ESC Championship Awards
We traveled to Reutlingen, Germany this weekend for the season close-out and awards ceremony.
The gala event was held at the headquarters of Speer Racing and Motorsports. More than 250 people showed up to socialize, enjoy excellent glüwein (for you foreigners out there it's hot red wine that we drink in the Winter!), and feast heavily on the smorgasbord of food, which was catered for the evening.
It was great to catch-up with everyone again to reminisce, and even see some of the riders we don't normally see during the entire season.
At around 10:30PM David began the awards ceremony. First he explained the season to everyone that was there, talking about the different circuits as well as some of the trials and tribulations we went through during the year. The award classes were for the Powercup, 600, 750, V2, Unlimited, GP1 and GP2. 1st through 5th place were given trophies for each event.
I thought that I had finished in 4th place for the season when I failed to be able to race at Mugello in September due to my accident. I had been in 2nd place prior to the accident. When they announced the final awards for the V2 class it turned out that I finished in 3rd place by 2 points! So I was in fact able to beat Piero. I was extremely surprised, and excited to have finished in the top 3 overall. I never expected to have had as competitive a season as I did for my rookie year, and now I am more than anxious to start the quest for next year's cup!!
We will be adding one new track to the venue for next year; Valencia. This is a great track, and it's where they hold the final race for MotoGP !! Should be really exciting!!
It was then time to say good night to everyone, wish them and their families happy holidays and hit the sack.............
........until next year!! ;-)
ESC Championship Round 6 - Final Round
It was a stunning weekend to finish out what has become an excellent season, especially considering it was my rookie season in racing!
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon to overhead skies and light drizzle, however; I was confident that the weather would work in our favor over the last race weekend.
I was happy to see my bike back in race condition and ready-to-go. The only visible change was a red nose fairing on my bike. Since mine was destroyed during my accident in Mugello last month, Ducati Krinke lent me a front nose fairing to get me through the weekend. Now it was just a matter of seeing how well the pilot adjusted mentally to being back on the track again. This was my going to be my first time on the bike since the accident.
I started off quite slowly on Thursday morning in order to be sure everything was ok with the bike and that mentally I was ready to start competing. By the third practice session I was feeling in pretty good form and my lap times were coming in line. My best lap time in April was 2:06 and I was quite determined to do the unthinkable, which was to achieve a sub 2:00 lap time. This is something that is quite difficult to achieve at our level, but I felt quite confident due to all of the great progress I made throughout the year.
By the end of Day 1 I had achieved a new record lap time of 2:03:3, which was 3 seconds faster than Easter. The weather was working in my favor. It was a warm 21 degrees with beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies. Already a good sign!!
Day 2 started right where I left off. In the first round I pulled out two laps at 2:01, and by lunch time I was down to 2:00 flat!! I was very excited and really anxious to hit the 1:59 mark. It wasn't going to happen in time for the end of qualifying. I kept pushing harder and harder, and that in fact, made it more difficult to achieve. I just couldn't get my body to relax enough and let the bike do the work. I was trying to force the lap times down, and that just doesn't work.
I ended up qualifying 11th on the grid out of 49 and right next to Steve and Hans. At this point I wasn't even thinking about a trophy finish or the season championship. All I wanted was to do a 1:59 lap time in the race. I had already decided in the middle of the Summer that this lap time would be the pinnacle of an already amazing first season.
The race started off without a hitch and going into the first corner I managed to get around Steve and was sniffing the tail pipe of Hans' Ducati. I was out for positions and wanted to try and get around as many riders as possible so I could hopefully get into some wide open track space and put all of my hard work this season to the final test.
I got around Hans going into turn 4, but then he passed right by me going into turn 5. We were so close I could've reached out and grabbed his shoulder. I attempted to follow him, however; a Ducati 1098 and an Aprilia Mille pushed through and now I was stuck behind both of them. For the next couple of laps I was trapped behind four bikes. I pushed as hard as I could and was easily outmaneuvering the Ducati and Aprilia in the corners, however; with the extra horsepower both bikes were carrying I just couldn't get around them. I finally decided I was going to have to out-brake them going into the corners, which meant braking at the last possible second before going into the corner. This is what truly separates the men from the boys in racing. If you have ever seen how close the pros do it on TV it is a feat to watch. It takes total concentration and precision to pull it off without having an accident. I successfully pulled it off twice to get around both bikes and was now in the clear, momentarily.
