Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki suffered a difficult day to conclude the Road America weekend. But despite start line and engine displacement-related troubles, the team still managed to pick up a top ten result at the Wisconsin circuit on Sunday.
After a promising Supersport qualifying performance, Steve Rapp’s race was effectively ruined when he was judged to have jumped the start at the line. While loading his clutch in preparation of a quick launch at the green light, Rapp’s GSX-R600 surged forward ever so slightly. As he was rolling the machine back into place, the race was started, meaning he was effectively penalized twice — once by getting caught off guard by the start, and then a second time by being pulled in for a stop-and-go for nudging out of his starting position.
Rapp’s poor start saw him down in 14th following the opening lap. After fighting back up to a solid top ten position, he came into the pits for his penalty. He then returned to the race outside the top twenty and managed to claw his way back up to 15th by the contest’s conclusion.
Chris Peris had an eventful Supersport race as well, dicing with the factory riders before making a mistake that dropped him well down the order. The Canadian regrouped and picked up several positions to finish twelfth.
“Steve looked really good in the Supersport practices and qualifying and we were really hopeful,” he continued. “Afterwards he was apologetic because of the start; he ended up squeaking through the box and was trying to get back when the green light came on. A rule is the rule. He wasn’t in the box whether he was going backwards or forwards.
“Peris was having a good race,” Perry said of the youngster. “He’s coming along. He had a couple incidents this weekend that were tough on him, but he learned a lot. He made a couple mistakes in the race and had to recover from that and just do the best he could.”
Earlier, Rapp took an encouraging ninth place finish in the Superstock race despite the team’s 750s admittedly being heavily outgunned by the 1000s at one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. Vincent Haskovec put in a gritty performance on his GSX-R750 as well to claim thirteenth.
Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki Crew Chief Keith Perry summed up the day, stating, “In Superstock, we didn’t get the rain we may have been hoping for a little bit. We knew we were coming here with a disadvantage with the 750s, but we had to give it a shot. It was a lot more trouble for us to convert back to the 1000s for a race or two, so we decided to stick it out with the smaller bikes. I’m sure things would have been a lot more favorable in the wet.
“Michelin is doing a good job developing tires for our team and they’re coming along. We were just underpowered for this Superstock race and did the best we could do,” Perry said.
As for the state of the team, he remarked, “All the guys are working well. I couldn’t be prouder of the way they work together and how hard they work. We’ve had a few too many frustrating days lately, but we know it’s going to get better.”