By: Tony Prust
Builder: Analog Motorcycles (@analogmotorcycles)
Motorcycle: 2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796 – The “Hyper8”
Photos: Etech Photo (@etechphoto) & Tony Prust
The desire to race has been solidified. The Hyper 8 is built. Now it is time to go and race it. We decided to give the racing season a go before the schedule for AHRMA had come out for 2020. When the schedule came out and we saw the first race was at Laguna Seca in California we couldn’t have been more excited. I always wanted to ride that track at speed. I had done a few parade laps during one of the Quail events we had gone to and it is such an amazing place. Plus an escape from February in Chicagoland is a no brainer. We had good friends of ours Eric and Celia starting to plan transport of their vintage Moto Guzzi sidecar rig for the race weekend and asked if we wanted to send the bike out with them. Of course we said yes and hammered down to finish the machine on time.
[ Bikes loaded up and heading to California! ]
Here is the account of our first racing experience on the Hyper8 at Laguna Seca…
The time had come to throw a leg over the Hyper 8 and see how well we did at getting it set up for the track. First day was sunny and 66 degrees. It was the perfect weather to get the cobwebs off from not riding anything for a few months. There were 4 sessions where we could get about 4-5 laps in each session. The bike had great power for its class. We were having trouble keeping heat in the tires (as the track was cold) so decided to go down a little in tire pressure to help with that. Suspension was the question mark and we were not terribly far off but it needed some tweaking. Little less preload in the front and rear and we were good for now. After the 3rd session we had a decent set up and started feeling comfortable on the bike. By the 4th session we had a better understanding of the track and were able to keep knocking a few seconds off our lap times from the start of the day. It was a great day and we were not too far off from all our baseline settings. Would have loved another session or 2 to make some more fine tuning adjustments but at the end of the day we felt we had a potentially competitive bike for the races the next day.
[ The Corkscrew! Photo by: Etech Photo (@etechphoto) ]
[ Tony racing the Hyper 8 – leading the pack. Photo by: Etech Photo (@etechphoto) ]
Race day had come. 55 degrees and overcast all day (not as great as day 1). We typically get a warm up session in the AM and racing starts after lunch break. Some seriously dense fog rolled in and visibility was bad so they cancelled all practice. So, this was it, just had to wait for our race. Unfortunately, we were the last race of the day which meant we had to wait a long time. This gave us time to not do anything but think and that proved to mess with my head a little bit… The track was cold and there were several crashes happening all day. That paired with waiting and the cold was not really the ideal first race day. On top of that, towards the end of the day the races started to be cut shorter because of all the crashes and delays. Originally scheduled for 8 laps we were now a 5 lap race. Maybe with the cold that is for the best, we’ll see…
[Foggy conditions on day 2 resulted in cancellation of practice laps]
Finally the time had come, the first actual race on the Hyper8. We went out for a sighting lap and it was pretty chilly. My mind was racing. The thoughts of the day’s events, the heat not staying in the tires the day before, and the crashes I saw earlier all wanted to play in my head as I pulled up to the line. A couple deep breaths, visor down, 1 board shows, flag raises and we are off…
I had never done a standing start on this bike and managed to pull a wheelie off the line. I quickly let off throttle, then back on and into another wheelie. Finally I got the bike to settle down and we are moving. It was not the best start. (Note to self – work on starts!) We went into turn 2 about 4th or 5th in the pack but had a good feel on the bike. Through the rest of the first lap I pushed up into 2nd place. I felt comfortable but did not want to push too hard. I could see first place up ahead but it seemed like trying to catch him would be risky so I comfortably pushed along lap after lap keeping him in sight without getting passed. White flag, last lap and I started thinking, could this be? First race out on this bike and we are going to take second? Sure enough we held our position and ended our first race on a new bike at a new track in second place! It was an incredible feeling. Del (bike owner) and his wife were there as well as some other friends to greet me as I came into the pits and we celebrated. What an amazing feeling putting all the time, effort and energy into this project and getting to experience a podium finish for the first time out.
[ Excited about a 2nd place finish in the first race with the Hyper 8! ]
Started out with a little better temp of 58 but quickly became extremely windy. No matter, I had taken second in a colder overcast day so I was feeling good. We got our morning session this day and decided to see if I could push a little faster and see if there were some good places to pass if I needed to in the race later. I prefer to find safe places to pass, because after all, we are all doing this for fun and do not want to push anyone or myself into a bad situation. I found a couple corners I was able to improve on and shaved a little more off our lap times. We were the last race again, so we sat and waited. As I am sitting and waiting the guy that took first in our race yesterday had his same bike in another earlier race and I see it go by on the crash truck. He was ok but his bike was not going to make it to the race. The thought of getting a good start getting out front and maybe winning started to whirl around in my head…. That was a bad idea.
