Doug Lawrence “was chasing the ball” all day at the famous Harley-Davidson sponsored Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds September 3, but ultimately had too many issues to make the 25 lap Main Event, National round 15 for American Flat Track Twins.
After brake troubles forced 2015 Flat Track Canada Champ Lawrence of Mississauga, ON., from the grid in his third Heat race, Lawrence’s Weirbach Kawasaki Ninja 650 won the Last Chance Qualifier to make it into the next race, the opening Semi Final. Unfortunately, a charging Lawrence had a clutch issue and was forced to retire, ending his day.
Fellow former Canadian Champ Don Taylor of Port Colborne, ON, travelled to Springfield with Lawrence and made it to his Semi with a strong fifth place finish in Heat Race number three. Aboard a Racing Unlimited/Bel Ray/Motovan supported Kawasaki twin, Taylor retired from Semi race number one just one lap later than Lawrence, also with a clutch problem.
“Those five laps of feeling awesome again on a race bike were great,” confirmed Parts Canada backed Lawrence while returning from the Springfield. “You want to get that felling back, but I don’t want to have any problems. I adapting well to getting back on the Kawasaki, but you have to be so in touch with the bike to achieve any results at this level.”
Lawrence explained that “the track was very similar to 2013; in the past three years it was good grip with a narrow line, grooved, but his year it was so much more wide open, and I really liked it.
“The bike I rode yesterday wasn’t as fast as the Kawasaki I used in previous years, but it did handle better – the old bike was only aimed at big tracks like Indy or Springfield. This bike I rode yesterday was easier to ride from zero to eighty percent, with a lot more throttle feel. It’s a C & J chassis, the same as before, but the engine really affects how the bike works overall.”
As with his single previous outing on the Weirbach Kawasaki at the Black Hills Half Mile at Rapid City, South Dakota, Lawrence explains that “I was way off with gearing to start with, not in the ballpark, and the bike wasn’t revving hard at all – we had to add teeth. Than I started climbing the ladder. I added another tooth of gearing, and I might have even gone further for the Semi, but didn’t get a chance to ride.
“Then in the first heat, the caliper wasn’t attached properly, and it came off on the way to the grid, and ripped the brake line off. So that pushed us into the LCQ.
“We have zero points, so we don’t have a drafting partner – we aren’t near anyone in the top ten in points, so that hurts our laps, and I’m riding with guys who are a second and a half off the pace – we can’t really help each other.”
In the Last Chance Qualifier, Lawrence hooked up with Weirbach team-mate Chad Cose to fight for victory, eventually winning by 0.14 of a second.
“Racing with Chad Coss for the win in the LCQ, that was sweet,” confirmed Lawrence. “We were finally starting to run the way we should.
“Then into the semi, I’m behind the eight ball again, they take the top nine. I knew I was fast, I could do it, but if someone broke up the draft, that would be a problem. I was up to fourth or fifth, watching (eventual winner Jared) Mees around the bottom, sliding everywhere, and I figured I could catch these guys and get to the front, maybe get a second or third.
“Then I had two laps while my bike was slowing, before I put my hand up, and then I had to stop. It was weird, the clutch problem – we think Don had the same issue on the next lap. They’ll look at the engines today or tomorrow.”
Lawrence also explained that “Taylor was going good, and he is someone who can hop in and race – he truly can. He was in the ballpark, but he was starting to struggle with grip. We were all struggling for grip.”
As far as the remaining three National rounds of the American Flat Track tour are concerned, Lawrence says that “I would consider going out west to ride the last race, but I need to know the bike is good – so I’ll see if I can put something together. We did have five or six awesome laps, so that’s encouraging.”