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OMMRA Round 2, Portland International Raceway, May 21-22, 2011
After taking a month off to heal a broken hand, Marcel Irnie would return to racing at round 2 of the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association (OMRRA) series. Marcel traveled to Washington and met teammate Aaron Holmberg at Nel’s Dyno Tuning on Wednesday night prior to the race weekend. They would attempt to extract more horsepower out of Marcel’s notoriously anemic 2008 Kawasaki zx-6r. Nels installed a PC5 fuel injection module, and was able to richen the engine’s air/fuel ratio to bring the bike from 103 horsepower to 110 horsepower at the rear wheel. As many of his competitors’ newer 600 cc bikes would be generating upwards of 125 horsepower, this was an improvement but still far from competitive. Nels noted that the bike seemed to be overheating on the dyno. Not much was made of this observation at the time, but as the weekend unfolded, this problem would prove be a major headache. As Marcel’s (more competitive) Fuzimoto/ Falco/ Redline Motoparts 2005 zx-6rr was still down with transmission woes, he would have to keep flogging his 2008 machine and also race in the 750 class on Aaron’s Impact Canopy/ Oneononedesign/ KFG Racing 2007 Suzuki GSXR.
Both riders would be participating in the Friday track day. Marcel was anxious to put his recently healed hand to the test and the riders had plenty of testing to carry out. Marcel ventured out on his GoPro/ Seattle Tool/ Flyin' Miata zx6r and knew immediately that something was wrong. The engine was overheating under moderate loads and this was not helped by the 28C ambient temperatures. Irnie pitted and flushed the coolant, but this did not seem to cure the issue. Marcel then took to the track on Aaron’s 750 in an effort to get acquainted with the Suzuki. Problems soon emerged with this bike as the front brakes were fading horribly. At the end of the day, Marcel modified the fuel map on his 600 in an effort to lower operating temperatures. Marcel and Aaron also spent considerable time bleeding the brakes on the 750, hoping to cure that issue.
Irnie riding Holmberg's 750 in the dry for the first time.
Thankfully, Saturday morning brought cooler conditions at only 20C. For the practice session, Aaron went out on his 750 and Marcel on the 600. Marcel’s overheating issue was manageable as the water temperature would stay below 105C, unless he was drafting another rider. He was running AMSOIL Synthetic 10W-40 Motorcycle Oil which is known for combating wear under the stress of high heat, so this brought some peace of mind.
Marcel’s first race was the 600 Supersport class. Starting on row D, he had a terrific start; working his way into 7th position by corner 3. He then passed Sam Verderico for 6th. Now Irnie’s lack of horsepower would be exploited by the top 5. The lead pack would pull a 15+ bike-length gap on the long straights. Irnie would gain ground on the corners, only to lose these gains on the straights. Irnie finishes in 7th place, with a fastest lap of 1:12.174. Irnie was able to turn a 1:10.167 on his faster ’05 model in 2010.
Sam Verderico Chases Marcel Irnie through turn 3 at Portland International Raceway, May 21, 2011.
The next race was Aaron Holmberg’s novice race. Holmberg brought his gsxr 750 home in 5th place, and brought his lap time down to a 1:15.832, following Marcel's gear change recommendations. The bike is equipped with a stock chain and sprockets, so 6th gear isn’t even useable at PIR or any track for that matter. They simply ran a 5-speed setup, using second gear everywhere but the straights.
Aaron Holmberg full throttle on the back straight.
Marcel then took a turn on the Suzuki in the 750 Supersport class. Starting from row D, Irnie got off to a terrific start, passing waves of riders to steal 3rd spot. Irnie was chasing two of the Pacific Northwest’s fastest in Kevin Pinkstaff and Christopher Ancien. He could see that they both had an abundance of horsepower as they pulled away from Holmberg’s mostly stock bike on the straights. Matt Priesting passed Irnie on the front straight only to crash at the entrance of corner 9. Irnie’s GoPro HD cameras caught the crash on video. Irnie would eventually finish the race in 5th place in a large field of 32 riders. His fastest lap was 1:10.736 with an average speed of 97.665mph. This was still slower than his fastest lap from 2010 on his 2005 600. Irnie described, “Considering that this was my first race riding Aaron’s 750, and the suspension was setup for his 220lb weight (compared to my 165lb frame), this was a decent result. I was 1.5 seconds off Kevin Pinkstaff’s time, which is very respectable. Kevin was riding his own bike which is a "modified" 750, compared to Aaron’s stock 750 street bike with stock gearing.”
Irnie does the "leg dangle" while hard on the front brakes entering turn 1.
On Saturday evening, Irnie changed out the ecu on his zx6r, hoping that it was cause of the overheating issue. Sunday’s practice soon showed that this setup was untenable as the bike could only generate 230kmph on the straights compared to 250kmph on Saturday. The previous ecu set went back in as he felt that it was better to contend with the overheating issue rather than compound his already poor horsepower situation. To add more uncertainty, Irnie ran out of pump fuel and opted to use some leftover race fuel from 2010.
07-08 zx6r's were know for low horsepower, but great handling... while the stock 09zx6r motor is a monster. doh!
The first race on Sunday was the 600 Superbike class. Starting from Row D in a 19 rider field, Irnie passed 3 riders off the start. and moved his way up to 7th spot, battling with riders who have 20 to 25 horsepower over him. Irnie chased Jacob Brown and Bryan Rothenburger while being pursued by Jason Gasparinatos and Jason Zaslaw. With engine temperature hovering at 110C, he soon finds that race fuel is not agreeing with the overheating situation as the bike would barely pull 5th gear. Irnie decided to back-off slightly and hope to get to the checkers. He limped home in a disappointing 9th place.
Irnie in 6th, chases the pack in 600 superbike.
Aaron’s novice race was next. He cruised home in 7th place and wasn’t thrilled with the result. A crash at a WMRRA event earlier in the month was still fresh in his mind, so finishing up the weekend with some enjoyable, incident-free racing was fine by him.
Holmberg makes the outside pass entering turn 4.
The final race of the weekend for Marcel was the 750 Superbike race. The start did not go well for Irnie as he put the gsxr 750 into a wheelie off the line. He out-braked a number of riders entering turn 1, but lost those places as he was pushed to the outside of turn 2. Marcel was engaged in battle with Bryan Rothenburger for much of the race. Rothenburger was riding a 600cc r6, which actually produced more horsepower than the stock IrnieRacing gsxr 750. During this race, Marcel was starting to feel the effects of a month off and long weekend of racing and wrenching. He ultimately passed Rothenburger for 7th place in turn 4 and held him off to the finish. Irnie’s fastest lap was a 1:11.682.
Awesome photo by Mr. Phillips. Rothenburger follows Irnie very closely waiting to strike like a Tiger.
So it’s back to the drawing board for IrnieRacing as they hope to get the 2005 zx6rr back into service and find a solution to the overheating and chronic horsepower issues of the 2008 zx6r.
Team IrnieRacing would like to thank Ryan Phillips (threesixtyphotography.com), Bob Edwards (facebook.com/GPz550) and Ben Arboleda (xqsmephotography.com) for the amazing external race photos. You guys are great people, and I really appreciate your support. thx.
Irnieracing.com is sponsored by: Impact Canopy, KFG Racing, Fuzimoto, 2WheelDynoworks, Redline Motoparts, Flyin' Miata, Classified Motorsports, AMSOIL Synthetics, Seattle Tool, Advanced Motorcycle Gear (Falco), GoPro Cameras, Pinnacle Physio, Valley Motosport, Oneononedesign, World Gym Kelowna, and EBC Brakes.