With his eyes set on an early start to the season, Irnie traveled to Washington two days prior to the WMRRA event to put the final touches on the BMW’s race trim. Nels at 2Wheel DynoWorks tuned the bike with the new Graves titanium exhaust producing 182rwhp on regular pump gas mixed with AMSOIL Octane Boost. Marcel then took the OEM forks to KFG Racing to install the GP 25mm fork cartridges and pickup the new Penske rear shock. Back at Teammate Andrew Rogers shop, the team installed the Yoyodyne fairing stay, Toby Steering Dampener, and Rad Guard Australiaproducts.
The Friday morning practice session was met with heavy rain, so Irnie opted to forgo riding in the morning with the hope that the afternoon conditions would improve. The rain subsided by noon and the winds picked up, so track conditions were such that riders could go out on intermediate tires. Irnie was stunned by the performance of the BMW. According to Irnie, "the horsepower seemed infinite and the handling was superb." After years of racing bikes that put Irnie at a distinct power disadvantage, this would be a pleasant departure from previous seasons. Irnie rode very conservatively with this being his first track session of 2012 on a new motorcycle.
Saturday practice brought more of the wet stuff. Irnie installed a two year old Pirelli rain front mixed with a new Pirelli rear and put in some "hot' laps. He was especially pleased with the performance of the BMW traction control system and anti-lock brakes.
Irnie’s first race was the Open Supersport class. As the start time for this race drew closer, the rain stopped and the winds started to dry the track surface. With his bike shod in full wet-weather tires and 10 minutes to start time, Irnie had to make a fast decision. He and Dave Alexander decided to change out the rear tire and throw on the OEM Continental street tire. As full wet-weather tires would be a disadvantage in dry conditions, this compromise was the best option with the change completed just moments before start time.
Irnie carefully completed the warm-up lap, observing that the back section of the course was still wet. As the race started, Irnie was cautious; carefully feeling out how his new tire situation would work in these mixed conditions. Irnie was nine seconds behind race leader Mark DeGross after lap 1. By lap 2 Irnie picked up the pace, decreasing his lap time by 5 full seconds. DeGross was on full rain tires and this made for greasy handling as the race unfolded. Irnie eventually finished in second, just 2 seconds behind DeGross. He had the fastest lap of the race by almost 2 seconds; proving that the last minute tire change would have been the correct call, if the race was only one lap longer!
Sunday morning brought more unrelenting rain. Riders carefully navigated the track during practice and these conditions continued through Irnie’s first race of the day which was the Open Superbike class. Irnie got a respectable second place start, again following Mark DeGross into the first corner. The two riders battled for the remainder of the race and pushed each other to progressively faster laptimes. The riders lapped in the 1:38 range for the first 5 laps and then lapped in the 1:34’s by the end of the race. DeGross held Irnie off for the win, but Irnie took solace in the fact that his impressive new BMW is more than up to the task of securing race wins. Irnie notched the fastest lap of the race with a 1:34.663.
The last race of the day was the Formula Ultra class and the rain continued unabated. Huge puddles were accumulating on the track and the most concerning for Marcel was in the “death shoot”. This is an area of the track where riders enter the main “drag strip” section. A long concrete wall lines the right-hand of this section and the deep pool of water adjacent to it made for a huge hydroplaning risk. Irnie got off to a bad start, following DeGross and WMRRA #1 Plate holder Eli Edwards through the first lap. After a few laps and a few high-speed scares though the large “death shoot” puddle, Irnie eased up. As the conditions were horrendous and a long season was ahead of him, he felt no need to push his luck today. He eased up to finish 20seconds behind DeGross and Edwards.
Despite the wet conditions, Irnie was pleased with the progress made throughout the weekend. He stated, “I couldn’t be happier with the Bentley Motorrad BMW S1000RR. This bike is nuts, simply the best out there! I can’t wait to see its potential at our next race at Portland International! I think the 299kmh may be possible down the front straight. Lets go find out!”
The next race for Irnie Racing is at Portland International Raceway, April 21, 2012.
Team Irnieracing.com is sponsored by AMSOIL Synthetics, Graves Motorsports, Bentley Motorrad, Advanced Motorcycle Gear, Yoyodyne, Idol-Fit, Dave Alexander, KFG Racing, World Gym Kelowna, Pro-Bolt USA, 2Wheel DynoWorks, EBC Brakes, GoPro, Oneononedesign, Woodcraft Technologies, Heroic Racing Apparel, Nu-Life Hearing Center, Moto-D Racing Tirewarmers and Armour Bodies.