2017 Season Wrap Up with Jacob VanRyzin
Jacob here; What at year it has been. I had my first crash at Road America in the rain, crashed out while leading the race. Have come back strong since then, with podiums in 2 out of 3 races at Blackhawk Farms July 22-23, and 3 for 3 this weekend at Gingerman Raceway. I’m currently 2nd in overall points in both Rookies cup and Heavyweight Supersport, and sixth overall in Heavyweight Superbike, but only 30 points behind second place. (A first place finish is worth 35 points.)
About to use the last of my oil up this weekend to do likely the final change for the season, and I converted at least two other people at the track to running Quicksilver oil!
I had a good second to last round at Blackhawk farms with a second, third, and fifth place finish in each of my races. This had me going into the final round in 2nd place in two of my classes, and fourth overall in the other. The final round was worth double points so everything was still up for grabs. I was mostly locked into 2nd place overall in Rookies cup, and was close to a lock for 4th overall in Heavyweight Superbike. The one that was up in the air was Heavyweight Supersport, I was in 2nd but 3rd and 4th overall were both within points distance of me. If I finished in front of both races, I would hold on to 2nd overall. That race was my only race on Saturday, so after morning practice I waited all day until that race (was 2nd to last on the schedule). I got a good start, but going into the first corner another rider had his brakes fail, and he crashed in front of me, while trying to avoid him I lost the front end and went down, and my clutch lever broke so I was unable to rejoin the race.
I fixed up the bike overnight, reviewed the tape, and set my sights on the next day. I ended up dropping 2 seconds off my personal lap record during the Rookies Cup race Sunday morning, and ended up with a 3rd place in Rookies Cup (1 more lap and I would have been in second after dropping that time during the race) and a 5th in Heavyweight Superbike. Here’s video of the Rookies Cup race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UWFBs9hbTE .
I was quite dejected after reviewing the crash footage, as originally, I thought I had been taken out by the crashing rider, but it turned out I over-reacted and could have avoided him and kept in the race, good lessons to learn, but hard to stomach. After bouncing back on Sunday with a new best time, and being talked into it by a few fellow racers I decided I would go down to the season finale and the national championship at Daytona International Speedway.
I did some quick repairs to the bodywork from the earlier crash and did a mildly revised paint job. One of the other racers who talked me into going, volunteered his trailer so we piled it full and made the long drive down.
We arrived a few days before our races, and slept in the trailer inside the facility. They left all the lights on overnight, including on the track and in the stands. It was worth the drive just to be able to experience that and was really cool to just walk around and be able to check out such a well-known and well regarded venue, especially when it was essentially empty compared to a normal event.
Friday, we spent the day getting everything set up in our garage and preparing for the races on Saturday.
Friday night/early Saturday morning, we had thunderstorms come through, so when we finally got a chance to ride the track it was damp. Man, what an experience. It’s hard to describe the thrill of heading up the banking wide open for the first time. Both of my practice sessions were cut short because of either crashes or track issues, so I only got 8 total laps of practice before my first race. Luckily, I had watched plenty of other people’s videos lapping the track, so I felt fairly confident with so little practice. I got a fairly good start in the race, and very quickly got to see where I was losing time as I got handily passed in a few corners and into the braking zone of the chicane. I pushed as the race went on, and ended up beating another local rider (#113) who I had been chasing all year locally but always seemed to lose to at the line. I finished 8th out of 16, which I was pretty happy with considering the lack of practice. Watching the video is frustrating now knowing what I learned in Sunday practice and race as there are many spots where I know I can go faster. https://youtu.be/jqGobnnbPx4?t=7m57s
Saturday night we got more rain, so Sunday morning practice was again a little damp, but I was able to find some spots to improve. We got some hard rain just before lunch, and there were a few races that were done during the rain. Luckily my second race was later in the day and the track was mostly dry by the time I went out. That race was the superbike race, where the bikes are allowed more modifications, which I don’t take advantage of as I also run supersport. At a track like Daytona the power difference is immediately noticeable, but even with that I still finished 8th overall in that race.
Overall a great first complete season for me, and an incredible finale being able to race at Daytona and be competitive. I acquired a quickshifter during the offseason to hopefully help me drop a bit more time next season, I’m focusing on my fitness, and also got a new suit as the old one was starting to look a little rough after the crashes. I plan to increase my race total from 3 per weekend this year to 5 next season, and will be racing Heavyweight Supersport, Heavyweight Superbike, Unlimited Grand Prix, Unlimited Supersport, and GTO (an endurance race) (I can no longer race Rookies cup, as I’m no longer a rookie). With my increase in pace from last season, and my increased class participation for 2018 I’m shooting for Top 5 overall amateur, 2 class championships, and at least 1 track championship. Based on the points I accrued in the 2017 season, after my trip to Daytona, 2018 is the last season I will be able to race as an amateur, and will be moving up to the Expert class for 2019, so I plan to take advantage of it. Thanks again for all the support, and I’m already looking forward to next year and hopefully being able to put Quicksilver on top of the box many times!
Written by Jacob VanRyzin