MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 13) — A soggy day at New Jersey Motorsports Park resulted in two top-10 finishes for the GEICO Honda Motorcycle team with rider Jake Zemke finishing third in the GoPro Daytona SportBike race and Chris Ulrich recording a ninth-place effort in the American SuperBike race. It was Zemke’s first podium of the season.
“Today was great for the team,” Zemke said. “These guys put in so much effort week in and week out to put these bikes on the track for us. It doesn’t matter if we’re finishing 10th or up on the podium, they put in the same amount of work or sometimes even more, so it’s rewarding for me to do it for them.”
The wet weather at the season-ending Devil’s Showdown evened the playing field and allowed Zemke to capitalize on the conditions.
“It’s the first rain race we’ve had all year and they always say rain is a great equalizer, and today we were able to put it up on the podium,” Zemke said. “The conditions were pretty treacherous at times. At the beginning of the race, the track was fairly wet, then it started to dry through the middle and everybody’s times started coming down and everybody was going faster and faster.
“Then right there at the end in the last four or five laps, it just started downpouring and the track got really slippery. Even in a straight line, straight up and down, you could get on the gas and the tires would just spin. They weren’t getting any traction at all. So it was a bit of being very patient trying to get around those last four or five laps to the finish.”
Ulrich finished ninth in his race, which was also contested under wet conditions, moving him into the top 10 in the points standings.
“It’s for sure difficult,” Ulrich said. “In qualifying when the rain came, we had just turned our best lap, so that put us back pretty far on the grid, not being able to capitalize on a full dry session today and get the settings.
“The wet is the wet. It’s very interesting. This is first time I’ve had a proper wet race on a Honda. We changed some things around on the map, and as soon as I’d get more than 50 percent throttle, a lot of the electronics would cut out and cause some traction problems for me. That’s what put me behind early.”
Early in the race, Ulrich had a treacherous moment on the track but was able to regain control.
“I had a big moment in Turn 7 on the first or second lap,” Ulrich said. “We rebounded from that and got into the top 10, so ninth today in those conditions and this situation and to be there realistically for sixth right there at the end with those three guys ahead of me, I was happy with that considering how those first two laps went. We’ll learn from this on the wet map setting and move on.”
Ulrich expects to improve in the dry conditions forecast for Sunday’s events.
“Tomorrow is going to be the day to improve some stuff,” Ulrich said. “We can move up. I do well at this track. At least it will be dry. We’ll just try to finish off the season and have a fun time and just enjoy the day tomorrow because we’ve got a long break for the winter. We fought hard today and made some mistakes and came back from them, so I’m happy with my performance.”
Both Zemke and Ulrich will race again Sunday during the second races of the Devil’s Showdown. SportBike kicks off at 2 p.m. and SuperBike at 3 p.m. Live coverage can be seen at FansChoice.TV.