LaBelle: Peoria TT Report

NEWS August 26, 2010

LaBelle: Peoria TT Report

Well, another round of the AMA Pro Flat Track series is in the books following this weekend’s race in Peoria, Ill. The difference between this race and all of the others was the famous Peoria, Ill. TT track, which is also very well known back in Canada. I arrived at the track very early Saturday morning just so I could get a good look at it, and this track was very cool.

It had a long front straight, with a nice little clay corner at the end of it, coming out of the corner was a left sweeper that led to a jump that looked like you would have to hit it from the far left side in order to land on the continuing left hand sweeper on the other side. The left hand sweeper turned into a slight right hand corner, then into a tight left hand corner that leads you back onto the front straight. After walking the track, I helped Dick Weirbach unload the hauler and get the bikes ready. I could tell Dick knew I was nervous because he even told me not to sweat over it, and to just go out and learn the track. We hit the track for qualifying, and I was very pleased to have qualified 20th out of 30th. It really doesn’t sound that great, but with me just learning how to ride TTs, and even being on a bone stock CRF 450, I was happy with 20th.

I definitely wasn’t used to the day programs because before I knew it I was sitting on the line waiting for the green light. Lately I have been struggling with my starts, but I was happy with this one. Going into the corner I was in about fifth, but unfortunately missed a shift coming out of the first corner and dropped back. At the time, I really didn’t know where I was so I put my head down and went to work. I could tell that I was on a stock bike because in the small technical parts of the track, I would catch up to everyone, but going down the long front straight, I would lose time. Going across the checkered flag I found myself in tenth and well out of the main. I didn’t make any changes to the bike because I thought of a couple of things to pick up some time before I hit the front straight. The races before my semi went very quickly and I was geared up to make it to the main. Off the line I thought I had the hole-shot until I was swallowed up by almost everyone; just before the first corner I found myself in sixth. I knew fourth was where I had to be so I started to throw some hard laps down. With two to go, I slipped into 5th and started reeling in the lead pack of four. Going over the jump on the last lap, I picked up the spot that I needed and got into the main.

Coming from the third row in a main is hard enough as is, so I figured the best way to look at this main was to see it as a points race. All I had to do was get as many points as possible going into the next round. The crew did an awesome job on tearing up the track because the corners were just like a cushion. Going into the first corner I tried to ride the cushion around everyone but I was just absolutely pelted by roost coming from all 17 riders. For the whole race I just tried to keep pushing and riding hard, but all efforts I made couldn’t make a difference. The riders ahead of me couldn’t get rid of me, but at the same time, I couldn’t get a run down that long front straight. I ended up in 15th for a second weekend in a row. I’m not necessarily happy with 15th, but I had a lot of fun riding in Peoria and I can’t wait to return next year!

Until next time!

Michael LaBelle No. 20T/Weirbach Racing

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