WAMstickerheader.jpg

Valencia MotoGP Wrap Up for Michael Laverty & Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia

"I got everything out of my bike today to do a 32.8, real happy with that. Q2 pace from 2013." Image by Steve English

“I got everything out of my bike today to do a 32.8, real happy with that. Q2 pace from 2013.”
Image by Steve English

The GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana at Circuito de Ricardo Tomo is the last MotoGP race of the season, and for most riders, crew & teams, one of the more exciting races of the season. Everyone is charged and the race is a culmination of a year of hard work and travel and on the test on the following Monday, the new season begins, with many riders, mechanics and technicians playing a game of musical chairs in the garages as the join new teams for the 2015 year. For myself and the rest of the Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia team, it was more than a little bittersweet. Our ‘little team that could’ worked our collective asses off the entire year, brought home points for the team and sponsors, as well as finishing the season with both riders and bikes intact and damage free. Given our limited resources, we should have been thrilled, but for the decision to pull out of MotoGP for 2015 and focus on the British Superbike Championship series for the next year, where Michael Laverty and perhaps some of the PBM Aprilia team would be returning. So instead of shaking hands with the guys in the MotoGP circus that I’d gotten to know over the course of the season, talking about our upcoming plans and saying “see you at the next MotoGP test,” it was more like “It was nice to know you, I hope we’ll keep in touch…” as my 2015 plans aren’t bringing me back to MotoGp. The mood infected both sides of the pit box and while we continued to work our butts off, it was hard to stay motivated.

Due to the challenge of booking flights in sync with the rest of the team, I didn’t arrive to Valencia until late Wednesday afternoon, after Phil & Victor had already set up our pit box at Circito de Ricardo Tomo. When I checked into the track Thursday morning, ML1 was already on the table and Victor and I went straight to work, swapping a high-hours engine into the frame for Friday’s MotoGP Free Practice sessions 1 & 2, which we’d replace with the relatively low hour-ed motor Friday night to use for Saturday Qualifying and the big show, Sunday. After we finished the engine swap in ML1, Victor and I then got to clean and prep ML2 for the weekend, replacing the brake pads and freshening the forks and shock, as well as giving the bike a thorough cleaning and lube job. Once we’d gotten that done, we still had to prep the truck for the journey back to Cumbria, in Northwest England. That amounted to mostly putting the casters back on the flight cases and sorting out everything that we’d brought along with us for the 3 races we’d just finished overseas in Japan, Australia and Malaysia. Fortunately, that didn’t take long and we left the track early enough for dinner. The whole team, with the exception of Broc Parkes and Michael Laverty, who came in on a late flight that evening. We ended up going to an American-style steakhouse and bbq joint called “Ribs,” which my wife Michele gave me no shortage of grief for when she arrived on friday. “You’re in Spain, where they have so much incredible food and you guys go out to an American Steakhouse?!?! What’s wrong with you?!” Still, the food was excellent and the team had a great time together.

Fall in the Spanish Riviera means cold days and Friday’s FP1 was no exception, the ambient temperature was just 20º C, (68º F) and the track temperature was not much warmer, which meant we were back to our usual struggle for side grip and traction under acceleration. With no rain in the forecast, we used both ML1 with last year’s setup & ML2 with the base setup that we’d been running since Indy to A/B between the two motorcycles. Michael Laverty had a hard time chsing between the two, howver, sowe tried setting up ML1 about 6mm taller but ended up dropping the rear in the hopes of getting it to hook up better. Michael turned in a 1:34.393 in FP1, 23rd of 25 entries and dropped a half second in FP2 as the track warmed up to 29ºC, but kept the same placement on the time sheets, ahead of his PMB Aprilia teammate Broc Parkes and Avinta Racing’s Mike DiMeglio.

For Saturday morning’s FP3 session, we experimented with different shock & linkage lengths, with a shorter linkage on ML1, which delivered a more linear rate from the springs, as opposed to the progressive rising rate linkages found on most streetbikes. That, combined with a shorter shock made the spring rate even more linear, moving where the spring enters its progression for better weight transfer. Because the track was even colder Saturday at 17º, we made zero improvement in MotoGP FP3, Michael turning in a 1:33.795, remaining once more at 23rd of 25. For FP4, we set up both bikes identically, with ML1 setup with 2mm more ride height. Michael went out first on ML2, but came back after a few laps, but came back, complaining of transmission issues, so Victor had to drain the oil and inspect the gears and shift forks, leaving me alone to service ML1 and make the necessary adjustments.  Michael made a bit of improvement in FP4, jumping up a spot above Cardion AB Racing Honda’s Karel Abraham, Broc and Mike Dimeglio, with a 1:33.48, but it had begun to sprinkle just a little bit. Phil made the call to prepare ML2 for rain, so I got busy putting on the rain tires, changing the shock, fork & ride height setup, while Phil loaded the rain strategies into the ECU for qualifying. Michael came back in and we put a new rear tire on ML1 and he went out and turned a few laps in Q1. After 3-4 laps, he came back in for a new front and rear tire but with 25 bikes on the grid for the MotoGP season finale, the track was busy and crowded; we didn’t go much faster, with a  1:32.808, good for 22nd place on the starting grid.

Come race time on Sunday, we brought ML1 down to the grid and we were all a little anxious for our last MotoGP race, perhaps ever. Michael Laverty had his game face on and was all “bin it or win it,” but Phil, Michael’s crew chief was nervous. “I don’t feel good about this,” he said looking up at the sky, “we better prep ML2 for the rain.” So, I went back to the PMB Aprilia pit box to get the back up bike ready and while I was bringing ML2 out to the secondary grid on pit road, I missed the start as it started to sprinkle. Victor and I stood by ML2 for the first 8 laps and since we were at the end of pit road, Michael was instructed to just come in in the event of rain, instead of wasting a lap, signalling as he rode by. Since we by the bike, we weren’t able to watch the race, as we weren’t anywhere close to the monitors. By the end of the 8th lap, though, I started taking notes and keeping track of lap times. In spite of the rain drops and cool track, the attrition rate was low for the race, but by lap 22, Michael broke into the top 20 and made it as high as 19th, a couple of laps later, where he ultimately finished.

Michael summed up the race to reporters, saying “The weather made it quite a strange race today ,as right from the very first lap, we had big drops of rain on our visors. I had good pace when the track was fully dry, but found it tough when the track got greasy as my rear tyre had began to cold tear. All in all it’s been a good weekend, I was really happy with the lap time I pulled out in qualifying and we had a good setting going into the race today. It’s a bit emotional today as it’s the final MotoGP for the PBM team, but I’m finishing with a smile on my face, it’s been a great life experience and I feel I’m a stronger rider for it. I’d like to thank all the guys in the team for a great two years and a special thank you to Paul Bird and Phil Borley for making it happen.”

