San Jose BMW's Brian Parriott on the HP2 Sport; in the pits at Buttonwillow circuit; Brian
San Jose BMW Racing's Brian Parriott has won the AFM Open Twins Series on the BMW HP2 Sport, with an emphatic victory at the 2.7-mile Buttonwillow circuit in California. After six months and seven race meetings of the series, the American BMW rider secured the title against a grid of race-tuned Ducatis at the very last round of the 2008 championship.
Arriving at Buttonwillow Raceway in southern California for the final race of the 2008 American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) season Brian Parriott and the San Jose BMW Racing team knew they were going to need to everything they could get from their HP2 Sport to beat the other competitors, all of whom were on Ducati motorcycles.
This was end of a long season that had begun at the same venue last March. The team approached this the final AFM race of the season with the Open Twins championship still hanging in the balance. Just six points off the lead, they knew that they would need an outright win to prove what they had been saying all season long - that the HP2 Sport was a match for the top race bikes built anywhere in the world.
The plan for the weekend was simple in its inception, but very difficult in its execution - to help Brian find the best set-up to allow him to ride the bike to its limits. All the machine work on the HP2 Sport had already been done in the confines of the shop at San Jose BMW - massaging the engine for more power, reducing the weight of the bike and making the suspension more suited to racing on a circuit than the public roads. The results were impressive - 370 lbs and 140 hp at the rear wheel, in an easy-to-ride package.
At the track it was all about the details - getting the exact tire pressure for the best grip, the correct sag in the shocks so they respond to bumps without destabilizing the chassis and - of course - the best engine tune to get instant and useable power to the tarmac. With a demand for increasingly faster lap times on track and the varying demands of different circuits, the key to finding the best set-up is consistency, as San Jose BMW's Chris Hodgson explains:
"We always send Brian out with as few variables as possible," says the Principal and owner of San Jose BMW. "The tires are always the same temperature, tire pressure is accurate to within half a pound and there is always the same amount of fuel in the tank. Every time Brian comes in, we check the rise in tire pressure, look at tire wear and check the amount of fuel used. When these variables are controlled and the results are consistent, changes can be tried and results evaluated. As race day approaches the variables are reduced and the changes more subtle so Brian can become accustomed to the feel of the bike and the way it reacts at speed on the track. On race day, there are no changes made to the bike - just fresh tires, enough fuel to make it to the finish line and a final check of all bolts, fasteners and cables."
For this final race of the season, Brian started in second place on the grid, because he was second in the points. The Buttonwillow circuit consists of a series of off-camber, undulating corners with a few bumps but no real elevation changes, making it a tricky track to ride fast. The Californian's start wasn't as good as he wanted; he was third off the line behind Tom Montano and points leader Matt Green. Diving into turn one he outbraked Tom, took the inside line and was in second place by the exit. On the way to turn two the track shifts to the left - not enough to be called a turn, but rather a place to set the bike up for turn two. Taking advantage of the huge midrange power of the HP2 Sport, Brian was able to gain enough ground to be in a position to outbrake and muscle his way past Matt to take the lead, before using the instantly available power to pull away a little on the short straight to turn three.
Once out in front, Parriott never looked back and laid down a scorching pace on the HP2 Sport that his rivals just couldn't match. As the race progressed, the tension in the pits was unbearable but finally the checkered flag came out to confirm Brian's first place and the series championship victory.
"I just have to say a massive thanks to the crew at San Jose BMW, who have made this season happen," said an elated Brian Parriott. "To be successful in racing you need three things: a great bike, a consistent rider and a dedicated crew. For the first time in the last few years we finally got there and the result followed - AFM Formula Open Twins Champion!
"As for the HP2, what can I say - the bike is flawless. Beating the Ducatis is always very satisfying. The paddock reaction has been huge and everyone just can't believe that this bike goes the way it does. It is great for me to show the capabilities of the HP2 to the other competitors because they didn't take us very seriously in the beginning but now that's all changed and it feels really good. Thanks to everyone involved for a great 2008 and I hope next season will roll just as smoothly. Every year presents new challenges and 2009 will be no exception."