I was only able to participate in the last two CBR Enjoy Cup races this year but next year I'll be moving up to the CBR Dream Cup and Tourist Trophy NS2.
I was/am still healing from my injury back on 9/17 and hadn't ridden since the crash so I took work off on Friday and got back into the groove with some special practice sessions. Spent the morning fixing up the bike, new exhaust and rear set, and made sure everything was in place.
However the front wheel felt really sluggish and my handling was terrible in the morning session so I reassembled the wheel and forks and gave it another go.
It felt a little better but I decided to work with the current setup during qualifiers and then decide what to do for the race depending on how that went.
The bike inspection at Tsukuba is quite hectic so this time we made sure to get the bottom fairing off before getting to the inspection area to save us some sweat, but carrying all that crap across the paddock is a pain in the butt.
Qualifiers went alright but the bike was still feeling sluggish on entry. Every time I went for the apex the bike would go wide and just pushing the handles harder wasn't exactly getting me closer to the apex in a safe manner but causing my rear to push out every time I touched the throttle.
So last minute we took a chance and dropped the front another 2mm on top of the 7mm I did when upgrading my suspension at iFactory and added a half turn to the pre-load. It was a bit of a gamble and would potentially cause the rear to get light on exit, but my current fear was going wide on every single turn.
Luckily it all worked out and the new settings felt great, and put me back in the lower 14 sec, upper 13 sec range from before the crash. Riding faster always feels good, but I still have several seconds I can shave off with my current setup.
Key brought his bicycle-shop apron for the race :-D I'm guessing he dirtied his clothes last time around. I'm glad he had the idea to drop the front of the bike down, even though I was nervous for the first lap of the race, not knowing exactly what setting I was riding since I had never tested it out.
I had a great start in the race! I started 16th out of 17 on the grid but by the first corner was up to around 11th place. Once I hit the first hairpin a couple people got under me and then at the chicane and 2nd hairpin a couple more putting me back at 15th place.
The whole race I fought with the guy in 14th, who had a Motobum decal bike. I would get close to overtaking him, especially in the final corner which I was much faster in, but he would creep away in the chicane.
But just then! 3 laps before the end of the race I pass him on the front straight in front of everyone, but my whole team was busy recording lap times and putting the sign board up that they didn't get any pictures until then next lap when I had already been overtaken T_T
I kept on his tail for the remainder of the race and if there had been 1 more lap could've passed him again.
Finished 15th out of 17 and had such an exciting race trying to get into 14th!
After my race I stayed to watch Fuji in his CBR Dream Cup debut, something I'm looking forward to for myself.
After the race I got good news from my sponsor AFG Motosports!
My sponsorship is going to be extended to 2015! I'm looking forward to a good year racing in the CBR Dream Cup and TT NS2!