Getting Closer To The MotoAmerica Supersport Debut

 

I’m excited to say at the time of this writing, I have been able to shake down and test the project bike and complete my first race weekend of the year on the MotoAmerica bike. First, the project bike which I was able to finally ride after correctly diagnosing a starting issue: Previously, I thought perhaps the fuel pump had gotten clogged or gone bad because the bike would turn over and I could hear the pump prime, but when trying to start, it acted as if it wasn’t getting fuel.

I tried swapping the tank from the MotoAmerica bike which I know is in good working order, then a fuel pump. After those didn’t work, I tried unhooking the Translogic autoblip to see if it was a system related issue. This did not fix things so I went back to square one and began working my way through the wiring harness. One of the first areas I checked was the fusebox. Upon inspection, I found out the Electronic Throttle Valve had blown. In the meantime I also scanned the R6 with an OBDII reader and adapter. This was a new experience for me as I could check codes on my SV previously with a paperclip which I used to jump the plug terminal, putting the bike into dealer mode.

With the Yamaha R6 things are much more digital vs the analog world of the old Suzuki SV. After I replaced the fuse for the ETV, I hooked up the scanner and cleared the 16 codes that were previously showing. I felt hesitant at first to do this because as you’d imagine, it felt weird to be using what I thought was only for cars to scan my motorcycle. However, I took a deep breath and cleared the codes. After doing so, I thumbed the starter and the bike roared into life!

Diagnosing starting issues on the R6 project bike.

My first opportunity to ride the project bike would be at Blackhawk Farms on a trackday where I was leading one of the groups. After giving the bike a session or two to make sure everything was high and tight, I began working through what I felt on the bike. The first item I noticed was the quickshifter not working, but the autoblip was. I realized later I had not activated the quickshifter but even after doing so, it still did not work. It’s an issue I am currently trying to remedy.

The next major item I noticed was the suspension. It felt very squishy and I could feel the rear squatting as I exited corners. I began making some small adjustments, adding in some preload and rebound to help control the rear and get more weight on the front. This was also my first time riding the stock version of a motorcycle as well as a built version, being my MotoAmerica bike. The difference is quite noticeable as my race bike builds power linearly while the stock motor doesn’t really do much until 12,000 rpm. I’d compare it to when V-Tech kicks in on a Honda Civic- there is nothing and then suddenly a surge of power!

Even though it wasn’t in perfect order, the bike at least ran and I felt a huge sigh of relief. The next step would be to have a baseline suspension setup done by Turn One Racing.

My plan was to have Turn One run through a baseline at PittRace which was my first race weekend following the trackday at Blackhawk Farms. As we switch gears to the ASRA Racing event, my main goal was to gain some wet weather riding experience on the MotoAmerica bike as I previously had none. Making my debut at my home track told me it would be necessary to have some wet weather seat time, as it always seems to rain at least one day at Road America. Going into my first professional race, I certainly didn’t want to have my first wet experience be at the same time!

I love PittRace. What a fantastic track. I felt very comfortable, very quickly here.

PittRace is a track I seemed to gel with quickly. It was nice to get up to pace quicker than I expected. During the practice day on Friday, my goal was to just get down into times that were below 1:55. To my shock, I was in the 1:53’s by the third session of the day so I was feeling excited for the races to come. Saturday morning was qualifying and I further dropped my time to a low 1:52. I could see a 1:51 pretty easily but just told myself  “good enough” and pitted in. This time would ultimately place me on the second row of the grid in my first race.

However, mother nature had other plans and it started raining, just as I went out onto the warm-up lap. The start was quickly red flagged so riders could change onto rain tires. Understandably, I was nervous to launch the bike in the wet and I got a pretty appalling start, falling back 4 or 5 positions from my starting spot of 6th. I was tentative at first, feeling things out, but my lap times began falling by 2-3 seconds per lap as I was realizing just how much grip the track had in the wet and how much feeling I had on the bike even in the rain.

My first rain experience on the Yamaha R6 was actually a lot of fun. Good grip and feeling.

I kept pushing forward after my poor start and finished the race in 7th overall. Feeling much more confident for my second race on Saturday, I was making more improvements and found myself chasing down the rider in 6th, closing by a second or two each lap. I was astonished at how much grip and speed I was able to carry, and with two laps to go I had latched onto 6th place. I was getting ready to set up a pass at the end of the straightaway over what is called “Wheelie Hill” and saw a bit too much “red mist” chasing the rider down. I made a mistake, just touching the blend line paint with my rear coming over the hill, and I had a lowside slideout.

I was completely fine and the bike incurred minimal damage, just a slightly bent clip-on bar and some mud/grass that needed to be washed off. I rode the bike back in and remembered thinking the second I hit the deck that I was upset because I was about to make a pass for a position. Oddly enough the thought of my bike flipping or getting damaged just weeks before my MotoAmerica debut had not crossed my mind. This was also the first time my wife had watched me crash so she had a unique experience, but all in all was completely fine. I think a large part of that is due to her having seen many crashes in races. By now she kind of knows if one is bad or not and she could tell immediately I would be alright.

Eric of Superbike Supply and me, talking race strategy.

On Sunday I only had two races, and the first one was another wet one, but I was determined to have an even better race. I also got a good launch, and starting from second position I held my spot. I noticed pretty quickly that I didn’t have the same feeling I had yesterday, with the front feeling more harsh and vague. I lost a position at the end of the first lap, dropping back to third and was doing my best to hold that position. I heard a bike behind me ending lap 3 and just put my head down, telling myself to ignore the vague feeling and hold my position. Halfway through the lap, the red flag came out and they stopped the race which meant I ended up taking 3rd.

It felt very anticlimactic to get a podium like that.

I found out later the rider behind me did the same thing I had done the day prior, lowsided out, but he ended up in worse shape so they stopped the race. It isn’t the way I wanted to get a podium but I was still happy with my performance. With the track already forming dry spots by lap 4, I concluded the harsh feeling I felt was because there was so much grip and the track drying out so much. I either needed to let more tire pressure out or take out more compression in the front. I felt a bit satisfied and reflective on the drive home because this felt like the first weekend in a while where I set a goal, to get wet riding experience on the bike, and check that off the list without any incidents or issues. Even with the crash, it honestly didn’t even really register to me as a negative.

The R6 is getting better by the lap. MotoAmerica Supersport at Road America, here I come!

Since that race weekend I’ve also made significant progress, being able to partner with some local businesses for sponsorship, finalizing my race suit, team shirts and pit crew. In addition, I have also registered officially for the MotoAmerica event, finalized my pit spot and even got some shirts made for my supporters. We’re about two weeks out as of writing and even with all the things I’ve checked off, there is still plenty to do. I’m going to be doing more regular updates on my personal social media to keep everyone informed in real time, so please check things out and stay tuned for my debut, which will be covered by me and Road Dirt! I can’t say enough how excited I am to take that next step and continue to share it all with you. Thanks for following me along on my journey as we keep grinding to the grid!

Next: MotoAmerica Supersport at Road America!

Ryan “Ryhno 411” Nolan

Huge thanks: Superbike Supply

NE Ga Motorsports

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