We had an absolutely great weekend at Thunderhill during the 6th round of the AFM series. There was great racing, awesome commentating, and awesome friends hanging out.
We left for the track on Friday night and arrived around 9pm to a humid and warm paddock. Saturday morning the weather was nice, already in the 70s but with a nice breeze. The schedule was practice sessions until 2ish and then 7 races. Most of those were make-up races from previous events, where the weather had not cooperated. Anthony was placed in group 4 for practice, the sole 125GP rider amongst the rest of the 250GP riders (and other 600s and 650s). Practice went well and incident free. Before the last practice session we replaced Anthony’s tires with a new set of Dunlops. He’d been practicing on the current set for 3 days and they were pretty worn out.
After practices, he was entered into one race, Clubman lightweight. All novices need to enter that race to “qualify” for Sunday races. Since Anthony is a novice in the AFM (don’t ask me why), he was entered. Anthony was gridded 35th, or on the last row. Anthony’s starts have improved greatly. Not very long ago, one of our good friends and sponsor said, “Anthony’s starts were the worst I’ve ever seen” (and believe me, he was was being complimentary… Anthony’s starts used to be HORRIBLE).
As the checker flag was waved Anthony slipped through traffic with no incidents and by T5 of the first lap he was already with the leading group. We had told Anthony to be “VERY CAREFUL”. In the AFM, if you’re a novice and you crash, you are DONE for the weekend. He took his time and by the second lap he was leading the Clubman race. He was able to hold the lead in the Clubman race to take his first victory with the AFM. We were fortunate to be able to celebrate his first victory with our friends Jim and Dru.
As always, I tore the bike down and made sure it was good to go for Sunday. I replaced the top-end, as the piston he’d been using had over 300 miles and was ready to be replaced.
Sunday we expected another good friend, Budman, to come and hang out. In morning practice Anthony broke-in the piston and followed the normal procedure as we got ready for “our” main race of the weekend, the Formula 2 race. The formula 2 race allows 250cc GP bikes and under. This race was split into 2 waves, Open 650s was the first wave and Formula 2 was the second wave. Of the 2 waves Anthony was gridded 41st, in the 11th row. I had told Anthony that it was important to get around the 250s as SOON AS POSSIBLE because once they caught up to the Open 650 traffic it would be more difficult to pass. As the second wave got underway, Anthony got another great start and made his way to third place by T3. By the end of the first lap he was leading the 250GP class and beginning to close down on the tail-end of the Open 650 class. As expected, when the 250GP leaders caught the 650 riders, passing became more difficult and it had been a good idea to be leading it. Anthony finished the race with his fastest-ever lap, and taking his second victory of the weekend.
Our last race of the weekend was the Formula 3 class. The Formula 3 class allows 125cc bikes and under. Anthony was gridded 4th and was in the first wave. The second wave was 650s and the third was 250 ninjas. Due to the closing speeds between the 125s and the ninjas, I told Anthony to be EXTRA careful passing them. As the checkered flag waved, Anthony got a great start and took the lead going into T1. Anthony had a good pace and by the second lap he was beginning to lap the ninjas. He took it easy during passing and made sure to be careful as he took his third and final victory of the weekend.
To top everything off, the commentator of the races (our very own, Alan Cunningham) did a great job during the races and we had Budman, Jim, Dru and Juri (his fiance) to celebrate with us.
This is our last race of the season with the AFM. The next two races conflict with the WERA West schedule, a schedule to which we had originally fully-committed.
In two weeks we drive down to Fontana. Two weeks after that we drive to Las Vegas for the final round of the WERA West series, at which point the championships for 125GP and Formula 2 will be decided.