Obviously, it’s been such an incredible opportunity to work with my good friend Michael Laverty on the Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsport team for the 2014 season. For the first time ever this season, I wasn’t in charge, which was a great opportunity to learn from our crew chief, Phil Borley. Sometimes, he’d make calls that I might not have agreed with, but in talking to him after the races, he’d explain the whys and wherefores of his calls, giving me valuable insight for when & if I go back to working as a crew chief again. Victor was an amazing kid to work with, really bright and talented; we’ll definitely stay in touch after this season. Still, it was a strange weekend for the team. Sunday evening, we loaded out as the Suzuki team took over our pit box and I said my goodbyes to friends that I’d made this year whom I might never see again. After we got the truck packed, Michele, Ryan, Broc’s crew chief and I drove back to our condo, had another meal at Ribs, along with a few Coronas. Afterwards, we went back to the condo for our last night’s sleep in Spain and caught our flight back to Brussels in the morning, the page turned on my MotoGP chapter.

I am excited about possibilities for 2015, though. I don’t have anything set in stone just yet, but the options are tantalizing. Stay tuned and I’ll have some huge announcements around Christmas time!

Shell Advance Malaysian MotoGP Review for Paul Bird Motorsports’ Michael Laverty

The Shell Advance Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang Circuit outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was probably the easiest of our 3 race Australasian tour. Unlike Japan and Philip Island, we had no problem getting in on schedule and checking in to our hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday setup at Sepang Circuit was a breeze. Our hotel in Kuala Lumpur tied with Japan for the best accomodations on the 18 race MotoGP tour- while the hotel in Japan was closer, our hotel in Kuala Lumpur had a golf course and incredible food, with an outdoor bbq every night that we gorged ourselves on when we got back every night. After setting up the Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports pit Box on Wednesday, we had a little time to goof off, so Michael Laverty, Victor Morgado Perez and I went to the driving range and shagged a few buckets of balls before dinner. Generally, when we’re on the road, we’re working so hard that when we’re done for the day, we’re all dead tired; it was nice to have a little free time to relax and recuperate.

Thursday, Phil made the call to go back to ML1 for the weekend, so Victor and I went to work prepping it for Michael to use for Friday MotoGP Free Practice. Once we’d gotten it cleaned and prepped, we then put in a high-time motor in ML2 for back up duty, with the intention of replacing it with a lower time Spec-4 motor on Friday night. Everything went together like clockwork and we were able to get back in time to hit the BBQ buffet back at the hotel.

Friday’s MotoGP FP1 & FP2 went reasonably well, everyone had dropped their times due to the heat on the track and the tires building up quite a bit of heat. This definitely worked to our advantage, as the hot temps minimized our chassis’ deficiencies and Michael Laverty’s results showed on the time sheets, finishing 20th and 19th, respectively. During the sessions, we swapped spring rates a bit, but most of the effort went into the electronics, putting power back into the strategies to take advantage of the increased levels of grip that the 41º C (105.4º F) MacAdam delivered to our Bridgestone tires. After having to take out power due to the cold, deliviring more power was a nice nice switch.

Saturday morning, due to the heat, we decided to run the hard compound Bridgestone tires, as the mediums were getting a little greasy. We made a few spring rate changes and ride height adjuatments to Ml1 in an effort to improve turnin characteristics. Michael was getting comfortable and going really well in the session, with the lap times dropping  until the rear got away from him and then the front in T3, a really fast right hander. That set us back quite a bit, now we had to rush to get ML2 ready for MotoGP FP4 and Q1! Michael went out on the spare for FP4; we’d struggled to get everything sorted on such short notice and as a result, Michael Laverty struggled in both sessions. We ended the day with results of 20th in FP3. 19th in FP4 and 20th Qualifying. After qualifying was over, Victor and I went straight to work repairing ML1 and prepping both bikes for action in the MotoGP Main event Sunday, burning the midnight oil until late in the night.

Sunday morning arrived too soon and during the MotoGP Warmup, making sure that both ML1 & ML2 were ready for action was our primary focus and as a result, Michael didn’t go for any heroics and finieshed the session at the bottom of the charts. When the green flag dropped for the MotoGP race, Michael got a great start, quikly jumping a couple places to 18th, but before the first lap had been completed, he’d been shuffled back to 20th. From there, Michael put his head down, repassing Mike Dimeglio & our PBM Aprillia teammate Broc Parkes. He didn’t quite have the pace to keep up with Octo-IODARacing’s Danillo Petrucci, so Michael concentrated on maintaining a steady but fast pace, without pushing overly hard or taking unnecessary risks. Michael Laverty put his head down in the heat and soldiered on and by the 12th lap, attrition started to become a factor, with Cal Crutchlow pulling off the track with a mechanical, followed by crashes from Nicky Hayden in the T9 Hairpin, followed by Karel Abraham, Dani Pedrosa, Danillo Petrucci and Alex DeAngelis, all crashing out of the race. We ended up in 12th place, our best race of the season, make that, our best race ever!

After the race, we packed up quickly and went back to the hotel for dinner and a few beers. Victor, Michael & I talked about going to the beach Bar for the Red Bull MotoGP afterparty, but after a couple of beers, I was too exhausted. After a bit over 3 weeks on the road, I am juat excited to get back home to Luxembourg, see my girls and rest up for the season finale in Valencia. Michele will be joining me in Spain, then I’ll be heading to the Canary Islands for Michael’s stag party, followed by his wedding to his long-time fiancee, Jodie Lee Davies. After that, I’ll be back home in Florida for Christmas, but I’ll save that for another post!

Tissot Australian Grand Prix Wrapup for Michael Laverty & Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia

The Tissot Australian Gran Prix got off to an inauspicious start: as mentioned in the Japanese Grand Prix Wrapup, me Michael Laverty and our Paul Bird Motosports Aprilia team had a tough time getting out Tokyo due to a cyclone that was stirring up in the South China Sea and causing massive flight delays throughout Australasia. So, what should have been a relatively routine flight on Monday, ended up with a detour and delay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and we arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday, a day late. From Melbourne, we had a 2-1/2 hour drive to Phillip Island, where we stayed in a beautiful house, Michael Laverty, Victor & I, and Broc Parkes, Tom & Andrew from the other side of the garage, just a few blocks from the ocean and 10 minutes from the track. It was walking distance to the town & 7 blocks to the beach! Wednesday morning, we checked into the track and went through the routine of setting up the PBM Aprilia pit box, leaving the bikes on the work tables for service, the next day. Victor and I got to the track bright and early Thursday morning and began swapping the better motor out from ML2, Michael’s primary bike and putting in a motor with more hours & mileage on it for practice. It was a pretty straightforward process for us as we’d had nearly a full season’s worth of practice and we were able to turn off the lights in the pit box at a decent hour and go into town for a team dinner.

