A Tale of Two Rookies
Slicing and Dicing

Ed.–This is the second in a five part series bringing readers the story of our sophomore racer Hot Karl Rehpohl

by Karl Rehpohl–CRA #80

Fast sweepers, decreasing radius turns, double apexes, and chicanes. Everything your knee puck could hope to slide around on. This is Mid America Motorplex. Where BIR takes stones, big ones, to conquer her ultra fast corners and mega braking zones, MAM requires finesse and skill. Each corner is different and many require rhythm and timing to exit one corner and be prepared for the next. With its shorter straights and higher quantity of corners, passing and corner speed play crucial roles

feature68First race of Saturday and I feel confident, and fast. The green flag flies and I get a good response time, but the rev limiter kicks in for an instant before I can snatch second gear. Three guys have kicked my butt off the line and into the first corner. I tuck into fourth place and follow the train through turns two and three planning to get by at least one of them in turn four. I get good drive out of three and consider coming up the inside but they ride three wide through the turn with no room for me to sneak past. I’m glad I waited because #555 is the furthest outside and is “persuaded” off the outside of turn when there’s not enough room for the three front-runners. As I fly by both of his tires hit the dirt at what I’m guessing is close to 100mph. I pass another in turns five and six, which feel like one huge sweeper and requires a shift while banked over at high speed. #929 is the only bike in front of me now and he’s pulling away slowly. We reach the straight on lap 4 and I’m going to reel him in. Accelerate hard through the gears and I start braking for the first corner when up the inside comes #555, blowing my doors off! I keep on his tail through two and three but he pulls away through turn four and just checks out. I roll across the line with a 3rd place finish. #555 was cutting 1:42 lap times and #929 was doing 1:44s. My 1:46 laps may only be two to four seconds down but after eight laps that’s almost a full minute. I got womped!

Race two launches the experts and novices together instead of two separate waves. This has pros and cons. Cons? I have to find a way around the experts that get a worse start than me and then go into the first corner with more bikes crowding up the joint. Pros? My novice competition has to deal with the same issues.

We’re off! I’m leading into turn one and passing three experts on the way and get another in turn three. I feel pressure because I know I’ll soon have work to do with the others running faster times than me. Sure as poop #555 comes around the outside of me in turns five/six. I’m not going to let him get away this time and keep right on his tail through the remainder of the lap until on the last corner, number 14, he comes in hot and the back end wiggles. He countersteers a bit but it’s too late. The tire gives out and he and his bike slide off the track. I don’t see anyone else for the remaining fourteen laps and finish first, but still only running 1:46s.

Later that afternoon I head over to #555’s pit area to see if he’s all right from his crash. He’s fine and I find out that his “landscaping session” in turn four was his second time this weekend. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt, because Sunday he provides me with the best racing of my life.

Race three is the first race of the day, the one where us puny SV650s get to try our hands at racing 1000cc twins like RC-51s. I get a decent start and I’m in the lead for the first lap until halfway down the main straight a mighty RC-51 comes flying by me and disappears into the distance. No surprise there. Lap two I’m still in second. Lap three, braking into turn one, guess who? Yep, #555 on the brakes again! He comes up my inside and just keeps going. This dude is killing me! It must be like shooting ducks in the bathtub for him! Third place finish once again. I feel that if I ride harder I’m going to crash and that scares me. I also know that if I don’t get faster I have two more races to lose this afternoon. That scares me too.

In race four it certainly feels like I’m pushing hard when at the halfway point #555 passes in his usual spot, inside on the brakes before turn one. That’s it, I’ve had enough! I stick tight through turn two and wait for him to swing out for the cut-in on turn three. I carry just a touch more speed than normal and take the inside of the corner for myself. Now it’s on! I’m full throttle through turn four and hope his previous escapades keep him humble. Into five I can hear him behind me and try to carry as much speed as possible thru five/six and seven/eight. It feels good but isn’t enough and he passes me on the brakes into nine. Damn it! I stick tight through ten and dive up the inside on eleven to retake the lead and keep it thru the rest of the corners. Once we hit the main straight I know he’ll take me on the brakes into turn one. Once again, I am right but its déjà vu for him because I shove him out on three again. He passes me back on five/six and I stuff him in eleven. We rip across the finish line side by side with the white flag waving. It’s the last lap and I need to protect the inside of one and try to brake late, waiting a second longer than usual before hitting them hard. While braking I start drifting towards the inside of the track hoping this will take the line away from him. He doesn’t come by and I bust my ass to wick it through the corners screaming, “GO, GO, GO!” in my helmet. I come around the last corner and take the checkered flag!

No matter if you win or lose there’s a bond with someone you just raced against. In the pits, #555 and I are both smiling and panting hard. He informs me that he rode off the track on the outside of four again trying to catch me on the last lap and how he really enjoyed the race. Me too! I wish him luck and tell him I’m not going to let him by me on the inside of turn one any more. He laughs and says, “Yeah, and I’m not letting you through in three anymore either.”

Last race and they launch us all together. I pass a couple of Experts to throw in some roadblocks. The bike is handling great and I know I’m moving at a quick pace. Six laps go by and I’m still out front fighting the urge to look behind me to see where and when the pass will come. On lap seven I do my now-patented drift to the inside of turn one on the brakes. Being the clever guy and good racer he is, #555 rides around the outside of me this time and takes the lead. Not only that, but he stays way inside on three to not allow me through in my previous spot. Shit! We get the white flag and I’m so close I can smell his exhaust. I consider passing him on the brakes into one but hold off. Coming into turn three we come up on another bike and I try to cut inside both of them but #555 guards against it. I’ve got to find a way around him and I’m running out of time!

As we blast down the short straight between four and five I pull even with #555 while #88 is right in front of us. #88 starts to brake for the turn and I see #555 hold off on the brakes and start to go around the outside of him. This is it! I hold off a second longer before braking and dive inside as we split #88 and we barrel in three wide. I know I have the advantage because I’m on the inside and start to drift out to slow them down and to keep from losing traction. I hold the position and throttle early and hard for turn seven. I know he’s back there. I know he wants this win.

Charging into eleven I slide the front. “NO!” I scream, thinking I’m done as I drift a little wide but the tire miraculously holds. Railing thru twelve, thirteen, and fourteen I know I’ve got it. I ride under the checkered flag and let out a huge “YEAH!” I’m sure the corner workers thought I was having a seizure of some sort with all the arm pumps and groovy maneuvers I was making.

Three wins and two thirds put a huge smile on my face. Truth be told I wasn’t the fastest rider, but crashes and the passes I pulled off won me the races. Jesse (#555), thank you! You made my weekend. Thanks always to everyone in the CRA (cra-mn.com) and to teampoop.org.

Ride fast, ride safe, race,

Check in next month to see if the dreaded #555 brings the competition back to Brainerd International Raceway.


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