Kahuna Kawasaki Race Report: RACE Regional Round#5 - Another Podium for Schouten!

August 19, 2008

RACE Superseries Round #5 was held at Shannonville Motorsport Park the weekend of July 25-27. Following a successful weekend at the Parts Canada Superbike series at Mosport, Kahuna Kawasaki's Vicki Schouten was ready to step up her game even further at Shannonville's regional event.

The weekend turned into one of tests and challenges for Schouten, who arrived at a busy Shannonville Motorsport Park late Thursday evening after stopping alongside the rainy highway 401 to replace a blown tire on her race transporter. 

On Friday morning, Schouten was still struggling with some set-up changes to her Kawasaki ZX-6R, when the folks at RIPP Racing encouraged her to test the new Bridgestone BT003R race tires. Always open to trying new product, Schouten agreed to test the new tires Friday afternoon during practice.  According to Schouten "the new Bridgestone tires seem to have a lot of grip both front and rear and turn into corners quite well." However, Schouten was still not turning ideal laptimes on the new Bridgestone tires. With some help from Accelerated Technologies' John Sharrard, the Bridgestone-shod ZX-6R was dialled in to a more familiar race set-up. Schouten went out and bettered her laptimes and overall was quite pleased with the new Bridgestone BT003R.  "They handle really well and do not give very much feedback," explained Schouten, "and while I personally prefer some feedback from my tires, I understand that a lot of novice riders do not like to feel every movement in the motorcycle; the Bridgestone's would be the perfect tire for any novice racer or for someone who does not like too much feedback."

In keeping with the theme of tire testing for the weekend, Schouten decided on Saturday morning to test the Dunlop NTEC tires which have been so highly rated. Typically a Pirelli rider, Schouten had some reservations about having to change the set-up of her Kawasaki ZX-6R to accommodate the new Dunlop profile. However, after speaking with several seasoned Dunlop riders and staff from Pro6 Cycle, Schouten was convinced the new NTEC's were worth a try. All of the advice had proven correct. Schouten immediately started dropping her lap times on the NTEC's and did not have to make any changes to the suspension on her ZX-6R at all. "The NTEC is a phenomenal tire!" exclaimed Schouten, "The provide quite a lot of feedback, more so than the Pirelli's even, and it really allows you to feel what the bike is doing at all times; I can see why some of the top riders use NTEC's!"

Qualifying for the weekend's races was frustrating to say the least. Not only was Schouten coming down with an ear infection, but inclement weather at Shannonville meant that Saturday afternoon qualifying would be cancelled for both AM600 and RACE Women's Open and Saturday morning practice times would have to be used instead.  Unfortunately for Schouten, she missed the AM600 practice-turned-qualifying session on Saturday morning as she was busy making some last-minute adjustments to her bike. This meant she would start from the back of the grid in AM600. Schouten would have her work cut out for her to say the least! RACE Women's Open qualifying was a little better, as Schouten qualified on the front row in second position.

By Sunday morning, the weather had subsided but Schouten awoke to a nasty ear infection that caused a loss of hearing and imbalance in Schouten's left ear. Alarmed that she would not be able to ride, Schouten quickly ran to friend and fellow racer Steve "Doc" Walker. After much prodding and poking, Doc assessed that Schouten had quite a large wax build-up in her ears. Despite trying to remove the wax with a paper clip (yes, a paper-clip) and despite his best efforts, Doc was unable to immediately resolve the problem for Schouten-who was now faced with riding the rest of the day with no hearing in one ear.

Despite her set-backs, Schouten was ready to take on the afternoon. First up was AM600 sportbike where Schouten would have to work very hard to move from the rear of the pack to the front. With some useful advice from friends and experienced racers John Sharrard and Dan Durkovic, Schouten was armed with the best advice in the paddock on how to make a charge from the back of the pack. It must have worked because by turn two Schouten had worked her way up from the back of the field to tenth position! Schouten worked hard to try to pass some other riders and had a good battle before finally settling for 9th place, putting Schouten 7th overall in the overall series points for the moment.

In the RACE Women's Open, Schouten got off to a good start but was still suffering from a bad ear infection. She rode hard and managed to put her Dunlop -shod Kahuna Kawasaki ZX-6R on the box taking third position. It was a great feeling for Schouten to be on the podium once again!

Schouten would like to thank John Sharrard, John Chemello, Dave Bissonnette and Brad Clarke for all of their help. She would also like to thank RIPP Racing and Pro6 Cycle for the opportunity to test some great new tires; and to Steve "Doc" Walker to taking time out of his busy schedule to try to resolve her hearing condition.

Schouten also wishes to thank Kahuna Kawasaki, Canadian Kawasaki Motors, Bell Helmets, Accelerated Technologies, Performance Under Gear, Komodo Gear, Compulsion Racing, Vortex, Giro Eyewear, Auto Trim and Signs and Bickle Racing for all of the continued help and support.