Alton, VA Ė September 25, 2011
Although satellite images looked clear and the forecast predicted blue sky, another heavily clouded day greeted fans at VIR Sunday as riders prepared to settle a few 2011 regional championships. Several of the Michelin PRO Series riders were also thinking beyond this round to the Daytona finale just three weeks away.
Rain having fouled qualifying on Saturday, the Michelin PRO Superstock lineup found fast riders mingled throughout the starting grid. The track was dry with temperatures in the high 70ís at race time.
Reese Wacker was on the front row for Sportbike and took advantage immediately by grabbing the holeshot on his Suzuki. Entering turn three Wacker had a three length lead over Kawasaki-equipped riders Jeff Lampe and Felipe MacLean. Moments later Tim Bemisderfer used his Vesrah Suzuki to slice inside of MacLean and Lampe into second place.
By lap two Bemisderfer caught Wacker starting their brief dual for the lead which Wacker would relinquish a lap later. By the end of lap three the order was Bemisderfer from BMW rider Sean Dwyer from Wacker and Lampe. Eric Helmbach was fifth on his BMW as they crossed the stripe. Suzuki rider Lloyd Bayley was sixth. Local favorite and frequent champion Scott Carpenter lay seventh.
On lap six Bayley made his move on Helmbach for fifth place as Bemisderfer remained ahead of Dwyer and Wacker at the front. The order would remain much unchanged as Tim Bemisderfer took the win by a margin of four tenths of a second from Dwyer. Reese Wacker was eight seconds back in third rounding out the podium.
In the Amateur Superstock Tony Leongís Suzuki led early, but on lap two Jeremy Cook snatched the top spot with his BMW 1000. Austin Burkett was third on a Honda. Cook would maintain his pace and the order would hold to the checkered flag with Cook taking the win. These three fellows are now locked in the tightest points contest for a Michelin championship going into the final round.
Thunderbike promised a battle as Brian Kcraget and Robert Buroker were both on the grid. Kcragetís Suzuki SV650 started from the front row with Ducati 748 mounted Buroker on row two. Veteran rider Russell Masecar aboard another SV650 got the holeshot followed by Kcraget, Douglass Fogg and Joe Cotterino.
By the end of lap one it was all Kcraget as he led from Buroker, Masecar and Fogg. Kcraget and Buroker turned similar lap times throughout the race. Buroker closed the gap a little on lap three. Kcraget responded with his best lap of the race, a 1:34.385 on lap four to maintain his lead. By race end Kcraget had managed a comfortable 4.9 second lead from Buroker with Masecar 15 seconds in arrears completing the podium for Michelin PRO Thunderbike. Jared McCoig piloted his Ducati 749 to the amateur Thunderbike victory.
Mark Miller was looking for a win on the Del Mar Yamaha R6 in Michelin PRO Sportbike, and he would have his hands full as P.J. Jacobsen was on hand with another R6. Past champion Jim Cohrs, although present did not grid. Miller started from front row, Jacobsen from row three between Joel Spaldingís Ducati 848 and Jim Fotinopoulos' R6.
Miller took advantage of his grid position and got the holeshot leading down into turn one, but by turn three Jacobsen was directly behind Miller. By the time the field passed the flag stand it was Jacobsen from Miller with about a one second gap. Justin Holderman who also got a nice start from row 2 on his Yamaha was one second behind Miller. Matt Brown and Fotinopoulos were fourth and fifth respectively.
Miller ran consistent 1:31ís. Jacobsen ran consistent 1:30ís for the duration of the event with a best time on the last lap of 1:29.809 pulling out a 13-second victory over Miller. Holderman was 14 seconds in arrears of Miller rounding out the podium.
Tony Leong took the amateur Sportbike win on his GSXR 600 with Pulak Datt second on a Honda and James McCoig third on a Ducati 749.
After this penultimate Michelin PRO Series round some scores have been settled. Joel Spalding wrapped up the Sportbike championship on his Ducati 848 with an insurmountable lead of 63 points as teams head for the final round.
The Amateur Sportbike title is still up for grabs between riders Tony Leong and Darrin Klemens. Klemens has a 34-point lead. So expect Leong to be gunning for him at Daytona.
Ray Hofman has clenched the 2011 Michelin PRO Thunderbike title with 159 points to his credit. David Hanig will be the 2011 Amateur Thunderbike class champion with 93 points so far on the season and no one close enough to give him a challenge. Second place in the class however is a dead heat at 80 points between Joey Thomas and Douglass Fogg.
Michelin PRO Superstock remains the class to watch as Tim Bemisderfer, who has barely put a foot wrong all season, goes to Daytona with Joel Spalding down by eight points. Spalding will need everything he can muster and a little luck to pull off this championship with Bemisderfer in the driverís seat as we head toward Round 8.
Amateur Superstock also promises another showdown in a three-way points battle that has Jeremy Cook with a three-point lead over Austin Burkett who leads Tony Leong by just six points. No doubt there will be a lot of pressure on these three riders as they prepare to dual it out in the final sprint of the season.