BRASELTON, Ga. (Apr. 16) — The Lucas Oil/KWR team brought home solid finishes in the Road Atlanta season opener this past weekend for the first round of the 2018 MotoAmerica Series. Kyle Wyman scored 6th and 4th place finishes in the Superbike category while Bryce Prince placed 7th and 11th in Supersport races one and two, respectively.
For Wyman, the weekend started out dry on Friday and a 5th fastest time overall in the morning QP1 session aboard his Lucas Oil-sponsored Yamaha YZF-R1. He then matched his best time in the afternoon session on used tires, clocking his fastest time on the 18th lap of the Dunlop soft compound rear.
“Friday was going to plan,” Wyman said. “We were clicking off laps and working on the race setup. We didn’t have an opportunity to try for a fast time on new tires because of red flags ending our sessions early, but luckily we still had plenty of time to put in good work on the race tires.”
With that good work in the books, the KWR crew prepped the bike for Saturday morning’s FP3 session, in which Wyman had a small crash. The crew would have to fix the bike with only 40 minutes before the crucial Superpole qualifying session. Wyman re-grouped and qualified 7th, with his fastest lap time coming on the second qualifying tire lap.
“This year we get to use two qualifying tires, which I really like,” Wyman added. “Two chances to put in a time, and luckily I went faster on my second go. I had a huge wheelie out of the last corner that cost me time on my fast lap but overall I was happy – I still had gone about 7-tenths quicker than my qualifying time from 2017.”
In race one Wyman got a great start and stuck with the front pack until some electrical gremlins interfered with his race, ultimately costing him a top-5 result. Wyman dropped from his 4th spot back to 6th and rode a lonely race all the way to the end.
“Everything was going perfectly to plan off the start in race one,” Wyman said. “The chassis felt great – my KTR-4 forks were working amazing and I was right there with the lead pack in 4th. Unfortunately things got a little whacky with the bike and I had to adjust to it, it cost me some time but luckily not enough to put us any lower than 6th. Some attrition went in my favor and I was able to finally finish the first superbike race of the year, something I hadn’t done in 2016 or 2017.”
With higher hopes for race two, mother nature brought a wet-and-wild Sunday forecast that certainly delivered, in the way of nearly 2-inches of rain starting 5am Sunday morning. Wyman was confident going into the wet race since the team had tested in the wet conditions just two weeks prior at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California. Wyman was able to fight through the rain and avoid disaster on his way to a season-best 4th position in Superbike race two.
“There were guys crashing left, right and center,” Wyman said. “They were dropping like flies, and my plan was to go with the front guys but also to be cautious. I rode a smart race and feel like I didn’t take any risks at all. To come away 4th after so much attrition and different things that happened, without the risk, is a great result. We’ve got the first round out of the way now and I’m looking forward to COTA in just a few days.”
After a month of strenuous prep and planning, Bryce Prince finally made his KWR debut in the MotoAmerica Supersport category at Road Atlanta. Prince fought his way to 7th in a dry race one, and followed it with a 11th place finish in the wet race two.
“Atlanta was a very important weekend for me,” Prince said. “It was the first time back on a 600 at a National race on a brand new bike and team. I could not be happier with how it went. I had little to no issues with everything. On Saturday we were able to run the pace to be on the podium the whole race in a big group and came home 7th. Our dry setup had huge improvements we made for Sunday and we were confident to try and get on the box.
On Sunday Prince rode his Lucas Oil/KWR Supersport bike in the rain for the first time, ever.
“On Sunday it rained all day long,” Prince added. “And for me it was important to leave Atlanta with some good points. I finished 11th and rode a safe race, not having any wet time on the new bike so it was a big learning curve. We are tied for 7th in points and I’m really excited to head to VIR and Road America soon, those tracks really fit my style. I cannot thank Kyle Wyman Racing enough for all of the support. I have to personally thank my crew JR and Louis for all the hard work and flawless weekend. It was my first time working with them and they were incredible!”
The MotoAmerica series heads to Circuit of the Americas this coming weekend in Austin, Texas, April 20-22, 2018. Stay tuned for news and updates as the season progresses.