Main Photo by Bobby Nguyen
Inserted Photo by VHS Photography Vicky Sulpy
Merck Wins Four National Championships at the GNF
WERA’s 41st Annual Grand National Finals were hosted at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL this past weekend as the culmination of the WERA National Challenge series on Sunday as well as the winner-take-all Grand National Finals for the Sportsman series on Friday and Saturday.
Teams were greeted with chilly temperatures for Thursday morning’s practice session. Cold conditions in the first sessions did not provide optimal conditions for any last minute adjustments, and Merck’s GSXR 600 and GSXR 750 were deemed ready for battle.
Friday brought cold temperatures again, with two races in the afternoon for Jimmy – B Superstock Expert and B Superbike. After practice in the morning and some adjustments, it was game on for the winner-take-all races. First up was B Superstock – after a great launch, it was a two rider battle, with Merck lapping in the 1:31’s and came up four seconds short at the flag for a second-place finish.
B Superbike was up next. After another great start, Jimmy was on the gas. With laps as low as a 1:30.3, Merck came up with the win at the finish with only .3 seconds separating the top three. Merck’s results for the Sportsman series were good enough to win the Mid-Central Regional B Superstock Expert Championship!
Saturday, competitors were again greeted with chilly temperatures and frosty conditions. With some final adjustments to Merck’s GSXR 600, it was showtime. Up first was C Superstock, and after a not so great start, Merck battled but came up short with a second place finish. Next was C Superbike, and with another great launch and some great battles, Jimmy came up a few seconds short for another second place finish.
Sunday’s weather was gorgeous, and the track was perfect for the points culminating WERA National Challenge Series. The pressure was on as Jimmy had to win or take second in all of these races, and needed other things to happen in order for him to take home the number one plates.
Up first was 600 Superstock, a 12 lap feature race. With 23 riders lined up for the start and lap times dropping, Merck was well poised for battle. A great launch saw Merck quickly in the lead, and after some battles, Merck checked out to an over seven second lead at the flag with lap times in the low 1:30’s, securing the 600 Superstock National Championship!
Next was 750 Superstock, where Merck needed a first or second place finish to secure the championship. Consistent launches and lap times had Merck well poised to accomplish the goal, and the 750 was on rails. After more hard-fought battles, Jimmy set his best time so far for the weekend at a 1:29.3 and finished on the box in second, securing his second National Championship for the weekend!
600 Superbike was up next, and lap times kept dropping. Jimmy rocked the start, put his head down, and never looked back setting again his best lap time of the weekend on his GSXR 6000 (1:29.7), winning the 600 Superbike National Championship!
750 Superbike, Merck’s last race of the day, was one of the better battles of the weekend. Jimmy blasted off the line, again head down, and on the gas. With a win needed to secure the championship, the pressure was on. Merck’s consistency paid off, running 1:29’s, and it was Merck at the line by .127 for the win and his fourth National Championship! The fastest lap of the weekend on any motorcycle was a high 1:28!
Merck started off the year with the goal of winning four National titles. 52 race entries with 50 podiums earned Merck an impressive four National titles and one Regional title. None of this would have been possible without his father, and Jimmy would like to publicly thank him for his hard work and dedication this year.
Jimmy would also like to personally thank his sponsor Dan Covington of Truck System Technologies (TST) who offer top of the line tire pressure monitoring systems. Jimmy would additionally like to thank John McGarity for his outstanding trackside support throughout the year. “Without Brian Livengood’s expert tuning skills, I couldn’t have put these bikes on the box consistently – stay tuned for next year!” exclaimed Jimmy. And the folks at Dunlop – Tony, Mick, Cory, Paul, Shane, Steve, Sterling – thank you for your support! Jimmy would further like to thank Traxxion Dynamics – Max McCalister and Martin Musil for their hard work keeping him on rails!
Jimmy is proud to work with Mark with Vesrah, Vesrah Brakes, Nielsens Enterprises, Dunlop and Race Tire Services, Graves Exhaust, Livengood, Traxxion Dynamics, Penske, Maxima Oils, Shoei Helmets, Pilot Leathers, Chris with MPH, DID Chains, Bazzaz, Spiegler Brake Lines, Vortex Sprockets, Pit Bull, Cycle Gear, CayloR-Made Motorsports (Opie Caylor and Dave Krier), his father Jimmy SR, and girlfriend Bobby.