2016 First 5 GNCC Rounds – Race Reports
March 5th – GNCC Round 1 – Moose Racing Wild Bore – Palatka, FL
Towards the end of 2015, I found a few setup problems with my National quad. I worked hard all winter to remedy them, but unfortunately, the setup I took to FL left a little to be desired in the deepest sand woops. I was able to ride through the problem without too much trouble, but eventually started to have a pretty serious issue with the quad that felt like a fouled spark plug and caused the quad to stall often, be slow to re-fire, bog on acceleration and generally just run badly. This was later revealed to be a fuel-related problem, but not until it had also affected me at Round 2 in Sparta. I flew back home after a disappointing 10th in class and 68th overall even with the lighter turn out that Florida usually brings and spent the week trying to figure out what to do at Round 2.
March 12th – GNCC Round 2 – Maxxis Cannonball – Sparta, GA
I flew back to GA Friday evening for Round 2 and met my family and friends at the track Saturday morning. I made some changes to the suspension based on feedback from Palatka and swapped the fuel tanks between the quads. I only keep a dry break on one of my IMS tanks as I tend to trail-ride a good bit as well. Unknowingly, this tank swap took the same bad gas that was leftover in my tank from Palatka and put it on my other race quad! The track in Sparta was full of roots and the changes I made to the bike made it pretty terrible at dealing with chatter, but at least it cornered very well. Unfortunately, the same strange bogging, stumbling, and stalling appeared by the end of the first lap and plagued me for the rest of the race. 11th in Vet A and 88th overall was all I could manage on a bike that hated the roots that made up 90% of the track and would barely run.
April 2nd – GNCC Round 3 – FMF Steele Creek – Morganton, NC
Between rounds 2 and 3, I made a pretty extreme decision. I remembered racing an out-of-the-crate stock 2009 KTM 525 XC back in 2013 and loving the Ohlins suspension as it had come from the factory. With the help of Rocket Ron Racing, we threw away most of what I had been experimenting with all Winter and went back to a slightly modified 2009 OEM setup on the rear. Up front, I stuck with my tried and true Rocket Ron re-valved Ohlins, but made some spring changes as well. The bike was night and day better at Morganton. It dealt with the rough stuff very well! The front end rolled more than I would have preferred and the rear kicked a couple of times when I wasn’t expecting it, but it was a huge step in the right direction following the mess the first 2 rounds had been. Unfortunately, just when I was starting to find a flow, I cut too far to the inside of a corner and hit a large cement block that had been obscured by the brush. I was thrown off the quad, ending my day prematurely on the second lap.
April 16th – GNCC Round 4 – VP Racing Fuels Big Buck – Union, SC
Round 4 was a mixed day for me. I had stiffened some things back up in the front end and had eliminated the body roll, but the chatter had come back in the choppy root and rock sections. The changes Rocket Ron and I had made to the rear shock had done exactly what I had hoped, however and I found that we had once again made a big step in the right direction. I finished 8th in class and 92nd overall, but had some good ideas where to go next to get rid of the chatter going into the 3rd round, so despite being a bit disappointed in my ride, I was very happy to see that we were continuing to improve on the bike each week.
April 30th – GNCC Round 5 – CST Camp Coker Bullet – Society Hill, SC
Between Rounds 4 and 5 we finally got everything sorted out. Which was good, because Camp Coker turned out to be a very rough and nasty track! For the first time in a long time, my bike was fantastic in the choppy stuff, didn’t body roll, didn’t kick, and didn’t do anything unexpected at all! I stayed on the lead lap for the first time in a long time as well. Unfortunately, after passing for 6th and building up a comfortable gap, the needle clip in the carburetor snapped, dropping the needle into the main jet and killing the quad in a field section some 3 miles from the finish line. I once again left the track a bit disappointed with how the day had ended, but very happy with the progress we were continuing to make on setup. 7th place in Vet A and 61st overall even without finishing the final lap was still a significant improvement on where I had been up until this point, so overall, I was happy with the day.
While it has been a rough year up to this point, I’m happy that the bike is finally heading in the right direction. Thanks to all of my sponsors for continuing to stand behind me as I’ve worked through the issues I’ve had this year and for their help in remedying them! I promise to continue to put forth the effort to continue to improve week in and week out and hopefully we can get back up into top 5 form by the end of the year!
A HUGE thanks goes out to: Rocket Ron Racing for the amazing suspension work, Walsh Race Craft for the top notch suspension components, FMF Racing for the gorgeous blue Ti pipe, Rath Racing for the sweet and durable nerf bars and bumper, Motorex USA for every fluid I use in my shop, GBC Motorsports for the awesome tires that hook like nothing else I’ve ridden, IMS Products for the quick-fill tank that gets me in and out of the pits in a hurry, KLIM Technical riding gear for making the only gear I’ve found that holds up to XC racing use, Twin Air High Performance Airfilter Products for protecting the engine, Hinson Clutch Components for the AMAZING BTL slipper clutch, Fasst Company Flexx Handlebars for saving my wrists, ktm-parts.com for getting me parts cheap and in a hurry since 2008, Powersport Grafx for making everything I own look amazing, Streamline Brakes for the awesome colored stainless steel braided lines to complete the look, Leatt Protectives for keeping me safe, Towne and Country Real Estate for the backing, and Schumacher Race Works LLC for the engine work and wiring harnesses.