Late into the race one of the bikes ran too deep into the back corner on turn 8 and the yellow flag was being waived. When the yellow flag is out you are not allowed to pass anyone so I though this would give me some breathing room. Unfortunately the Aprilia passed me (I don't know if he wasn't paying attention) and now I had to battle again to get past him again. It wasn't going to be, however; I did manage to pass a few more riders in front of him, including Piero, who was currently ahead of me in points for 3rd place in the season championship because I wasn't able to race last month in Mugello.
As the race was coming to a close I realized the Ducati 1098 was trying to get around me again and he did manage to slide up next to me. There was no way I was going to let him through again. I knew that if I did, I wouldn't have enough time to get by him again and he had already cost me valuable time in the previous laps. It took every last mental effort to keep a perfect race line and ensure he couldn't get through on the inside.
I pushed as hard as I could until I saw the checkered flag and then I looked down to see my final lap time. I was so surprised to see that I had hit my season goal.... 1:59:52!!! Throughout the whole race I just couldn't get enough open space ahead of the riders I passed and I didn't think I was going to make it. since I had only been averaging 2:01. I was ready to jump up and down on my bike (didn't want to have an accident though, so I decided to wait).
I finished the race in 6th place out of 22 riders in the V2 class and I finished 4th in the season championship!! Not too shabby for my rookie season.
Never in my life did I think I would have the kind of success this season that I had, especially with all of the mechanical problems with the bike and my accident last month in Mugello. With the exception of the first round at Brno in May I earned a trophy in every race I participated in this season!! I was actually only hoping to get at least one trophy this season, not 5!!
I really want to thank everyone for their tremendous support this season and all of the hard work from my mechanics and parts distributors who helped me make this a reality. A very special thanks to Speer Racing for the unbelievable level of customer service, support and most importantly, friendship. This is definitely one of the most memorable achievements in my life and one I will always carry with me!!!
I look forward to building on what I started this year going into next season, and I'm excited just knowing I will be a lot more competitive and have new benchmarks and friends to try and beat in the Spring!!
It will be a few weeks before I get the photos and race video on-line, so please be patient.
Hope to see you all at the race track next season!!
Best wishes and take care for now............... ;-)
ESC Championship Round 5
It was a picture perfect weekend for weather; however, the black clouds continued to haunt our team.
We all arrived at a decent time on Thursday and quickly got our RoPa Racing Compound set-up and ready to go.
Dietrich's new engine was in and running, Steve got himself brand-new bodywork to replace the damaged ones from Magny Cours, and I had my clutch reservoir replaced and my new rear shock put in. The only question mark was Andy's bike, which should now have been back to 100%
The first problems arose again on Friday morning. Andy's mechanical issues continued from the 1st session on Friday. His bike would run for a complete lap and then the engine would just stop. Our mechanics from Ducati Krinke worked like mad trying to identify the problem and get it fixed. Unfortunately, everything they tried, changed, modified, adjusted, would not rectify the problem. So, once again Andy was out for the weekend. He only managed a total of three laps.
I was the next victim on the list this weekend. During the last session of the first day I was flagged to come off the track because my bike was leaking oil and blowing black smoke from the exhaust system. Thankfully it was just a loose braided hose line which runs into the oil cooler. I went back out for a couple of test laps to ensure there were no additional problems. I only made it half-way through the first lap when I lost the front-end during a very fast downhill left-hand corner. I was probably at speeds around 160KMH/100MPH. I managed to let my body relax in order to absorb the impact as best possible, but I ended up tumbling off the track and into the gravel pit, instead of sliding. I went about 100m before I came to a stop, and my bike went about another 100m. I was able to get up right away and walk over to my bike. Thanks to my excellent equipment the only real damage I sustained was a sprained finger. I can't say the same for my bike. At this point in time the extent of the damage is unknown, but I am hopeful that the damage is mostly cosmetic and can be repaired quickly in time for the last race of the season, which will take place November 1-3 in Barcelona, Spain.
