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Road Atlanta Race Report
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MotoAmerica Round 1 - Road Atlanta
 

Thursday

The race at Road Atlanta would be the first race of the season for me and my first shot to see how I would stack up after the off season. Going in I was a little bit nervous because this was my first time at the track and there were high chances for rain all weekend, but I was still excited to get the season started finally. The trip began less than perfect on Thursday afternoon when the flight that my younger brother and I were taking was delayed and extra hour. We would already be getting to Atlanta a little bit late that day and this set back caused us to get to the track at almost dark. We finally hopped on the plane with no more complications and met our dad at the airport in Atlanta, beginning our trek to the track that evening. The rain had already begun falling by the time we arrived so setting up in the rain while it was dark was not exactly fun. After checking over the Hayden Schultz  Racing Yamaha R6 we headed to the Hotel to rest up for tomorrows Practice and Qualifying. 
Friday
 
Friday morning began like we had expected, rainy. We had to sit in line for much longer than we had expected to pick up our credentials and passes. Because of this we had to rush through tech and change to rain tires and were a little late on track for free practice 1. Thankfully Steve Breckenridge with K-Tech and Fluidology Inc. helped us a bunch to get everything together to ride. Finally I got on track and Not having much experience in the rain and no time on this this track would be a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless I got on track and did the best I could to learn the track and get comfortable in the wet. Every lap I got a little more comfortable and tried to pick up the speed and managed to finish the session in 10th. Under those conditions I was happy being inside the top 10.

It stopped raining enough for a dry line to develop by the time our afternoon qualifying session rolled around. When looking at the radar it looked as if we would be hit with rain before our session started so when the time to ride got closer and it was still dry we had to rush to get the rain tires off and go get DOT's mounted. We ended up being late to get on the track once again and the problem this time was that the tires had no time on the tire warmers. With 30 minutes left in the session once I got on track I spent the first half of qualifying trying to get the tires up to temperature so I could pick up the pace at the end. Once I got up to speed I just wanted to get some laps in the dry to learn the track. Because we were rushed we used the set up for the rain we already had in the suspension which turned out to be really soft when going faster in the dry. Under all those circumstances I couldn't really complain with being 12th by the end of qualifying 1. The chances for qualifying 2 to be dry in the morning were slim so we knew this was most likely where we would start the races from.  After getting back to the pits we prepared for tomorrow and headed to the hotel to relax. I knew we could go much faster and would be in good shape come race time Saturday.
 
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Part 2 of race report
Saturday

Saturday morning wasn't as rainy as we thought so by the time we went out for qualifying 2 the track was starting to dry out a little. I felt pretty good with the way the K-Tech suspension felt in the rain and Road Atlanta is actually a pretty grippy track I'm the rain. I came into pit road with a few minutes left to see where I was at. I knew if I could pick up the pace a little I would move up in the standings. But because it was wet I still wouldn't move up on the grid. I went back out and found the best dry line and put in a solid lap on the final lap and ended the session in second. I was happy to know that I would be in a good position in the wet or the dry, I was just ready to get the race going. We had a bit of the day to go and a weather forecast that would leave us unsure of the conditions again. The hours went by and the rain stayed away, leaving a mostly dry track that would be much better suited for Dunlop's DOT tires. I was happy to have a race in the dry but a little worried about how set up would be. We had no chance to try suspension settings so going into the race we had to make an educated guess. Following the super sport race and superpole for superbike, race time had finally arrived. 

The horn sounded and the track was open for the sighting lap. Down came the visor and out we went. The track had a few wet spots but it wasn't anything to worry too much about. I pulled up to my grid spot and tried to relax and get focused on the race and getting a solid start. Only problem was I pulled up,to the wrong grid spot and had to take the bike off the tire warmers and stands and move it back a row. Oops. Once that was situated we waited for the warm up lap to start. On the warm up lap the K-tech suspension felt decent and I was confident we would have a good race. 

I got an alright start and didn't lose any positions in the chaos that occurs in the first turn. Now that we were settled in I could focus on moving up through the pack and do what we could. Throughout the first half of the race there were many people that were involved in our battle. The prime passing spot seemed to be the back straight away, where riders would use the draft to get by but with our bike being underpowered I could not catch a draft to get by so I'd have to pass in other places. With about 6 laps to go I found myself at the tail end of a pack with three other riders. I had lost a little bit of ground to them while passing another rider but made the time back up within a few laps. I was able to pass into 8th and try to find a spot to pass the racer ahead of me. The only good place I felt like I could make a good pass was coming out turn 10a and 10b. I was getting a better drive and thought I could set up a pass coming into the last turn. The last few laps ticked down and I never got enough ahead to make a pass. Seeing the white flag come out, I knew I would have to make a move somewhere. The rider ahead, Andy Dibrino, was holding me off really well and put in a solid final lap as well. We came around the back straight and into the hard braking zone before 10a and 10b. I did my best to get a good drive but still couldn't get ahead. I thought about trying to dive in hard on the brakes but decided against it because it would leave me open to a counter pass coming out of the corner. The decision paid off, Andy went in really hard on the brakes and went a little wide coming out of the corner, allowing me to drive past him exiting the corner. I crossed the line in 7th and couldn't complain after a hard fought battle all race long. It was a great race and to put in a solid ride was a good way to begin the season. Knowing it would rain for tomorrow's race made having a race on a dry track that much better.
 

Sunday
 

Waking up to a downpour isn't the ideal way to wake up on race day but that's what we were faced with on the final day of action. We already had rains mounted and the bike set up so all there was left to do after the morning warm up was wait around for the race. After the first Superbike race the skies opened up and rained hard enough to flood parts of the track and cause a delay. The delay lasted a while and pushed the races back a long time. The superstock race was pushed until the end of the day and didn't start until after 5:00. Surprisingly, by that time the track was starting to show a drying line. This was great news to me because it would be the same conditions of when I was able to finish second in qualifying 2. Because of the delays we only got one warm-up / sighting lap before the start, so after feeling out the conditions I was excited to get the race started. 

I had a decent launch off the line and fell into a good position in turn one and was then able to pass a lot of people going up the hill into turn two. After passing some more riders the first lap I settled behind another rider in 6th and felt much faster. I tried to set up a few passes but to no avail. Coming into turn 6 I was going to try to get close enough to make a pass up the inside on the brakes. I wasn't able to get quite close enough and then had to hit the brakes a little harder to avoid hitting the rider ahead who was carrying less corner speed. They slowed more than I thought and I clipped their rear, sending me sliding across the damp asphalt. It was a heart breaker to throw it away after knowing I had the speed to finish in the top 5 that race. Unfortunately it's part of racing and after watching the race from the tire wall I hopped on the crash truck heading to the pits. Luckily the  water logged grass was soft and didn't do much damage to the bike. The weekend did not end how we had planned but there were many positives to take away from it. All we can do now is regroup and get ready for my next race at Road America. In the meantime I will be working hard to put the bike further up front and represent my sponsors as well as I can. 

A huge thank you to all my sponsors and parents for all their support, I would not be able to do it without you! 

God, Mom and Dad, Moto-Skiveez, Arai Helmets, Racer gloves, K-tech suspension, Axo, Rockwell Watches, Sportbike Track Gear, XT Racing, Matrix concepts, Spy Optic, Shorai, Hotbodies racing, Ryno Power, Braking, Leatt Brace, Factory Effex, Honey Stinger, Incase, Emi Beltran and Tony Cardarelli. 
 

 
Copyright © 2015 Hayden Schultz Racing, All rights reserved.


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