Brandon Blanding - Round 5

MRA Round 5 Race Report

High Plains Raceway West Course

I went into this weekend still on high from my performance from the previous round. The only thing I had to contend with was that this would be the first time I would ride the West Course configuration. 

I used the Saturday morning practices  to work on my race line transitioning from turn 8 to the blind chicane of turn 13-15. I must say even though at first it is a bit nerve racking because it is a blind corner (like our own version of the Laguna corkscrew) it is a fun turn once I got it figured out with a little advice from Ryan to be patient through the transition.

First race of the weekend was Novice GTU which I was going into it with two goals: 1) to take LJ win streak away and 2) to beat the NovU record set by Jon last year. I had a pretty good launch at the start and had my eyes set on LJ. After the first couple of turns of dicing it up with teammates Nate, Mike and Chris I found myself in second and I wasn’t going to let LJ get away. Little did I know that Dan was on a mission as well and caught me slipping by charging into the inside of me in turn 8 and put me in 3rd. I couldn’t let that slide and I knew I couldn’t let him stay in front of me or else LJ would get away. So on the next lap going down the back straight I drafted past Dan and then made a late braking pass on him into T4 and he immediately try to fire back going into T5 but I wouldn’t give it back easily. I put my head down and said I needed to keep him back there in order to catch LJ and did just that. I focused for the next couple of laps and was able to reel LJ back in with a plan to make a pass on him in the back half of the track where I knew I was quicker at than he was. With 2 laps to go I was able to get on his rear wheel going down the back straight and even though he was still to far to make a pass on into T4 I would use it to get as close as possible by using lighter longer braking. Well the plan was sound but my bike had other plans.....when I went to actually start applying strong brake pressure to slow the bike down, I realized my brake pressure had significantly dropped off causing me to go into T4 way too fast and I tried to make it work but realized I was still carrying too much speed and if I would have tried to force making the turn I would have definitely crashed. So instead I tried to continue scrubbing speed but I had to push wide on turn exit which forced me off the track which was extremely sketchy because of the speed and lean angle in which I hit the grass, I definitely almost shit myself because there is a wall that comes up really fast along with trying to control a speeding bike with slicks on in the grass and gravel. Well Dan was able to capitalize and passed me while I was on my scenic excursion. Well I was still carrying too much speed and didn’t have an angle to get back onto the track so I had to ride across the track at T5, luckily we were enough ahead of the 4th and 5th place guys that I could safely cross the track and have time to turn the bike around and get back on track. At this point is when Mike and Nate were coming through T5 so I had to hurry up and get back on the track and on pace. Luckily I was able to hold them off and salvage a 3rd place! 

Next race was Novice GTO, the plan was to not let the 1000s get away but I was having too much fun battling with my teammates again and then Pat wanted to jump in the mix by trying to make a pass on all of us going into T1 but went into it too hot and ran off. At this point I was running in 6th and thought I was finally clear of everyone until on the 2nd to last lap Pat managed to pass me on the back straight (Damn power of a 1000 lol). I attempted to set him up going into T8 but he closed the door so I finished in 7th.

Third race of the day was Middleweight Endurance. I literally spent the whole first half of the race chasing Hersch. I was feeling good maintaining 6th place and was thinking of a strategy to finally get past him when I began to notice that I was loosing feel in my front tire. Then an oh shit moment happened, I tucked the front tire in T2. I thought for sure I was going down because once the front tucks it’s not too often someone saves it from crashing. Well my guardian angel (my son Mahki watching from heaven) helped me save it from crashing and as I was dragging my knee I reflexively pushed off the ground with my knee and it helped pick the bike back up and I was able to keep going, unfortunately my front tire was done and I had to concede 6th place to LJ and finished in 7th.

Because my tire was shredded and I didn’t have time to change before my final race on Saturday I had to pull out of Endurance Open.

Sunday, I had 2 Amateur/Expert class races. 

Race 1 was Amateur GTU. Once again I had a decent start and found myself in 5th and felt like I could maintain pace with the front 4; Matt, hersch, LJ and Phil. Well let’s just say they were battling pretty good between each other so I decided to race a smart race and let them do their thing and I would make my moves strategically. Needless to say it worked, a racing incident between Matt and Hersch ended up with Hersch taking a hard spill in Turn 8 which put me in 4th. The next couple of laps, Phil and LJ battled it out until Phil made a mistake and ran off in T4 which put me in 3rd. Once I saw that I was determined to hold my position and not let anyone take it from and let’s just say I earned my first podium spot in an Amateur class race!!!

Last race of the weekend was Amateur GTO, once again time to battle with the big bikes. By this time the heat of the weekend was beginning to take its toll and I was cramping all race but I wasn’t going out without a fight. Nate and I battled all race until I was able to finally get past him and maintained 7th till the finish. 

My custom race suit made my Comet Racing Leathers was delivered Sunday morning right before my wife left the house for the track so I was able to wear it for one race which was AmO, my last race of the weekend. Video to talk about the suit is coming soon. But I must say the suit fit perfectly, just needed to be broken in which made racing in a bit tight.

So overall a great weekend.