In his first full season as a Pro road racer, former Flat Track Canada National Champion Doug Lawrence of Mississauga, ON, is still getting the hang of pavement life. Instead of a busy afternoon and evening at a dirt oval, he now digs in for four days at one venue, working up to speed aboard his Pi Racing 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Of course, fitness is still a big part of his program, and riding a variety of machines in a range of conditions is central to the Lawrence training regime. During a weekend off in June, Lawrence attended the opening round of the Flat Track Canada nationals at Welland, and won at one of his favourite short track venues.
In the break between round three of the Mopar CSBK Nationals at Autodrome St-Eustache June 25 and the upcoming Honda/Pro Cycle-backed double header weekend at Atlantic Motorsport park in Nova Scotia, July 13-16, Lawrence is busy “training, riding my mountain bike, riding the road bicycle. I went up to Blue Mountain to ride with (fellow Pro) Ben Young, and Kenny (Riedmann, another CSBK Star) joined us for a day.
“We’re also busy with the Suzuki, working on the bike, focused on the mapping and other items with Payam,” explained Lawrence of his tuner Shafinia.
This Thursday, Lawrence will take his new GSX-R to a Riders Choice Track Day at Shannonville Motorsport Park, building his road race experience – an important consideration for someone who started pavement competition less than two years ago. Then this weekend, Lawrence will return to Welland for a regional flat track race before heading to Atlantic Motorsport Park for the next Mopar CSBK event and his continuing quest for Brooklin Cycle Pro Rookie of the Year honours.
“Right now, I’m watching video, trying to get the track figured out,” explained Lawrence, who has not previously competed around the famed Shubenacadie 'Roller Coaster.' “I’ve been studying Jodi Christie, his races against Kenny in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike back in 2015,” continues Lawrence. “The track looks fun, Don Taylor (fellow Canadian FT champ and road racer) says that I’ll love it. But I think it will be a tough weekend – a lot of the top guys have a good handle on AMP.
“I haven’t grown up around tracks with all that elevation change, and AMP has a lot of different right-hand corners. Then you have that run up the hill onto the pit straight, and I’m not sure how you get your reference points sorted out when you’re looking in the sky!”
One of the details of road racing that is holding Lawrence’s attention is the Dunlop spec slick tires that all the competitors use.
“I guess I’m pretty easy on tires so far, so we’ll see if that holds true at Shubie. I think I’m doing well with my feel with the throttle, but I’m not using too much Traction Control (TC). I don’t fully understand all of our available systems, I’m still working through the options available and the electronic opportunities.”
So how has the process of learning to race with the Pros on the pavement gone so far?
“The first thing that comes to mind is all the things I learned about over the winter,” starts Lawrence. “All of those rider aids, you need to learn to use that stuff. TC, auto blip, wheelie control; you need to focus on getting the wheels down on the pavement and working. I’m not really making many adjustments yet, but that’s coming.
“Getting to grips with a new tire, getting the most from it, that is a challenge too. When you put on a new tire and go looking for the available time, the top guys get that .8 of a second or whatever right away – I have to work up to it. I have to get settled, I’m not ready right away – it takes me a few laps, and that’s funny, since in flat track our sessions are so short! I need more knowledge, and that leads to more confidence. This is an issue in the early laps of the races too.
“In Flat Track, you’re always making little mistakes, you fix things as you go," Lawrence informs. "But in road racing, if you’re off-line, that could affect half a lap, and you’re losing time. At St-Eustache, I was mistake-free in the main event, and my times were just off Jeff Williams and Samuel Trepanier (both on BMWs). I was a tenth or two away from those guys, and that is where I need to be.
“In the first nationals of the season, I thought I would pick up the pace earlier in the races, and I took it for granted that would happen. I’m getting there, but it is tougher than I expected to build the pace. I don’t have the outright aggression or raw speed I would like yet, but things are progressing and I’m making some good passes, starting to do what I need to do. I’m getting more comfortable, working on comfort with the speed, working on body position – it doesn’t matter what Jordan (Szoke) or Bodhi (Edie) are doing, not yet for me."
Once the CSBK tour is complete at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, August 17-20, Lawrence plans to return to the dirt ovals. He’ll compete at the London half-mile national, probably on his recently-updated 485 cc Honda framer single, looking forward to London’s “narrow, slippery groove.” After that, he is considering offers to compete aboard a twin for several US teams at the Springfield Mile, a national round where he has performed well in the past. Following the American Flat Track races, Lawrence aims to complete at the final Flat Track Canada national at Ohsweken on September 2.
