Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki concluded their trip to Brainerd International Raceway with a pair of top ten finishes in Sunday’s finals to augment yesterday’s podium finish. Following Vincent Haskovec’s third place result in Saturday’s Formula Xtreme final and Chris Peris’ impressive form in the weekend’s Supersport practice sessions, today was Steve Rapp’s day to shine.
The 30-year-old Californian ran in the 60k Supersport final as a member of the leading freight train aboard his Michelin-shod GSX-R600. Rapp started from the third row and completed the opening lap down in thirteenth position but quickly started picking his way up through the tight pack.
The race was red flagged six laps in due to rainfall, but the former Superbike star picked up his game even further in the second half of the event. He ran as high as fifth in the huge fight for the lead and eventually took seventh, within sight of the win at the conclusion of the 13-lap race. He was just 2.916 seconds behind the race winner.
“There were a lot of good things that happened today. Steve rode hard, the tires worked great, the bike was very good. We learned a lot of things about the kind of set-up we need at the pace the leaders are running.” said team Crew Chief Keith Perry. “Without a doubt, we would have liked a podium finish but it was still a pretty darn good one.”
Peris didn’t enjoy as stellar a day as his teammate, but it was a memorable one nonetheless. The Canadian up-and-comer smashed into some cones positioned along the straight at triple-digit speeds on the opening lap, badly damaging his motorcycle. Still, he continued on and fought his way up from fifteenth to eleventh at the checkered flag, just missing out on a career-first AMA top ten result.
“The bike was really torn up pretty badly,” said Perry, adding that the cones smashed the Suzuki
GSX-R600’s fender, windscreen, fairing, and radiator. “Considering all that happened on the very first turn, he rode as well as you could have expected anyone to. He had a good race. He and some other riders were racing aggressively down to the end.”
Rapp also picked up a top ten finish in the Superstock class. Despite suffering down the long Brainerd straight in comparison to the potent 1000cc machines of their rivals, Rapp and teammate Vincent Haskovec were able to take advantage of their nimble-handling GSX-R750s on the back section of the Minnesota circuit. Rapp came home in tenth, just a second in front of the Czech Republic-born racer who took eleventh.
The squad will test at Mid-Ohio next. In two weeks time, Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki will be back on track at Laguna Seca for the combined AMA/World Superbike racing weekend.