Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki’s Steve Rapp finished a charging 6th in the first Superbike race at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma, California.
With gridding based on Superbike points after qualifying and most of practice was rained out, Rapp had to start on row 11 of the packed, 44-rider grid. He quickly moved into the top 15, then the top 10, and scrapped his way into sixth, turning his fastest laps at the end of the 28-lap event.
Rapp rode his 2003 998cc Suzuki GSX-R1000 Formula Xtreme bike in the race, which he would run again in the Formula Xtreme race later the same afternoon.
Rapp was the team’s only entrant in the Superbike race, and this was the team’s first Superbike-class event of the year. Rapp did not run the second Superbike race at Infineon because it was scheduled to run immediately before the Formula Xtreme race, which is the team’s main focus in 2003.
In the Formula Xtreme race, Rapp battled hard for third early-on before getting involved in an intense race for 4th with a very-motivated former team rider. The battle ended in the last corner of the last lap when the other rider crashed, and Rapp crossed the finish line a secure 4th. The finish moved Rapp into a tie for 4th in Formula Xtreme points, after two races.
Chris Ulrich finished a struggling 13th in the Formula Xtreme race, with severe arm pump. In the earlier Superstock race, Ulrich had crashed on the last lap, picking his machine up and restarting to finish 13th.
Ulrich and trainee teammate Matt Furtek both suffered from a lack of practice and set-up time due to rain that plagued the event on Friday and Saturday. Furtek finished 16th in the Superstock race.
AMA events do not run in the rain at Infineon due to inconsistencies in available traction between recently-repaved sections of the track and sections of original pavement. Repaving of the track and installation of an underground drainage system will be completed in August of this year.