2022-03-07 Sonoma Raceway, Ninja 400, Z2, 2nd outing

I went back to Sonoma with the Ninja 4 (the Daytona is still with my suspension guy). I took advantage of Z2’s AFM racer discount and rode 6 out of 7 sessions with some deliberate plans in mind (tightening up T7, later turn-in on T2, polishing up T3-3a, and a little bit later braking with fresh Vesrah RJL-ZZ pads).

All in all, it went well with my best laps in the 10:00 AM session (took a second off, 2:03 with reasonably good accuracy, a couple of missed apexes as I was pushing my braking and got in a little deep a couple of times so I couldn’t get the bike turned in time).

Best 2 laps below:

Best 2 laps for the day
Full 10:00 AM session, traffic can take a LONG time to contend with on a little bike

The subsequent sessions were never quite as good though. After 2 slower sessions (11:00 & 1:00 PM), I pulled data to try to figure out what was going on. For the most part, I wasn’t hitting the same top speeds in the faster straight, mostly down by 3-5mph at the same point on the track. My corner roll speed was down slightly but the biggest time saps were the top speeds. For the last couple of sessions, I made a deliberate point to make sure I was tucking and holding the throttle wide open. I improved slightly in the 3:00 PM session but not back to the times in my 10:00 AM session. Maybe I had a tailwind earlier or a headwind later, kind of hard to tell and the wind does weird things around the elevated and sunken terrain around Sonoma Raceway. I did deliberately go deeper into T7 before braking and that shows up in the data which, as it turns out, is worth about 1/2 second just there!

Best 10:00 AM lap in red, best 3:00 PM lap in blue, notice T7 entry and holding throttle longer in the slower lap

After conferring with a trusted source, I’ll work on the following next time:

  • further condensing braking zones (T1, T4, T7) until I get to the point where speed mitigation has the front feeling wiggly/maxed out (I’m therein T9 & T11)
  • very slightly later turn-in for T4
  • continue refining T2 later turn-in and accuracty
  • continue refining T3-3a
  • full-throttle from exit of T4 all the way to T6 entrance

I think I’ve got a little more accleration capability on the way into T6 yet, I do still use the right-side tree in the horizon as an end-of-acceleration reference but instead of rolling out where I see the tree hit the ground, I wait for a breath until after I see it come to the ground.

I’ll also play with a later turn-in for T3 so I don’t have to hold the radius quite as much.

All-in-all, a big part of my goal setting with this bike was to find limits and the fact that I’m discovering a few of them means I’m doing it.

Afterward I did pull the front caliper to check wear on the Vesrah brake pads and it looks good, much more like that to which I’m accustomed. The chain is cleaned and lubed and I have a Plan B for data acquisition on this bike using parts from trailbrake.com who sell a device called an MCE18 that has the ability to turn analog signal into CAN data that I can use to feed the Solo 2 DL. If that works out according to plan I’ll have RPM, gear position, throttle position, and brake pressure. The tires show some wear but they look to be good for several more track days.