Thanks to Chicken Hawk for mentioning us in Today's Cycle Coverage. Article shown here.
"Congratulations Eddie! Eddie Kraft won the 2015 WERA North Central A (1000cc) Superstock Championship – the first of his career, as this is the first year Eddie moved into the 1000cc class. Riding the Honda East Toledo Yamaha R1, Kraft was able to finish the season with 6 wins and 17 podium finishes, far surpassing his original goal of "getting comfortable on the new Yamaha R1 and putting in some respectable lap times."
Thanks guys. While 6 wins wasn't really the goal, I certainly appreciate the press.
Below is an email I sent to a buddy of mine, Chris Broome after the GNF. He works overseas and couldn't make it this year – as we've been there together the past three years. In any event, it details the weekend well enough, where I figured I'd use it here as well. Cheers.
So, the weekend kinda went sideways. My dad had T-Man setup to help us for the GNF. He was also bringing a guy Paul, who does data. Nice guy, sharp. Can read the squiggly lines and had some ideas on improving the deceleration map to improve corner entry. Cool. T-Man (Mike) had tested at Barber a couple weeks prior with Garrick Schniedermann (on a new R1) and Luie Z. They had some good data. Garrick had done 29's at an STT weekend. Cool.
I came into the weekend with 32's on old tires cruising around, feeling decent enough. Mike suggested we try these chassis changes that worked for Garrick. Raise the bike. Okay. So we put fork extenders on, raised the front 20mm or so, and added a longer shock clevis to get +6mm on ride height from where we were. The idea being the COG would be raised and the bike would be easier to turn. I hadn't run anything like this all season. We were going off our known setup for the most part, which had worked great. These now were drastic changes.
Initially, this seemed to work well. Bike flicked nicely from side to side, but as time wore on, I felt like the bike was going to slide out from under me. Didn't feel aggressive on it. But it turned. We swapped rear spring rates 2-3 times. We swapped front spring rates 2-3 times. We changed clickers. I was stuck at 32's all day of practice Thursday and through Friday morning. No races on Friday given the schedule, being we were on a 1000, so no race to get up to race pace either. That didn't help to push things along.
To make matters worse, the new ECU map from Paul was causing the bike to not pull past 11k after a couple laps. This happened during two sessions on Thursday's practice, cutting sessions short. That and a couple red flags meant limited track time. I agreed it didn't make sense these changes caused the issue, but we reverted back to the original map and the problem went away. Coincidentally, a random ECU error code was coming up, but that had been coming up during the STT weekend and the bike ran great, no issues. Paul helped us sort that issue out, which was good.
By this point, it was Saturday morning and practice was no better. I was getting dejected. Mike was out watching and could see I wasn't being aggressive. We put new tires on for the first race and were going to see how things went. If not good, we'd start heading back to the setup we had originally.
First race, Ethridge, Babuksa, Luie and some other guy (#460) in that order. I was close behind 3rd/4th and finished 5th. Dropped to a 1.31.2, finally. Mike came back and said I was riding much better. Said I was riding like 10th-15th'ish in practice, but upped it in the race. New tires? Maybe. Race pace? Maybe. Did mid-30's on the GSXR last year, so that was in the back of my mind. 25 bikes or so were in this race.
In between races, Mike, dad, Doug and I talked about the bike. I couldn't pinpoint why I wasn't comfortable. I was still off pace and Luie and I talked after the first race and could tell I was having trouble getting the bike turned. With Mike, we talked more. We had an epiphany that the pivot point on the rear of the bike was too tall and causing the bike to not finish the corner. I couldn't describe it in words, which is why we had tried all these spring changes. Mike was able to explain it to a T (no pun intended). So we lowered the bike back (part way to where we typically ran it) and would try that in the next race.
Next race, terrible start. 7th/8th into T1. Clutch issues all weekend. Pass a few on the first lap and settle into 4th place into the second lap. Again, Billy, Frankie and now Max Flinders (MotoAmerica kid on an R1). I kept him in sight and closed up. Would gain on him in spots, he'd gain in others. He'd kill me out of Charlotte's web. Bike felt better though. Clicked off a couple high 1:30's. Progress.
On the last lap, I was five bike lengths back of Max on the last right before the front straight. I wasn't going to catch him with one turn remaining. As I went past the curbing/apex, I was a little off the normal line. I hit the sealer strip when I accelerated and the rear came around in a hurry and tossed me up out of the seat. The bike was trying to highside, so my first instinct was to twist the throttle. I did that, while off the bike. The bike straightened out, but with me off to the right side of the bike, I couldn't hold on and fell off, sliding on the ground, watching her ride off on her own. I'm spinning on the ground in circles on my butt watching, as she ghost rides around the gravel trap and glances off the guardrail, falling over. She hit at maybe a 20-25 degree angle from what I could see. Ugh.
I was still on the track. I get up. Luie comes by, along with everyone else. I get a ride with the bike, back to the pits. Everyone on the pit wall was like, "What happened? We saw the bike rolling with no rider!" It was funny and sad at the same time. It could have been worse I suppose. Good news was the times improved. Bad news is I wasn't dicing for the win. Steve Palella thought water was seeping up, as it can at Barber. Problem was no one else had any issues. I think it was just hitting the sealer and being off line a bit.
The bike didn't look bad at first glance. Ram air duct was in pieces, Sharkskinz took the hit like a champ. Although looking deeper, the triples and exhaust took a good hit. We'd miss the 3rd race, as there was only a one race gap between them. Majorly bummed, as we had just started actually making progress. Best lap on the 750 was a 1:30.4 and this was a 1:30.8. And we had just started going back in the direction for chassis setup I had been using. Billy and Frankie were in the high 1:29's, but stuck there – and I had closed up to within a second. With a tow, I'd have been right there.
We got pizza at the track that night, while we worked on the bike. Took the front end apart, but something was still bent. Riding the bike in the pits Sunday morning, the bike would run straight, but the triples were noticeably twisted/turned to the right. I went out in the morning practice session and it didn't feel right. I could have circulated, but I wanted to run up front. So that was the weekend.
Lesson to be learned? Stick with what you know, I'd say. We tried a magic bullet and it bit us. It worked for Garrick, just not for me – at least not without more time to get it sorted. Mike and Paul were great, but to make large changes during the GNF – I should have known better. We needed a test weekend to work on that stuff, and there weren't enough laps for me to figure that out quicker.
The wrist was problematic but I could ride around it. It's gotten worse and I'll likely need a fourth surgery at some point. From the dirt bike incident the weekend before where I messed up my knee, I didn't get an MRI on it until after the GNF, which showed a fractured tibia and a several ligament tears. It certainly wasn't ideal to be riding and not a great way to finish the season. You'd at least think we'd be getting paid to ride, but we love the sport right? That's the run down for the most part.
The last two rounds have provided tough challenges. On a strong pace at Grattan initially – to then have oil, sealer, a crash and rain throw things off there. Then to Pitt Race, where we just struggled overall to go fast. The two main areas of the track which are most important to turn a fast lap are where I struggled most – and coincidentally where the most bumps are on the track.
The data has shown several silver linings. At both tracks, our ideal splits had us under the lap record. That was encouraging. And perhaps the biggest thing was finding out the traction control was a culprit in the struggles at Pitt Race. The lean angle with the combination of harsh bumps was triggering the traction control and slide control – causing more problems than solutions, upsetting the bike even worse. I had been running a mid-level setting of traction control, mainly just because it felt "okay". It had seemed to work and admittedly, my experience 1) on a 1000 and 2) with traction control/slide control has been new this year. Lesson learned, the TC/SCS will be dialed down if not turned off next time at Pitt Race.
After a couple frustrating weekends, the silver linings and continual learning help keep things in perspective. That's all I've got and it's the best way to move forward. For me anyway.
Friday, September 11th, 2015
Dad and I arrived to Wampum, PA Friday night. Fortunately, ...
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
From a press release issued by Honda East of Toledo: September 8, 2015 – Maumee, OH – Honda East ...
Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
I had grand plans for the upcoming races at Grattan Raceway. However, the track was pretty green Friday morning. Rain and vintage cars the ...
Friday, July 3rd, 2015
This one will be brief. Saturday's races were wet. Extremely wet. Water out-lasting the track drainage systems in ...
Friday, June 26th, 2015
Road Atlanta was next up on the schedule. Dad and I made the drive down Wednesday night, arriving Thursday afternoon for Friday practice. We ...
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PR in Today’s Cycle Coverage
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Eddie Kraft 1000 Superstock Champion in First Year Aboard 1000
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