazing start, motoring past Jared and very briefly taking 1st. It only took a few moments, though, for the extra 40-80 HP that the 1000cc bikes have to show its worth. Jared and #152 Mark Hellvig outbraked me into turn 1 and we found ourselves in 3rd, 5th, and 6th, respectively. I was focusing too much on Mark and not enough on my lines and ran wide in turn 3, running off into the dirt. I managed to keep it upright and re-entered the track in 15th place.

I got back into race-pace and did my best to catch up with the pack. I was only a couple of seconds behind when #691 Zachary Vasquez crashed out in turn 2; the race was red-flagged. We returned to the pits, and waited on the call to restart the race. It took a while, but they got Vasquez loaded up into the ambulance, hospital-bound, and cleaned up the track.

The race was restarted and shortened to 4 laps in an attempt to beat incoming rain (we do not race at PMP if it rains). Unfortunately, it started to rain on our warmup lap; the race was red-flagged again and eventually cancelled. Oh well. At least everyone equally lost out on championship points meaning I am still in 5th place in the championship.