Since 2011, the Tuning Fork Company has made two days at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca available for owners of any year Yamaha sportbike at a discounted rate of just $100 per day. For those with a 2012 model or newer, it doesn’t cost a dime to experience the world famous Corkscrew. Usually a day at Laguna Seca will set you back $300 to $350, so that is quite a nice bonus for owning a YZF-R1, YZF-R6 or even an FZ-09.
(Above) The 3rd Annual Yamaha Customer Appreciation Ride Day sold out in less than 30 minutes. (Below) Riders can rent a garage for a little extra cash at the Annual Yamaha Customer Appreciation Ride Day.
Hosted by Zoom Zoom Track Days, the two-day event is a unique chance to hit the track with only Yamaha fans and owners, and I was lucky enough to get an invite for the second year running. Just as in last year’s 2012 Yamaha Laguna Seca Ride Day article, we were setup in a paddock garage with a bevy of Yamaha staffers that included Motorcycle Media Relations Manager Tim Olson and Regional Marketing Manager Jesse Henderson. Both are hardcore motocross dudes who are quickly becoming trackday junkies. Between the three of us we had a pair of crossplane-crank YZF-R1 beauties and the MotoUSA long term 2013 YZF-R6.
Before the fun could begin each morning the Zoom Zoom staff went through the requisite rider meeting that included a safety briefing and track rules. Right after, names were drawn for a pile of goodies from Yamaha that included a grand prize consisting of a Yamaha EF2000i Generator and Graves Racing tire warmers. The perks of owning a Yamaha got even better for a handful of lucky riders.
It was an impressive sight to see so many Yamahas on the track and in the pits throughout the two days of riding. The most common machines were R1s and R6s, but there were a few unique rides on hand as well. Several TZ250s were out there turning some impressive laps, and a trio of vintage TZ750s drew a crowd on the front straight every session. One guy was even flogging a 2013 Super Tenere in one of the medium paced groups.
A huge advantage of the annual Yamaha Customer Appreciation Track Day is the fact that the sound limit is a sonic 105db. Just to illustrate how rare that is for Laguna Seca, the decibels are usually held to a whisper quiet 94db. The limit is strictly enforced by a watchdog on the uphill straight out of Turn 5, and even with a stock exhaust it’s recommended to roll off slightly or short shift to stay under 94 decibels. Not this weekend however, the sweet song of GYTR exhausts was allowed to belt out sonorous music without the fear of a black flag.
During the two days with all of our new Yamaha friends, we put over 300 miles on our long-term R6 and burned through two sets of Bridgestone Battleax R10 Race Tires. The track conditions couldn’t have been more perfect with mild temperatures throughout the day and nothing but sunshine. We don’t know how much Team Blue shelled out to bribe Mother Nature for two perfect days, but it couldn’t have been cheap.
Personally, I came to find a new respect for the 2013 YZF-R6. I surpassed my personal best at Mazda Raceway (set last year on an R1) by not just a few, but over five seconds. Not any easy feat as the straights and uphill sections favor the extra grunt from a literbike. The light and nimble feel allowed me to push my limits on entry, and the tractable power let me get on the gas sooner than I thought was possible before. It was just one of those days where you find speed and skills you never thought you would or could find.
Not only was the 3rd Annual Yamaha Customer Appreciation Track Day a great event for a very lucky group of Yamaha riders, but it was also the best experience I’ve had on a track to date. While going beyond my personal best was a highlight, the experience of hanging out with true Yamaha enthusiasts far outshone the actual time on the track. It was all smiles, all weekend – one of the best value-added features of a new Yamaha Sportbike.