"Holmberg's 7fiddy goes FU" HD VIDEO
Photo by Ryan Phillips
OMRRA Round 7, October 8-9, 2011, Portland International Raceway, Portland OR.
The 2011 season for Irnie Racing was one wrought with ups, downs and everything in between. For most of the season Marcel Irnie played “catch-up”, trying to stay with the competition on woefully underpowered motorcycles. Irnie achieved several hard-earned top five finishes on machinery that had no business being up front. The highlight of the season was most certainly the two first pro victories of his career. With a tough season almost in the books, Irnie looked to close out the season in Portland with a good result and get on with the business of reloading for 2012.
Irnie made the trip from Canada with friend Zac White. On the way, they picked up Jon Woods and teammate Aaron Holmberg 07' GSXR 750. The riders were greeted on Saturday morning by sunshine, so Irnie quickly got down to the task of switching to dry tires. As he removed the rain tires, he realized that this particular set had been on quite a wild ride. Since purchasing them used from Jon Friesen at the beginning of 2010, the tires had been mounted on at least 5 different motorcycles and had brought him home on both of his wins.
Irnie’s first race on Saturday was the 750 Supersport race. He started from the 3rd row in 12th position on Holmberg’s stock Suzuki 750. Irnie got a terrific launch off the line and braked late into the first turn to nab 5th position. Irnie then fought over this position for much of the race with Sam Verderico, who’s Suzuki was packing an extra 20 horsepower over Irnie’s machine. A common refrain for many races this season was an under-powered Irnie being passed in the straights and braking late into corners to make up time. The long straights at PIR would make this race no different. Verderico would pass Irnie just 10 metres before the finish line, leaving Irnie with a 6th place finish by just 0.096 seconds. Marcel’s fastest lap of 1:09.532 would be his fastest effort to date on the Holmberg 750.
Irnie was given the nick name "elbowz" by the OMRRA corner workers for a reason.
GoPro HD onboard Irnie's helmet for the 750ss race.
Later in the day was the Formula Ultra class. The Holmberg 750 churns out just 132 horsepower while competitor’s 1000cc bikes deliver upwards of 185. Irnie had been hoping for rain as it had proven to be a great equalizer, but no such luck this time. Irnie got off to a great start, entering the first corner in 6th spot. By corner 4, aggressive braking had netted passes on both Anthony Manciu and Tony Porter, putting him right behind Kevin Pinkstaff who was holding 3rd. Porter would slip by leaving Manciu and Irnie to battle it out for 5th place. While the two duked it out for much of the race, Scott Decker sailed by the pair to claim 4th spot. Irnie prevailed over Manciu by just under a second to secure 6th place.
Sunday morning started out as a rainy day, but it soon subsided. This left the riders with very difficult tire decisions prior to the practice session as it was too wet for dries, but possibly too dry for rain tires. Irnie went out on rain tires and after a few warm-up laps, decided to put in a fast lap to test traction limits. He found that limit on the exit of corner 4, as the rear wheel slid out and the bike high-sided; tossing Irnie into the grass. Luckily he was fine and the bike sustained minimal damage.
As the Formula Ultra start time approached, the track was still wet in many places and the vexing question about tire choice remained. After much deliberation, Irnie opted to go with his trusty rain set, knowing that they would likely be destroyed by the intermediate conditions. Starting from 12th spot, Irnie executed another brilliant start, charging into 4th spot in corner one. He then passed Christopher Ancien and Sam Verderico on the inside of corner 3 to take 2nd spot. Irnie then quickly set his sights on race leader Kevin Pinkstaff, but Irnie had no chance of out-running Pinkstaff’s 2011 zx-10r on the long straights. Soon Tony Porter and Verderico sailed by and the battle for the top 4 positions was on. Irnie worked hard to keep the top 3 riders within striking distance and after 2 laps was able to enter that fray. In corner 4, he passed Tony Porter for 3rd and was within striking distance of Verderico in 2nd. Irnie was able to pass for 2nd place on a couple of occasions, but Verderico’s extra horsepower on the straights allowed him to hold 2nd place for good, while Irnie held off Porter to claim 3rd. Marcel was quite pleased with this result as Holmberg’s underpowered stock 750 put him at a huge disadvantage in this race.
The 750 Superbike race was just an hour later, but light rain during that interval brought more tire choice headaches. Irnie ultimately opted for dry tires, but an early race call had him scrambling to get his wheels installed. Thankfully Zac and Shawn McKnight were able to assist and get him to the line just in time. During the warm-up lap, Irnie noted that the clutch was dragging at times. Starting from 12th place, Irnie achieved yet another good start, taking 4th place in turn one. As the race got under way, a light mist began to develop and Irnie’s “dry” tire choice was looking like it would be giving a huge advantage to riders that gambled on “wets”. To compound the issue, the clutch is now starting to slip under power. Irnie made cable adjustments on the long straights in the hopes of easing the situation. The race was soon red flagged due to a crash and now the mist had turned to steady rain. The race was restarted and Speedy Kinzer, who wisely mounted rain tires before the race, sliced through the pack to take the lead. Irnie once again battled with Sam Verderico over 4th place. A slick track, poor visibility and a fading clutch made for a difficult race, but Irnie was able to hold off Verderico for 4th by 0.18 seconds at the line.
As Irnie decided that the clutch was no longer viable, he opted to end his weekend (and season) at this point and skip the Open Superbike race. Now Irnie Racing looks to 2012 with considerable optimism. Irnie was quite competitive on under-powered machinery during most of 2011, so the goal is to secure better machinery for 2012. The challenge will most likely be the OMRRA and WMRRA #1 plates, with select races in California. Formula Ultra being the premier class to win, followed by a surprise 600 superbike built by Dave Alexander, a welcome addition to the team. Dave will be responsible for Irnie's superbike motors in 2012. Dave Alexander is Larry Pegram's chew chief for the last few years, and brings a wealth of knowlege to the Irnieracing pits.
Irnie Racing would like to thanks the following sponsors for their contribution to the 2011 season. A shout out also goes to Bob Edwards and Ryan Phillips -Photags. You guys are amazing. Thank you so much. A big thanks to Aaron Holmberg, and the Holmberg family for supporting the team. Cheers
Impact Canopy thanks for the wicked tent, everyone loves it, Advanced Motorcycle Gear love the gear buddy, thx for keeping me safe, OneOnOneDesign Uber talented designer Tara Simpson, Classified Motorsports lets go rally racing yo, World Gym Kelowna Everyone is so friendly, and thx Ryan Brown from Idolfit, Seattle Tool everyone loves the aviation grade tools, RedlineMotoParts.com Ryan you da man, thx for keeping me on the dirt trails, AMSOIL Synthetics 25,000 mile oil change, CHEERS to reducing waste oil by 80%, GoPro Camera great photaging little buddies, think big next year, KFG Racing love a dub dub give me a hug Wressell's, 2WheelDynoWorks Nels you are awesome, thanks for being on the team, Flyin' Miata EMMA will be rally racing soon.. I swear!, EBC Brakes "best on the brakes award goes too? haha," thx, and BuyRedline.com looking forward to Formula Ultra with the 1000'cc dub machine, ye yeah.
Irnie cruises in Saturday morning practice at PIR
Heading onto the backstraight. See the exhaust vapor
Thank you everyone for all your support.
750 superbike was in mixed conditions. What tires would you run?
Irnie attemps and outside pass on Sam exiting onto the front straight.
Who will outbrake whom?
It only took 4 corners to catch the leader in Formulta Ultra, starting from the last row, riding a 750. Decent!