With only a few days to go before the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series descends onto the challenging road course of Infineon Raceway, there has been a lot of chatter around V&H headquarters about who is going to do well. Will Daytona winner Kyle Wyman make it two in a row? Will Kyles teammate, Super Moto star, Chris Fillmore, who photo-finished second place at Daytona take it? What about dirt tracker’s Joe Kopp and Sammy Halbert? Will the veterans Michael Barnes and Steve Rapp who have both done countless laps on the Infineon circuit run away with it? Or could there be a surprise winner? One of the exciting aspects of the XR1200 spec class is the uncertainty involved for both the spectators and the racers. One rider in particular that stands out as a possible dark horse is local rider Tyler O’hara. We checked in with Tyler recently to get his thoughts on the upcoming Infineon race.
With this being your first year racing the XR 1200 how much experience did you have going into Daytona on an XR1200?
I bought my Harley just two weeks before Daytona, and I didn’t even finish putting on the kit until we got to the track. I was able to do some “illegal” testing on the bike in stock trim on some country roads around my town. I would say I put about 25 miles total on the bike before I raced it.
Once you got to Daytona how did things go for you?
Once we arrived at the high banks of Daytona, we had many issues to deal with right from the start. Our Thursday morning practice was canceled due to rain. After Thursday’s practice was rained out, they moved our practice to Friday morning, and made it into qualifying. It wasn’t a big deal besides the fact that I practically had no time on the bike and had never been to Daytona. On my first session out on the track I made it about half a lap, and then my bike started sputtering and backfiring, and quickly started to lose power. I limped it back into the pits and then began trying to figure out what the problem was. We borrowed a code reader from the Vance & Hines team, and sure enough it threw 5 different codes. We tried a different CDI box, spark plugs, and checked all of our connections etc., and the bike still would not even hold an idle. After I missed all of my qualifying, and worked on the bike all day and night, I didn’t even think I was going to race.
Once it was time to race you made it to the starting grid, but were you really ready to race?
On the day of the race I was determined to figure the bike out and go racing. About 10 minutes before the race began, I found a bad ground wire hidden behind the blinker switch on my handle bars. With no time even to put tire warmers on I headed out on the track for the start of the race. After some pleading and begging the AMA officials let me start last on the grid. The start of the race was good, I was happy just to be on the track. After making it around a total of four laps, a corner worker was jumping up and down flagging me in. I knew instantly that something was wrong, I pulled off of the track and discovered that the bike was leaking oil. Go figure lol..
In the short amount of track time you had, did you ever feel like you were able to push yourself on the XR1200?
I pushed myself to what I felt was the ragged edge, and even scared myself a few times just trying to get around the track. I had all the (x) model stock suspension on the bike and thought it would work a little, I was wrong. I don’t think they were rated for the Daytona banks.
What’s your thoughts about the next stop in the series coming up at Infineon Raceway?
Infineon is my home track. I’m feeling much more confident with the bike, and have done some testing on the Harley at the track. The racing is going to be great and very tight, and I am looking forward to running up front.
Local knowledge of the Infineon track, especially in a spec class, could be a real advantage. How much of advantage do you think you will have?
With the class structure and the restrictive rules, I feel that my lines are going to help me carry more momentum in some sections. Also, because it is my home track, I get to sleep in my own bed, have all of my friends and family come support me, and I have testing experience with the Harley there.
How often do you get track time at Infineon and have you ridden your XR1200 there yet?
I have done a lot of testing at Infineon over the last few years, and yes I have ridden my xr1200 at the track a few times.
With this being a spec class and your experience at Infineon, how do you think your chances compare with someone like Steve Rapp or Michael Barnes who have raced at the top level for many years?
“I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.”