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Irnie Closes Out 2010 Season at Portland PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 15 November 2010 02:03



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"OMRRA: She's Wet" Length: 47 min, Quality: 1080p or 720p
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OMRRA Round 6, Portland International Raceway, Portland OR, October 23-24, 2010

Marcel Irnie of Kelowna BC traveled to Portland Oregon to finish up his 2010 season for the final round of the Oregon Road Racing Association (OMRRA) series. Irnie arrived a day early to bring his bikes to a local dyno tuning shop. Despite the fact that Irnie spent a lot of time battling for podium spots in 2010, he knew that his bikes were underpowered compared to the competition. Dynamometer testing showed that both his 2005 and 2008 600cc Kawasaki’s were 20 to 22 horsepower down from Canadian National Pro 600cc legal limit. The shop was able to adjust the computer mapping on the 2005 unit to reach a respectable 115 horsepower. The proper wiring sub-harness was not available for the 2008 bike, so nothing could be done to improve it for now. As the 2008 unit was set up for wet-weather racing and there was plenty of that in the forecast. A mere 103 horsepower would have to do.  

 

 

Saturday morning arrived and so did the rain. Irnie used the Kreater / Oneononedesign / World Gym 2008 zx-6r in the 750 Supersport practice and then prepared for the race. As Irnie headed out to the starting line, he stopped at the pit entrance to start his four onboard cameras. As he re-mounted and eased up to the starting grid, the volunteer starter stopped him and told him that he had missed the allotted time to take his starting spot and that he must start from pit lane. This penalty also meant that Irnie had to forego the warm up lap and wait for an official to signal when he could start. As the race started, Irnie sat on cold tires for an extra 10 seconds waiting for a signal, but none came. Irnie later learned he was allowed to leave when the last rider crossed the start/finish line. 

By the time Irnie had reached corner one, the pack was already exiting corner four. By this time, Irnie is furious but he has to maintain his cool and carefully built heat into his rain tires before starting his comeback in earnest. By the end of lap one, Marcel was already catching riders. On lap two, he was passing them by the handful. By lap four, Irnie was threatening Sam Verderico in 3rd spot. Irnie battled with Verdierico for the remaining laps until Sage Wilkinson entered the fray. Irnie battled both riders on his underpowered 600 against the much-faster 750cc bikes. As was the case for most of the season, Irnie worked hard to gain time in corners while losing several bike lengths on the straights. As the foggy, wet race concluded, Irnie finished in 5th, just behind Wilkinson and Verderico.

Ninety minutes later was the 600 Supersport event. As the rain had stopped and the track was beginning to dry, the big question was whether to use dry or rain tires.  It was a huge gamble as the wrong tire choice would guarantee a poor finish. Irnie gambled that the track would dry further and went with a full dry set-up on his newly tuned AMSOIL / Falco / Seattle Tool 2005 zx-6rr. Half the field came to the line on rain tires. On the warm-up lap, Irnie could tell that the engine was much crisper than prior to the dyno tuning session.

Irnie took the start in second gear and was passed by three riders. The track had many dry lines, but there were puddles everywhere. Irnie passed two riders on the first lap and got into 8th position, but near the end of the opening lap, Irnie grew concerned as rain drops began to run down the windshield. By lap three, Irnie worked his way to 6th spot.  With open track ahead of him, Marcel hastened his pace and by lap five, he had closed in on a group of four riders. The track conditions had been getting progressively worse due to the constant drizzle, but by lap 8 disaster struck as the sky opened up. The final four laps were the slowest and scariest of Irnie’s career. While resisting the urge to pull off the track, Irnie slid and skated around the 1.919 mile circuit for what seemed like an eternity. Irnie finally crawled across the line in 8th after numerous close calls.

Sunday morning arrived and with it came more Oregon rain. Irnie decided to try the rain tire handling abilities of his AMSOIL / Falco / Seattle Tool 2005 zx-6rr for the first practice session. By about lap seven, the engine was hesitating and cutting out as though it were out of fuel. Irnie eased off and nursed the bike back to the pits. Upon inspection, Irnie found that a coolant hose had popped off and all of the coolant had been lost. Irnie cooled the bike down and hoped that there was no engine damage.  After re-attaching the hose and replacing the coolant, the bike seemed to run well, so it would be put into service for the upcoming 600 Superbike race.  

As race time approached, the rainfall was torrential.  Irnie made some minor suspension adjustments and waited at the pit exit for the signal to head to the starting grid. The starter horn sounded and Irnie waited five seconds before being first to leave the hot pit. As Irnie cruised up to corner 3, he was black flagged. This time the same starter penalized him for leaving the pits too early! Irnie recalls the charge, “They made me start the race from pit row again, but this time for leaving five seconds too early. Even though the stop sign was not in the middle of the road as normal and he had green flag in his hand. In my opinion, the purpose for the rule has lost all meaning. This rule is meant to prevent a late comer from delaying the race start. But leaving too early? I would just arrive to grid early, not affecting a thing.” Again Irnie had to start the race from pit lane.

 

After the last rider crossed the start/finish line, an angry Marcel Irnie burned out of the pits and pursued the pack. He passed two riders by corner one and tried to find the proper pace for the wet conditions. The track surface had numerous puddles and some corners were covered with leaves so no chances could be taken.  Irnie found himself in 8th position by the end of the first lap with the lead pack in sight. At this point Irnie had determined that his rain pace was off. His rear rain tire was becoming worn and the 2005 bike, while more powerful, had stiffer suspension that wasn’t as forgiving as the 2008 bike. Despite this handicap, Irnie used his wet-weather guile to out-brake riders and battle his way to a 4th place finish. Irnie recounted, “Fourth place from pit row is not bad, but I’m still very disappointed. I never got a chance to battle up front and being 15 seconds behind from the start cost me a podium.”

The 750 Superbike race took place later that afternoon. The sky was clearing, but the track was still very wet, necessitating the need for a rain set up. Irnie started from 10th place on the grid and despite starting in second gear, he managed to elbow his way into 6th spot by the first turn. Irnie took 5th spot from Jason Gasparinatos then set his sites on the front runners. Irnie attempted to pass Christopher Ancien on a couple of occasions before his transmission started cutting out in fifth gear. As transmission issues plagued his 2005 unit all year long, Irnie wasn’t going to chance a high speed failure and opted not to use the gear for the rest of the race. He cruised home in 5th place.  

 

 

 

As the weekend and season ended, Irnie reflected on his 2010 campaign, “I’m happy with 2010, as I made new headway. I earned my first podium in USA with the fastest riders in North Western United States. This was the first time leading races too as I did in September in Portland.  I managed three podiums in Canada, but regret not getting a victory. I’m pleased with my racing, but my equipment let me down to a degree. A lack of power output and transmission problems really handicapped our efforts. Next years plan is to rebuild entire 05 motor and transmission and get the 2008 unit’s ecu tuned to find more power.”  

 

For 2011, Irnieracing introduces Aaron Holmberg as its first teammate. Marcel will mentor Aaron who is a front runner in the novice class. Aaron brings a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R 750 to the team. Marcel and Aaron will share bikes, so that each can enter more displacement classes.  

In 2011, Irnie and Holmberg will compete for the OMRRA and WMRRA championships, and attend select races in Utah and California. AMA races are an option.

 

 

Irnieracing.com will market hats, t-shirts and DVD’s to support the racing effort.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 15:26
 

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