The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class took to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit for the first time today in preparation for the upcoming Red Bull Indy GP, August 27-28. Using the 2.621-mile, 16-turn "MotoGP" track layout, AMA Pro Road Racing
hosted two open practice sessions for the series' newest division.
Local rider Gene Burcham (pictured at bottom) was the first man out at 9:21 a.m., living out one of his longtime dreams in turning the first laps of the Harley-Davidson class' debut at the famed "Brickyard."
"It's very important for me from the standpoint that I grew up here in Indianapolis," said a beaming Burcham after the morning session. "Being around Indianapolis where you have auto racing all the time ... my whole life I've always raced motorcycles, and not being able to participate in any events here made it tough. I wanted to go out first; I kept asking the officials, 'How much longer?' The history here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- you walk into this place and you're just in awe."
Eighteen specially prepared Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson
XR1200 motorcycles circulated in the afternoon session, and it was championship-points-leader Chris Fillmore (Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing GEICO) who ended up fastest overall with a time of 1:59.577. Fillmore -- who also topped the morning session -- was the only rider to break into the 59s.
"It was kind of limited this afternoon," said Fillmore. "We went out to try to diagnose a problem with the bike -- just a funky noise I'm hearing that I don't want to hear. I don't think I did more then ten laps in the second session, but I'm nursing a sore shoulder so it was kind of good that we didn't do so many laps. I really want to tie up this championship, and if we can get a win or two here, we'll be solid for New Jersey."
Other notables included 2010 AMA Pro SuperSport Top Gun Champion Tyler O'Hara, second-fastest in the morning session, followed by Northern Ireland's Jeremy McWilliams, the 2010 British XR1200 champion. McWilliams, who's back for his second appearance in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class following his triumphant win at last year's season finale in Alabama, said, "It's been a steep learning curve again, trying to work out all the intricacies of the XR1200, but I think we're somewhere in the ballpark. It's not ideal -- we can see that Fillmore has got the hammer down and we've got a big gap to bridge -- but we're using the same tire and motorcycle and we shouldn't be that far away. At the end of the day we kind of lost our way a little; not a disastrous day, but you know what [we racers] are like -- we can always be better!"
Teammates Steve Rapp and Michael Barnes also posted top-five times in both sessions and were enthusiastic about the new venue. "It's cool," said Rapp. "I've never been here before, but the track is really cool. We had a good day. We're working on getting more traction like everybody else ... it's going to change when we come back for the race, but we're doing the best we can for now."
In the only incident of the day, Kyle Wyman experienced a mechanical problem during the second session that necessitated a stoppage to recover his RMR Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing XR1200. "The day was going pretty good," said Kyle. "We were trying a whole bunch of different stuff ... but in one of the sessions I had an issue with the bike going into some sort of neutral between gears, and the motor quit. We'll put in a fresh motor for tomorrow, and hopefully it will be better. The track is a nice little challenge and I think the layout caters to an American style of racing."
Testing will continue tomorrow with another pair of sessions, during which 2011 Daytona 200 winner and XR1200 rookie Jason DiSalvo
will get his first look at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he contended the Moto2 event at last year's Red Bull Indy GP, finishing ninth in the international field.
For complete Timing & Scoring reports and Cortech AMA Pro Live Timing, please visit www.amaproracing.com
. For Red Bull Indy GP tickets and information, visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com
or call (800) 822-INDY.