I've come to Tsukuba about 3 times but I'm looking to challenge myself, and after all it's not always about winning but it is always about having fun and getting better.
Last week I prepared my new race tire wheel set, changed my sprockets to 14/38, changed my oil (Panolin 10w30), and set up my decals.
I showed up the day before, Friday, for two special sessions for people racing the next day. I ended up showing up early and finding that my friend Fuji had totaled his front suspension and wouldn't be appearing in the race so I got his regular C3 session ticket and put in one normal session.
The first time I met him I bought a C session off him, and let him use my spare rear-sets for the next.... this seems like it's getting to be a pattern, but at least I made a friend :-D
Day before the race and got in some solid practice, 3 sessions, improving my time by a little.
Mako was chilling in the air-conditioned room overlooking most of the course as I melted away in the summer heat.
I was able to mingle a bit between sessions and make some new friends through Fuji. I didn't realize that most of the people in the CBR Dream Cup were under 18, but it was an eye opener to see who was in all the videos I watched on Youtube. Everyone was really nice and it's good to know there will be friendly and familiar faces the next time I show up at Tsukuba, which will be as soon as possible.
Keme is in an ST600 pit crew so this time around it was left to Key and Mako to support me. Key was officially my Pit Crew and Mako my Race Queen. It's sort of funny, but it was the easiest way to register her so that she could come on the grid with me, since there was no need in her getting MFJ Pit Crew certified.
My first race at a big track so I had to do it right. I got the team to don AFG Motosports and ICON gear to represent my sponsor and decorated my brand new signboard with some sponsor decals. We felt like a real team, a little short handed, but a team none the less!
During the qualifiers I was able to keep up with this guy who was like 6'4" at least, so tall he had to sit on the rear fairing. It was kind of funny with him waving his butt in my face, but I didn't have time to laugh seeing that I needed to try to place better in the qualifier.
The race I entered is the CBR Enjoy Cup which is mixed with ST250, so the fast pack is mostly Kawasaki Ninjas. Total participants 9, with only 2 in the CBR Enjoy Cup. Fuji was to be the 3rd but dropped out from yesterday's crash.
It's minutes before the race and the temperatures are still rising. 33C with 62% humidity in the shade. Ground temperatures rising from 40C to 50C by race time. This is going to be tough.
Key grabbed a nice memorable shot to commemorate my first Tsukuba 2000 race, on the grid and ready to go!
This is the best race start I've ever had but then I get into the corner.... and brake way too early and drop back a place.
I held my position until the second hairpin where the final Ninja crept past me.
I learned a lot during practice, talking to many people, and during the race. I know what I need to work on and a couple things I need to do to the bike.
My new suit and helmet look pretty good on this bike... maybe I won't paint it after all.