Difficult weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park for Altus Motorsports MotoAmerica team.
(Millville, NJ) – The Altus team rolled into the compressed format two-day event at New Jersey Motorsports Park on a real high. The previous round had been the best of the season, and everything pointed to that trend continuing: The weather looked like it was going to be good; the bikes were all running well, and all of the Altus riders had experience with and genuinely like the NJMP course. However, very little of Round 9 of the MotoAmerica Championship went to plan.
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
In the last round, Kevin Olmedo snagged his first win, and he showed up at New Jersey aiming to get to the top step again. At the end of the first practice, he topped the timing chart, and a win looked possible. He qualified second, meaning he would start Race One from the middle of the front row.
Unfortunately, the long run to turn one from the starting line is often a hindrance to riders up front. Kevin got a great launch but was quickly swallowed up by the group behind him. In the foray into the first corner, Olmedo was hit from the inside. The impact was hard enough to bend his brake lever guard. He held his line and managed only to get pushed back to fourth. For the entire race, Kevin was part of a five bike breakaway fight for the win. On the final lap, he used his superior corner speed to make an outside pass for second in an attempt to take first before the line. Unfortunately, it put him on a dirty part of the track and led to a massive high side.
Bruised but not broken, Kevin gridded up on Sunday hoping for redemption. Having set the fastest time in the first race, he started from Pole. He spent most of the race battling with three other bikes for the second step on the podium. After leading the penultimate lap, the draft on the front straight put him in 5th into the first corner with a lot of ground to make up. He worked his way through the group and barely missed out on second place at the line. Olmedo heads into the final round in second place in the Championship.
At the Pittsburgh round, Miles Thornton’s GSX-R 1000 ran flawlessly for the first time this season. He approached round nine ready to continue building on the newfound confidence, and he did as much as he could.
The MotoAmerica two-day format for the NJMP weekend meant the Stock 1000 class had only one race and sporadic time for practice and qualifying. Miles made the most of it. He spent his track time working on chassis setup and continuing to adapt to the bike. He dropped time every session.
After the first few laps of the race, Thornton settled into 6th place and held it to the finish. Now he heads to Barber Motorsports Park with complete confidence in his bike and ready to continue improving and closing the gap to the riders at the front.
Lucas Silva could not catch a break this weekend in New Jersey. During practice and qualifying, the bike felt great, and his pace was good. He managed to qualify 8th fastest, putting him in the middle of the third row.
Just past the halfway point in the race, Silva felt the front tire begin to squirm a little. However, he was in 6th and gaining on 5th place, so he kept pushing. On lap 15 of 20, the tire gave way without warning, putting Lucas on the asphalt. He picked the bike up and remounted, but the damage was too significant to continue the race.
Silva started the second race from 9th but only made it three laps before a bizarre crash. Coming through turn three, he felt like his bike’s power was cutting out. He stood the bike up and was headed off the track, and as he exited onto the grass, in spite of his braking, the bike did not slow. It was then that he realized his motorcycle had become entangled with another and he was being pushed off the track. His bike snapped sideways and threw him violently to the ground. Lucas likes NJMP and leaving with two DNFs is disheartening. “This is tough, but we will move on. The team has been great. I’m sore, but I have a few weeks to heal up, and then we go to Barber for the last round,” said Lucas Silva.
Before his crash at Sonoma, Jaret Nassaney was feeling better than ever on his GSX-R 600. After missing the last round to heal, he hoped to pick up where he left off. Unfortunately, his arm was still not back to full strength. As a result, he had to make compromises and modify his riding style. Starting from 18th, he spent much of Race One by himself and crossed the line in 14th, collecting some valuable championship points.
Sunday his arm felt a bit better, and he was able to drop his lap time by a few seconds. He finished in a solid 12th. “Obviously, I was hoping for more, but it just wasn’t possible this weekend. Alabama will be interesting. I like that track, but the new surface will mean everyone will be learning. I’m going to work on getting my hand strength back and finish the season strong at Barber,” said Jaret Nassaney.
“It was a tough weekend, but there are a few bright points. It was great for Kevin to bounce back after the heartbreak of Saturday to ride smart on Sunday and, hopefully, lock-up second in the championship. Confirming that Miles’ bike is solid and seeing him continue to make progress was good. And for Jaret to come back from injury, ride hurt and be faster than he was in the past at New Jersey was impressive,” said George Nassaney.
The Altus Motorsports team is supported by this great group of sponsors: Altus Motorsports, Tucker Powersports,TerpTastick.com, Conquest CBD, VP Lubricants, RS Taichi, Arai, Moto D, Bonamici, Hotbodies Racing, SBS Brakes, Vortex, Motion Pro, STACYC, Law Tigers Oklahoma, BrakeTech Rotors, M4 Exhaust , Braking Rotors, Yoshimura R & D, Dunlop, Team Hammer, and Altus Factory Racing.
All Photos: Brian J. Nelson.