Coming off 7th and 8th place finishes in the first racing weekend of the 2011 season, Jon Kuo upped his pace this past Saturday and Sunday and ended the second weekend with a 5th and a 3rd. Says Jon, “That switch clicked in my head finally. I’m learning how to ride these things.”
Note: We’re following Jon Kuo, a Colorado motorcycle racer, through the Motorcycle Roadracing Association’s season, to try to get a feel for what it’s like. The first article in this series was “Kicking off motorcycle roadracing season.”
Although he originally planned to compete in three classes, Jon has now decided to focus solely on the Production 250 Cup, or, as it used to be called and as Jon still refers to it, the Ninja Cup. This class was essentially all Ninja 250s until Honda recently introduced its CBR250R, which now competes in the class as well.
So to what does Jon attribute his better showing in this second weekend?
“Learning more how to ride the bike. It’s a big transition from riding the 600 to riding a 250. A whole different type of riding style.”
Jon had previously ridden a 600cc bike but made the switch this season to the 250. Why the switch?
“It’s a spec class, and that means every bike is the same spec, they don’t have any extra mods or anything else like that. It’s based on rider skill rather than how much money you put in your motorcycle.”
And how is riding the 250 different from riding the 600?
“Mostly it’s just feeling more comfortable going into the corner, just carrying that corner speed in. Not having to use the brakes, just full throttle into the turn. Just being comfortable, getting the courage to do that. On a 600 you’re used to braking going into every corner and feathering the throttle through the corner, accelerating, increasing your speed through the turn. On the 250 all you do is get your entry speed and then just hold the throttle open before the apex–which is hard to get used to–instead of after the apex.”
One hope Jon had coming into the season is that on motorcycles that are all essentially identical his lighter weight will prove to be an advantage. How is that working out?
“It’s hard to tell, because some people get such good drives through the corners that they’re already accelerating faster than I would be.” Still, on the straights, he has found he can pull past some riders “without even drafting them so I’m assuming my speed might be one of the highest.”
And what is it like being out there on the bike on the track?
“Besides it being a complete blast, you feel so fast on a 250 even though it’s slow. At least compared to the 600s and 1000s. You’re still going fast, faster than a car would be going, it’s an just amazing feeling going almost 100 miles an hour on a NASCAR oval on an embankment, full left, going 100 miles an hour almost, it’s so awesome.”
Is that why he races?
“And the competitiveness of it, trying to win.”
Is he a pretty competitive guy?
“I am, yep.”
And now, with two weekends of racing under his belt and things starting to click, how does Jon appraise the situation?
“Still need more improvement. Making strides but still need more improvement. Hoping I can build on this and hopefully start fighting for wins.”
The next racing weekend is June 11 and 12. We’ll be touching back in with Jon around that time.