Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki’s Steve Rapp fell just 0.116-second short of claiming his third Superstock victory of the season Saturday at Mid-Ohio. Starting from the pole, Rapp found himself in the middle of — and at times leading — an intense three-man battle in the twice-restarted final that saw him leading at the start of the last lap.
The Californian was rejuvenated after the second restart when his crew elected to fit a new Michelin front and rear to his GSX-R750, providing grip he lacked after the first restart. Rapp was particularly impressive in the 2.4-mile circuit’s back section, routinely reeling in several bike lengths in the Carousel turn at Mid-Ohio.
The runner-up placing was his third podium finish in four races. “It was a good fun race — close but safe.
“This has been my best year by far in a long time,” said Rapp, who now sits sixth in the points race despite not participating in three rounds early in the year. “The Valvoline team has been in Superstock for so long that I don’t have to worry about telling them what to do. They do it and I just ride it as hard as I can.”
Teammate Chris Ulrich made it two Valvoline EMGO Suzuki GSX-R750s in the top ten. Ulrich moved up to tenth place on lap 14 of 16 and held the position to the race’s conclusion. The result saw Chris leap back into the top ten in points as well. He is now currently tied for ninth.
“The day was looking like it wasn’t going to be all that great until the last eight laps. We didn’t put a new tire on it after the first restart and that might not have been the best move,” the Lake Elsinore, California resident said.
Ulrich persevered until the second red flag when things suddenly got better with more grip. “I was in eleventh at the second red flag. Then we made a tire change at the rear and a suspension change at the front. It ended up paying off in a big way.”
The second generation rider who has suffered with injuries the past two seasons said he made great strides dicing with other riders in the race. “I rode a lot better today and I think I got some of my mojo back,” he said afterward.
Rapp will be back in action at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, competing in the Formula Xtreme final aboard the team’s potent GSX-R1000. He will start from the third row after qualifying tenth today.