Race Recapmhanlon

Coming Back From The Crash - LRRS Round 2

Race Recapmhanlon

lrrs_logo On YouTube there is a video of Tiger Wood’s worst shots.  In each one he mis-hits the ball at the tee. In each one the crowd gasps in disbelief as Tiger watches his ball swerve the wrong way or dribble along the grass.  But although the mistake might cost him pride or money and perhaps dent his self-belief, every time he stands, fit and healthy, ready to try again.

For motorcycle racers the story can be quite different.  A mistake, either their own or someone else’s can have much more serious consequences.  Eric Block races a KTM 450 supermoto at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the Loudon Road Race Series.  He had a strong season in 2011 winning lots of races and several Expert championships.  Then, at the very beginning of 2012, he had a big crash.  Instructing at the Penguin school he went down hard in the circuit’s notorious turn 3 during Friday practice, just before the first race event of the year.  The crash left him unconscious with a badly broken tibia and fibia.  He woke up in hospital screaming in pain as the doctors set his broken leg. It was two weeks before he could get surgery and it was two months before he got back to work.

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But racing is a powerful drug. Eric still showed up at every race weekend to show his support to his fellow riders and towards the end of the season he rode some practice sessions. A year after the crash he came back but the 2013 season was “emotionally and mentally exhausting because you think you’re going to come back and drop a ’19 and you’re slow”. It helped that he continued to enjoy the support of ALA Racing, Manchester Honda KTM, Michelin, Motorex and a garage full of supportive fellow racers including Andrea Fregonese and Jason Cavanaugh.

Eric describes his relationship with racing as “love / hate”.  He loves the competition but confesses he could throw up at any time before a race because of nerves.  And while he admits he put his wife through a lot he’s still at Loudon racing for the win every weekend. Asked what motivated him to go past the pain and push hard again he responds, “I love being here. I still believe I can win”.

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Adam Clark had his first Expert class wins at LRRS Round 1, winning the SuperSingles and Ultralight Superbike races in the rain.  But the weekend went sour on Sunday. The Motard race started in the dry with the field on slicks.  Halfway round lap one the rain started. AMA Pro Supermoto rider Shane Narbonne was the most cautious, unsurprisingly less willing to take a risk in a local event.  Trevor Chiappisi, Adam Clark and Jason Cavaugh kept pushing. At turn 11 rain, asphalt and slick tires combined to produce the inevitable.  Chiappisi went straight down. Clark had no time to respond and fell too, breaking his shoulder on impact and tearing his rotator cuff has he tried to hang on to his Honda.  Cavanaugh straight-lined turn 11 but kept his bike upright.  The red flags came out giving the field a chance to switch to rain tyres.  Clark lay in the back of his trailer with ice on his shoulder hoping he could still ride. He couldn’t. Chiappisi thought he’d broken his hand (luckily he hadn’t) but managed to ride and went on to win the Motard race and the later Lightweight Sportsman event.

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Round 2 arrived just three weeks later. Heavy rain on the Friday night and Saturday morning cleared for two days of racing in the spring sunshine. Incredibly, despite the broken scapula, soft tissue damage and less than three weeks recovery time, Clark rode during Friday practice, even teaching students at the Penguin Racing School and lined up on pole position for the SuperSingles race on Saturday afternoon.  It was a big race for Clark - he’d yet to win an Expert race in the dry – and he made it difficult for himself dropping down to 4th after the first corner.  Despite his injuries giving him some pain through turns 6 and 9 where he needed his left arm to pull the bike into the corner he quickly worked his way past Chris Priore before running down and passing Eric Block and Jason Cavanaugh.  At the checkered flag he was comfortably in front and made it two consecutive wins. Modest as ever, he was a credit to his sponsors ALA Racing, Rosa Flamingos, Quint Boisvert Racing Inc, Dunlop, Moto D Tire Warmers and Decal Works.  By his trailer later he said, “I really wanted a dry win.  I knew I could do it if I put my head down and didn’t let the shoulder get in the way.  On Friday I was concerned when I was on slicks and it started to rain. But not during the race. It’s a pride thing. It’s about how much you want it and I wanted it bad”.

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Ultralight Superbike (where the Super Moto bikes run against 125GP, Honda Hawks and some other oddball machines) was a different story.  Rick Breen jumped on his CRF450, led from the start and was never headed. Some distance behind Clark brought his CRF450 home in second ahead of John Linn’s Honda Hawk. Clark remains on top of the championship standings.

Sunday was a repeat of Round 1 with Trevor Chiappisi winning both the Motard and Lightweight Sportsman races and retaining the lead in both championships. Clark, nursing his sore shoulder, skipped practice to rest his injuries but still managed second place in the Motard race.

Motorcycle racers pay a much bigger price for a mistake than golfers. The casual bystander might think racers are crazy to return to the track after an injury or race on with broken bones. But Eric Block and Adam Clark aren’t crazy. They have the same calm intensity. For them, coming back from injury is a test of courage and determination and there’s an unshakable belief that they will improve, go faster and get to the front.  There’s no trick to it.  It’s about wanting something so much you’ll overcome anything. Eric Block should have the last word – “racing is all about who wants it most, it’s all in your head”.

SuperSingles (Round 2):

  1. Adam Clark
  2. Jason Cavanaugh
  3. Eric Block

SuperSingles (Classification)

  1. Adam Clark, 72pts
  2. Eric Block, 56pts

Jason Cavanaugh, 56pts

 

Ultralight Superbike (Round 2)

  1. Rick Breen
  2. Adam Clark
  3. John Linn

Ultralight Superbike (Classification)

  1. Adam Clark, 66pts
  2. John Linn, 56pts
  3. Eric Block, 47pts

Motard (Round 2)

  1. Trevor Chiappisi
  2. Adam Clark
  3. Jason Cavanaugh

Motard (Classification)

  1. Trevor Chiappisi, 72pts
  2. Jerry Randall, 53pts
  3. Jason Cavanaugh, 52pts

Lightweight Sportsman (Round 2)

  1. Trevor Chiappisi
  2. Jason Cavanaugh
  3. Jake Vader

Lightweight Sportsman (Classification)

  1. Trevor Chiappisi, 72pts
  2. Jason Cavanaugh, 60pts
  3. Jake Vader, 49pts