With 2016 in the books, our 2017 race season is looking to be a huge step in the right direction for both the race team and our company. Having the ability to continuously update and improve our products and knowledge base will provide our staff, riders, and customers with the knowledge they need when it comes to upgrading and maintaining their motorcycles. Our goal is simple. Whether it’s the street or the track, we’ve got your back.
The beginning of a new riding season is always filled with nervousness, excitement, anxiety, and adrenaline, as we prepare to dust off the bikes, put fresh fluids through the systems, and line up at the grid after a dull winter. With the TST race team growing from just one rider on our factory 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, to three riders total, the post winter jitters are at an all time high for the crew here at TST. We have the pleasure of welcoming two local riders to the TST race team, Gabe Wingard, sporting his white plated #175 Yamaha YZF-R6, and Alex Ferreira, rocking his white plated #642 Yamaha YZF-R3. We will get more in depth with the riders and their machines at a later time so be sure to stay tuned!
The first big race of 2017 happened right here in our backyard at Daytona International Speedway, allowing us the first real assessment of the R&D and testing all three race machines have gone through during the off season. On top of racing our own TST decorated bikes, we also decided to lend a helping hand to a new found friend from the other side of the world. Rider Shane Richardson and his mechanic Seth Devereux traveled all the way from New Zealand to race in the annual Daytona 200 with one major setback, no bike and no pit crew. They travelled all the way to the US with a wallet, a few tools, and a dream of racing and finishing one of the most prestigious races in the motorcycle world. Luckily the kiwi team was able to secure a bike and a crew consisting of TST team members and friends. The only thing left to do was build a machine that can compete, which Seth was able to sort out. With move in day Thursday and the first “hot track” taking place for our team on Friday, the riders were all looking forward to a successful weekend. Even with the New Zealand team building a bike at the track, everyone felt great.
Friday started off with all riders having a chance to get 2 practice sessions in before any races took place. The first TST rider to experience a full race was Bart in the Unlimited SuperSport class, piloting the TST R1. Bart got off to a great start, and after battling with another rider for a large part of the race, he ended up taking 5th overall.
Next up was Gabe on the R6. He did well in the Middleweight SuperSport class, earning himself a 12th place finish. Unfortunately, he ran into some mechanical issues during his following two races. Gabe was forced to retire after one lap of the Heavyweight SuperSport race due to a misfiring issue.
In between Gabe’s two Friday races, Alex Ferreira found himself in the limelight. In his first outing on our TST race spec Yamaha R3, Alex managed to secure a podium spot, earning a 2nd place finish! As if that weren’t enough, he then hopped on the R3 for the CCS Moto 3 race. Alex raced phenomenally in what would be his last race for the day. He managed to get on the podium yet again, but this time, in the top spot! I think it’s safe to say after an eventful Friday, all of our racers were ready to call it a day. Time to pack up and do it all over again tomorrow!
Saturday started like any other track day. Rolling into the track and getting a fresh look at our machines, getting them set up, suiting up, and preparing for the first practices. Bart was able to get 1 round of practice on a cold and damp track before his first race in the GTO Expert class. The race started strong, but after battling with fellow rider William Gawler for a few laps, Bart found himself tumbling end over end after his front tire abruptly lost traction in the “dogleg” section of the track. Let me tell you, crashing at over 100 mph does wonders for your bike if you’re looking to shave some weight. The track crew at Daytona brought our roughed up R1 into the garage for damage assessment and we quickly learned that a broken ECU would hinder our repair efforts. Frantically running around the pits, our team went from garage to garage to try and purchase or borrow another ECU for the remaining races. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful and were forced to call it a weekend. Complete bummer for #129. The only other TST back rider with a race that day was Adam Wingard who managed a 2nd place finish in the GTU Amateur Class. If there was anything we learned about Adam this race weekend it was that this man is on a mission and performs well beyond amateur plate status. We’re really excited to continue to support Adam in his racing endeavors for 2017.
It was now time to continue assisting our friends from New Zealand in making sure their Kawasaki ZX6R would be ready for the 200 later that day. You can read more about that race and their Daytona adventure in our upcoming article “A Cinderella Story That Could Have Been,” but for now we will say that with everything against them, including only 1 practice session of about 20 minutes, Shane’s performance was nothing short of amazing. Building a fully competitive race bike on the other side of the world in just 5 days with the help of only ONE of your crew members is no ordinary feat. Mr. Richardson managed to get to the front of the pack and secure a 7th overall position before retiring for the day with a gearbox issue on the 42nd lap. He would rank 46th overall and has already begun thinking of how to improve for next year.
With #129 out for the weekend, Alex and Gabe were left to put their race machines through the gauntlet and hopefully earn a top spot. Gabe suited up and headed out for his first practice, unfortunately running into a little bit of a snag. The rider in front of him went down and cracked an engine case, spilling fluids on track. Being just a few bike lengths behind the incident with no red flag in sight, Gabe’s front tire inadvertently made contact with the oil. This caused Gabe and rider Frankie Babuska to go down in the back straight, sending both bikes to the garages. Luckily both riders were able to walk away uninjured for the most part, but I’m sure they felt some pain for the days to come. It would all fall on Alex Ferreira to perform for the TST Race Team the remainder of the day.
In qualifying for the ASRA Moto 3 race, Alex earned himself a pole position and was looking forward to a fun time and some close competition. Unfortunately, on the 2nd lap of the race, the rider in front of Alex went down causing Alex to run wide and dump the bike in the grass. He fought to start the bike for some time before getting her fired up and hauling down the track again. Running 6 seconds faster than the second fastest times this race, he managed to regain most of the lost positions, earning himself a 3rd place podium spot. To describe his performance after going down as impressive would be a huge understatement. During his second race of the day, our R3 rider found himself on the podium yet again, earning a 2nd place in the Lightweight GP/ 500 SuperBike Class. We are proud of Alex for his performance on our factory R3, especially given that he was riding against bigger displacement bikes. We will continue to improve the bike throughout the season to enable him to continue this trend.
If this weekend taught us anything, it’s how well we perform under pressure with the right pieces in play. Our team is growing and the bond that is forming between the riders and their machines is really impressive. We would like to thank all of our supporters, sponsors, partner companies, and even fellow racers in pushing us to perform at the highest levels and continuing to push the limits. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel, like our Facebook, and Instagram pages, and check in on our website to stay up to date on the newest racing and product news from us.
This is Mark signing off from the TST HQ, ride safe everyone!
The TST Race Team would like to thank its sponsors and our partners: Dalcorp Racing, Motolister, Simetria, Womet-Tech Racing, TechSpec USA, Gilles Tooling, and Psi Hubik for everything they have done and continue to do for us. We’d also like to send a huge thank you to the Richardson Race Team for allowing us to be a part of your Daytona adventure. We can’t wait to see you guys next year!