We were able to catch up with Phil Czaj who is campaigning the Czaj Racing Aprilia in the Australian Superbike Championship this year.
His season got underway a couple of weeks ago at Queensland Raceway and it was a difficult weekend for Phil. Last year he blew an engine at the Queensland track, this year he had a damaged gearbox and a small fall – proving if anything that Queensland is not a happy hunting ground. He was setting fast times though throughout the weekend but in this short Championship a bad weekend won’t do him any favours.
We discuss the Queensland weekend which was held in hot and humid conditions. We look forward to the next round at Darwin and some exciting prospects for next season.
To learn more about Phil or help him in his racing endevours, visit www.czajracing.com
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Czaj Racing Press Release following ASBK round 1
Tuesday 8/2/2014 – Czaj Racing was looking forward to the first round of the Australian Superbike Championship. In 2014 we are running with a new look as we have chosen to compete in the premier ‘Superbike’ class. The goal that we had set ourselves for the year was to get into the top 10 and to compete the full series of the ASBK. The weather for the weekend was forecast in the low 30’s with high humidity. The team was confident they could battle hard for all the races as we had been focusing on fitness leading up to the round.
– Saturday –
We started the weekend with the expectation of competing both the Superbike and the new EVO Unlimited classes. First up were the practice sessions. We had decided to run our main bike in the Superbike class and our wet bike was setup for EVO Unlimited. In Superbike practice Phil started to develop some issues with downshifting to second and third gear which was intermittent to begin with. He came back to the pits to have it checked out and to have some slight adjustments made by head mechanic Marek. Upon re-entering the circuit the bike continued to have the same problems. Phil pulled back into pit lane to have the issue checked out prematurely ending our first Superbike session.
Marek made some adjustments to the clutch during a brief gap in between the EVO and Superbike classes after identifying excess free play. We went out for the first qualifier for the Superbike class where the issue was still present. Phil was unable to shift into second or third gear when he left the pits and took a few laps to try and adjust to lapping the track with fourth to sixth gears only. He recognized the importance of getting a lap time registered to ensure a grid position, eventually managing a low 1’15 to finish the qualifier in 14th position.
The team were disappointed to find out the issue had not been resolved and we decided it would be best to pull out of the EVO Unlimited class to concentrate the single bike now for the Superbike class only. In the second qualifier for the Superbikes Phil managed 12th position however with the times across the board being a bit slower in the second qualifier the combined times meant we still only managed 14th position. The team was confident with some minor changes to the suspension for race day that we could drop our times further for Sunday’s races.
– Sunday –
We kicked off Sunday morning with the Czaj Racing team having a brief interview with the local ‘River 94.9’ radio station to help promote the ASBK and then we went straight to business at the track. We were keen to see what the affects of the suspension changes Marek made would be in the warm-up. With only 5 minutes to check Phil posted his fastest lap of the weekend showing that the adjustment improved the setup. This brought hope that we would be able move our way up the field a bit come the races.
It was the first time the team had to take part in a media grid so were we excited to have the great support of Tiptoes Media providing the team with grid girls and media coverage. In race 1 Phil had a great start off the line jumping from 14th to 9th going into turn 1. He was pushing hard to stick with 8th place and on lap 2 had a big moment coming out of turn 3 opening the gap out to almost 3 seconds to 8th position. Phil pushed hard to close the gap back up but in turn had another 2 Superbike’s bridge the gap back to him making it a 4 way fight. They battled over a few laps with Phil trying to close the gap back on the brakes. Staying in touch Phil tried hard to start making his way forward on the 9th lap. He tried running deep on the brakes to square off the corner with the plan of getting a run up to turn 4 to make a pass but unfortunately lost the front end of the bike on maximum lean going into Turn 3. Phil was able to rejoin the race but came back to the pits with a bent handle bar and exhaust. We still managed to set a new personal best time lap time on our spare bike which was a positive leading into race 2. Team CR got stuck into repairs over the next few hours. The team was tired but the bike was ready to go. A big thank you to the guys from the NextGen Motorsport team, for their help straightening our exhaust.
As race 2 was fast approaching so were some very menacing clouds. They started to roll in while the Supersport race 2 was being run. The forecast was for severe storms later in the day and it didn’t disappoint with a serious downpour hitting Queensland Raceway just as the Supersport riders finished. After numerous track inspections the last few races were declared cancelled due to flooding in turn 2. This was unfortunate as the team was confident in the wet conditions. We now look to round 2 of the ASBK in the Northern Territory where we hope to kick off our season with some good results.
We would like to thank all our supporters that came to cheer on the team, everyone that lent us a hand and our sponsors 4SR – For Street Racing, Bodis Exhausts, CRC Fairings, StickerArt, TipToes Media, Ozygen RFC, Moe Engines, Suspensions R Us, Woodcraft CFM, EC3D Compression, FIIVE Industries, Sukkie and Daytona Boots. Also a special thanks to Sam Tickell from Racer Views for the media coverage, the grid girls Elita Kd and Lauren O’Hagen, Vito Fresta from FIIVE Industries for getting our team gear down in time for round 1 and our long standing sponsor The Art of Stickers – StickerArt for coming down and supporting the team.
For more information, please contact the Czaj Racing team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sam Tickell, April 2014
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