With a two-month break since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, the racers in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series have been chomping at the bit to get back on the track for Round Two of the 2011 championship at Infineon Raceway. The story of the weekend was clearly RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing’s Chris Fillmore, who missed the top spot at Daytona by a mere .016 of a second, was determined to not to let another one get away. He was quickest from the first practice session, won the pole position in qualifying, and topped it off with the race victory by a margin of 3.586 seconds.
Set in the beautiful wine country of Sonoma County just north of San Francisco, Infineon Raceway is the first true road racing circuit for the championship this season, and one of the most technical. And with the threat of rain looming at the start of the weekend, last minute adjustments were made to the schedule that would bump the XR1200 race from Sunday afternoon to Saturday, and would move Saturday morning’s first practice session to Friday afternoon. With many of the riders only riding the XR1200 class, many of them had not even planned to arrive at Infineon until Friday evening. This was the case for Chris Fillmore who was out riding motocross when he got a call from Richie Morris. “I got a call from Richie Thursday night where he told me they were talking about bumping up the schedule; it set the panic mode. I was out riding motocross and I ended up coming right back home and packing up and leaving at 4AM in the morning just to make it here in time for practice. It was a little stressful, but we made it to the track.”
Fifteen other entries also made it to the grid for the Infineon round, including two first time riders on the XR1200. Sport Rider magazine journalist, Bradley Adams, who has documented the preparation of his XR1200 on sportrider.com with a series of features made his debut at Infineon, and flat track sensation Slammin’ Sammy Halbert also took to the tarmac for his first ever road race on board the XR1200.
Once on the track for the first practice session Friday afternoon, Fillmore was quick, setting a best lap of 1:49.553 to pace the session, followed by Steve Rapp and Sonoma county native Tyler O’Hara. Click here to read an interview with Tyler as he prepared for the Infineon race.
In qualifying Saturday morning, Fillmore took nearly two seconds of his Friday time to secure the pole position for the race with a fast lap of 1:47.775. Rounding out the top five were Drag Specialties rider Michael Barnes, Parts Unlimited rider Steve Rapp, Fillmore’s RMR teammate and Daytona race winner Kyle Wyman, and J&P Cycles rider Michael Beck. Daytona winner Kyle Wyman was happy with his 4th place qualifying position which was a full 4 seconds faster than his first timed session a day earlier. Kyle noted that the Infineon track was really challenging and took him a little while to figure out his braking points, however, the talented young Wyman was a quick study, securing a front row grid position.
In the race, Fillmore and Barnes jumped out in front swapping the lead back and forth in the opening laps. Then on the sixth lap, Gerry Signorelli high-sided his Kuryakyn/Bob Fier Racing XR on the exit of turn 11, which would bring out the red flag, to remove his stricken bike from the racetrack. The Kuryakyn team tried their best to make the restart, but there simply wasn’t enough time, leaving Signorelli watching the rest of the race from the pit wall.
On the restart, it was Michael Barnes getting the holeshot even though Steve Rapp was adjudged a five-second penalty for jumping the start dropping him to tenth on the timing sheets. Unfazed, Rapp put the hammer down, clicking consistent laps in the 1:47’s to move up the charts all the way to third place. Rapp commented, “With these bikes there is no slipper clutch and it seems like if you go in too hard the bike gets really upset and starts moving around and actually might slow you down a little bit, so it makes it really hard to make up time. If you ride too aggressive it makes things worse and on tracks like this that makes it really hard to pass”.
A little further back was Wyman, who was engaged in a tight battle with O’Hara who has countless more laps on this technical circuit. It was clear Wyman was having a tough time getting around O’Hara, and with 4 laps to go ran the big XR1200 in too deep and tucked the front, ending his day. Wyman said, “By the end of qualifying, I was starting to feel pretty good on the track and was getting my braking points all sorted out. I was actually ecstactic with my 4th place qualifier considering I have never been to this track before. When it came time to the race I was really getting frustrated out there. I couldn’t see my braking points with the other riders in front of me. I was behind O’hara who was taking really different lines which made things even worse for me. I got really antsy and pushed it in too deep and lost the front. It was simply a racing mistake.” Undaunted, Wyman will regroup and come out fighting at Miller Motorsports Park in two weeks where he just previously turned the fastest lap of the seven XR1200 riders that participated in the Miller test.
Meanwhile, Fillmore kept his head down, turning consistent laps, including the fast lap of the race to cross the line 3.586 seconds ahead of second place finisher Michael Barnes. After the race Fillmore commented “It’s pretty fun here, I like this track, it almost reminds me of the old days riding Super Moto, there is a track out in Wisconsin, Shawano, it’s kind of similar, rolling hills up and down and blind corners, so it kind of feels like home.”
Having produced some great racing for the fans at Infineon, the XR1200 Series moves on next to Miller Motorsports Park in Toole, Utah, May 28-30 for Round Three of the 2011 season, where the XR class will be running in conjunction with the US Round of the FIM World Superbike Championship. Keep up with all the latest on the XR1200 Series at vanceandhines.com/XR1200series.html and facebook.com/vanceandhines.
2011 Infineon Race Result:
1. Chris Fillmore (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing), 11 laps
2. Michael Barnes (Drag Specialties), -3.586 seconds
3. Steve Rapp (Parts Unlimited), -7.323 (includes 5-second penalty)
4. Tyler O’Hara (GPBikeParts.com), -8.549
5. Michael Beck (J&P Cycles), -8.713
6. Michael Corbino (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing), -9.141
7. Chase McFarland (Latus Motors Racing), -10.430
8. Bradley Adams (Sport Rider Magazine), -23.977
9. Joe Kopp (Latus Motors Racing), -36.594
10. Josh Chisum (Troy Lee Designs), -38.889
11. Michael Morgan (Python Exhaust), -39.915
12. Paul James (James Gang/Hoban Brothers/H-D of Appleton), -53.481
13. Sammy Halbert (HOG Racing), -76.405
14. Kyle Wyman (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing), – 4 laps, crash
15. Gerry Signorelli (Kuryakyn), -6 laps crash
XR1200 Series Points Standings
1. Chris Fillmore, 57
2. Steve Rapp, 40
3. Kyle Wyman, 38
4. Joe Kopp, 33
5. Michael Beck, 29
6. Chase McFarland, 29
7. Michael Corbino, 27
8. Michael Barnes, 25
9. Tyler O’Hara, 18
9. Paul James, 18ff