Reno-Fernley Track - June 2nd, 2007
I recently completed a track day at Reno-Fernley Raceway on Saturday, June 2nd. I was down in Reno for the second annual Reno VFRD meet. We had members from all over the west coast at the meet (San Bernardino, San Francisco, Newport, and Portland). On Friday, we all went for a ride to hit the local twisties and then we had a BBQ. Saturday we split into two groups: some of us went to the track and others went for a ride around Lake Tahoe. Afterwards, we regrouped for dinner and refreshments.
Track day was an fantastic experience. This was my very first track day, so I had those first-day-of-school butterflies as I pulled into the pit area. After registering, I got in line for tech inspection and then we had a quick riders meeting. I was in the B- group, so our first session consisted of three sighting laps to learn the course and get comfortable. Each lap was about 3 miles long and comprised of over 20 turns. There were a few bumps out on the track and I noticed my suspension wasn’t taking them very well. As soon as I got back into the pit, I went on over to the Lindemann Engineering trailer and had my suspension set up properly by (I believe) Mr. Lindemann himself. I was able to get two laps in before my second session expired and I was very impressed with how the suspension was working now with the RC51 front-end and CBR-XX rear shock I had put on it. The bike handled extremely well and soaked up bumps 1000% better than before.
Now that my suspension was set up, I was ready to hit the track. But by the end of my third session, I had another problem. I had a set of regular sport tires (Pirelli Diablos), on my bike and I was pushing the tires past their limits. My rear end kicked out on me a few times during the session, but nothing too bad. During the last lap of my session, I learned just how bad my tires were actually performing. I was banked over in a tight left-hander when both tires gave up on me. For about half a second, the only thing keeping the bike upright was my knee, my left peg and foot, and the gear shift lever (which got grounded down pretty good). Luckily, I was able to push the bike back up and save it. Right after that, I entered a long right-hand sweeper and that’s when I definitely knew something was wrong. I was trying to keep my line nice and tight, but the bike was drifting off line. Once I got out of the sweeper, I had drifted about 20-feet off my line (almost ended up in the dirt actually).
I immediately found the Dunlop dealer after my third session and bought some D208 GP-compound track tires to replace my Diablos. I was inspecting my old tires and notice that the edges were shiny. That told me the tires were getting way too hot and that’s why I was sliding around the track. Once the Dunlops got spooned on, I hopped back out on the track. What an unbelievable transformation those tires made! It was like going from snow-packed roads to fresh, clean asphalt. Those tires stuck like glue in every corner and at every lean angle.
Lunch was served and there was three more afternoon sessions left in the day. The temperature had reached a high of 93°F, which made wearing a full leather one-piece suit a bit uncomfortable. I spent my last three sessions working on form and technique. By the end of the day, I felt much more comfortable and quicker on the track. I still have a lot work to do. My upperbody position is a little bit off, plus I need to work on my brake/throttle transitions. But, the goal now is to apply everything that I’ve learned on the track to the road. With a better arsenal of techniques and skills, I can navigate the roads safer and smarter than before. :thumbsup: