JD Beach COTA And Road Atlanta Race Reports

Hayden Gillim, my training partner/roommate, came by after the Supersport race at Road Atlanta to congratulate me.

With Austin and Atlanta being back to back, we were gone for almost two weeks. Just like the race weekends, our house got a lot of rain and the land was like a jungle with how tall the grass got. So getting caught up with that and everything else took a little time. Tax day was in the middle of the trip, as well. I had to lay low so the I.R.S didn’t find me. Ha, ha.

Starting with Austin: Wow, what a weekend! By now, I’m sure most of you know I won the opening Supersport race of the year. Not only was it my first win in five years, it was my first win in this class, first win of the new MotoAmerica series, and our first ever race at COTA. It was an amazing feeling. I’ve been working so hard for so many years and kept coming up a little short. I have so many great people supporting me and backing me for so many years it was nice to finally get the monkey off my back and get that first win.

I had a little extra motivation going into the weekend. A couple weeks before, we got news that Dane Westby had passed away from a streetbike crash. He was an awesome racer and a great guy. Honestly, when I heard he was racing the Superstock 1000 class, I was excited to hear that. Not just because I thought he was gonna ride the crap out of the bike but he was going to be one less person for me to worry about.

After hearing the news, I knew there was one thing I had to do: win Austin for the Westby family. I have lost someone very close to me on a motorcycle and I know what that feeling is like. I have also traveled to races my whole life with family, like Dane and Tryg did, so I wanted to be able to dedicate that win to the family. What better way for that to happen than in a rain race? Dane was a great rain rider, so I think I had a little help from up above.

The race was so cool. It was just much fun. The best way I could compare it is racing the mile at Springfield; you’re going so fast but time seems still. You’ve got great grip but one mistake and it’s gone, and that one mistake will cost you the race. We got a great start and settled into a good pace. I kind of worked myself backward, dropping back to sixth for a few laps. No one could break away, and we were all running about the same pace.

As the race got further in, people started making mistakes and either crashing or going wide. With five laps to go, I knew I needed to start making my way forward. Then, with about a lap and a half to go, I was in the lead. Then Josh Herrin crashed. After I crossed the white flag, my pit­ board said, “+ .0 Bobby Fong crashed.” The last lap I had a 5.5-second lead and I didn’t know. I pushed until I saw the checkered flag. When I looked back going across the line and I was leading, I was just hit with all kinds of emotions.

Here, I head out of pit lane at Circuit of The Americas on my Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha YZF-R6.

I enjoyed the feeling, but it didn’t stay long. With Road Atlanta that next weekend, I was already thinking about that. That was another fun weekend, double podium with two thirds. The whole weekend was a bit of a struggle. We were off pace up until the first race, but when it comes race time, I seem to be able to ride a little harder. Going 1.5 seconds faster in the race to keep with Garrett and Josh made the bike hard to ride. Chris Lessing had the suspension great, but once we picked up that much pace, it didn’t work as well.

Race one was in the dry and a close battle between Garrett, Josh, and me. Then race two was a wet one. Garrett got the hole shot and was gone; he was on a mission. He pulled a gap to second quick. Meanwhile, I was in fourth. I had to make a pass on Tomas Puerta then run down Herrin. Both Josh and I each had parts of the track we were faster on, so I kept yo-yoing with him. With it being wet, I brought it home with a solid third and more points. I can’t win them all this year, but the races I can’t win I want to get as many points as possible.

One difference this year is Hayden Gillim and I are running the same class. He moved up after winning the championship last year. He’s riding an MV Agusta, and he and the team are still learning a lot about the bike. Even though he hasn’t gotten the finishes yet that I know he can get, it’s great to have my training partner on track with me.

The next road race for us is at Virginia International Raceway in Virginia. It’s been since 2010 that I have raced there. I’m looking forward to getting back there; it was a really fun track. Until then, I’ll be doing what I always do: riding my bicycle and dirt-track bike, and playing with my dogs.