Lawrence’s 2017 road racing program is sponsored by Suzuki Canada, Pi Racing, Parts Canada, Pro 6 Cycle, Alpinestars, HJC, Motion Pro, Dunlop. Brooklin Cycle Racing, Town Moto, Vortex, Hot Bodies, John Briggs Motorsports and Two Wheel Motorsport.
Tuesday, 04 July 2017 05:19 Published in News
Jared Mees took his Rogers Racing Indian Scout FTR750 to a solid win in the opening race of the new era of American Flat Track, the 25-lap Harley-Davidson Daytona Twins TT at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday night. The win was the first success for Indian in the modern era, and gave them a head start in the 20-round 2017 AFT national championship against arch rival Harley-Davidson.
Victory in the first-ever Daytona TT was the 21st Grand National success for Mees, who also earned the Ohlins Award for the fastest Twins lap of the event on the brand new track.
Daytona marked the first time since the Peoria TT in 1983 that twins raced in a TT-style main event, although Daytona’s sole jump was very low key. There are three more TT events this season; another change to recent trends is the requirement that all Twins riders wear leathers rather than motocross gear in 2017.
Second overall in the feature race went to the second works Indian of veteran Bryan Smith, a lengthy nine seconds behind Mees in a race with significant attrition at the front. After starting on the outside of the second row of the grid on his Kawasaki KX-framed twin, Henry Wiles worked his way up to nab third at the finish, just behind Smith.
The best placing liquid-cooled Harley was fourth placed Jacob Johnson, just ahead of fifth overall Bronson Bauman on another Kawasaki Ninja twin.
“The race was great,” explained Mees from the podium. “We were making adjustments, after the heats and semis, and working things through, right until the last minute. I got a great start in the main, and I really think that was the biggest key. I just want to make a real shout out to our entire team. It’s the start we need.”
Reigning champ Smith said that he was happy with his Indian debut. “I really wanted to be the one to get that first win,” Smith admitted, “but we’re all still stoked for Indian. You have to be satisfied with the performance of a brand new bike, with all the unknowns.”
“That race was a lotta fun,” started Wiles, famous for his high fitness level and one of just a couple of riders at Daytona who stuffed a twin engine into an MX frame rather than a conventional ‘framer’ chassis. “We were shooting a little higher, but this was only the second time out with a new bike, and the other guys were a little faster in a straight line. I didn’t even know we were racing for second there at the end, so the podium is a good start.”
Former Canadian Flat Track champ Doug Lawrence was on hand to watch the event. “Fresh” isn’t sure when he will open his 2017 dirt track campaign, since he is focused on his new Suzuki Canada Mopar CSBK road racing program. Lawrence was testing at the Jennings G.P. venue earlier in the week aboard a Jon Cornwell-built older model GSX-R1000, and was happy to be back on track, as well as doing some bicycle training and motocross down south.
“I think the track was pretty good, they did the best with what they had,” said Lawrence of the new Daytona TT layout, pre-built under the just-used Monster Supercross track in the tri-oval area in front of the NASCAR pit lane. “It got to be one line, kind of hard to pass, but if they went the other way it would have been just too rough and gnarly.
“I don’t know if the track was too much fun to ride at the end there, so you had to be impressed with the Indians, and they basically ran what they had been testing last year. Obviously, it was tougher for the Harley guys, and they had their issues.
“You had to like the way the Indians worked,” continued Lawrence. “They had good power, but more than that they had super clean delivery, from really low down, in the tight stuff. That makes things easier. Now everyone has to get used to the new (AFT race) format, but that won’t take long.”
Dalton Gauthier won the 15-lap AFT Singles national aboard a Yamaha YZ450F, taking the lead on the brakes from Wyatt Anderson’s KTM in the last corner and holding on at the finish line. “Tomato Juice” Kolby Carlile was a close third on a brand new Honda, the top three covered by less than a second after a great dice up front.
Thursday, 16 March 2017 23:12 Published in News
“It hasn’t really been a long off-season, but it feels like it at times,” explains former Canadian national flat track champion Doug Lawrence, who will make the move to the Pro road race ranks this season aboard a Suzuki GSX-R1000. Lawrence announced his new Suzuki Canada program for the 2017 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship at the Toronto Motorcycle Show last weekend.
“I’m excited to get a program to ride the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 in 2017,” confirms the man some call ‘Fresh.’ “I’m excited to go road racing, that’s what it comes down to. I’ve had some offers, with different bikes, from great people, and really I’ve just been trying to figure out what could work the best for me. I appreciate all the help from everyone, and I think the Suzuki program is right for me. My aim is to build with that, to get the ball rolling with Suzuki and their return (to Canadian Superbike).