The frustrating part was that I had already tied my fastest lap time from last month, and it was only the first day of qualifying. The worst part is that by not being able to participate in the race cost me 2nd place in the championship. I still have a shot at 3rd place, provided I can beat Piero Sibilla in Barcelona.
It was now down to Steve and Dietrich to represent us in the races.
Steve ran well and managed to take 7th place overall in the V2 race and 2nd place in points behind Hans Liesenfeld, who took 1st place in points for the race, and moved ahead of me in the championship. Steve is still in 1st place; however, Barcelona will be a critical race for all four of us. The point spread will most likely be about 5-10 points in total, so the championship is still up for grabs!
Our story did no end there. Dietrich was to be the last victim of the weekend for our team. On turn 2 of the last lap of the 750 race Dietrich lost his front-end going into the uphill left-hander and crashed as well. Fortunately for him he did slide from the bike to safety and sustained no damage. His bike suffered minor cosmetic and mechanical damage.
Three of our bikes will be going back to the garage for a lot of needed service and repair in order to be ready for the final round of the ESC Championship in Barcelona.
It is surely going to be an exciting race to the finish line for RoPa Racing!!!
Hope you will come out to support us!!
ESC Championship Round 4
It was a picture perfect weekend for weather; however, there was a bit of a black cloud hanging over the team. Steve's wife is ill so he was unable to make it this weekend, Dietrich's new engine was only 98% complete, and unknown to Andy he was about to experience some mechanical problems as well.
Andy and I arrived late Thursday night due to work obligations, and only had enough time to register for the race weekend before heading off to bed.
The first problems arose Friday morning. After one session I realized I didn't have enough top-end to endure the 1.1Km front straight-away so I had to change my rear sprocket only to find out my chain was too long. So off I went to buy a new one. Thankfully our trusty friends from GL Motorradtechnik had one to spare. Andy's mechanical issues raised their ugly head during the 2nd session on Friday. His engine was running quite loud and he could not reach speeds above 8000RPMs. The first step we took was to change the spark plugs thinking that was restricting power to the engine. After close inspection it turned out that he had a large hole in the top of the exhaust can on the back of his bike and was losing tremendous pressure. We're not sure if this caused false signals with the ECU (computer) causing the bike to limit itself at 8000RPMs. Unfortunately, we were not able to perform any other diagnostics at the track, so this was the end of the weekend for Andy.
Now it was all up to me to get it done for the team. I had already been pressured by both Dietrich and Steve to represent RoPa Racing this weekend, and not to come home without a trophy!!
Qualifying went fairly well. It was a bit of a struggle trying to find a good race line and fast times. I qualified in 9th place for the V2 race with a 2:11:97, but it was risky at best that this time would be enough to gain me a top 10 finish in the race.
Not to be discouraged I went out for the only practice session on Sunday morning with fellow rider Peter Sporri, and together we were able to find a better, smoother, faster line for me, where I was able to achieve a 2:10:12 time. Two full seconds faster than qualifying time. Now I was satisfied that I would be able to compete well in the V2 Race. This was also another remarkable improvement for me as my previous best time from last year was 2:27.88!!!
I got a tremendously good start in the race and was able to pass several people into turn 1, including Piero Sibilla, who normally is 2nd behind Steve in the races. To further secure my place towards the front of the pack I continued to push and pass a few more riders putting me within viewing distance of the leaders who were closely grouped together. I continued my aggressive ride lap after lap only to begin having suspension problems again, as well as a leak in the clutch line leaving me with a difficult time of downshifting. During all of this Piero was finally able to catch me with only two laps to go. I tried as hard as I could to keep up with Piero, however, with my rear tire slipping coming out of the corners, and the lack of gear shifting, it just wasn't possible.
Still, based on the strong beginning of the race I was able to gain 3 places from where I started finishing 6th out of 23 overall!
