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07.08.09

First Race at Laguna Seca Poses Challenges for Fillmore

AMA Sportbike - Salinas, CA

Chris Fillmore and his no. 55 Troy Lee Designs Yamaha R6 were coming off of a great Road America weekend and hopeful of continuing the forward momentum. However, as a first time competitor at the very fast Laguna Seca Raceway, Fillmore encountered a number of instances where his experience on the track had consequences to his final results.

The weekend started with a bicycle ride organized by Specialized Bicycle company on Thursday for many of the AMA and MotoGP competitors. This was a fun event for Chris as his primary training tool away from the race track is road cycling. Chris was also fortunate to spend the event riding with the superhuman Ben Bostrom. In addition to talking training regimes, Chris also spent the ride getting insight from Ben on some of Laguna Seca's subtle challenges.

In addition to the fun ride, the weekend was also special for Fillmore as the inclusion of the AMA series in the MotoGP event meant that Fillmore was able to go out and ride the track and then watch the MotoGP competitors. This was cool as it really allowed Fillmore to study the technique used to navigate the high cornering speed race track.

On to Fillmore's weekend and 15th in first practice was a solid way to start the weekend. For Chris and crew chief Geoff Cesmat, the hope was to take the first practice and make some changes that would transfer to a better position at the end of qualifying. However, when the no. 55 went on track for his 30 minute qualifying session, the bike did not give the kind of feedback that Fillmore is used to when he pushes it. Fillmore attempted to ride past this lack of feeling from the bike, but at the approach to the Corkscrew, Fillmore tucked the front end. He was able to pick the bike up and ride back to the pits.

Once there, Cesmat worked diligently to replace the broken footpegs that were a casualty of the low side crash. However, the bent handlebars would not be able to be fixed before the short qualifying session was over so Fillmore remounted the bike and attempted to put in a time on a bike with bent bars. The results from this were a 20th position for the Sunday afternoon race event.

After Fillmore and his crew took in the MotoGP race event, Fillmore was stoked to now go out and get his turn to tackle the world renowned track for a race event. Early in the race, Fillmore was able to quickly move from his 20th position to 13th and start to set lap times that were a second quicker than his practice and qualifying pace. As he continued into the event a number of riders encountered issues with the track that resulted in crashes.

Fillmore became a victim in one of these crashes. A fellow competitor crashed and in the resulting crash a large amount of gravel was put onto the race surface. Fillmore encountered this immediately after the accident and his bike tucked the front end as it met the gravel. The resulting low side actually ran the no. 55 into another bike and the bike vaulted back and caught Fillmore in the legs. While there are no serious injuries, the accident meant the end of the weekend for Fillmore.

Fillmore said, "Laguna Seca is a really cool track! It is incredibly fast through the corners and takes tremendous commitment to go through these corners at the pace necessary to post a fast time. Now that I have an event weekend under my belt, I can't wait to get back here next year and better my results!"

Next up for Fillmore is the Mid-Ohio AMA Daytona Sportbike race event July 17-19. For more information visit www.amaproracing.com.

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