Alton, VA - The traveling carnival known as MotoAmerica made its way to the immaculate rolling hills of Alton, VA for Round Three of the Motul Superbike Championship hosted by VIRginia International Racway. As the caravans of entertainers arrived on scene, the stages were already being set. The paddock at specific rounds this season is being transformed into an even more family friendly experience. Alongside the canopies of the permanent performers, now stand concert stages and all sorts of moto-entertainment for MotoAmerica fans. All this adds up to an incredibly electric atmosphere at the already stunning venue.
For their part of the "Big Show", the Genuine Broaster Chicken / Honda / RoadRace Factory crew were looking to continue building on the positive results from COTA. The small break between the rounds provided just enough time for the bike to receive some much needed attention, while giving Cam Petersen some time to train on team supermotos. One of the most important aspects of set-up day is the opportunity it provides for the teams to fully prepare for the upcoming weekend as well as providing a chance for the rider and crew chief to go over notes and discuss their plan for the weekend. The plan for this weekend? Build rider confidence, build upon the successes, and come away with more valuable points.
Friday morning is the first opportunity to shake the bike down. Qualifying Practice 1 (QP1) is an entire hour dedicated to establishing and fine tuning those items noted in the set-up day list while acquainting the rider with how the bike will perform when the lights go out. While Cam was turning laps, the crew was closely monitoring sector times and trap speeds. About half way through the first session, Cam was getting used to the bike and his times were improving while trap speeds were impressive. Cam would finish that first session in P11; a set-up issue was causing the bike to twitch during the rapid direction changes that are prevalent at the Virginia facility causing Cam to lose some speed in certain sectors. Fortunately, QP2 is just a few hours later so Cam and the CamP45 Crew can get right back to work and dial in the machine to ensure a solid placement in Superpole. Making the necessary adjustments in the set-up, the guys headed into QP2 confident that they could break the Top 10. As so they did! While the adjustments in set-up reduced the front end "twitch" and Cam finished in 10th, there was still more to do to help the front end feel of the machine.
Saturdays are crazy days at the carnival! Shortened morning sessions lead to Superpole, then opening ceremonies followed by parades of marching bands and then finally an afternoon full of races. For the team's part, their morning session was extremely productive. Overnight adjustments paid off with respect to overall feel of the motorcycle and Cam was feeling strong about his chances for improving during Superpole. The crew prepped two special Dunlop Qualifiers to maximize Cam's chances of going fast on the super sticky tires. These tires can change the dynamics of the bike, and with only two laps worth of life (one out lap and one hot lap) there's typically not enough time to adjust. So the guys gave him two tires in order to accelerate Cam's understanding of the interplay between sticky tires and fast motorcycles. It worked! Cam was able to put the bike in the 8th starting position before the session was called. This is his best qualifying performance of the year and it shows that the work both he and the crew are putting into the package is working.
Once the last member of the marching band had been cleared from the paddock, it was time to go racing. The weather was predicted to be a major issue for the series on Saturday; thunderstorms, rains and an arc were supposed to make an appearance. The clouds certainly looked threatening and the barometric pressure began rising immediately bringing back the "Microburst" memory of 2016. However, the weather stayed away and as Race One was about to start, the only concern the team faced was getting through T1 cleanly. As the revs soared and the sound reverberated through the countryside, the lights went out and race one was underway. To say that Cam made a good a start would be a proper understatement. Cam launched his Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda as if it was fired out of a cannon. As impressive as that was, it would be for not. There was a pretty serious incident exiting turn 3 which would bring out the red flag immediately. The race was on hold and Cam would have to do it all over again. The restart wasn't as spectacular, but it was good. Cam made up a few positions by turn four. As the race progressed, Cam was looking good and the bike was running strong. While running a solid sixth place, the "twitch" appeared out of turn five and Cam lost a little ground on Jake Lewis in 5th. As Cam was trying to make up that gap under braking into turn seven, he hit a bump (compliments of the cars) that caused his bike to leave the track in an unanticipated manner. Another unfortunate retirement, however this time, everything seemed to be clicking. So the team was able to pull the positives out of that race and zero in for race two.
Sunday, the day of the big show. No elephants or loins or tigers, just more marching bands and colorful plumage displays from all in attendance. With a strong bike from race one, everyone under the team's tent was feeling excited about their prospects for the last show of the weekend. Earlier in the day, Cam had been running in the 1:26 range on race tires. The strongest pace so far. Reserved optimism was building throughout the team as race two approached. This time, the sun was shining and the Virginia countryside was a vibrant green set amongst the blue sky and white billowing clouds. The bikes came to life as they anticipated the start and the crowd had gathered outside their favorite corners. As the starting lights went out, Cam didn't make the heroic start from race one. He was able to gain a few places before the end of the first lap and was again showing some really impressive speed. By lap four however, Cam was fading back, still inside the top ten but losing ground on the main chase pack. Cam was running a solo race until four laps to go when Cam caught Bobby Fong running in 8th. The pair would trade places all the way to the checkers. Sadly, Cam would be snubbed at the line and finish in 9th just 0.048 behind Fong.
Overall it was a strong performance for the weekend. Despite the DNF in race one; there were some serious positive to take away from the weekend. Race one showed the strongest performance of the season so far and Cam was able to add to his point's total. The team now moves onto Road America in a few weeks where they are looking to put on a bigger show at the National Park of Speed.
© American Supercamp 2019