On a side note fellow V2 compatriot, Hans Liesenfeld had his first mechanical free, crash free race weekend for the season!! Hans was able to qualify 2nd in the V2 race with a 2:08 lap time and was able to finish in 3rd place out of 23 in the V2 race. Congratulations to Hans for a job well done ;-)
Now both Andy's and my bikes will be going back to Ducati Krinke for some much needed service in order to be ready for Round 5 of the ESC Championship next month in Mugello.
See you then!!!!!!!!!!!
ESC Championship Round 3
It was quite a long trip in order to make it to Magny Cours. Coming from Zurich it took Andy and me more than 6 hours by car. Needless to say we were a bit exhausted when we got there!
The weather forecast was a bit spotty and we were worried about what this might mean for us during the course of the weekend. Steve was well prepared and brought a set of rain tires, which he left out in the paddock in order to try and bring us good luck. It did in fact rain for a little while on Friday; however, we ended up having a very good rain free race session for the balance of the weekend.
This was the first time that Andy, Dietrich and I were at Magny Cours so we were all relying on Steve to help us establish a good race line for the weekend.
Friday morning started out well so Steve and I headed out together for the first session. During the first lap going through the ever fast parabolica Steve's race fairings decided to take flight! Both side fairings and the belly pan literally came of the bike at about 250Kmh!! I couldn't believe it. I was right behind Steve when it happened and I couldn't stop laughing. The left side fairing and belly pan flew off the track over the barrier and the fence, and the right side fairing ended up laying in the track. Steve was completely oblivious to this at the time. Needless to say when we came around for the 2nd lap and Steve saw his fairing laying in the track he was quite surprised, which brought on a whole other round of laughter from me. It wasn't that I didn't feel bad for Steve, but the whole event was quite comical especially Steve's reaction when he saw his fairing. So back to the RoPa racing compound we went and begin putting Steve's fairings back together again with the use of a rivet gun and some aluminum plating.
With that completed now it was Dietrich's turn to have problems. After changing his sprockets and trying to find the right range of power needed for this highly technical track he started hearing loud noises from his engine. After close inspection and some disassembly of his engine it turned out the clutch basket on his bike exploded and the parts all went into his engine. Unfortunately that was the end of the race weekend for Dietrich and now he has to buy a new engine ;-(
The last problems for the weekend now belonged to me. The canister that is part of my rear shock broke and left me without the ability to adjust my rear suspension. What made it worse is that it broke in a position that left the suspension extremely loose, which kept causing the rear end of my bike to slide during hard corners where I had the bike leaned over very far. This caused me to restrict my push for faster lap times and also caused me to have reduced confidence in my bike's ability to stay on the track. So, I had to back off a bit on the pace.
The only one who was worry-free all weekend was Andy.
For qualifying I did pretty well with a 1:57:79, Steve had a 1:55:80, and Andy had a 2:07.40.
The race track on Sunday morning was an absolute mess. The night before they held some open track sessions for sports cars and they ended up leaving a lot of rubber in critical entry points into corners as well as dumping oil all over the track. We were quite shocked to see cement dust around half the corners in order to soak up the oil and keep the track dry and safe for us. It was quite distracting and nerve racking in the morning as we were trying to perfect our lines and prepare for the V2 race.
The race went off without a hitch and Steve and I both had good starts. Steve was able to jump quite a bit of places in the first few corners placing him well in front of most riders. I was struggling slightly as I was very concerned about my rear suspension so I was quite careful on how much throttle I was using coming out of the corners. Andy had a little excitement during the first lap. At the end of the lap the rider in front of Andy crashed after slipping through some of the residual oil left-over from the night before. Andy was left with two choices; one, crash into the guy and his bike; or two, run off the end of the track into the gravel. Thankfully he was able to keep the bike standing as was able to re-join the race. Steve and I continued to battle our way to the finish and were able to take 1st and 3rd place in the V2 race. We even got a chance to lap Andy before the race was finished. Sorry Andy ;-(
This was the first time Steve and I both finished on the podium together and it was quite a great feeling for me. Just take a look at the photo of us receiving our trophies and you will see for yourself.
3 of our 4 bikes are now headed to the garage for some TLC (tender loving care) by the race mechanics in order to get ready for next month's exciting race in Mugello.
