Six weeks ago I had no idea that
we would be going to Daytona. Angelica had posted a message on the
MOTO-ST forum letting everyone know that we would be interested
in competing in the GST class if we could find a financial partner.
Tim Hall of MMG motorsports gave us a call and we worked out an
agreement that was feasible for all of us. What followed next was
5 weeks of working 40 hour work weeks during the day and then additional
20 hour work nights until about 1:00 am to get the bike ready for
Daytona. Because of the time constraint we decided that the best
engine configuration to go with would be an XB9. We used our small
port/ small valve cylinder-head, a Wiseco piston that we machined
a custom dome for, and our JET XB1 camshafts. Pretty much everything
else in the motor was stock. When we dyno’d the motor it produced
just the power that we were looking for. With only 5 weeks of prep
time and a small budget we had to make some compromises and we were
not able to make an engine that was completely optimized for a HP
We arrived at the track Wednesday to pre-register for the Team Hammer
track day. I was amazed to see John Ulrich registering people. It
was neat to see someone of his stature getting his hands dirty at
the track so to speak. I was also amazed to see the CCS close the
registration window with people still standing in line (not the
best way to win people over to your series).
When we showed up Thursday for the track day Team Hammer was very
on time. This is a very good thing. I was running the lightweight
practice which was the first session of the day so I was able to
be the very first person on the track which was very cool.
The infield at Daytona is awesome!! Turn one all the way onto the
banking is just amazing. 180 degree turns, decreasing radius corners,
and the double apex left; all things that add up to a very cool
The BANKING IS INSANE. When I first came out of the back straight
chicane and saw the banking I was trying to figure out “ how
am I suppose to ride on that???” When I got the hang of it
after the 1st session it was amazing. I think the trick is to run
right up to the outside wall (as you exit the back straight chicane)
and stay up as high as you can until you get to NASCAR turn 4 and
then bring it down to the apron. As the track flattens out, run
the bike back up to the wall then drive back down the banking as
you cross the start finish line. This approach worked the best with
our bike. It seemed to keep the rpm’s as close to redline
Our engine was configured for the GST class in the MOTO-ST race.
We ran that engine throughout
the entire weekend. The only thing we did was add gas and change
the fluids at the end of each day. The motor never missed a beat.
We ran it on the dyno when we got home and it even made more power
than when we left. Reliability was not an issue.
I entered the GTL race on Friday to get a feel for the track under
racing conditions and to see how we would stack up against some
of our competition. I knew going into the race we would be under
powered. I was up against some very fast 1200 XB’s and BMW’s.
You really don’t have a shot of winning at Daytona when you
are 20hp down to your competition, but I was not expecting to win
I was only trying to see where would be the best places to over
For the GTL race I was grided 27th of 28. When the starter just
barley moved his arm I launched the bike. I got a great jump off
the line only to notice the guy in front of me must have thought
that the green flag meant “park.” I let off the gas
and fully released the clutch (don’t do that) this caused
the bike to wheelie big time. When I got it back on the ground and
pointed in the right direction I was still charging hard. I was
able to move up about two rows only to find out that I did not have
any breaking markers for turn 1. (at Daytona you have to start from
pit lane and it is hard to see turn 1 with 15 bikes in front of
you). I ended up running off into the grass and having to turn around.
When I got back on the track I was in last place. I was able to
work my way up 15 spots to 13th by the end of the race. I drafted
past a Ducati 1000ss at the line which was fun.
For the MOTO-ST race I was the lead rider on the bike. We had a
pretty uneventful race. The bike worked perfectly and I believe
that we finished as well as we could have based on how the bike
was set up: engine configuration, chassis weight, and aerodynamics.
We learned a lot at Daytona, and we can apply those lessons to the
next time we run there and hopefully come home with a victory.
Put some high-temp RTV on the exhaust studs after the head pipes
are installed. The RTV will work like a Nyloc nut and help keep
the flange bolts from coming loose.
-Robert M Johnson #802