It was bitterly cold for Friday’s FP1 & FP2 sessions, windbreakers and sweatshirts were mandatory; the temp for MotoGP FP1 was 15º, 50º f, amplifying the issues we’d had with edge grip. Michael Laverty finished the first MotoGP practice session in 23rd, last on the sheets with a 1:33.432. For FP2, the ambient temperature didn’t get any warmer, although the track warmed up slightly, but Michael’s PBM Aprilia still struggled for grip, as it was really hard to keep heat in the tires, even with the special, asymmetrical compound tires that Bridgestone brought for the race weekend. Michael Laverty finished the day with a best lap of 1:32.843, marginal improvement from the morning practice, but still at the bottom of the time sheet.

"I love the Philip Island circuit but it's not much fun when you can't get the correct temperature in the tyres " Michael Laverty Photo by Gold & Goose

“I love the Philip Island circuit but it’s not much fun when you can’t get the correct temperature in the tyres ” Michael Laverty
Photo by Gold & Goose

Saturday was slightly warmer, but temps were still in the low 60’s for FP3. Michael had a better pace, but was still having a hard time keeping heat in the tires and the tires were just too hard for the temps. As a result, edge grip was lacking, especially on corner exits, we just couldn’t get the bike to hook up on the gas. We did a quick back to back on shocks, starting with a 0.85kg spring, then swapping to a 1.05 for the 2nd half of the session. The stiffer spring was better, but didn’t fix everything; Michael Laverty finished FP3 with a 1:31.984, nearly a second faster than FP2, but only good for 22nd place. In between FP3 & FP4, we had a conversation with the Bridgestone tire engineers about dropping the pressure, but  they were adamant about keeping pressures within their recommended range.  Michael went out in FP4, but came back in about halfway through the session for fresh tires. As I was adjusting his shock, he leaned over and said “Please mate, drop the pressure on the rear, I  need more grip out there.” I had a quick word with Phil and we decided to drop it down to a pound below recommended pressure. It didn’t perform any miracles, but Michael finished the FP4 session in 21st, with a 1:31.907. For Q1, we stuck with the stiffer spring option to keep the rear tire planted to the ground and Michael Laverty reeled off a 1:31.492, nearly a half second faster than FP4, qualifying him in 21st, ahead of our Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia teammate, Broc Parkes and NGM Forward Yamaha’s Alex De Angelis. After qualifying, Victor and I got right to work swapping back the low mileage Spec 4 engine back into ML2 so we’d be ready for sunday’s MotoGP race action.

Photo my Cormac Ryan-Meenan Photography

Photo my Cormac Ryan-Meenan Photography

For the Sunday Morning MotoGP Warmup, the temperatures were a bit warmer, in the mid 70’s and we made the call to run the 1.0 shock on ML2. Michael went out and without really pushing it, gave it a good shakedown and the thumbs up for the race, which had been pushed back to 4 n the afternoon, with a threat of rain looming about for the day. For the race, we opted for the softer of the compounds with the rationale that while it would likely go off faster, it would at least be more consistent throughout the race. After the green flag dropped, Michael Laverty got off a pretty decent start and quickly moved into 18th place, but that was to be short lived, as he was shuffled back to 21st during the 2nd lap. While the rain had held off, a front had moved through and the ground temps had dropped precipitously. Much of the field had chosen the harder of the two asymmetrical compound Bridgestone BT31 tires and with the ground temperature only 84º farenheit, riders were having a difficult time keeping heat on the right sides of their tires, which made the made transitioning from L-R in the high speed Doohan’s, turn 1 particularly treacherous, as well as in the hard braking, point and squirt Honda Corner, turn 4.  Michael managed to pass Avinta’s Mike di Meglio and tucked in behind IodaRacing’s Danillo Petrucci. Because the Petrucci’s Octo Ioda Aprilia had gotten revised electronics and strategies from ART a few rounds before, he was able to get better grip and pulled a bit of a gap on Michael, who maintained a conservative, but solid pace for the race. Attrition dealt its hand and 9 racers crashed out of the race, including MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez and Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia teammate Broc Parkes, most of them victims of the harder tire compound. The cold track and tires made it a difficult race, but as much as we struggled though out the weekend, we did pretty well: Michael Laverty brought the bike home in one piece, with our season’s best finish, a lucky 13th place.

After the race, we packed up in a speedy 2-1/2 hours- Glenn had us make diagrams for packing the flight cases, which made the job both quick and easy. We then headed back to the house for a quick change and Michael Victor and I watched British Superbike racing before everyone in the team walked into town for some Mexican food as our team meal. After dinner, Michael, Victor & me walked down the block to “the Hotel,” overlooking the ocean for the Red Bull MotoGP after-event, where we parties and had a good time until late in the evening. Monday, we slept in, ate a good breakfast and drove to Melbourne to catch our flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s been quite a long trip on the road and everyone is looking forward to getting home!

Motul Grand Prix of Japan MotoGP PBM Aprilia Wrap Up

My journey to the Motul Grand Prix of Japan MotoGP race was the beginning of a journey of epic proportions: three weeks on the road, half-way around the world in Asia and Australia, a trip of a lifetime for a Florida by who began his career as a club racer with CCS! I left Luxembourg and flew to Schiphol airport, in Amsterdam, where I then caught a nonstop flight to Narita airport in Tokyo. I arrived early Wednesday  motning and from there, it was a 3 hour drive to Twin Ring Motegi, in Haga district, Tochigi prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. Once I got there, we only had a few minutes to check into our hotel, drop our bags, change into our team uniforms before rushing to the track and set up the pit box. Fortunately, we only pack the essentials for flyaway rounds and within 4 hours, we had the entire Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia garage sorted, with the bikes on the stands, ready to be serviced on Thursday morning. By the time i made it back to the hotel, though, I was so tired that I could barely move: I’d been up for over 32 hours straight- my seat-neighbor on the flight to Tokyo must have gotten up a dozen times to go to the bathroom, which meant that I didn’t catch even a wink during the 13 hour flight there. I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to eat a lite dinner before I passed out from exhaustion. Since we’d replaced the motor at Motorland Aragon, Thursday went very smoothly, just the usual disassembly and thorough cleaning of the bike and chassis components and we were out at a reasonable hour, with time to take in the Honda Museum, which was really incredible.

