Pikes Peak According to Ducati

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
HMC Ducati Rider, Steve Rapp, had his best finish of the season at PikesPeak International Raceway, getting the best of a three-bike battle tofinish fifth. The Californian stormed through the field after a bad startleft him in eleventh, then spent many laps battling Jamie Hacking for sixthplace.

On the last lap Rapp passed the Suzuki rider and Kurtis Roberts totake fifth. Larry Pegram suffered tire problems and finished 11th while AndyMeklau failed to find the right set-up and finished 13th...

Steve Rapp - 5th:

HMC Ducati's Steve Rapp made some big steps in bike development duringtesting three weeks ago, setting him up for today's well deserved fifthplace. From day one of the Pikes Peak meeting, he did nothing but improve,holding the fastest lap for a period in each qualifying session and lappingconsistently for the entire race at lap times equivalent to the lead riders.

"I didn't know if I'd make it," said Rapp referring to his sensational lastlap overtaking move. "I was watching the pit board carefully and I knew if Iwas going to get another place it would come right down to the wire. LuckilyI got a good drive out of turn three and passed both Hacking and Roberts.The new race 501 tire helped a lot - it was definitely the best we've runall season. The start wasn't what I'd hoped for though. The gearing we chosefor the race wasn't the best for a good start and it took a while to getgoing. Traffic slowed me up for the first part but once I got clear I waslapping at the same times as the front runners. This race has been a bigimprovement."

Larry Pegram - 11th:

Tire choice is an important factor at Pikes Peak, as Competition AccessoriesDucati rider, Larry Pegram, knows all too well. Limited tire stock meantPegram missed out on the tire he would have chosen for the 48-lap race andthe Ducati rider struggled to find the traction he needed.

"If we had the right tire we'd have had a much better chance," said Pegram,who won the 600 Super Sport race here in '98. "I just couldn't find the gripI needed and it slowed me down a lot. I also hit a cone, midway through therace, and I thought the impact had broken my leg at first, but it's onlybruised and sore."

Andreas Meklau - 13th:

HMC Ducati rider, Andy Meklau, worked through the weekend to find the rightamount of grip for the tight confines of Pikes Peak Raceway. The team hadfound a good front end setting to suit the Austrian rider, but haddifficulties getting a rear end set-up to give him the right amount of grip.

"The set-up that worked so well in Virginia just didn't work here," saidMeklau. "I couldn't find grip in the rear and had the tire spinning througha lot of the corners. It must have been a sight for the spectators. The teamdid the best they could to get the bike right, but this track has beendifficult for me. I';ve never ridden such a small racetrack. It's definitelynot what I'm used to.

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