Former Flat Track Canada National Champ Doug Lawrence is just about ready for his first National of the season, round two of the American Flat Track National Championship, coming up this weekend in Georgia. Lawrence will compete in the Harley-Davidson Atlanta Short Track presented by Hellbender Harley-Davidson at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock on Saturday, April 7.
“Atlanta, round two, was always part of the plan,” explained Lawrence prior to his next trip south. “We’re warmed up, and getting back in the game. This should be a good track for us, a forgiving track, it’s round and slippery, so that should work for us. The stage is set to get back on the pace.”
After skipping most of the American Flat Track series last season, this year Lawrence plans to compete on the tour full-time for the next couple of months.
“For Atlanta, it will be one motorcycle only, and that is our Harley-Davidson XR750,” confirms Lawrence. “We always had the plan to use the XR for the half miles, and then move to our new Kawasaki at the big (mile) tracks.”
Last month, Lawrence and his tuner/father Doug Sr. went south for the traditional warm-up events, bringing both their established XR and brand new Ninja twins. That program was a success, so now they are ready to get back on the premier Flat Track tour.
“We had two days with the Kawasaki testing at Savannah, and then raced the XR. Then we went to Volusia and raced the Kawasaki, and we were satisfied with the progress overall from those events.
“We had slow starts racing the XR, but we worked up good enough to get third, we were really going good on my kind of track, behind Brad Baker (Indian) and Kenny Coolbeth (Indian). As far as the slow start, my excuse is that it is tough to come off the bench!”
“At Volusia, we maybe should have ridden our XR, but we needed to race the Kawasaki, learn about that bike, so I knew going in that would be the harder plan. We were getting there with the Ninja, getting faster, and the shorter 15 lap race actually helped us.”
“We defiantly would have done really well with the XR at Volusia, but that wasn’t a goal. We got a 4th and a 6th with our Kawasaki, and we are getting there with the chassis and the handling in terms of set-up. Our whole mission for the trip south was accomplished, the lap times on the XR750 were fast, we are right there, where we need to be.”
“With the Kawasaki, we were about .2 of a second behind Jared Mees (Indian FTR750 mounted National Champ), so that is a positive. I’m not planning to race the Kawasaki on the Half Miles, it is there for the Mile races.”
“At Atlanta this weekend, the goal is obviously to make the Main event,” considers Lawrence. “With the new format down there, you only really have one shot to make it into the feature, and you can’t risk any kind of issue.
“Things have changed with the American Flat Track tour, and it will take some adjustments,” continues Lawrence. “People are riding all the time, practicing, where as ten ears ago, people were busy working on their bikes. Now the top guys have paid mechanics to look after their twins. It’s tougher now, and you have to be mentally stronger.”
“Things are really serious now, everyone is in this to make a living,” continues Lawrence of the revamped National Tour. “It is different to before, and the little guy doesn’t really get much play. I’m going to be that little guy who makes it out of the Heat race, who makes his mark. I respect these guys, and I want to be part of all of this.
“We will have to see how we make out with our new plan in this new atmosphere. After this weekend, we have a short break and then we are on the road for five races. J.R. Addison will be taking my bikes across the country, we will share expenses.
“After the big Springfield AFT National (May 26/27), the next weekend is the Flat Track Canada National at Welland, and we will take our single to that if everything works out. And I’m still trying to work out a program for Mopar CSBK, maybe a 600cc program for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August.”
Among the supporters for Lawrence on the American Flat Track tour in 2018 are Town Moto, John Briggs, American Harley-Davidson, Arai Helmets, Full Bore, Side Boots and MotoNation.