Long-Term Yamaha YZF-R3: Race Time!

Trackday bike turned racebike, all in one weekend.

Yamaha YZF-R3
Wrist Julia LaPalme
MSRP (2017) $4,999
Miles 1,145
MPG N/A
Mods Tires, safety wire, borrowed race bodywork
Update 2
Aaron Mosberg

My original plan for the Yamaha YZF-R3 racebike was to ease into the project. Start off stock, go to some trackdays, and then get my racing license and start racing. While I've done a handful of trackdays over the past 12 years of riding, I hadn't been on the track in almost a year. Luckily, a TrackDaz trackday was coming up at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway and since they were holding their new racer school during the trackday, I signed up for that. Depending how things went, I could even sign up and race the very next day.

Assistant Editor Will Steenrod and I prepped the R3, swapping the Michelin Pilot Streets for sportier Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIs that Executive Editor Ari Henning had long since removed from his KTM RC390. Taping up the headlights and safety wiring everything necessary on the bike to meet racing rules, I was over prepared for a trackday. But if the new racer school led to an actual race, I wanted to be ready.

The racer school was just a series of classroom sessions that taught the rules and regulations of competition. Offering no specific riding instruction, the headmaster threw me into the A group with current racers and super-fast trackday riders. At first, all the other riders passed me like I was standing still, and it took some self-pep-talking to shake the intimidation factor. After the first couple sessions, though, I started getting used to being passed by riders at full speed. After finishing a mock race at the end of the day without crashing, I earned my racing license. Pumped from the day, I eagerly signed up for three races the following day. So much for taking it slow!

How Much Power Does the R3 Make?

We borrowed spare bodywork from a fellow racer (the race club requires a fluid-retaining belly pan) and made number plates from duct tape. I raced in Amateur 350 Supersport and came in dead last. During my second race, the all-female FemmeWalla Lightweight class, I shaved two seconds off my lap time from my first race and managed to pass the rider ahead of me in the last turn. No medals for second-to-last place, but I was super happy to have improved my times so much. The thrill of passing at the last second really sparked an enthusiasm to get back to the track. I can’t wait for the next race.