Category: NMC News, Race Results, SCMiniGP, United States
Jason Aguilar has struggled with his 94 Honda RS85 on the short tracks since his last victory at Grange Motor Circuit. After 2 full practice days at Adams Motorsports Park, Jason was still going 2 seconds per lap slower than his personal best. While Jason was struggling, the other kids were improving. New riders to Pro GP this year; Ben Truslow, Andrew Zabzdyr, and Michael Gilbert, were all improving rapidly and running faster practice times than Jason. After the first practice session on race day, we decided to make a radical gearing change. We knew Jason would be sacrificing some acceleration, but hoped the lower ratio would allow greater corner speed around some of corners where he was struggling. Jason’s lap times improved by over half a second. That was still not enough to match the leaders.
Adams Motorsports Park is a very difficult track to make passes. There are very few passing opportunities. Usually, the key to winning at Adams is to lead into the first corner. Jason knew that a great start would be necessary to get on the podium.
In the first Heat Race, Pro GP, Jason was gridded on the 2nd row. The rider next to him jumped the start, but the flagman waited for that rider to backup and then threw the flag. Jason looked over at the rider who was backing up his bike and missed the flagman waving the green flag. Quickly realizing his mistake, Jason still got an excellent launch and was in 2nd place behind Aaron Villasenor coming out of the first corner with Ben Truslow right behind in 3rd Place. Ben tried several moves to get past Jason, but had to settle for 3rd place. In the Pro Extreme Heat Race, Jason was again starting from the 2nd row. Although he got a good start, so did all the front row riders. Jason was unable to advance his position and finished 4th behind Andrew Zabzdyr, Aaron Villasenor, and Ben Truslow.
In the Heat races, Jason’s lap times improved by over half a second, but the front end was starting to chatter. Jason got on the phone with Josh Bartnik of JB Suspension and described the problem. Josh recommended we add a click of compression to the front forks.
In the Pro GP Final, Jason got his best start of the day and grabbed the lead going into the first turn. As he came out of the first turn and realized he had the lead, he thought to himself, “I’ve got this one!” With Ben Truslow right behind in 2nd, and Aaron Villasenor right behind Ben in 3rd, the lead group broke away. Jason thought Aaron was right behind him. Remembering the last Adam’s race when Jason left door open going into the Little Monza Turn and let Aaron run up the inside costing him the win, Jason rode a very defensive line this time. Jason left no passing opportunities running a flawless race. Jason crossed the finish line and pumped his fists in celebration of a win that was totally unexpected at the start of the day. Aaron Villasenor tried several passing attempts on Ben Truslow, but Ben stayed solid finishing in 2nd Place for his best ever Pro GP finish.
The last race of the day was the Pro Extreme Final. Jason was set to start in 4th behind the top 3 riders from the Heat Race. But Jason got a lucky break when Andrew Zabzdyr, who won the Heat race, had to start from the back when his bike broke. When a rider changes bikes, he loses his starting position and has to start from the back. This gave Jason a better chance at being in the top 3 at the start. Since there was only 1 pass among the top 3 finishers in the Heat races and Pro GP final, Jason knew he had to get a good start again. Jason got another good start, and was able to but a wheel inside of Ben Truslow in a battle for 2nd, Ben closed a door and Jason had to settle for 3rd. Jason ran with the leaders for the first 2 laps and then Aaron started to pull a small gap on Ben and Jason. On the 3rd lap, Jason’s bike popped out of gear in the high speed Sweeper Turn. The unintended downshift caused Jason to lose contact with the lead group. Rattled by mechanical mishap, Jason’s lap times slowed and he settled for 3rd Place. 2 podium finishes were fantastic results and secured his 2nd Place standings in the Pro GP and Pro Extreme Championships.
Thanks to all of Jason’s Sponsors and a Special Thank You to Josh Bartnik of JB Suspension. Josh has been working with Jason since he started riding Pro GP last year. Josh has an uncanny ability to translate Jason’s explanation of his bike’s handling issues into specific actionable solutions. And most of the time this is done over a phone call. I don’t know how many times we have asked Josh for help. But I do know that 100% of the time, his instructions have resulted in improved lap times. We started using Josh because he was a referral from Eric DeHaven (Austin DeHaven’s dad) and he was trained in servicing the WP Forks on Jason’s bike. Now, Josh is the “go to” guy for suspension issues for most of the SCminiGP Pro GP racers. I know that the word “amazing” is often overused these days, but Josh has a AMAZING ability to understand what a rider is experiencing and turning that information into changes that help the rider go faster.