RoadRace Factory Race Report from MotoAmerica Round Three, Take One: Supersport

| 21 May 2015 11:10 pm

Round 3: Virginia International Raceway

Courtesy of RoadRace Factory
Photos by GeoCrash Photography
DANVILLE, VA, MAY 15-17, 2015

After taking a considerable break from Virginia International Raceway, the premier series returned this past weekend to the historical circuit in Danville, Virginia. Making a special appearance during the weekend’s festivities was – the sun! The previous two rounds had been absolute soakers, and the RoadRace Factory team was looking forward to a nice, dry race weekend. Each of its trio of Supersport riders were also looking to make those critical steps forward in their chase for the championship.

Tomas Puerta (12) at speed at the third round of MotoAmerica.

Tomas Puerta (12) at speed at the third round of MotoAmerica.

The weather was perfect and the track conditions on day one were as close to perfect as one could ask for, so when the first practice session was green-flagged, Tomas “Tomy” Puerta, Ben Young and Cameron Petersen launched their weekend. With the new schedule of events and qualifying session one taking place on Friday, the boys needed to find their pace quickly, and for newcomer Cameron, it was yet another track to learn on the fly. Using his teammate as a guide, he soon found his rhythm, and his pace was coming up quickly.

Tomy, on the other hand, had a minor crash, but as is the case when a sliding motorcycle hits the grass, the bike needed major repair.

All three riders headed into the first qualifying session with confidence and determination. As the session wore on and the crews and riders worked out their setups, it was clear that all three had a decent pace and would be factors in the races.

Saturday morning was the final opportunity to go fast and claim top grid positions. As is often the case, times on Saturday morning aren’t faster than Friday afternoon, usually due to track temperature. This held true for the RoadRace Factory riders, as only a few of the Supersport pilots improved on their times. Our guys did not. The best possible outcome during that session is improved setup for both Ben and Cam as they continue to learn their Yamaha R6s. Tomy was the fastest of the three, in position five, with Ben in position eight and Cam right behind him in position nine.

Tomas Puerta (12), Cameron Petersen (45) and Ben Young (86) were all looking to get solid starts in the first race.

Tomas Puerta (12), Cameron Petersen (45) and Ben Young (86) were all looking to get solid starts in the first race.

Race one was held in the early afternoon, under ideal conditions. All three riders were within reach of the holeshot if they got solid starts.

The lights went out and the grid hurled itself down the long straightaway toward a treacherous turn one. Everyone made it through the first corner cleanly, and Puerta was leading our tightly packed trio in sixth, seventh and ninth.

As the 23-lap race progressed, there were two distinct breakaway groups. J.D. Beach was leading Josh Herrin, while third through fifth was being sorted out by David Anthony, Garrett Gerloff and Bobby Fong, respectively. Puerta had a good scrap with Kyle Wyman for sixth before clearing away from him and running solo for the remainder of the race. Ben Young would eventually catch Wyman and make the pass to move up to seventh.

Cameron Petersen (45) met up with a mechanical gremlin in the early laps of race one.

Cameron Petersen (45) met up with a mechanical gremlin in the early laps of race one.

Sadly for Petersen, his race would be decided by a mechanical in the opening laps, and by the time he re-entered the race, he was a lap down.

With the leaders swapping places on the final lap, Puerta brought it home in sixth. Young stayed in seventh, and Petersen continued to dice it up and learn the track as he crossed the line in 15th.

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Race two on Sunday was almost a complete carbon copy of Saturday’s action. Conditions: perfect. Riders: amped. Petersen’s crew was confident that there would be no mechanical issues and that he would be able to run near the top.

The revs went up, the lights went out, and again the herd roared toward turn one!

By lap three, the running order was exactly the same as in race one. See earlier “carbon copy” comment. The only difference this time was that Bobby Fong had crashed, moving Puerta to fifth, and Petersen was hot on his heels by midrace. Young was a few tenths of a second back, battling with Wyman again.