entrancetohndamuseum

On Friday, FP1 got off to a rough start, ML2, which is now Michael Laverty’s main bike started leaking oil by the spark plugs while he was out during the session. Fortunately, it didn’t get on the tires, but he got enough on his leathers and the side of the bike to take notice and come in. Michael went back ut on ML1, but wasn’t able to improve on his lap times, ending the session with a best lap of 1:49.923, good for just 23rd on the time sheets, one up from Avinta Racing’s Mike DiMeglio. Between sessions, Victor and I worked up a solution using Aprilia parts 477-1 & 477-4, essentially sponges placed around the coils on ML2 to try and soak up the oil. It worked somewhat, but we spent the session trying to find more grip for Michael, the bike was having trouble initiating turns and edge grip while leaned over was also elusive. We ended up putting on 3 different shocks, as well as changing the fork springs twice during MotoGP FP2. We made modest improvement, even if our results didn’t show it, as Michael Laverty finished the session in 24th, with a 1:49.321, over half a second faster, but nowhere near where we wanted to be. At the same time, the oil leak wasn’t getting any better. The sponges were at best, a temporary fix- the leak was coming from a crack in the head, meaning that we were down to our last good motor for the rest of the season and that had to go in friday night in order to be ready for Saturday qualifying.

Saturday morning was pretty warm, with the air 22ºc and the track at 31ºc (72ºf & 81ºf ,respectively) giving us better conditions to improve our times. FP3 brought improvements, with a 1:48.917, but we needed more. For FP4, we mounted 340mm carbon brake rotors, which were required by the MotoGP officials for racing at Motegi due to the high speeds combined with tight turns in a  majority of the corners. At 340mm in diameter, the rotors were HUGE! Ordinary wheel/tire changes were out of the question due to their size and unconventional mounting: the calipers got mounted to the discs first, then the disc was mounted to the wheel, the wheel installed and the brake lines hooked up via quick-disconnect links. We improved a bit more in FP4, with Michael pulling off a 1:48.31, good for 22nd and faster than his teammate, Broc. Still, we needed more and it was frustrating to see IODA’S Danillo Petrucci so much further up the charts than us; they’d had Aprillia factory techs helping them at Aragon, with improved electronics and strategies and that paid off for them. Even though Michael was still faster than them going into the traps, they were killing us on corner speed and overall lap times, where it really mattered. Q1 brought slight improvement, with Laverty dropping another half second at 1:48.144, ahead of Broc and Mike DiMeglio, but leaving us starting from the last row of the grid.

Michael Laverty Qualifying at Twin Ring Motegi for the Motul Japanese Grand Prix

Michael Laverty Qualifying at Twin Ring Motegi for the Motul Japanese Grand Prix. Photo by Gold & Goose

Come race time, we were ready. Michael Laverty got an excellent start and by the end of the first lap, he was running in 18th, ahead of Avinta’s Mike DiMeglio & NGM Forward Yamaha’s Alex DeAngelis, however during the 2nd lap, he got shuffled back a few spots and by the time the race was over, we’d finished in P18, beating DiMeglio and our PBM teammate, Broc Parkes, but not anywhere near where we had been hoping.

After the race, we packed up fast and headed back to Tokyo to check out of our airport and grab a flight to Melbourne. We were in a bit of a rush, as there was a typhoon bearing down in the South China Sea and we hoped we could beat it. As luck would have it, the storm had disrupted flights coming into Narita, even though we had clear skies over Tokyo, our flight had gotten cancelled. Phil spent the next 4 hours calling everywhere trying to book a flight to Melbourne. We were able to get a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and got in at 3:00 AM. Once there, we couldn’t find a hotel that would admit us until 6 in the morning, so we spent a few more hours waiting. Phil finally got a place for what seemed like triple the going rate, so at 6:30 in the morning, I was able to get a shower and grab a few hours in the rack until I woke up around noon. Jet lag from flying halfway around the globe is a serious pain and me, Victor and Ryan all were milling around the hotel, so we decided to go into Kuala Lumpur to do a little sightseeing and get some recon in before we came back in another week. We explored downtown and the Chinese section, which was really neat, but I’ll go into more detail in the Malaysian GP report.

Waiting on a cancelled flight...

Waiting on a cancelled flight…

While we were in Japan, we had a few funny moments. On our way to the track, we stopped at a 7-Eleven to get 4 liters of water to make coffee and tea with. Apparently, we weren’t paying very close attention and instead of getting water, we got 4 liters of sake. Putting boiling hot sake in coffee made for a decidedly unpleasant surprise, it’s not something that i recommend trying at home. The fans in Japan are like nothing else i’ve ever seen, they’re REALLY into the sort and the riders. One fan, a 16 year old Japanese girl stopped by our pit box, and gave Michael a very thoughtful gift, including some Japanese sweets, a handmade key fob with Michaels initials and an Irish clover leaf and a manga-style cartoon drawing that she’d made of Michael and his fiancee, Jodi. It was touchingly sweet, if not a little creepy, too.  I’ve mentioned previously that Phil, Michael’s crew chief, LOVES McDonalds, which to me, coming from America, seems a little odd, but conversely, my partner Victor HATES it. Much to Victor’s dismay, we ended up having it no less than 3 times in 24 hours in Japan, first, right when we got off the plane, we had breakfast, then after we’d set up we had it again. We were driving back to the hotel in the dark after leaving the track and Phil goes “Oh, look!” pointing down the road. I couldn’t see anything, but all of a sudden, Victor started flipping out, “No, no, no, oh shit, nooooooooooo!” and sure enough, looming in the distance was the Golden Arches…

PBM Motorland Aragon MotoGP Update

The rapid solicitors Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia team all arrived within an hour of each other at Aeropuerto de Zaragossa and we all went together to our hotel in Alcañiz. After checking in ad getting settled, we walked out of the hotel, crossed a bridge and found a nice little pub where we had a team meal of eggs, patatas, bacon & sausages, which my partner, Victor, says is a typical meal for Northeastern Spain. It wasn’t nearly as fancy as the food we had in Catalan, but it was hearty and delicious! It was good to sit down with the entire team, both sides of the pit box , and get caught up- we’re usually soooo busy diring a race weekend that we rarely have the time to even talk to each other beyond the usual passing grunts.