Hayden Gillim, my training partner/roommate, came by after the Supersport race at Road Atlanta to congratulate me.

With Austin and Atlanta being back to back, we were gone for almost two weeks. Just like the race weekends, our house got a lot of rain and the land was like a jungle with how tall the grass got. So getting caught up with that and everything else took a little time. Tax day was in the middle of the trip, as well. I had to lay low so the I.R.S didn’t find me. Ha, ha.

Starting with Austin: Wow, what a weekend! By now, I’m sure most of you know I won the opening Supersport race of the year. Not only was it my first win in five years, it was my first win in this class, first win of the new MotoAmerica series, and our first ever race at COTA. It was an amazing feeling. I’ve been working so hard for so many years and kept coming up a little short. I have so many great people supporting me and backing me for so many years it was nice to finally get the monkey off my back and get that first win.

I had a little extra motivation going into the weekend. A couple weeks before, we got news that Dane Westby had passed away from a streetbike crash. He was an awesome racer and a great guy. Honestly, when I heard he was racing the Superstock 1000 class, I was excited to hear that. Not just because I thought he was gonna ride the crap out of the bike but he was going to be one less person for me to worry about.

After hearing the news, I knew there was one thing I had to do: win Austin for the Westby family. I have lost someone very close to me on a motorcycle and I know what that feeling is like. I have also traveled to races my whole life with family, like Dane and Tryg did, so I wanted to be able to dedicate that win to the family. What better way for that to happen than in a rain race? Dane was a great rain rider, so I think I had a little help from up above.

The race was so cool. It was just much fun. The best way I could compare it is racing the mile at Springfield; you’re going so fast but time seems still. You’ve got great grip but one mistake and it’s gone, and that one mistake will cost you the race. We got a great start and settled into a good pace. I kind of worked myself backward, dropping back to sixth for a few laps. No one could break away, and we were all running about the same pace.

As the race got further in, people started making mistakes and either crashing or going wide. With five laps to go, I knew I needed to start making my way forward. Then, with about a lap and a half to go, I was in the lead. Then Josh Herrin crashed. After I crossed the white flag, my pit­ board said, “+ .0 Bobby Fong crashed.” The last lap I had a 5.5-second lead and I didn’t know. I pushed until I saw the checkered flag. When I looked back going across the line and I was leading, I was just hit with all kinds of emotions.

Here, I head out of pit lane at Circuit of The Americas on my Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha YZF-R6.

I enjoyed the feeling, but it didn’t stay long. With Road Atlanta that next weekend, I was already thinking about that. That was another fun weekend, double podium with two thirds. The whole weekend was a bit of a struggle. We were off pace up until the first race, but when it comes race time, I seem to be able to ride a little harder. Going 1.5 seconds faster in the race to keep with Garrett and Josh made the bike hard to ride. Chris Lessing had the suspension great, but once we picked up that much pace, it didn’t work as well.

Race one was in the dry and a close battle between Garrett, Josh, and me. Then race two was a wet one. Garrett got the hole shot and was gone; he was on a mission. He pulled a gap to second quick. Meanwhile, I was in fourth. I had to make a pass on Tomas Puerta then run down Herrin. Both Josh and I each had parts of the track we were faster on, so I kept yo-yoing with him. With it being wet, I brought it home with a solid third and more points. I can’t win them all this year, but the races I can’t win I want to get as many points as possible.

One difference this year is Hayden Gillim and I are running the same class. He moved up after winning the championship last year. He’s riding an MV Agusta, and he and the team are still learning a lot about the bike. Even though he hasn’t gotten the finishes yet that I know he can get, it’s great to have my training partner on track with me.

The next road race for us is at Virginia International Raceway in Virginia. It’s been since 2010 that I have raced there. I’m looking forward to getting back there; it was a really fun track. Until then, I’ll be doing what I always do: riding my bicycle and dirt-track bike, and playing with my dogs.

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