Jason and Bryan's big Brazilian adventure gets underway
By Jason Webb and Bryan NylanderPRE-RACE
Jason arrived on Tuesday and spent the next two days building and preparing his KTM 200E/XC rental bike for the week's fun. The big SNAFU was the late arrival of the good gas. On Saturday afternoon the fuel finally arrived and the rest of the teams are scrambling the rest of the day and Sunday to get things finalized with last minute jetting changes, and tire changes. Team USA's bikes sat in impound - the only team to be ready on time. However, this meant our bikes were jetted with the poor quality pump gas available at the time.The opening ceremonies cancelled completely because of late arriving bikes and gas. The gas here is filthy with the particulate matter looking like a glass of pond water with fool's gold swirling about. And the octane is horribly low too so the jetting was an all day affair for almost everyone. But now it's staging the checkpoints that has the support teams busy. By sunset on Sunday, all the prep is done and racers and support team are itching to go; just get down and go racing. The wait is starting to get old for some.Meanwhile, Jason and I are going over last minute details, prepping goggles and tool bags and for me, and work on finding out how to get to check 2 so I can pit and be ready to help him out. I'll most likely be able to make two checks, 2 and 4. The best news of all, it looks like the Americans actually have a chance to finish top 3 or even win this year. The combination of being in a neutral country, the sand and a talent laden Team USA could mean we overall do well. Naturally, a few Euros can give us a hassle - but the majority of the field is on the same terms we are.DAY 1
Remember that pump gas jetting? The new gas was much better and the overly rich jetting gave some of the riders headaches as they're bikes wouldn't go. Deep sand, sand and more sand broke up by the hand numbing long stretches of dirt roads was the picture of the first day. Fortunately, some trail sections that wound through villages and mixed with the occasional single track. People lined the special tests despite the dust and still had smiles. Almost anywhere the course snaked near a road or town, you could find curious kids and cars parked to watch and cheer on the riders, regardless of nationality.However, bad luck struck early and hard. Barry Hawk has his day cut short when his engine seized during the first special test. At the other end of the day, the Trophy Team suffered another set back when Rodney Smith lost the trail on his way to the finish and dropped some points. The rest of the team is mixed in the stack and not doing too horrible. Kurt Caselli showed some impressive speed, turning in a couple of 7th place finishes in the highly competitive 250 2-stroke class.On the club front, everyone is still in the running, except Brian Garrahan whose ignition died on his KTM. Brazil was overall pretty fair in melting out punishment to all the teams, we watched several limping in and more than a couple of bikes come back in trucks. Speaking of club riders, Jason survived his first day, albeit not without some adversity. An early rear flat made the first two sand tests even more challenging. As he struggled against the heat, a reluctant and damaged bead and the ever-present clock at Check Two, the pit boss, Darrell Raines stepped with some advice that saved the day; put the damaged part next to the rimlock. It worked so well that the tire lasted until the end where Nylander was standing by with tools and a fresh tire for Jason to throw on the 200. Heck, we even managed to get a filter change and would have topped off the gas if the 2-stroke gas supply hadn't run out by our turn before impound time. Not bad for a couple of rookies. After a quick change it was off to the crowded pressroom to squeeze between a few nice, non-English speaking fellow journalists where we could sit back and enjoy some air conditioning.So the plan for Day Two.
- Sleep! Well duh, but we thought we start with the obvious.
- Check spokes, it's a new bike and riding so far on a flat can't be good
- Change jetting; top end didn't exist with the 195 main jet
- Top off the gas tank
- Tire pressure check
- And watch that $%^& clock!