Challenging Weekend @ MotoAmerica Barber Round
It wouldn't be Chris if things didn't get complicated. After a training accident the Sunday before the Barber MotoAmerica round left Bettis with a bruised collarbone and a grade 2 separated shoulder the E Cloud / FAST team knew it would be an uphill battle to compete but the show must go on. Nursing the shoulder the week before the races Bettis did everything he could to to make sure he was ready to compete.
Excitement ran high on the way to the event and the team felt ready and prepared. Eric Sanders owner of E Cloud showed up with his team to support Bettis and the weather was perfect. After just a few laps in qualifying Bettis knew that this was going to be a long weekend. Having a hard time getting comfortable on the bike and dealing with a lot of pain when on the brakes made going fast more of a challenge than normal. To add to the difficulty level several bike issues showed up midway through qualifying. Talking with Bettis after Q1 we found out that his steering dampner broke a seal and quit working. Adding to that there was gas leak causing fuel mist to pool up on the windscreen, tank and frame of the bike. Rushing the bike back to the pits to try to resolve the problems the team got to work right away. Locating the gas leak was the number 1 priority and after checking several things the team was a bit stumped. They made a few adjustments to the fuel line and overflow valves and hoped that would solve the problem. Unable to locate another dampner Bettis had to go out in Q2 without a working steering dampner.
Q2 proved to be more difficult than 1 as the steering was all over the place coming up and over the crests that Barber is known so well for. What made it even more difficult is that Bettis just simply did not have the strength to fight the bike and he ended up retiring the bike after just 7 laps of qualifying. Getting to work again trying to locate the leak saw the team completely tear down the bike. Working into the later hours the team finally retired for the night hoping that they had once again found and fixed the issue.
Bettis woke up Saturday morning in good spirits and ready to go but his shoulder had swollen up
from the strain that was put on it the day before. I asked him about the shoulder and he said "I can hardly move it and it is very painful but we came here to do a job and that is what we will do." Bettis worked out the arm and continued to ice it all morning.
Race 1 was here and the team put Bettis out on the grid and crossed their fingers with relation to the gas leak. Bettis started in the last row but was able to pass a few riders right of the start. Settling into a rhythm Bettis clicked off some decent times but he was about 2 seconds off of his own time and about 5 secs off the faster group. Continuing to keep his head down he finished 18th and the team felt good about the progress despite all of the issues. I asked Bettis after race 1 about the bike and he told me that gas continued to mist out for all 13 laps and once again that they would attempt to find the issue.
After re examining the bike it turns out the bike was leaking through the fill valve on top of the tank and simple gasket solved the issue. Crew Chief Michael Bettis was also able to find a replacement steering dampner given to him by the crew at Ohilins. The plan was to compete on Sunday morning but after Bettis woke up the condition of the shoulder just made it too risky to race on. Bettis mentioned he was starting to have spasms in the shoulder and that he was not willing to risk it. The team will pack up and get ready to compete at the infamous Indianapolis Motorspeedway in October.