It’s not often you get a call from a respected AMA Pro Roadracing team to come down to a privately-owned track and ride with them for two days. But that’s exactly what happened 17-18 August 2011. Mark Junge, owner of Vesrah Suzuki, gave us a ring to stop by and check out Autobahn Country Club – a relatively palatial track next to Union Pacific’s massive Joliet intermodal terminal and ride with his team. When we arrived, the Vesrah Suzuki race truck was already set up and unloaded – we really didn’t need to bring much other than our bikes and a few spares! But the real kicker was the facility and the many garages, some of which were business, others privately owned – on the sprawling 350-acre facility. Porches, Ferraris, high-end Mercedes and the occasional Lotus were regularly spotted in and around these garages and on the track. And of course, the two-mile south track with its rough surface and mixture of high-speed straights with a few hard-braking corners that really test the bike’s suspension.
It was an interesting affair for us with the schedule of car and bike sessions. Four groups total, in fact: a learners’ class, sports car group, open-wheel and motorcycle – each with four or maybe five vehicles running at the same time. Getting a clean track was not a problem and we took full advantage of each 20 minutes session. Vesrah Suzuki brought out a range of their motorcycles – from the latest GSX-R600 L1 (ridden by Cory West in AMA Daytona SportBike), a GSX-R1000 K9 endurance racer and, for the first time – a GSX-R750 L1 that Mark himself built just for kicks. Interestingly, Mark chose to bring along his GSX-R1000 K4 endurance racer too.
Team RidersDiscount.com brought out our YZF-R1 SuperBike and our Triumph Daytona 675 project bike. And, while the R1 is almost at the end of its development, it’s still a blast to take it on the track. The Triumph, on the other hand – just had a new set of Öhlins Road & Track forks installed the week before and, as a result, needed quite a bit of attention to dial it in. Two days of testing proved fruitful with getting the Triumph up to race pace and we quickly found ourselves swapping out offsets and moving back the radiator to account for front tire clearance issues. As expected, the R1 just hummed along and required no changes at all.
The Vesrah Team just clicked off lap-after-lap on their range of Suzukis and even had a few guest riders take a spin on their bikes too. Mark looked exceptionally smooth on his GSX-R1000 K4 – like the return of an old friend, they got along great. Cory West was clearly pushing himself every lap out, backing the bike in everywhere and even throwing out the occasional leg dangle just for good measure.
We have many thanks to offer to Mark, Cory, Tony, Don and everyone at Vesrah Suzuki for letting us come play at their track. It’s always a blast watching a good team work on their machines and rarely do you get a chance to ride with a bunch of fast guys on a clear track. It was a unique experience and we can’t wait to get back to Autobahn and do it all over again!