“I’ll get a bike, hopefully, by mid-March, and get it track-ready,” Lawrence continued. “For me, with my level of road racing experience, it’s essential to just get on the track and get riding. I need bodywork and suspension, but that’s really all I will need to get out and start riding. Then I can get going from there, get the feedback for the people who are working with me.
“I think that usually, with Suzuki, things are pretty close to perfect, and this bike has been in development for some time,” says Lawrence about his weapon for 2017. “I’m confident that the new GSX-R1000 will be good.
“People tell me it doesn’t make sense to test on old tires, things like that, and I do understand the advice,” notes Lawrence, whose entry into the Pro SBK ranks is perhaps the most interesting story of the 2017 CSBK preseason. “But I have only ridden a road race bike for seven or eight days in total. I really just need to get some laps in before we really start development, doing race laps, race-distance testing. I just need to get the bike underneath me, really fell it, and go from there. I’d like to ride Grand Bend, Mosport, Shannonville, before those national rounds. I would like to go down south, I have some good connections in Ohio and Michigan. We’ll see what happens.
“I have to manage my plan, not get too overwhelmed with stuff – I have been so excited over the past few months. I need to get one motorcycle ready, and go from there.”
As far as flat track racing goes in 2017, the former No. 1 plateholder is depending on his mechanic and father, Doug Sr, to lead the charge.
“My Dad is excited for me, and wants to see where I’m going. He’s not a huge road racing fan,” Lawrence laughs. “He knows what I have going on, and he wants me to do it. He’s building another flat track bike for me, to ride in the new Twins class in the States.”
However, Lawrence did admit that following the national CSBK tour will curb his Canadian flat track appearances.
“My riding in the Flat Track Canada national series will be restricted. I raced 26 weekends last year, and I got a bit overwhelmed in the last half of the season. My mind was focused on the CSBK round at Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) after I started my first national at St-Eustache, and I know my flat track program suffered for that. I’m not committed to too-too much in the States, and fortunately my dad says ‘Hey, we’ve got this bike ready for you whenever you want to go for it and ride.’
“Right now, I have a plan for doing the first two American half-miles before the CSBK nationals start, but I have to dedicated my time and mind to the Suzuki program for the CSBK national series. After the final CSBK round at CTMP, there are still four or five American Flat Track races I can get to in the United States. Those eight or so AMA races are at racetracks I want to ride at as well.
“I have some goals in flat track that I want to achieve, and I feel like I can turn up at those races and be right up to speed.”
As far as support is concerned, Lawrence admits that “there is lots of talking going on, and I have been waiting to get the Suzuki deal confirmed. I have supporters and friends who have helped, and I know they are there for me, and now I have to get out there and work on it. I know that we can’t have the big factory deals of 10 or 20 years ago, but I really wanted to do it, to race the CSBK series.”
Lawrence will be visiting several tracks for the first time, including the home of the famed east-coast ‘roller coaster,’ Atlantic Motorsport Park, in Shubenacadie, NS.
“I’m excited to go places like Shubenacadie,” Lawrence states. “During the off-season, I have told people I actually had more fun racing at St-Eustache then I did at Mosport. I’ve been watching videos, and it seems like you have to be really accurate at Atlantic Motorsport Park. You have to minimize mistakes. It’s another track with a lot of character, lots of uphill and downhill. It’s all new to me.
“I think the Shannonville opener will be really tough; lots of the guys in the series grew up riding there. Grand Bend will be more of a level playing field, not too many of the national guys have a lot of laps around there. Mosport is at the end of the year; I like that place. The speed is a little higher than flat track, and it’s really flowing, but the track is in some ways forgiving. By that time, I aim to be up to speed with the faster group, and I’m comfortable with the drafting.
“I don’t have any specific goals in terms of finishing positions,” Lawrence humbly admits. “I’m more concerned with getting comfortable on the bike, be able to adapt to riding in the Pro ranks on a big bike. The Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year is a goal, but that isn’t my only target. I want to do better in every race. I have to wipe the slate clean after every race, good or bad. It’s a rebuilding process and there is a new race track at the next round. I can’t get too high, can’t get too low.
“I’ve been through all of these things in my flat track career,” summarized Canada’s newest Pro Superbike racer. It’s a different discipline, but it’s still racing a motorcycle.”
Saturday, 25 February 2017 08:57 Published in News