Drove out to HPR for the MRA racing school this morning. The bike sailed through tech. I thought the first hour on the track went fairly well. Then my instructor suggested some really good changes to my lines and turn-in technique. The bike is extremely easy to roll into a turn, which makes it all too tempting to turn in far later than normal, late apex it, then drive out without needing the whole track. Great fun, and feels safer than it is since I felt like I was never in danger of running out of track at the exit. The real danger comes from lowsiding while rolling it in stupid late, which hadn't happened to me, yet. Next time out, I was rather happy with the much smoother way I entered/apexed/exited turn 4, only to not stay focused and completely blow my entry point going into turn 5. I tried to tighten my line and dive harder towards the apex, only to lowside hard onto our left side. We slid to the outside of the corner, hit the dirt, then rolled over onto our right side and slid some more. I got a jolly good beating, felt really stupid, but had no broken bones, abrasions, dislocations, or any other of motorcycle racing's occupational hazards.
The bike is quite repairable. The worst of the damage is a split gas tank inside the nose section. Fabricating the unit fairing/gas tank seemed like the path to simplicity in maintenance and lightness, but it made crash damage vastly more complicated. And it was a real pain to make in the first place. Wearing a full tank of gas while stuck under the bike with a hot engine is a thrill I'd rather not repeat! The handlebars are bent, but they are cheap and easy to make. The hard plastic footpegs (Originally sold as BMX grind pegs!) saved both me and the bike from a lot more damage. Then there is the dirt - it gets everywhere when crashing off the track. The frame got rashed, but that's fixable. The exhaust will need a little hammer time and paint. My helmet never got a scratch, my gloves and boots are still good (And match my leathers better now), and my leathers only need a small patch on the arm.
A surprising number of racers asked if I'd have it ready for the first 2013 race on 11/12 May, which was very encouraging. If I focus on getting it trackworthy and get my race certificate, well, it could happen before the end of this racing season. My other option is to take the bike down, leave it on the bench for at least another year, and get the new rear suspension done. That suspension system should help the cornering a lot by making the bike even more responsive while making front end slides far easier to control and reducing lean angle. But time at the track should provide some badly needed experience. While I enjoy spending time working on the bike in the shed, good results are only going to happen after I spend a lot more time on the track.
25 April: The van blew the transmission and took the year's racing budget with it. 2013's racing season is over. Lots of prep time available for 2014...