Wednesday, we checked in to Ciudad del Motor de Aragón, better known as Motorland Aragón and began setting up the pitbox. In addition to the normal race weekend duties, we also had to prep for the three upcoming rounds in Asia, so all of are crates for electronics, body panels & spares had to have their casters removed for air freight transport after the race. All told, setup went relatively easily, we then put ML1 on stands on the bike table, thoroughly cleaned it and serviced the rear brake caliper that had given Michael Laverty so much trouble in San Marino, and replaced the rear master cylinder, as well and had the bike ready for the weekend by Wednesday evening.

Michale Laverty's flight case, packed & ready for Asia

Michale Laverty’s flight case, packed & ready for Asia

Thursday, we began on ML2, which was previously our backup machine. Victor and put it up on the stand and took out the old spec 4 motor and put in a fresh spec 2 engine, making it identical to ML1 and our primary racebike for the rest of the season, since it was now up to top spec, with less wear and tear. We left Motorland Aragón relatively early and headed back to to our hotel Alcañiz and went back to the same pub, where I had the same meal as the night before, the #4: Patatas, huevos, bacon sausages.

For Friday’s FP1 session, we were a little behind, the track was cold and Michael Laverty struggled for grip , eking out a 1:53.352 for 22nd. We weren’t sure whether it was the track or our electronics strategies, but nothing that we did seemed to make much of a difference, we changed the swingarm pivot a few times in a vain attempt to find more grip, but disappointingly, we finished the day near the back of the back, with a 1:52.6, a nearly a second faster, but only good for P22.

Day 1: "Not Much grip." Michael Laverty Photo by Gold & Goose

Day 1: “Not Much grip.” Michael Laverty
Photo by Gold & Goose

Saturday morning, we made a few more minor chassis adjustments and found a bit of the elusive grip, but not nearly as much as we were hoping for. 1:52.315. After FP3, Victor and I focussed on putting the more powerful Spec 4 motor into ML2 for qualifying , while Michael Laverty went out on ML1 in FP4. The warming track surface allowed us to find a little more grip and Michael dropped a second and another spot on the time sheets, with a 1:51.606 at 21st, ahead of Avinta’s Mike Dimeglio and PBM teammate, Broc Parkes. Qualifying on the more powerful Spec 4 equipped ML2 only brought Michael modest gains, dropping o.4 of a second, remaining at 21st, starting sunday’s MotoGp main event from the 7th row.

Day 2 Photo by Cormac Ryan-Meenan

Day 2 Photo by Cormac Ryan-Meenan

Raceday Sunday started off dark, cold and overcast, we knew that it was going to rain at some point in the day, but we didn’t know when. Victor and I set up ML1 for wet duty, with rain tires and electronics strategies in the ECU optimized for the wet, while ML2 was shod with Bridgestone slicks. the morning MotoGP Warmup revealed nothing, because of the cold, Michael and the rest of the grid tiptoed around the track, no one wanting to ris throwing their bikes away right before the race. Michael started the race on the dry bike, ML2, and we set ML1 up on pit lane, ready for a hand off when/if it began to rain. Michael made a mistake on the opening lap and had to make up time in order to do battle with Broc, Avinta’s Mike DiMeglio and Octo IodaRcing’s Danillo Petrucci, making his way up to 19th. The white flag came out with 11 laps to go, so Victor and I dashed to pit road to prepare for the bike handoff when Michael Laverty came in; we hadn’t practiced the exchange, but we were ready. Michael pitted in with 8 laps to go, I caught ML2, while Victor held ML1, warmed up and ready to go in the rain. Michael jumped between the bikes with ease and filtered back onto the track in 17th, with attrition taking a toll on the field in the rain. Marc Marquez crashed and remounted in last place and for a while, it seemed like we might beat him! but with his incredible talent, he passed late in the race and Michael Laverty fought hard to catch Pramac Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez, only to cross the line in 16th place for the 6th time this season, just off of the points, which seems like our most comfortable spot.

After the race was over, we got busy taking everything down and packing it all up for the flight to Asia and had it all done at a reasonable hour. Since we were all flying out in the morning, we got together for another team meal at of favorite spot in Alcañiz and a few beers as we watched the MotoGp replay on the telly. I’m looking forward to the next 3 rounds, but it will be a hard time on the road, as we fly to Motegi, Japan; Phillip Island, Australia & Sepang, Malaysia, with a fair amount of culture shock for this ol’ boy from Florida as we do three races, in three weeks, in three countries, on two different continents, half a world away from my wife Michele and daughter, Grace. I’ll definitely miss them, but this will be an incredible adventure!

Note: With Michael Laverty most likely going to BSB for the 2015 season and being based in Luxembourg, it’s not practical for me to work in the UK, so I’m looking for work, preferably with a MotoGP/Moto2 Championship team or with a team in the Superbike World Championship. My resume is available here: William Meyers Resume 2014 09 08

 

 

Paul Bird Motorsports MotoGP San Marino E Della Riviera De Rimini Wrap Up!

The MotoGP di San Marino ella Riviera de Rimini got off to a great start, flying into the tiny airport in Rimini on a small plane, disembarking on the tarmac and catching a cab to Riccione, on the Riviera, west of San Marino. I checked into my hotel room, put on my swim trunks and went straight to the beach. Ahhhh… this is the life! After i got my fill of the sun & sand, I walked around town for a bit before heading back to the hotel, where I ran into Andrew, from Broc Parkes’ side of the Paul Bird Motorsport garage. We rented bikes and went for a ride along the beach in Riccione, then up into the steep hills overlooking the town. The beach path was packed with cyclists and roller blades and even the climbs were thick with bikes getting their suffer on. Given that most of our race weekends, we’re in 100% work mode, it was nice to be able to have a little R&R before we got down to business at the track. Wednesday, we checked into the the Misano Circuit Marco Simoncelli and began setting up our pit box. That afternoon, we put new motors in ML1 & ML2, replacing the tired engines that Michael Laverty had ridden in Brno & San Marino. This set us up for the next race at Motorland Aragon as well, so we’ll hopefully have minimal setup to do once we get to Spain for the next round. We made pretty good progress & the team left at a reasonable hour & had dinner together at a local pizzeria. The next morning, Victor & I finished putting the bikes back together and added a few minor mods, with a new generation fuel tank on ML2 that moves the weight of the gas lower and forward for better handling & a 5mm lower subframe. Now, both ML1 & ML2 had identical chassis, only the engine spec and electronics strategies were different between the two. Friday, as me and Victor had breakfast at our hotel’s cafe, we overheard from other crews “did you hear it rain?” I guess we must sleep pretty soundly, as neither of us had heard the overnight storms, but it had rained a ton overnight and never stopped raining all day for Fp1 & FP2. Being from the UK, Michael Laverty was in is natural element in the rain and finished 15th & 17th in MotoGP Free Practice 1 & 2, as our crew chief Phil, Victor and I spent the day dialing in electronics strategies and chassis settings for both bikes.

Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty, railing it in the rain in MotoGP FP2

Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty, railing it in the rain in MotoGP FP2

Saturday was dry and sunny, but because of the rain, we started off on a bad footing with our electronics strategies, which were optimized for the wet. Michael fell back to 19th in FP3, leaving us a lot to work on between sessions. By Fp4, the track had warmed up a bit, the ambient temperature was around 23º and the MacAdam was around 37º (73º & 98º F). Unfortunately, we didn’t have any data for a warmer track here, so we had to fly by the seat of our pants. Still Michael was able to significantly improve his times, dropping six-tenths of a second, moving up to 18th on the charts. Michael went out for MotoGP Qualifying session 1 and reeled off a few good laps before coming back in for fresh Bridgestones. He went back out and turned his best times yet, with a 1:35.589, nearly a second faster than FP4, putting him at 18th on the grid, on the inside of row 6 for the start of Sunday’s MotoGP race. Michael posted on facebook, “Real happy with how close I got to the customer Honda’s today, stayed ahead of 1 open Yamaha too, we will keep punching up tomorrow” and told Crash.net: “Points could be on the cards tomorrow and it would be nice to be fighting with them. This is as competitive as we’ve been this season.”

PBM Team's Michael Laverty, cornering low in a frustrating MotoGP race at San Marino

PBM Team’s Michael Laverty, cornering low in a frustrating MotoGP race at San Marino

The Sunday morning Warmup session didn’t start us off well, Michael Laverty was at the bottom of the sheets, in 23rd, with a 1:37.293.  We made a change for the morning warm-up and made the front a little bit softer and that hindered us a bit. For the MotoGP Race, though, Michael liked where he was sitting. He nailed the start and was doing really well until around the 5th lap, when his rear brake over heated. We don’t know if it was a problem with the electronics or what, but Michael had to rely on the rear brake even more than normal on corner entry to turn, as well as keep the front end down on exit. The rear brembo calipers rotors that we use are considerably smaller than what comes on a streetbike and once they over heated, it’s over for them. Michael eased off the rear braking for a few laps, but felt more comfortable with it and started using them again as he battled with Drive M7 Aspar Honda’s Leon Camier. “Under normal circumstances I think that I could have been able to catch and pass Leon but I just wasn’t able to ride the bike like I normally can.  It’s difficult when you’re fighting against the bike and not able to just throw it into the corners and it takes the fun out of it really” Michael Laverty told Crash.net after the race. In spite of a relatively decent, 17th place finish, Michael was frustrated, calling it “the worst race of my year, feeling wise.” The next race, in Spain at Motorland Aragon will bring additional challenges: the Avintia Blusens team is switching from Kawasaki superbike engines to Ducati Desmosedicci GP14 bikes with Open ECU Class Software. We’ve been able to beat Hector Barbera and Mike DeMiglio on a regular basis, but with our bikes only making 225-230 hp and the Open Class Ducati’s capable of up to 260 hp, PBM, the little team the could, will have our work cut out for us. I say “Bring it!” we like a good challenge!

British Grand Prix Recap: Paul Bird Motorsports Aprillia Comes Home.

The Hertz British Grand Prix was a homecoming  for the Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports MotoGP team  and Michael Laverty, with fans thrilled to see their native riders in action on their home turf. As a result, it was non stop activity in our pitbox all weekend long! We rolled into Silverstone Circuit with the full Paul Bird Motorsports hospitality kit, all the lorries, catering and everything else needed to make the teams Home MotoGP race special, not only for the team, but the fans, too. I didn’t get to the track until late wednesday on account of my daughter Grace beginning her 1st day of first grade that morning.  so I made sure to buy the team a pint of beer at a pub near the track to thank them for picking up the slack in my absence. Come thursday morning, we had a lot of work to do. Victor had gotten most our our pit box set up, but there was lots of work to do on ML1 after Michael Laverty’s getoff in Brno. We immediately got to work, tearing down both ML1 for repair and ML2 for the standard pre-race inspection and cleaning. ML1 needed the control set and bars replaced, as well as fitting new bodywork and fabricating a new front subframe and fairing brackets.

Friday morning broke, overcast and unseasonably cold for an August summer’s day- it was cold enough that we were forced to wear trousers and jackets all day long! During MotoGP FP1, Michael was experiencing quite a bit of discomfort getting heat into the tires and the first practice session was spent just shaking ML1 down. As a result of the cold, Michael Laverty was dead last on the sheets with a 2.11.919 in FP2, nearly 8 seconds off of the pace set by Marc Marquez. For MotoGP FP2, Michael went out on ML2 and experienced the same issues as on ML1 during free practice at Brno: the dash went black, with the word “regen” flashing at the bottom. Whether it was the exact same glitch as before, we’re not entirely sure, after half a lap it was all back up as normal and didn’t cut out. We made modest progress, Michael laverty finished the session in P20, cutting 3 seconds off of his FP1 laptimes, just 4.209 off of the lead pace.

Saturday morning was again bone chillingly cold, requiring jackets and trousers for the team once again. Michael commented that the bike felt good, though and his 2’05.732 result, moved him up a notch on the time sheets, placing him 3.826 away from the leaders on prototype machines, in 19th place. FP4 saw Laverty drop a little more time off of his laps, with a best time of 2’06.060, but it was only good for P21. Bad timing cut the session short on his 2nd tire, but it gave us a good idea of what we could do on a longer track. This race was a milestone for Michael and Victor and I: We ran essentially the same bike as Brno, making only minimal chassis adjustments. We did install lighter springs, as Silverstone is a flatter track with less elevation than Brno, and we moved the swingarm pivot slightly, to give the bikes a shorter wheelbase and more rear grip but that was about it. We’d finally gotten a great baseline setting that we could rely on. Qualifying saw even more time fall: Michael reeled off a 2.04.836, good for P20 and 7th row on the grid.

Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty in MotoGP Qualifying Photo by Gold & Goose

Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty in MotoGP Qualifying Photo by Gold & Goose

Come race time, DORNA set a new policy in an attempt to reign in confusion in the event of a wet race: we now were required to stage our backup bike with rain tires at designated spots on the grid. This eliminated the confusion caused at German Grand Prix, with part of the field starting from the grid and the rest, starting the race from pit row.   The race went well, Michael got off to a great start and quickly got to work, making his way through the field, making his way to P15 by the time they reached T1. Laverty settled in to P16 at lap 1 and held his position until a mistake in lap 5 forced him to cede 4 spots, sending him back to 19th. Michael managed to fight his way back over the course of the race to finish 17th. Although we didn’t earn points this weekend, we managed the smallest gap from 1st since Argentina, with a 1.10.939, which given that Silverstone Circuit is 3.66 miles long, vs Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo’s 2.986 mile length, arguably, this was our best race of the season. At any rate, Michael, the team and our boss, Paul Bird were all happy for such a good showing at our home race. Being our home race, we had a lot of visitors, which was occasionally irritating, but the festive mood of the fans was contagious. Michele came down for the weekend and stayed with me- having some 1 on 1 time with her when i wasn’t working was a nice break and reminded me a lot of when we were starting out together and i was club racing.

 

Since rumours have been circulating for a while now, i can finally let the cat out of the bag: Paul Bird Motorsports has put their MotoGP spots for sale for the 2015 season, which means Michael and myself and the team are kinda out of work. i won’t name names, but we saw a lot of top riders coming into the PMB Team pit box over the weekend, all asking about next year. Michael is fielding a few offers in BSB, WSBK and possibly MotoGP and has asked me to come along, but after talking together, we both decided against BSB. Michael would rather race in WSBK or MotoGP and for me, living in Luxembourg, working in Great Britain isn’t all that practical. I’m still there for my very good friend Michael, but ultimately, with a 19 race season all over the world and 2 races in the USA, I’d like to stay in MotoGP, so i’ve put my resume together and I’ve started putting out feelers for the 2015 season. I’ll keep you all posted as things develop.

Czech Grand Prix Race Report For PBM Aprilia & Michael laverty

After Frankfurt, I flew into Prague on Tuesday, en route to the BWIN Czech Grand Prix in Brno and met up with Broc Parkes, where we rented a car and drove to Brno together. We grabbed a bite to eat before we checked into our hotel rooms and it was great to get to know Broc better. Working out of the same pit box , you’d think the whole Rapid Solicitors/Paul Bird Motorsports team would be pretty familiar with each other, but truth be told, we’re all really busy doing our own thing for our respective halves and after the day is done, about all we can do, is go back to our hotel rooms and get some good rack time before we get up at Oh-Dark-Thirty the next day and get back at it all over again. As a result, even though there aren’t any walls, we kinda operate like a team within a team.

Wednesday morning, we began the familiar routine of setting up the pit box and getting ready for the race weekend. After getting the pitbox set up, we got straight to work, stripping and cleaning the bikes and since we seemed to be making great headway, so we called it an early day and went out on the town in Brno for a nice Czech dinner.

Thursday, we removed the motor from Indy and put in a high mileage unit from earlier in the season to use for practice. It all went together straight forward enough, but when we fired it up that night, ML2 seemed to be throwing an error code, but the data screen wouldn’t display anything . The bike seemed to run fine, but we were stumped; was it a software glitch? We went over it with a fine tooth comb and couldn’t find anything wrong, so we called it a day.

Tough day, I lost both FP3 and FP4 with an electronic issue but had a reasonable crack at Q1, not too far away considering. Image by Gold&Goose

Tough day, I lost both FP3 and FP4 with an electronic issue but had a reasonable crack at Q1, not too far away considering. Image by Gold&Goose

The next day in MotoGP Free Practice, Michael went out, did a lap and immediately came back to the pit box. “The dash is screwing up’” he remarked and “it’s cutting out at high revs.” Again, we couldn’t pull an error code, so we pulled the harness and sensors, checking everything individually. After putting it all back together, we fired it up and got the same problem all over again. We chased the problem all day long with no resolution. Ultimately, we had to have Magneti Marelli swap the ECS and reboot the software and engine management strategies, Saturday morning. That solved everything, but it slowed us up in qualifying, as we weren’t able to focus on setup during the practice sessions and as a result, Michael Laverty qualified in P22, not nearly as good as we would have preferred.
Come race day, MotoGP Warm-Up didn’t go all that well, we improved a few hundredths, but fell back a spot in the qualifications, but we had high hopes for he race. Come the race, launch control failed to engage and Michael Laverty fell back to last place at T1. I didn’t see the 1st 2 laps, as I was busy converting ML2 to wet mode, but Michael struggled in the field. “I didn’t have rear grip like the other guys,” Laverty said in his debriefing after the race and in lap 16, he ended up in the gravel.

“Having a dig today resulted in digging a few sand castles; and a bruise or maybe 2”

“Having a dig today resulted in digging a few sand castles; and a bruise or maybe 2”

the bike was pretty messed up. It had taken a hard hit on the left side and got airborne; we lost the radiator, left side controls & levers, wheel & rotor. Victor and I will have a lot of work to do when we get to Silverstone! The weekend should have been good, but the little things slipped us up in the end. Stay tuned for my Silverstone report!

Paul Bird Motorsports Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix Wrap Up

The Paul Bird Motorsports team arrived at Indianapolis Grand Prix with a ton of work to do, right off the bat. Both Michael Laverty and teammate Broc Parkes had crashed at the previous round at the Eni Motorrad German Grand Prix at Sachsenring, so in addition to the standard routine of setting up the pit box, both sides of the garage had bikes to rebuild. Fortunately, this was a fly-in race and by now, the team has the setup routine down to a science. We broke for lunch Wednesday and since we were making good time, instead of eating at the track, we decided to go out for lunch. This may sound strange, but Phil, Michael Laverty’s crew chief, LOVES McDonalds; he’s borderline obsessed with it, in fact and goes every chance he gets, which in Europe and the UK, isn’t as often as in the US. Well outside the track was a Firehouse Subs franchise and I convinced the team to go there, instead. If you don’t know about the shop, the original Firehouse Subs was started by a couple of firefighters in Jacksonville, FL, my home town. We went in & I started talking to the owner about being from Jacksonville; they took a shine to our team and brought us lunch every day that we were in Indy!

My partner, Victor Morgado Perez, got everything set up Thursday morning and quickly went to work repairing the damage from Michael’s tumble in the gravel at Sachsenring. Lady luck was on our side and we were able to strip clean and rebuild ML1, Laverty’s main bike, with ample time to catch dinner in Indianapolis before retiring to our hotel at a reasonable hour.

