RoadRace Factory Race Report from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Take Two: Highs and Lows from the Brickyard
Round 8: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Courtesy of RoadRace Factory
Photos by GeoCrash Photography
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, AUG. 7-9, 2015
For the third time this season, the MotoAmerica Series has shared the weekend with their international counterparts. This weekend, it would be another chance to race in front of the MotoGP crowd, as the two championships shared the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
As is customary when the premier World Championship Series is in town, the Supersport racers are relegated to one race – and limited track time to prepare for that one race. For this weekend, the Supersport duo of Tomy Puerta and Cameron Petersen (Ben Young was unable to attend) would take to the track on Thursday for their first session. That’s right, race fans – on track on Thursday for one 40-minute session. On Friday, they would be given one qualifying session, then a 20-minute warm-up on Saturday, followed by their only race that afternoon.
Three sessions to nail all the setups and learn the course.
This meant that each rider and his crew had to be on top of their game right out of the box. For Tomy, maintaining his fifth place in the championship was at stake, with a chance to move up one spot if he could best David Anthony. For Cameron, it would be another chance to show his stellar progression in his rookie season.
Unfortunately for them, the first time on the track would be a rain-soaked session. As they circulated the famous racetrack, the rain continued to come down, and the duo just kept churning out fast lap after fast lap. For much of the session, Tomy was leading the freight train of riders, setting quick lap after quick lap. He had Cam and Garrett Gerloff in his wake for most of the session, but as he crossed the line, Cam and Garrett came in mere hundredths of a second ahead. Cam Petersen – who, until moving to the United States, had never raced in the rain – was impressive with what would have been his session-topping performance, right up until the last few laps, when he was bested by factory Yamaha rider Garrett Gerloff.
Coming into qualifying, the weather was no longer an issue. The problem now was that neither rider had a dry setup to baseline. For Cameron’s crew, they nailed a quick setup early on, and he continued to go fast around the circuit. On Puerta’s side of the garage, it would be an exercise of epic proportions. There was just something off from the beginning, and with the limited track time, there was no chance to recover. When the session was stopped, Tomy was in his worst-ever qualifying position – 13th. For Cameron, it would be another fifth-place starting position – but more importantly, it was the closest to the leaders he had been in terms of lap times.
One filled with confidence and other with trepidation, Cam and Tomy headed toward their only race on Saturday afternoon after a quick 20-minute warm-up in the morning. For Cameron, it would a shake-down ride to make sure everything was still good. For Tomy, he and his crew used that time to see if the changes worked. They did work! Just not as much as he had hoped, but it would be enough to make him feel better going into the race later in the day.
In the late afternoon, the riders took their positions on the historic bricks. The stands were full and the atmosphere was electric. The championship was on the line, and the top five were going to be battling all race long.
The grid was cleared of all personnel and the riders took to their sighting laps. Upon returning to the grid, it would be a quick lights-on, lights-off start!
Cam made a good start and found himself staying with the leaders for the first few laps, riding in fifth. Tomy made an incredible start and placed himself behind his teammate, separated by Travis Wyman.
As the race wore on, Tomy made a small mistake and slipped back to ninth, while Cam slid back to sixth. Just as they were both on the rebound, a red flag was flown and the race was stopped. It would be restarted as a six-lap, all-out sprint race!
This was a chance for our duo to recover and go out in a no-holds-barred battle.
As the field was gridded and released for what would be the championship-deciding six laps, Cam and Tomy again made great starts and were planted firmly in with the leaders. Apparently, Tomy’s setup issues had been resolved, as he was rocketing towards the leaders. As he was entering turn 10, he was struck from behind by another rider and was forced off the track. By the time the incident was cleared and he was able to return to the action, he was in dead last and was forced to race alone for the remaining laps. He finished in 12th.
Cam’s race was finally a chance to see him running with the lead group. He stayed with the leaders until he hit a false neutral on the last lap and was passed by 600cc Superstock champ Joe Roberts. As they crossed the bricks for the final time, Cam finished in his starting position of fifth.
“It was a tough weekend for me,” Puerta confessed. “I wasn’t feeling good with the bike. Evan and I tried a lot of different things. We just couldn’t make it work.
“I’m looking forward to New Jersey. The season went really fast and now we start to think about next season.
“I want to thank everyone who helped me and all the people who come from Colombia to Indy to watch the race!”
“Indy was a great weekend for me,” Petersen said. “I felt comfortable from lap one and knew that we had some fight in us.
“I qualified in fifth place, not that far off pole,” he continued. “I got a good start for a change and put myself in a good position in the race. I made a few small mistakes and lost the tow but, luckily for me, there was a red flag.
“I got an even better start after the red flag and was in third coming out of turn two. I was able to stay with the lead group this time and was able to fight for a podium, but I hit a neutral on the last lap and ran off track, still managing to finish in fifth.
“I’m happy with the results from this weekend, as it was the closest to the front I have run. Massive thanks to the whole team for an awesome weekend – and bring on Jersey!”
“You know, this weekend was a tough one, not just because of the racing but because of the limited track time for Supersport,” said
Team manager Danny Walker. “It’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. There’s a tremendous amount of downtime, and the guys never stopped working on the bikes.
“In Tomy’s case, it was clear that they needed to test their adjustments, which, under a normal weekend, they’d have time to do. But this weekend, it just wasn’t to be. He and his crew did a fantastic job to overcome their issues and put on a show in the race. Tomy rode hard, and I think he did his crew proud. Starting from 13th is not easy, but to be up near the front by turn one is something special. His race was unfortunate, and that happens. I’m glad that he was able to continue and grab some points.
“For Cam, he was on fire, and I continue to be impressed by his progress. His wet-weather riding is something I didn’t expect, and at the end of the first session, I was smiling from ear to ear. His performance all weekend was great, and I believe with a little more tweaking, he’ll be up there with the front-runners consistently at New Jersey in a few weeks.
“Overall, I’m proud of the team,” Walker concluded. “They had to overcome a lot this weekend, and I’m just convinced that we have the best rider-crew combinations in the paddock! Also, I’d like to say ‘congratulations’ to J.D. Beach and his Yamalube Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha Team! Even though we compete on track, we are very fond of J.D. and his crew, and to see him capture the title was very exciting. We know how hard it is to do, and we just want to congratulate them on their efforts this season!”
[For more from this event, please see “RoadRace Factory Race Report from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Take One: A Return to Form”… Editor]