If there was AFT one race I really wanted to attend this year it was Lima, unfortunately, I couldn't make it this season. Why Lima? Well, I've never been and it's one of the few cushion tracks left on the programme. But, what did we learn from the Ohio half-mile?
The biggest news, as far I'm concerned, is Shayna Texter's win in the singles. This track is brutal - Jared Mees, who looks like he breakfasts on barbed wire and shits bullets, said this after his own win 'This track is so demanding, and tonight it was really demanding. You just had no time to get off the throttle, and it got really physical with some ruts and bumps. I love winning at this racetrack – it’s awesome.'
Shayna is short of stature, but not lacking in anything else when it comes to flat track racing. She's racing hard, determined semi-pros who would kick arse in other other series in the world. She's going to be iconic, if she isn't already.
Shayna said, 'It’s incredible to win Lima. Never in a million years would I imagine I’d win this race – it’s such a rough track. But I think spending a whole year with [boyfriend] Briar [Bauman] talking about Lima every single day since he won it last year, it kind of rubbed off on me. I tried to do what he did last year – hold it wide open and hope for the best!'
She now has the record wins in the singles/GNC2 class. Which is something of a strange, but no less impressive record. Strange, because most riders move into the twins and don't move back to singles. We interviewed Shayna for Sideburn 31 and she said she'd never had a decent bike in the twins class. Would someone sign her to race an FTR750? I can see Indian giving her a Wrecking Crew seat, very good rider, solid gold marketing opportunity, but she is the rider to have in Singles, for various reasons, and she gave Husqvarna their first ever pro FT win. She could probably earn more in singles with wages and bonuses. i can see why she'd want to try prove herself in Twwins, but I wouldn't blame her to stay in Singles and earn some money in a short, hard career.
What else did we learn?
A nuclear bomb couldn't stop Jared Mees from winning this year's title.
From ten AFT races in 2018 Mees has eight wins, one second and one disqualification.
It's really handy if you have an FTR750 (11 made the main).
But they're not a magic bullet. Coolbeth didn't make the main on his, finishing 11th in his semi. Neither did Davis Fisher or Jake Shoemaker, on their private Indian FTR750s.
Smith finished 10th in the main. I cannot see him riding an FTR750 next year. It's a season and a half since he was champion. This season he's had three podiums from ten races. That's not good enough for a rider of his quality and determination. Something's got to give, hasn't it?
Brandon Robinson caught the fence in qualifying and badly twisted his leg (or broke something, no official word yet) , putting him out of action for the rest of the race.
Sammy Halbert and Jarod Vanderkooi put their XG750s in the top ten - Halbert 6th, Vanderkooi 8th. It is progress of a sort. Halbert was 0.6s off Baker, and beat Johnny Lewis who was 7th, but was over 20s off Mees, the winner. 20 seconds! That's not far off a second a lap of a half-mile track. Sammy has won Lima before. A top six is fine, but Indian will hardly be quaking.
Carver was second (hey, why not buy a Jeffrey Carver support shirt?) and Wiles was third, showing they are the cream of the privateers. Wiles has always maintained that with the right bike he would be a serious contender, not just a TT expert. He's proving that. Current standings are Mees, Wiles, Baker, Carver, Coolbeth.
Carver won the George Roeder Dash for Cash against the top qualifiers (Mees, Lewis, Wiles, Briar Bauman, Halbert). He won $2300 for the 4-lap race.
The top non-American bike in the twins class was Jeremy Higgins on the Bill Werner Kawasaki in 9th. Only five non-American bikes made the 18-bike main. Compare that to the 2016 Lima Half-Mile, the last season before Indian joined the series. XR750s were 1-2-3 (Robinson, Mees, Baker). There were nine XR750s and nine non-US manufacturers (8 x Kawasaki and one Ducati).
Lima pea gravel is harsh! Look at Briar Bauman's helmet. The riders' biceps get shotblasted too, leaving vicious red welts.
The next race is Weedsport, upstate New York, next weekend and there's an official hooligan support class too.