Team News: Round 1 Report from Leon Racing

The Racing Season Has Started! 

The business of racing is all about results.   That’s the whole point, to line up and find out who’s fastest on the given day.  When good results don’t come, it’s hard to remember why we voluntarily put ourselves through the stressful process of preparing and competing.  This past weekend at Grand Bend, at the opening round if the 2022 Canadian Superbike series, we didn’t get the results we were looking for.  Sometimes in racing, it just doesn’t go your way. 

But I’m staying positive and focusing on going forward.

A few weeks ago, we raced at the first round of the Pro 6 GP series at the Calabogie regional series.  That was a good event for us.  We finished in 4th, fighting for the podium up until the last corner.  Kyle and I had tried a new chassis set up and were able to improve rear tire life after the first few laps, compared to last season.  We left there with valuable points needed to defend the Pro 6 GP regional number 1 plate.

Once we arrived at Grand Bend, I just never found my rhythm.  We made a few small errors, ended up off the pace a bit, and couldn’t recover.  I qualified 9th.  For race 1 on Saturday, a few laps in, I lost the front in the low speed corner two.  It happened in slow motion and I almost saved it.   The bike slid on the engine case guard and handle bar end.  The paint wasn’t even scratched.  I was able to pick it up and continued to a 13th place finish.  Does it even count as a crash if the paint isn’t scratched?  Lol.  Sunday’s race 2 was an unfortunate replay.  On the second lap, I lost the front again, this time in corner 3.  The handlebar was damaged and I couldn’t continue.  A bad weekend of racing was finally over.  Other than the handlebar, the bike is fine.  We got lucky.

Kyle Blakley has signed up for another season as crew chief and Jon Cornwell is continuing to help us as a consultant when he has free time away from his busy schedule working with the most accomplished team racing in Moto America.  Kyle and Jon were able to review the data from the crashes.  They can see that during the two crashes, I was doing things pretty much the same as the previous lap, except I had slightly reduced the throttle.  On the other laps in those spots, I had just set the throttle and was maintaining the corner speed getting ready to open the throttle at the exit.  Specifically, I had the throttle open at about 15 %.  In the first crash, I closed it to zero, the other to about 10 %.  Likely, I closed it to help adjust my line a bit.  The track is very bumpy in those corners.  An incremental increase of load on the front, over the bumps, was just a little too much.  I can tell you that having two super smart guys like Jon and Kyle dissect what I’m doing on the bike feels like being naked in public.  You can’t hide anything.

Getting to collaborate with Kyle and Jon and working on ways to improve the bike is one of the things that keeps me coming back to the track.  They are crunching the data and using a software called MotoSPEC to analyze our setup.  The goal, going forward, is to make it a bit more forgiving when getting on and off the throttle mid corner without losing the improved tire life. 

Just a quick word about MotoSPEC in case you aren’t familiar with it.  The software was developed by Jeff Laidman, right here in Canada and is being used at the highest level of racing all around the world including MotoGP, World Superbike, British Superbike and MotoAmerica.  When we make a change as small as switching to a softer spring, it shows the impact that it has to the rake, trail, chain anti-squat and swing arm angle.  It is surprising how much one small change affects everything else.  For example, if we lower the front of the bike by 5mm (a common change to improve the bike’s initial turn in), it changes the swingarm angle.  A small change to swingarm angle can have big effect on rear grip.  If we can plug that into the software, and know how much the swingarm angle would be effected, we can compensate and bring the swingarm angle back to the target number.  This way we only effect the turn in and not rear grip as well.  MotoSPEC is a terrific home grown racing tool! 

I’ll be racing again this upcoming Saturday at Calabogie for Rd2 of the Pro 6 GP.  Following the race, Pro 6 will be running demo rides for track day riders that want to try a brand new S1000RR or a S1000XR for one of the sessions.  Pro 6 and BMW Motorrad Canada has been running this program for many years allowing riders to see just how amazing these machines are. I’ll be helping as a BMW Ambassador and assisting the riders sign the waiver and getting the bikes ready to go.  If you are are riding at the Calabogie on June 18th or19th stop in to give a BMW a try. 

See you at the track.

Yours truly,

Michael Leon


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