James "The Rocket" Rispoli Rip'n-it-up at Road America
NEWS June 13, 2013
Courtesy of Andrea Wilson
(June 13, 2013) - I am back training after my Road America race where we achieved our main goal and that was to get out of there 5th in the point hunt. We also had a goal to be in the top 5 in both races and while I was up battling with the leaders on both days, we didn’t quite have the set ups to get the job done on a consistent basis. But that’s alright, we’re learning, we’re moving forward and that’s what’s most important at this time.
So whatever you do keep on reading because I ‘m going to tell what it was like to run with the fastest racers in the nation at one of the longest tracks on the AMA Pro Racing circuit.
Road America is always a bit sketchy weather wise and this year that didn’t change one bit. The threat of rain loomed over us for practice and early morning on Saturday but only rained Friday evening which allowed us to bypass any track time on rain tires. Our warmest day of the weekend event was on Friday where it climbed into the 70’s. But that would be the last time we saw that number as the weather barely got out of the high 50’s or low 60’s for the second qualifying session and races. All in all it was a very productive race weekend where myself and the team were able to chip away at adjustments that would translate them into faster and more consistent laps times. We proved that running up front at the opening round of Daytona was no fluke, that our overall team has the equipment, talent and knowledge to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the season.
Friday’s first practice was the first time back on a bike in race action since Daytona. We had a long layoff and even still I managed to get some quality laps in and and gather some valuable data on the set up. The bike and I weren’t really connected 100% and our times showed this. I felt we could enhance the turning, rear grip take the next steps forward. we got closed for sure but we still had work to do.
In the first qualifying session I was able to achieve a 22.5 and put the National Guard/Celtic Racing GSX R600 in the 6th provisional qualifying position. I was not real happy with the results. I spent time going over all the areas of the track where I felt I had opportunities to make up time and then worked with the team to come up with a plan for the morning. I felt good about the plan but knew it would be difficult to improve on our times since the weather was going to be a lot colder in the morning which meant a lack of grip compared to Friday’s session.
Our second qualifying session went well and while we were unable to better our times, I tested stability on the brakes and cornering speed on some of the more challenging sections and my times in those specific areas were better. After the session was over we made additional adjustments in the same direction and were ready to rock race one at Road America.
Race One Daytona Sport Bike Class
Our first race on a regular track in the new class was a positive one. Our set up changes were working better than in qualifying and overall I was pleased that I was able to stay with the front group for the first half of the race and didn’t find the pace a stretch to do. I eventually got shuffled back by making a mistake running wide and gave up two positions while running in 4th. I got back in line but I ended up what would turn out to be the second group of leader who eventually would battle for 5th place. That small mistake made the rest of my race hard since the group would fight to lead the second group instead of putting our heads down to catch the lead group. I was in good position on the last lap but with the long straight at Road America I was double drafter at the line ended up being drafted at the line and would end up in 7th position. A bit of a heart breaker because I really knew I could have been battling for better positions but was happy to score more points toward the championship. The experience was good and I bettered my lap time by over one second from qualifying so I knew we were going faster and in the right direction with every adjustment. I still wasn’t 100 percent happy with the bike and again we came together as a group, discussed each section of the track and came up with a new game plan for race two Sunday.
Sunday Race Two Daytona Sport Bike Class
With our new game plan in hand we were ready to increase our pace and improve our rhythm on Sunday. The start of the race for me was great! I quickly moved into the top 4 positions and was able to hang there with no problem. With a full fuel load and new tires my Suzuki GSX R600 was carving well and I was able to stay right on the rear wheel of the factory teams. That is of course until the straights. The Yamaha’s were still able to pull off the corners better even with all the set up changes. To hang with them I had to do a little over riding of the bike by going in deeper than most and trying to get on the gas earlier without loosing tire traction. It was a bit frustrating but for the most part I was making it work. But would I be able to keep it up for the entire race was the question. With that said I continued to challenge upfront until I lost the draft of the front pack and was lost in no-mans land pushing my own wind in 5th. With 7 laps to go and only a 5 second lead on the next group I was losing time on the long straights after pulling my fastest lap of the weekend of 20.9. I could see from the lap boards that the last lap was going to be a barn burner since the chase group was going to catch me and it again would be a dog fight for that 5th position.
As faith would have it, I battled with the chase group on the last lap finding away in front of them but was over taken and drafted at the line to take another 7th place finish. In my head I was very disappointed but I kept on remembering what my coaches Mark and JP have always told me. They taught me there will be days you just won’t have the package for the win and it is those days that you push and take home as many points as you can and move on to the next one. Well that’s what we did and by riding smart and to the limit we managed to achieve our #1 goal for the weekend and that was to come out in 5th place in the Daytona Sport Bike standings when the weekend was done.
I want everyone to know, I have one of the best teams in the paddock behind me. Together we are racing, over coming challenges and we’re all getting better at what we do. I want to thank my entire team, especially my crew chief Barry Mac, Dustin and Mike for doing everything it takes to give me the best race bikes on the planet. They are the best. To everyone else who came together to help this ride open up for me I say thank you! I will do whatever I have to do to be ready to race for every event.
Till next time do what I like to do, GO FASTER...
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