[Feeling great on the Hyper 8! Photo by: Etech Photo (@etechphoto) ]
[ Making up time with every corner on the Hyper 8. Photo by: Etech Photo (@etechphoto)]
Time for race 2! I decided to pull out into the paddock and test a 2nd gear start to see if I can keep the front wheel down this time. I tried it twice and it seemed like a good idea. We go out on a sighting lap and line up on the grid. A couple deep breaths, visor down, 1 board shows, flag raises and I stall the bike!!! Try to start up quickly and it doesn’t fire, a second attempt and the bike is back running and everybody is gone. New worst start ever! The whole field of 2 classes (probably 12 bikes) are all to turn 2 before I get to turn 1. Moral of this story, (A) don’t think you might win and (B) don’t think 2 practice starts in 2nd gear when you are not used to that is enough. (Note to self – still need to work on starts!)
[ Racing the Hyper 8 at Laguna Seca “WeatherTech Raceway” in Salinas, CA. Photo by: Etech Photo (@etechphoto) ]
Head down and off I go. The bike felt great and I was starting to catch the field. I was starting to pass a bike here and bike there and just kept telling myself relax, ride your own race. I had no idea where I was in the class, but apparently I had pushed hard enough to get myself back into second place again. Had my fastest lap times of the weekend during this race and this was the most consecutive laps our class had done all weekend. White flag shown across start finish and it was one more lap to see where I landed.
[ Tony making moves! Photo by: Etech Photo (@etechphoto) ]
Up the hill over turn 1 and down into the braking zone in turn 2. Next thing I knew my face shield was really close to the ground and I was sliding across the track towards the gravel pit. What?!?!? Am I crashing right now? No way! Sure enough, I had lost the front wheels grip on turn 2 of the last lap and slid to a stop in the gravel. Devastated, frustrated and glad I wasn’t hurt all crossed my mind at the same time as I got up to find I could not ride the bike in its current condition. Now I wait for the race to finish and the trailer of shame to pick me and the bike up.
[ After the crash. Most importantly, body was hurt! ]
The trailer comes and scoops me and the bike up and we strap it onto the trailer. As I sit there I think to myself, glad this happened today and not the first day. But also while sitting on the crashed (left side) of the bike I started looking at the damage and realized I could run this bike no problem if I can swap the rear set (peg). The R&G crash protection we installed literally protected every important part on the bike. There was no frame, engine, suspension, wheel or swing arm damage at all. Not even scratched really. The sliders all did exactly as they were designed to do. I was amazed and by the time I got the paddock on the trailer I was excited to share this info with all who cared to listen. “Yes I am fine, look at how the bike isn’t hardly damaged”. The body work and seat were damaged but none of that would have prevented us from cleaning up a few things, replacing the rear set and getting through tech again. Now we know to have a spare rear set and our R&G crash protection will keep us in the game if this were to happen again.
[ R&G crash protection kept the Hyper 8 from sustaining any substantial damage! ]
There is always a risk of crashing when pushing the limit but it’s nice to know there are products out there that help to get you back on the road or track with very little effort. We will of course tear the bike down and get back to good as new again. Now I can’t wait for the next race weekend!
Overall it was a bittersweet first racing weekend. We learned some stuff and have a good game plan starting to form for the rest of the season. Starting with throwing any and all R&G protection we can at our race machines and preaching in the paddock how well their products work, because they really do!
Hyper 8 Protection
- R&G Racing Rear Axle Sliders
- R&G Racing Front Axle Sliders
- R&G Racing RHS Engine Case Cover (back ordered)
- R&G Racing Aero Frame Sliders
- R&G Racing Center Tank Pad
- R&G Racing LHS Engine Case Slider
Read Hyper 8 Part 1 HERE.
Read Hyper 8 Part 2 HERE.
A special thanks from Tony and the Analog crew!:
We want to thank all our sponsors who have hopped on board for the 2020 race season. Our title sponsor WireCare has been amazing in the shop and we look forward to working with them more. The products they offer give Analog builds that little extra edge and detail that we think sets us apart from a lot of other shops. Our long time shop sponsor Spectro Oils for all the fluids we put into all our builds and race bikes. Magura with the incredible master cylinders #whostopsyou. R&G Racing products came on board with sliders and engine protection for that just in case moment that we never want to experience. Metzeler for the sticky race tires. Race Tech for the incredible suspension products and knowledge. Cone Engineering for the exhaust options. (We actually have another more restrictive set up that we may need to run at Laguna for their strict 105 db limit. So big thanks to Cone for setting us up with options.) And of course Mr. Del Thomas for this incredible build and this experience.