Sonoma 2022 Improvements

May 2022 vs September 2022 on the Daytona at Sonoma, under similar conditions, I’ve been able to trim a bit more than 2 seconds. I’ve done this in a way that actually feels less scary to me and leaves me more room to grow. My introspective self loves having the data and being aware of conscious actions and choices while riding so here it is. This isn’t for everyone and different riders/drivers at different levels may have other things they’re working on. If you’re still trying to get accuracy and control timing, work on that before this stuff. I can still spot lots of areas to improve, some is easier than others but I feel like my technique is there to actively work on it.

It was an excellent Carter’s day. It wasn’t full, there were very few incidents on track, and we could ride multiple sessions in the afternoon. I brought the D765 as well as the N4 so I was jumping back and forth between the two, 11 sessions in total and Sonoma will make you feel it. I hadn’t ridden the N4 at Sonoma in a while and it took me a while to remember all the shift points but I was able to get back to my previous PB on it along with a nice improvement on the Daytona.

Sonoma May vs September 2022. Blue is May, Red is September.

Before I get into the specifics, what happened to me over the summer? The biggest single thing, is I made 3 separate trips to ride with Track Time at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Washington State between July and early September. This is the track day provider operated by Alan Schwen and Ken Hill – the same provider I’ve mentioned before that places a legitimate emphasis on rider safety and acts on it. They offer lots of coaching options and the other riders are almost infallibly courteous and demonstrate a fairly consistent degree of precision. No, I’m not paid for an endorsement or any other compensation, it’s just a great track and TDP. I also spent 3 of the 6 days working with one of their Master Moto Pilot instructors (yeah, I got Ken).

I’ve also developed a better relationship with my A bike (Daytona 765) and paying a lot more attention with how I go to the throttle and confidence in the brakes. It’s also time for me to be more conscious of my body position again, specifically, my right turns and making sure my elbow is out and that there’s weight on that peg (or as Ken says, ‘tighten your core!’ I’m also developing a better sense of exactly how I’m willing to deal with scary areas. More on this in the details below.

  • T1 – I was actually marginally faster at the slow point in May, though it’s not as well defined at the slow point, though in September, I carried more speed under the bridge and rolled out of the throttle later. I’ve seen data from a MotoAmerica Supersport winner and he stayed WOT exiting T1 until braking for T2. I’m slowly going to work up to that but it may take a while. I’m building confidence turning on throttle (thank you Ninja 400 and CRF100 at the kart tracks) so it might not be a distant reality.
  • T2 – slow point was slower but again, better defined, I also carried acceleration out slightly longer
  • T3 – Shape is the same but an extra ~4mph through all of it, though very slightly less top speed out of T3a. My reference rider is still significantly quicker in the T3 complex.
  • T4 – about the same, not worth mentioning
  • T5 – I roll out of the throttle to turn the bike for T5 but I made a conscious effort to pay attention to exactly how much I rolled off and for how long, this way I shed virtually no speed out of T4 and turning into T5
  • T6 – in May I hit just about 102mph on the way into T6 and that was absolutely terrifying–the back end of the bike hopped up over the bump which scared me, resulting in over-slowing in the middle of T6. In September I cut the throttle just slightly earlier but wasn’t scared tipping in and was able to make up for the difference in entrance speed by carrying a higher roll speed. Given that the T6 exit leads to the fastest portion of Sonoma, being confident and ready to accelerate out of T6 is super important (KH: vital point #1)
  • T7 – not different enough to mention, though coming into T7 out of T6 @ 120mph is REALLY bumpy so I was having a little trouble being as tight on the first apex as I would have liked. I looked at trail braking data and I wasn’t near any adhesion limits so I could have used a bit more brake pressure to tighten it up. I also could have turned in slightly earlier at the same rate, which is really probably what I should be doing since my visual references at this entrance speed don’t work out the same.
  • T8 – The acceleration out of T7 to T8, May showed longer and more acceleration, this bit is a little perplexing and obviously something I need to go back to, the rest of T8 is a toss up, this is still an area I want to improve
  • T9 – about the same, though later in the day with my most recent September visit I did go to a tiny bit of throttle between 9 and 9a, my reference rider shows a few more mph in here
  • T10 – I’ve tweaked my line in here a little bit to emulate what I’ve adopted for the Ninja 400 – once I get to WOT out of T9a, I keep it WOT a bit more than halfway to the left, roll it over to the right and roll out of some throttle, again, paying attention to just how much and how fast I roll off (too much and the bike gets unsettled), get the bike pointed and feed in the throttle (though I didn’t get to WOT on this lap). I always feel like I’m on the verge of the rear stepping out but the ECU doesn’t show TC kicking in so I should be able to go to more throttle. This was also the first time that I’ve broken 100mph (GPS speed) on the T10 exit.
  • T11 – about the same in the middle of the corner but the braking confidence shows in later braking for T1
Sonoma September 2022
Always working on precision, photo courtesy of Dito at GotBlueMilk Photography
I did a session with the amazing Toni Elias
Speed/Lean/Trail Brake Graphs
Speed/Lean Angle/Front/Rear Suspension Travel
Track with my lines