It’s funny how the further I get into Southern Virginia, the more it looks like home. Well, tobacco farms aside. Hardwoods give way to fir and pine and the sky opens up a bit more. But rolling through the gate at Virginia International Raceway, you know you’re in America. There’s just nothing like this grand old facility in The Great White North and every time I ride the North Course, I fall further in love with the layout. Granted, I’m still fighting the track rather than working with the natural flow – but during this second visit, I could see the potential for big fun and a high grin per lap factor.
The Mid-Atlantic Ducati (MAD) club put this 2-day event on every October and with Cornerspeed running the show, the event is nicely organized and runs about as smooth as a guy could ask for.
Setting up my pit with Gene in one of the garages, one of the first members to pop in and visit was Bill Deitz, anxious to show me his old F1 racer that he’d brought out to the event. It’s another one of those old Leoni-built machines from way back that Bill’s raced with considerable success both as a modern (back in the day) and vintage bike. The bike’s set-up for battle and sports most of the bits that were the hot set-up back in the late 80’s. Sounds brilliant and although Bill says the motor’s tired, it went like a scalded cat.
While the golden sunset light was still happening, Gene and I took the Hypermotard out into the middle of the pit area to snap a few shots of the bike in its still pristine state. I really enjoyed looking at the results of the project – although I still have stuff to do over the winter (paint the triples, re-mount the tail light, mount turn signals, buy and mount Rizoma reservoirs, wire in the GPS, re-route the rear brake line…). It seems like I’m never done, eh?
I chose the F1 for my first morning session and found myself running a decent pace but still searching for answers in just about every corner combo on the track. Wonderful to be back on the bike with the open pipe and even more so with the promise of a pain-free day.
The second session was another matter as it was the inaugural run on the new Hypermotard and this time I was quick to assure myself a spot in the hot pit line with Mike and Gene so I’d be able to let their pace keep me up to speed while I figured out the bike. Although I’d spent some time setting sag and rebound, I knew I’d be struggling initially with seat height and suspension travel having just come off the F1. But within 4 laps, I was still running with them (in fact, I’d passed Gene) and adapting my inputs to compensate for the different game and really enjoying the new bike’s power delivery and handling.
Gene wasn’t happy though. Running close behind me on the front straight, he found himself dodging the stick-on white sixes that were flying off my seat and threatening to attach themselves to his far less slippery face shield.
As I was warming up the F1 for my third session, Bill was coming in from the Advanced session on his 900Ss and told me he was gonna grab his F1 and join me. I chased him for the first 3 laps and enjoyed the pace he was setting – one that had me comfortable but pushing past my earlier lap times. The turn of speed from his F1 was a surprise and it took a concerted effort to get a drive onto the front straight that let me nail him just before the kink.
Bill’s a fast guy – faster than me – and the only thing that worked in my favor was his baked tires. I had to put my head down and really focus to stay in front which meant that the knee was finally on the pavement in a few corners and the track rhythm was beginning to reveal itself. We swapped places a few times over the balance of the session, but within a few minutes of the close, my right hand had gone numb and I reluctantly packed it in. That session turned out to be the last time I’ll run the F1 at the limit before the full tear-down planned for the winter. I’ve been finding very thin sections of crank shim material on the drain plug magnet for the last two seasons and the vibration’s telling me that I’ve hit the “Best Before” date. One of these days I’m gonna take the next exit off the high road and go on a rant about Guy Martin’s engine building track record, but today’s not the day.
The balance of the day was spent swapping between the F1 and the Hypermotard and running easy laps with Gene and Mike that gave me time to fool around some more with different lines and develop more feel for what the Hypermotard was doing. But to be honest; by the end of the day I think I was just putting one foot in front of the other.
As usual, lot's of hi-rez photos here.
Although I had to skip Tuesday and get back to work, it was an excellent close to an otherwise crummy season that was defined by the nagging injuries from the accident in May. On the upside, the back pain was virtually gone and my only physical problems were due to being out of shape.
So, once the Gran Canyon wheels arrive and the lift is free, the F1 comes apart and the motor goes off to Kyle at BCM. Once complete, I’ll head up to New Hampster to do the install and finally get the cam timing and carburetion dialed-in on the dyno.
Fall has fallen this week. This afternoon, they’re calling for sunny and 14c. Yikes! Just like home.. Good day for a short but invigorating thrash on Son of Hyperstrada.
The "F1" is based on a 1988 Ducati 750 F1 now displacing 853cc. loudbike is a state of mind, a weblog about fast, loud Italian motorcycles and an internet store offering more vintage Ducati parts than you can shake a stick at.
Content: 2008 Ducati Hypermotard, Ducati 750 F1, Bill Deitz, Steve Munro, Virginia International Raceway, BCM Motorsports, Kyle Thompson, Mid-Atlantic Ducati