Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boxshop Speedway

The 2012 racing season has started. This past Sunday I took the '95 YZ125 to Boxshop Speedway in Maine for the first NEMM supermoto event of the year. Aaron Phinney owns and runs the track, which is the home of NEMM, which used to stand for New England Mini Moto, but now it stands for something else since he added big bike classes.

To prepare for the event I put the supermoto wheels back on the bike, replaced the tether kill switch, changed the trans oil, drained the anti-freeze and added Water Wetter, and safety wired a few bolts. I also tried a jetting change, which I promptly reversed after running some practice laps.

I had been a bit concerned about how competitive the YZ would be against modern 250 and open class 4 strokes, and also about how difficult it may be to ride on that track. I needed both practice sessions to get comfortable with the flow of the track and to pick out lines and braking points, and after practice I still had no reference to how I'd stack up against the other bikes.

As luck would have it, I was lined up on pole position for the Open Am heat race, with Rob next to me on a KTM 250 and a few more 4 strokes behind us as well as Chris on a YZ250 2 stroke. The YZ125 is a tough bike to get off the line smoothly and quickly, but I nailed the start and had the holeshot, and therefore the best line into turn 2 which is a 90 degree left. Then comes a short straight with a left/right kink that you can accelerate through to bring you to a sharp left hand 180 onto the dirt section. This was where I figured the big bikes would eat me up, but I got through the dirt section cleanly and back onto the paved track still in the lead. The exit from the dirt is another left hand 180 onto a short straight followed by a very tight 100 degree right downhill turn, another short straight into a left 180 back onto the front straight and start/finish line. The front straight was where I figured the big bikes might have another shot at me, but the YZ wasn't giving up anything on acceleration, so I was able to hang on to the lead for the rest of the lap and most of the race.

Then I ran into transmission trouble. The bike lost the top three gears as I was starting the 7th lap of the 8 lap heat. I could only shift up to 3rd on the front straight, where I had been shifting up to 5th before. I was still able to hold Rob off for a lap and a half, but on the last lap I got into the dirt section a little fast and must've grabbed too much front brake, the front tucked and I went down. By that time I was pretty much out of energy so it took too long for me to restart, all the bikes got around me and I brought it home last.

I let the bike cool down and discovered that the trans oil was low, so I added some and hoped that would restore some gears. No such luck. I wound up racing the features just using second and third gear, to get some track time and help fill out the grid.

So it was a dissapointing day mechanically, but a rewarding day as well, since I discovered that the '95 YZ125 could still hold it's own against the big bikes on a small track.

Bill showed up to help with flags, and was able to snap a few shots of me in practice. Thanks Bill!

This is the short straight after the dirt section, the KTM flying through the background is about to clear a double, right after the berm in the dirt section.

The sharp right hand downhill turn feeding into a short straight before the hairpin left onto the front straight.

This is the hairpin left onto the front straight.

Another line through the downhill right...




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