James Rispoli: Rocking the Points Lead!
NEWS April 2, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Daytona Beach, Fla. (April 1, 2012) – Hi everyone! What an opening season it has been. All the hard pre-season work is paying off and the first race of the season at the mecca of speed, Daytona was awesome. Before I go into the racing I have to say thank you to my team Celtic-Orient Express Racing and my crew; crew chief William Myers, mechanic Dustin Say, Eric Myers on the pit board communication and motor builder Barry McMahan. These guys got the job done for me in preparing my bikes and managing the race weekend. Lots of other people are responsible for this ride and at a minimum I want to recognize Barry Gilsenan owner of Celtic Racing and Skip Dowling owner of Orient Express for believing in me and providing me this opportunity. Guys, I won’t let you down both on and off the track. Now for the racing!
Every off season the preparation to get a ride and prepare for the opening round creates and obsession or should I say addiction that drives riders, teams and their support people to a frenzy. This year was the most hectic of the 12 years I have been racing and holding the #1 plate made the concentration even stronger. My internal mind rose to the occasion and I really stepped up my personal training program another couple of notches. I personally made the transition from top athlete to elite athlete mentally and was hell bent of doing the things the top 1 percent do to live at the pinnacle of the sport. It is paying off big time. My mental attitude is the strongest it has ever been and physically I am in the best shape of my life. I have surrounded myself off the track with some of the best trainers in the business and everything from workouts to nutrition is logged, monitored and adjusted with one goal in mind; to be the best athlete in the paddock focused on winning a second championship title. So far so good!
At Daytona this year, the team showed up prepared after a great first time outing at Jennings GP a couple of weeks earlier. There we tested tires, shocks, engine management and team members. It was the first time I worked with William my crew chief, and I found it easy to talk to him and communicate what the bike was doing to make good changes. We went fast and the team was real pleased as was I with the results. For Daytona the bike was working great and overall we put up the second fastest time getting beat by a fraction for the pole position by my team mate Cory Alexander. It was good to be on the front grid and the team have the #1 and #2 spots on our Suzuki GSX-R600’s against a field of over 50 riders.
In the first race I got a great start and started right away to make my way to the front. My plan was to see if I could break away, but I had feeling that was going to be very difficult unless someone held the top 6 or 7 riders up for a couple of seconds. A few times I gapped the lead group pretty good but never could get a good enough run to stay out far enough to really push for a breakaway so I settled in and did my best to control the race at my pace. It kind of worked too good because on the last lap no one was going by to pass me for the lead. I knew leading out of the chicane was like having a death wish but I had no choice. I said to myself I had to make this the fastest chicane ever and had to gap the pack of 7 in order to have any chance at all of being on the box, let alone win this thing. I got on to the west banking and let it all hang out with a great drive. I drove up as high to the wall as I could then dove down looking for a tight yellow line to the finish. In front of me was a lapper and I used that draft to my advantage and sling shot toward the checkers. When no one came around at the stripe I screamed inside my helmet for what seemed to be a minute. I WON DAYTONA!!!
In race two we a red flag and restart. Luckily when we came in we had time to make a repair/adjustment to my clutch since I was having problems. With the clutch repaired I was ready for the restart and again got a decent start. I controlled the race again but this time I knew I was not going to lead out of the chicane so with two laps to go I slipped back to 4th in the lead group and going into the white flag I bumped up to 3rd in prime position to come out of the chicane and make a draft move. About half way through the last lap the bike starting acting funny. I had no idea what was happening but it surged a couple of times and I knew it felt like I was low on fuel. My concern was to finish with as many points as I can get so knowing I had a good gap on the fifth place riders I babied our bike to the checkers to grab 4th place and the points that went along with it. I was clearly disappointed, but knew I still had enough points to come out of the two day Daytona race series in the points lead. That meant a huge improvement over the year before where I was in 2nd, 21 points behind the leader. Overall I was super pumped, knew what I did right and knew what I did wrong over the weekend and was excited that we got through Daytona, one of the toughest tracks on bikes and crews in the #1 slot in our focused West Division. In addition my team mate Cory Alexander also did awesome grabbing second place in that race and he now leads the East division. It was a great first race weekend for me, my new team and all the folks that supported us.
Homestead AMA Pro Road Racing Test
Two days after the opening round of the series starting at Daytona, AMA Pro Racingscheduled an official test at the Homestead track, a track they has not raced on for quite some years. Since all the teams were already in Florida it was a way to save on some costs and have riders and crews get some track time to learn the track and get a general set up for the race scheduled toward the end of the season.
Myself and my team mate Corey Alexander both were at the test with our crews. The track was a lot of fun and over the course of two days we chipped away at set ups, learned the track and did some race simulation. I worked closely with my crew chief William and the Orient Express K-tech representatives to dial in my bike chassis. We made some great adjustments to the front end and I got great feel from it. We invested several sessions dialing in the rear shock to give me better side grip and by the end of the two day test I felt we have achieved our goals. First, to learn the track, second, dial in the bike chassis and third make a race simulation and run consistent fast times with the optimum setup we achieved. It was all good! We ended up second fastest for the two days and only a couple of hundreds off and I know I can easily make that up. I felt I had more consistency than the rest of the paddock and I left Homestead excited to make things happen at the next race in Road Atlanta.
I am now heading out to the west coast to work with Mark Gallardo and instruct at Jason Pridmore’s STAR School.
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Celtic-Orient Express Racing is proud to partner with: Michael Jordan Motorsports, American Suzuki, Armor Bodies, Chicken Hawk Racing, DesignStar3, Dynojet, FMF Racing Exhaust, Full Spectrum Power, Hudson Valley Racing, Galfer Brakes, GB Racing, K-Tech Suspension, Maxima Oils, Motion Pro, Pit Bull, Riviera Country Club, Saddlemen, Star Motorcycle School, Vortex Racing, and Zero Gravity.
James’ personal sponsors are: AGV-Dainese (head to toe), Monster Energy, Galfer Brakes