Unfortunately, the race between Puerta and Petersen would come to a premature end, as Petersen suffered massive arm pump and lost all feeling of his Yamaha R6. He would begin the painful last third of the race. This played into Young’s favor, as it brought Petersen within his grasp. However, Young would run out of laps and finish a respectable seventh, behind Petersen in sixth and Puerta in fifth.

Ben Young (86) came in seventh in race two.

Ben Young (86) came in seventh in race two.

It was a solid performance from the Supersport trio, and now they will rest up and prepare for their next challenge: Road America and round four of the MotoAmerica Series.

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Ben Young is now fifth in the series points standings.

Ben Young is now fifth in the series points standings.

“It wasn’t the best of my weekends, but in the end it was solid and helped my points,” said Young. “I started out struggling in the free practice. The crew and I got that sorted out for qualifying one, and it was a little easier from there on.

“The races were good,” he continued. “I got two solid seventh-place finishes and had some decent battles. I felt that my pace was picking up as the races went on. It’s my starts! Again, I had two not-so-great starts, and that’s hard to overcome in this class. That’s the thing I need to work on as we head to Road America. That track favors those who can get out front quick, so I’m focused on improving that aspect of my racing.”

“It’s always good to go race in VIR!” exclaimed Puerta. “It’s an awesome track, and the fans are really good, too.

“It was a hard weekend for me and my crew,” he confessed, “starting off with a big crash on Friday morning and had to do a lot of work on the bike and put us behind on the other work we wanted to do.

Tomy Puerta is now sixth in the series points.

Tomy Puerta is now sixth in the series points.

“For qualifying, we were better, and lap times were dropping. I got P5 and started from the second row.

“The race on Saturday was really hard,” he continued. “Somehow I got a bad cramp in my leg that made me slow down in the race, as it was hard to ride like that in a long race. But it was a good job to finish sixth.

“On Sunday, I felt a little bit better about my leg but still not perfect. Rode a pretty smart race, securing a top-five in not my best race weekend and with some pain.

“I’m now in Colombia, making sure I’m healthy and ready to go in Road America! I can’t thank RoadRace Factory team enough and all my personal sponsors – Addict by Bosi, Cards for Caring, and Indeportes Antioquia for make this happen!”

Cameron Petersen sits in eighth in the points chase.

Cameron Petersen sits in eighth in the points chase.

“We had some mixed emotions at VIR,” Petersen admitted. “Qualifying didn’t go as planned, and I qualified a bit too far down, making my race harder.

“First race, I had an electrical problem on the first lap, forcing me to come into the pits, where the team sorted it out and got me back on track, finishing in 15th.

“The next day, I went out in morning warm-up and felt a lot more comfortable and confident on the bike,” he continued. “I had an average start to the race and made a few passes early on in the race, putting me in sixth. I worked hard to catch Tomy, but around lap 12, I started getting serious arm pump and could no longer hold on to the bike and ended up P6. I’m really starting to work well with the team, and we keep making steps in the right direction. Bring on Road America!”

“Coming into this race, we had mixed expectations,” said team manager Danny Walker. “We always want that win, and we feel we are getting closer all the time, but with no data to go from on this track and having to rely on memory was making this a challenge.

Team manager Danny Walker.

Team manager Danny Walker.

“Tomy got back into the top five, which is where we know he can ride, and we feel that he can be challenging for the top spot on a more consistent basis.

“Ben had two great and solid performances this weekend, and he continues to work with his crew and coaches to continuously improve.

“Cameron had that unfortunate mechanical in race one but went back out and showed he’s capable of a fast pace. Arm pump in the second race hampered him a bit, but he was up there battling with Tomy. He continues to impress every weekend.

“Now we’re off to Road America, where anything can happen,” Walker concluded. “We know our bikes are fast there, as Jake and Tomy showed last year, so we have high expectations, and I’m sure our guys will be back up towards the front.”

[For more from the SuperStock portion of this event, please stay tuned to Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]

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