Rebuilding ML1 in the Paul Bird Motorsports Pitbox at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rebuilding ML1 & ML2 with Victor Morgado Perez in the Paul Bird Motorsports Pitbox at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Photo by Tony Brown

10527554_10203957790852769_4093245721844759319_n

Not quite burning the midnight oil- we finished setting up the Paul Bird Motorsports Pitbox and prepping the bikes at a reasonable hour. Photo by Tony Brown

Friday morning, we got down to business with FP1; Michael went out and reeled off a 1:38.399, a little under 4 seconds below Valentino Rossi’s p1 1 pace, which was good for P21 for the session. FP2 delivered better results: Michael finished 2 places up on the charts at 19th and dropped a nearly 3 seconds, with a 1:35.472, but less than 3 seconds off of session leader Marc Marquez’s times.  A cool track with a threat of drizzle on Saturday morning saw Michael Laverty drop back to P23- last place for FP3. We made a few adjustments to the chassis and electronics strategy for FP4 and eked out a 1:35.353, our best time yet, but only good for P22, ahead of Colin Edwards on the NGM Forward Racing Yamaha production racer. We made a few more adjustments over lunch prior to qualifying and Michael Laverty managed to get 3-4 good flying laps before coming in for fresh rubber. Michael pulled up to the pitbox and jumped off the bike; Victor went to loosen the rear axle and disaster struck: the axle nut just spinned, completely stripped. As a result, Michael had to finish Qp2 on ML2, a bike that’s motor was a bit down on power and was not quite optimized for the days’s conditions. At the end of the session, Michael Laverty managed a best laptime of 1:34.814, which demonstrated consistent consistent improvement throughout MotoGP Free Practice and Qualifying, but was ultimately only good for 23rd, last place on the grid. It can be really frustrating at times: we’re working with a skeleton crew and a shoestring budget, with an underdeveloped chassis and a motor that’s significantly down on power, not only to the full factory efforts, but the factory production bikes, too. I’m not making excuses, but Michael has more talent that our results show at first glance, but we’re literally the little team that can and the fact that Michael has routinely bested the factory production bikes demonstrates that we’re able to perform above the capabilities of both machine and our limited budget!

Saturday night, we got a little bit of R&R: Victor Morgado Perez and I headed to the Indianapolis State Fair and the legendary Indy Mile. To get to the dirt track from the gates, we had to pass through the fair grounds and i got a chance to show Victor a big slice of Americana as we wandered the livestock shows in the fair’s Sheep exhibition hall. After that, and a few obligatory livestock photos, I gave Victor his first taste of Funnel Cake and we made our way to the grandstands for the Indy Mile. Now, I’d worked with PJ Jacobsen on a number of short-track dirt track races, but that didn’t prepare me for the spectacle of the mile. There’s nothing quite like seeing these men and women backing their bikes with no brakes into T1 at +120 mph, dirt flying as their bikes squirm and slide sideways on the gas on a narrow ribbon of blue-stained clay. Nothing. Like. it. Ever. I think Michael Laverty put it best: “Been to watch the Indy mile tonight, them boys (&girls) ain’t scared!” Victor and I were joined by my old racing buddies and good friends David Loikits and his wife, Beth Neuer and Tomer Levy, who owns AdrenalineCityRacing.com and makes the Hang-Dry suit dryer that Michael Laverty has been using this season. We managed to chat between heats, and i’m proud to announce that I’m now a dealer for the Adrenaline City Racing and will be servicing Benelux and the MotoGP paddock with the Hang Dry suit dryers. This is a great opportunity- there’s nothing quite like it in Europe (or anywhere else,) in terms of quality and effectiveness.
Sunday morning broke and we made our way back to Indianapolis for the big event. The forecast showed a chance of rain, but we kept our fingers crossed in hoeps that it would hold off.  We made further improvement in the morning MotpGP Warmup, dropping another 2 hundredths of a second, besting  teammate Broc Parkes. Starting the MotoGP race from 23rd on the grid isn’t exactly what we’d hoped for, but when the green flag dropped, Michael Laverty got his best start of the season, going into turn one in 18th place! Michael held his own throughout the attrition-filled race and finished 14th- IN THE POINTS!!! It was great to finally earn points in my “home race,” we’d worked our butts off and it was a well-earned reward.

Below: David and Beth’s pictures from the Red Bull indianapolis Grand Prix:

Sunday night, we treated ourselves to a little more R&R to celebrate our hard earned points and went to the Red Bull afterparty in downtown Indy. My good friends David Loikits & Beth Neuer we able to join and we were fortunate enough to rub elbows and hang out with one of my all-time heroes, “Mr Daytona,” Scott Russell. The next morning, I had to check out at 8 and catch a flight back across the pond. During my layover in Philadelphia, I happened to run into Christian Helmig, a pro mountain bike & road cycling racer from near where I live in Luxembourg. Chris was on his way home from finishing 13th at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup races at Windham Mountain Resort in New York & had formerly raced for Ben Spies’ Elbowz Elite Cycling Team. As a cyclist myself, i really look up to Chris and it was really great to connect with another pro racer who was competing at the world championship level. From Philly, I flew to Frankfurt, where i ran into a group of about 30 Iron Man competitors in the Flughafen. From there, it was off to Prague, then Brno and the Czech Grand Prix- stay tuned for my next update!

How l Spent My MotoGP Summer Break

The MotoGP season is pretty hectic and a whole lot longer than most national series, with 19 races from March through November. For me, living in Luxembourg, every race is an international one, which means long drives, lines in airports and multiple flights, visas & going through customs, all before we’re able to pack in 5 days of the most intense work imaginable. Luckily, we have an entire month off in the middle of it all and I was glad to come home to Florida with Gracie & Michele and spend some time catching up with my mom, dad and good friends.

Of course, coming home to mom, dad & the golf course means rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty- just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do. Fortunately, working with Big E is usually pretty fun. Our first order of business was to install air-ride suspension on my truck to increase the load capacity:

Then we got to actively test our installation, building a bridge on the golf course. The truck & I carried 2 3500-pound loads of concrete for the footings:

Next, I removed and replaced a new swing in my parents back yard with my Dad & brother, Ryan:

But, you know what they say, “all work and no play, makes William a dull boy…”

We also got to have a lot of family time at the pool, but dear lord, I’ve got a wicked MotoGP tan!:

Family time! Michele, Gracie & me at the pool.

Family time! Michele, Gracie & me at the pool. 

I also got to spend a bit of moto-time with Gracie- this summer, she upgraded from her Yamaha PW50 to a TT50, and handed her old bike to her cousin. They had a great time riding together and I might have had even more fun watching them.

It’s now the first week of August and summer break is over; l’m back to work with Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia. We’ve got a ton of work to do in Indy before bikes even roll on the MacAdam, fixing all of the crash damage to Michael Laverty’s bike after the German Grand Prix. it’s lucky that l love my my job. Scratch that, i’m lucky! Stay tuned for Indy updates!