(Tooele, UT) – While Utah Motorsports Campus has been on the MotoAmerica Calendar for many years, 2019 marks the first time the shorter East Course has been used. This layout incorporates the last half of the previous configuration but shortens the front straight and replaces the first half of the track with seven fast, flowing new corners. For many pro racers, this was the first time riding the East Course, which leveled the playing field slightly and made for some exciting racing. For the Altus Motorsports/Tucker/TerpTastick.com Team, the Utah event was the smoothest weekend yet with all of the riders making progress and finishing in the points in every race.
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
The MotoAmerica event at Utah is another of the season’s 2-day events. The compressed schedule means that there is very little time to get the bike sorted. For the Junior Cup riders, they get just one practice session and one qualifying. Kevin Olmedo learned the new track layout quickly but struggled with front end chatter through practice and qualifying. The issue continued in the first race, but Olmedo managed to better his lap time and bring the bike home in third. By warm-up on Sunday, the team had solved the front end issue, and Kevin felt great on the bike and was ready to run at the front. A couple of early mistakes created a gap from the battle for first. Kevin pushed to get back in touch, but the track was a bit slick, and he opted to play it safe and collect the third-place points. “My pace on Sunday was good, and if I hadn’t made a couple of mistakes in the first few laps, I think I would have been in the battle for first,” said Olmedo.
For Miles Thornton, UMC was the best round of the season to date. In spite of overheating during Qualifying 1, his Suzuki GSX-R1000 was solid, and the team managed to make progress every session. Starting the race from p6 Thornton got a good launch and jumped up to 5th before being shuffled back to 7th. The new UMC layout has very few places to pass without significant risk. As the race went on, Miles felt better and better. With a couple of laps to go, Thornton made the pass for 6th. On the next lap, with worn tires, Miles dropped his lap time by 1.2 seconds and clocked his second fastest lap of the race. “In hindsight, I wish I had made the pass earlier in the race. The bike felt great, and I had amazing pace. I think I could have run down the group ahead of me if I had pulled the trigger sooner. But it’s a long season, and I didn’t want to push my luck,” said Thornton. With the bike issues resolved and a good foundation for setup, the team is excited for the rest of the season.
Lucas Silva came into the Utah round suffering from a knee injury that plagued him all weekend. Despite the pain, Silva managed to qualify 10th. After recovering from a rough start in Race 1, he found himself in a group of three riders vying for 8th place. With all three riders running an almost identical pace, the fast, flowing track didn’t allow for many passing opportunities. Rather than force it, Lucas brought his Suzuki GSX-R600 across the line in 10th. Sunday’s race start was significantly better, but an outside move into turn one didn’t work, and he was forced to give up the gains he made on his great launch. After battling for part of the race, things settled down, and Silva finished in 10th again. With a few weeks off before the next round, Lucas is going to rest the knee so he can come back fully recovered and ready to race.
It seems that every weekend, Jaret Nassaney feels stronger and more confident on his GSX-R600. And his results show it. The shortened weekend meant that the team needed to take advantage of every session to make improvements, which they did. From Practice to Qualifying, Jaret dropped more than 2 seconds and moved from p18 to p12. In Race 1, he battled for 12th place most of the race, finally crossing the line in 13th. In Race 2, Jaret found himself again in a multi-bike battle for 12th. Having come out on the wrong side of the fight on Saturday, Nassaney was committed to owning the spot on Sunday. Every time he was passed, he quickly tried to retake the position. His tenacity paid off, and he held 12th place at the finish.
Team owner George Nassaney was thrilled with how the UMC weekend went: “This was our smoothest event yet. While some of the riders have had better individual results in the past, as a team, this round was our best. We are blessed to have this group of riders, mechanics, and staff around us. They truly make these weekends fun and rewarding.”
The next round for the MotoAmerica series will be at Laguna Seca, and the entire team is excited. All of the riders have previous experience on the track and are looking forward to another successful weekend.
The Altus Motorsports team is supported by a great family 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