First day practice at Infineon
4th May 2012
The day started out well with all teams sailing through technical Inspections and last minute changes to set up were performed. Teams went out for practice at 6pm and were looking good and strong but on lap 4 we had the seasons first high side...
Starting from the top end of the paddock, we have the 4 Zero S machines piloted by Kenyon Kluge (for K Squared Racing), Jason Lauritzen (Ritz Racing) Jennifer Lauritzen (Ritz Racing) and Martin Szwarc (Martin Szwarc racing). They all put in impressive performances, with the bikes running almost as they should with a few minor over heating problems. Although experienced racers, this is the first time in the electric saddle for two (Jennifer and Martin) and the next few days should see improvements in how they handle the bikes. All the bikes were on a standard suspension for the session, which they hope to fine tune over the weekend.
Richard Hatfields Lightning Motorcycle team took central position with their two beautifully crafted machines sticking to their trademark livery bright yellow. Michael Barnes couldn't be more excited to get on the track but sadly after completing only 1 lap, the drive chain jumped and caused the rear wheel to lock up. Thankfully Michael stayed on the bike, but was understandably frustrated. Tim Hunt who had previously raced for Lightning at Miller in 2011 where he took 2nd place, had a good practice session, this being his debut at Infineon. He is definitely one to watch for tomorrows qualifier, as he looked very fast past the start/finish straight. The team have been working hard over winter and have reduced the bikes weight considerably as well as improved handling. They are in a fighting mode, hoping to win back the series title which they won in 2010.
Last up in the paddock is Icon Brammo racing team, headed up by Brian Wismann looking good in its new fairings; racing under the number one this season; as the current TTXGP North American champion Steve Atlas looked confident. Going into the free practice session when pushed for a quote the Brammo Team leader said, "we are all really excited today, first race of the season; we hope to break last years track record." They certainly looked great with steve pushing the bike from the moment he got to the track, although the session was untimed, by the third lap we heard unofficially that he was indeed lapping faster than last year. All looked good until lap four when steve highsided heavily coming out of turn 7, spreading debris across the track and temporarily red flagging the session. Although Steve was able to walk away from the crash, he has sustained injuries to his hand and has been taken to the hospital. More information will be made available as we get it.
Two teams that fell victim to the all too common curse of not being ready for the first race of the season, were Virginia Tech Bolt and BE.EV.com Amsoil racing. Disappointment was felt in both camps this week and both teams withdrew citing technical issues. Prototype technology is very challenging and when pushing the boundaries at this level unforeseen challenges occur. However, race fans should note that you will be seeing both teams on track later this season.
Photos by Alex Tang and Phil Hawkins (ishootfromthehip.com)
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