Prior to the event, Ethan's Parts Canada-sponsored Suzuki GSX-R1000 "Eleanor" underwent some rather drastic changes which included updates to the clutch internals, chassis geometry as well as a decision to go back to a DOT street tire in lieu of the racing slick. It was a bold move for Barkley to go back to the DOT tire as he was giving up a considerable amount of grip over the slick that he has been using for most of the last two seasons.
"The slick compensated for shortcomings within the chassis,” Barkley stated before the race. “I made adjustments that should give the bike more than enough grip on a typical surface.”
The conditions in Rimbey were picture perfect and the staff had prepared the surface for optimal grip. Ethan and his crew chief Tom decided to run a conservative tune in an attempt to get a feel for the new clutch and record valuable data. The opening pass proved that the new parts were working good and they decided to keep working on the launch without adding any more power down track.
By the second round of qualifying, Ethan was nearly duplicating his best ever launch with a 60-foot time of 1.247 seconds. The third and final pass in qualifying was where Ethan found the upper limit of the current chassis configurations with the bike launching into an ever increasing wheelie, forcing him to shut off the throttle early into the run which netted a terrible elapsed time. Even though he qualified second with a 5.04 / 148 mph, a mere 0.1 second back of first, Ethan knew they were on the right track.
In the opening round of testing on Sunday morning Ethan had a hunch the track was even better than the day before and used it to his advantage.
Without adding any more total boost, Ethan's focus was understanding the new clutch and chassis in order to have the bike leave the line smoothly. The new setup worked really well and the bike launched with a new career best 60-foot time of 1.195 seconds! The 1/8th mile scoreboards flashed 4.85/150!
With very little boost, Ethan was able to accelerate quicker than ever before, nearly eclipsing the 1/8th mile record he set last season at the series finale of 4.82 seconds except that was achieved with much higher boost levels that netted over 158 mph. Doing more with less has always been Ethan's motto, and there was little doubt that he was going in the right direction.
The next two elimination passes were equally as impressive, with another career best 60' time of 1.186 seconds except Ethan was having some wheelie problems about 40' into the run and needed to settle the bike down if he wanted a shot at the win in the finals.
Barkley studied the data from the previous runs and came up with a slightly milder power delivery that would keep the back tire gripped to the track while carrying the front wheel inches off the ground. He and his rival Rob Aston on his turbocharged Hayabusa lined up and the race to the 1/8th mile stripe was on. Rob left the line with a slight advantage as he cut a great light, with Ethan giving chase. Ethan's rear tire hooked up to the track and he was gone like a shot, another career best of 1.17 seconds to the 60' and a new Canadian Pro Street record 4.79 /151 at the finish!
Ethan knew it was a great pass but didn't realize how good until he received the timing slip after the run.
"I always knew Eleanor could leave the line as hard as any of the best Pro Street Bikes in the world... now we just proved it!" Ethan proudly exclaimed.
The next stop on the CMDRA Series is The Oil City Nationals at Castrol Raceway, Edmonton, AB. on August 7, where Ethan will be looking to turn up the boost in an effort to break his previous Canadian record of 7.28 seconds!