Hope to see you there!!! :-)
RoPa Racing Hospitality Event One - Hockenheim, Germany
This past weekend was our first hospitality event to honor our sponsors. It was hosted and produced by one of our main sponsors Ropa Stahl. Most of the owners, families and friends of our sponsors managed to come out to this event for an unbelievable great time, which was beyond everyone’s expectations, including our own! Steve did a fantastic job putting the event together and it took quite a cast of characters to pull-off all of the behind-the-scenes activities for our guests.
We had approximately 60 guests who came from Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the UK. Friday night we had a wonderful BBQ with Andy and me doing the cooking. Can’t have a proper BBQ without an American doing the cooking!! ;-) We had steak, pork, turkey, and of course German bratwurst. To go with it we had a smorgasbord of salads, and side dishes to fill everyone’s tummies to bursting!
After getting the bikes and the paddocks set-up for the night it was off to bed for everyone because we had an early start on Saturday morning. I took care of registering all of the riders who wanted to participate on the track with us. We had about 14 people who got the chance to ride on the track, and for most it was their first time ever!
We spent most of the day talking with our honored guests and friends answering many questions about racing, the bikes, and technical points. Of course we were also out on the track training, testing, and showing our guests how we get it done when it’s time to race ;-) It was a wonderful experience for them to see us on the track since many people never had such a close-up experience of being in the paddocks with the riders amongst all the noise, the smell of race fuel, the mechanics, and all the preparation and adrenalin that goes into our wonderful sport. In the paddock next to the bikes we had the RoPa Racing bar, tables and chairs, buffet of food, and a large screen projection showing numerous race photos and on-board video footage from all of our races to give our guests a first-hand look at what we see when we are on the bikes out on the track.
During the lunch break our guests got another unique experience. We loaded them all up into some fancy cars (Jaguar, Range Rover, BMW, Porsche) and took them on two laps around the track so they could a real first-hand experience of what it’s like to be out there riding around all of the corners. One of our major sponsors got the honor of riding in a real Porsche race car for a hot-lap (race speeds) to truly get the experience of flying around the track. He won this opportunity from a very difficult quiz that Steve put together for everyone to participate in.
That night we were in to round 2 of our BBQ. Saturday night I was back on the grill cooking along side Steve’s Dad Bob. We had quite a fun time joking around and trying to quickly feed close to 80 people as we had some additional guests from Speer Racing, GL Motorrad, and Sport Trescher photos.
It was also an important opportunity to really thank our sponsors for all of their support, contribution and appreciation of our team and passion for racing. We presented each of them with a specially framed photograph that Steve had made from Pixum.
The alcohol was flowing quite freely this night and needless to say the laughing and jokes were boundless. From what I heard the party lasted close to 2AM and ended with an entire bottle of grappa being polished off by4 people. Hhhhmmmm……
Sunday was another absolute blast out on the track and the weather was spectacular the entire day.
Unfortunately our guests needed to begin their journeys home starting after lunch and we were sorely disappointed to see them go. ;-(
I only wish more of you could’ve been there to share in all of the excitement of the weekend.
Please feel free to check out the 339 photos currently posted on Pixum.com’s website, courtesy of Steve
Pixum is also one of our major sponsors so please choose which photos you like and order them directly there. If you enter the RoPa Racing Code, they will send you 50 Photos in 10 cm format for FREE ! ( plus postage )
50 Gratis Foto-Abzüge*
im 10cm-Format (exkl. Versandkosten)
Ihr Gutschein-Code* lautet:
6485a-5d4fb-a445e I will also have photos up on my website as soon as we receive them from the race photographer.
ESC Championship Round 2
Another fantastic weekend at the ESC Championship in Lausitz, East Germany last weekend......
We were once again blessed with fantastic weather and stellar track conditions. The weather averaged 36 degrees Celsius (for all you North Americans that means HOT!) ;-) We were close to melting at race time.
The paddock was filled to capacity as more than 250 racers from all over Europe came for the second round of the race season. The fearsome foursome of RoPa Racing were there to shine yet again!!
