Pikes Peak 2016: Friday Practice & Qualifying
The sidecar action was at its peak today as the motorcycle division took to the bottom half of the 12.42 mile Pikes Peak course. For those just tuning in, the four teams in the sidecar class have been running into problems of varying degrees and nature all week.
Subculture Racing got the shortest end of the stick today, continuing to have problems with their drive chain before sliding backwards into a ditch and turning over. The worst part is they were running a very reduced pace and may have slid on some oil. When you lose control with little warning while at reduced pace it can really impact confidence. The oil in question was visibly present and I drove over it myself but had no traction problems. Sometimes you just catch a slick spot at the exact wrong angle with the exact wrong steering and throttle inputs.
On the bright side, injuries were very minor to driver Wade Boyd, co-pilot Christine Blunk, and the machine itself. Wade was trapped under the bike for several minutes until he could be extracted and his ankle appears quite tender, but when you have 600lbs flip on top of you, it behooves you to thank your lucky stars that is all that happened. Christine’s wrist was pranged in the turn over and although quite tender she still has use of it. Hopefully swelling can be controlled long enough for Sunday’s race.
Team Les Marluches returned after a day spent rebuilding their ailing engine and their luck was good for the most part. Although it began running on two cylinders for a session the team was able to remedy this and carry on with the day.
Speaking of good luck, Rising Sun Racing finally got their engine to fire up after missing every session of practice week thus far. The entire pit area erupted in applause and cheers as they calmly smiled at each other and quietly allowed the engine to warm up. They had to rebuild that engine using parts from their current powerplant and their spare. They came straight out the gate with a section time that was seven seconds faster than my own.
Matt and I also had some minor bugs with the Team Johnny Killmore sidecar. During our first run we engaged the tip-over sensor while drifting into a hairpin on the brakes. This turns off the fuel pump and injectors instantly and turns on the red “check engine” light which gave me quite a fright. After about 10 minutes of futzing about I finally narrowed it down and found it had rotated from upright to about a 40° angle, allowing it to be tripped much more easily. After that we ran pretty well except for an overheating front brake.
Once we saw the time from Rising Sun Racing we had to take the gloves off and put in a solid run. Matt is still learning the course so there are a couple spots I needed to lift for, but for the most part I was able to push hard while staying safe. We had no close calls until we rounded a 4th gear bend and found a deer standing in the road. He was as surprised as us and took off, which was great since I was playing a game of chicken. On the one hand I didn’t want to collide with a 150lbs animal, but on the other I didn’t want to abort my last run on the qualifying section of the course.
In the end we got edged out by 0.061 seconds. I have mixed feelings to be honest. It is certainly good that the Japanese team is able to come back from adversity and push so hard, but it was a bit of bragging rights to get the fastest time. Qualifying second fastest does mean we do not have to attend FanFest with our race machine, and that is kind of nice. The important thing of course is race day. No one remembers who qualified where for this race or that, and I came here to try and reclaim the record, not out-qualify anyone or even beat anyone actually; I came here to finally get a clean run in where I can say “that is the fastest I can go.” And on Sunday, we will try for just that.
The solo bikes (2-wheelers) are still anyone’s guess. Rookie Rennie Scaysbrook nearly skunked the field with a section time of 4:14.737. That edged out both Victory’s, with Canet at 4:18.190 on the electric bike and Jeremy Toye on the Project 156 running a 4:21.960. The stage is set then and on Sunday we can sort this whole thing out. Blessings to all for a safe race and a safe run home.