I had a fantastic weekend setting a new lap time of 1:55, down from 2:09 in June of last year! It was also another first as I qualified to ride in the white group, which is the fastest group on this track. Quite a change from last year when I was riding two groups below in the yellow group (white, red, yellow, green).
The race was a fantastic battle. I was on the starting grid next to Steve and Dietrich for the first time ever. Steve had a blazing start and managed to fight through the traffic to the front of the pack. I also had a great start, but backed off going into turn 1 and 2 with traffic tightening up all around me. This put me right behind Dietrich and the race was on. I refused to let him get away from me and managed to pass him twice in the race, however, one small mistake on turn 9 and Dietrich was able to slide up the inside and pull in front of me. I finished directly behind him crossing the finish line. One more lap and I would’ve passed him again. It was my best race ever and a lot of fun!!
In the V2 class I finished 5th (earning my 2nd trophy of the season!!), however due to rule changes** in our championship I placed 2nd for points and am currently 2nd in the championship for the season. Steve placed 3rd , and 1st in points for the championship.
I am still waiting to receive the race photos so they should be on-line this weekend, hopefully.
It was another exciting weekend for our team and everyone was extremely pleased with our performance and continuing improvements.
**Note: It was decided by the riders that anyone not registered for the championship (the whole season) can win trophies in individual races, but cannot earn points for the season. The consensus of our team as that we did not agree with the rule change as it limits the amount of people in our individual classes for the season (i.e. I would rather place 8th out of 40 people, rather than 2nd out of 8 people). We are going to continue to compare ourselves against the GP2 class since this class combines multiple groups of riders (600cc, 750cc & V2), and is more realistic of our actual performances.
Plagued by consistently poor weather conditions all weekend, technical equipment problems with my new GP shift set-up and quick-shift kit, as well as lingering pain in my back (following 6 weeks of solid treatment from two specialists), I was still able to put in a solid performance.
This was my first visit to Most. It's a very fast track with tricky corners. The first corner is called "Big Balls". The reason it's called that is you have to go almost full throttle through a slight chicane and a hard left-hand parabolica while at speeds of over 250KMH!! Needless to say it takes "Big Balls" to keep the throttle open!!
I had another good qualifying set putting me in Row 5, 17th on the grid. I was able to get a fantastic start and overtook more than 5 riders going into the first corner. I was holding consistent lap times until I made a large technical error in lap 4, which costs me 6 places. I was still able to finish the race strong with consistent lap times throughout the race (minus lap 4), and had an all weekend fastest lap time of 1:46.
This was also another groundbreaking weekend as I took home my first trophy ever. I won 3rd place !!
All in all it was good practice for next weekend at Lausitzring when our Championship Season goes to Round 2.
Some of the action and track photos are on-line. I'll be picking-up the race photos next weekend......
Season opening completed - ESC Championship Round 1
We had a fantastic weekend in Brno showing everyone just how fast the RoPa Racing Team is going to be this season. Both Steve and Dietrich took home trophies in the Sprint Race on Sunday.
I had another ground-breaking weekend with a new lap time of 2:24 over last year's time of 2:43. I finally started dragging my left knee, and I finished 12th out of 29 riders in the V2 Race on Sunday. Almost had a trophy this weekend ;-) Two more places to move up and I'll be in the running!!
All in all it was a great first showing of our team and everyone was quite impressed with our professional image and competitive riding all weekend.
Some of the action pics are online. Just waiting for Sunday's race pics to arrive and will have them on-line tout-suite!!
Interested in what it's like to be in an actual race..... attached is a monologue of some thoughts I had during the race! Race thoughts - Easter 2007.pdf
I still have a few more small changes to make to the set-up of the bike, but other than that she's ready to go. My new race clutch and slave cylinder were installed on Saturday night and have made a big difference in shifting. Bodywork has been re-painted to show off our new Corporate Sponsors! We still have room for more so please email me for details!!
Race Calendar updated
All dates have been finalized for the race season.
Photo Galleries Loaded
I'm still working on style and content, but the majority of everything is up and running. Hope you like it!
New Website Launched!
All of the content is still be loaded, but the homepage is finished.