Top 10 Things Jeremy Toye Needed to Win the 2014 Pikes Peak Hillclimb
Big-time MO congratulations to our favorite San Diegan racer Jeremy Toye, who celebrated the Kawasaki Ninja’s 30th anniversary in style by riding a ZX-10R (actually two ZX-10Rs) to victory in this year’s Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.
In his first attempt, JT became just the third motorcyclist to make the 5000-foot 156-turn 12.4-mile ascent in under 10 minutes (9:58.69), and was named Rookie of the Year and King of the Mountain for doing it. While JT’s other career highlights include some impressive AMA finishes, a third at the Macau GP, and the fastest newcomer lap at the 2006 Isle of Man TT, we’ll always remember him as that crazy fast guy from the old Willow Springs Motorcycle Club, who won two Toyota 200s at $50K each. Here, in his own inimitable words, are the Top 10 things that made Pikes Peak possible.
Well, we are climbing a mountain here, it’s best not to look down. You don’t want to contemplate all that could go wrong. People that talk about cliffs or trees or stuff like that are retarded. If you go off anywhere, chances are you will get hurt bad or get dead. Races like this, you just don’t think about it. You just respect it. (Foto: Kawasaki’s Joey Lombardo checks that everything is in place.)
9. Extra Set of Balls
(For when you misplace the first set) People keep asking, where does this place rank in order of nar (he asked us not to change nar to gnarly). Answer: It has its own place. It’s way more technical than the Isle of Man or Macau, but speeds are way less. Still, refer to #10: If you go off, you will get hurt or dead.
8. A Good Chassis Setting
You need a bike that’s capable of racing Imola and jumping the Grand Canyon.
I’m still very perplexed on what setting works best. The bottom of the course has fast sweeping turns with positive camber. You could run close to a short-circuit setting. The middle section is slow and tight; for it you need something that pivots very well and has good exit grip. The upper section is faster off-cambers, where you need a bike that’s soft enough that you can get the chassis loaded with minimal pressure. And the very top section is like a Supercross track. Scratch that: Supercross tracks are smoother. It’s like a motocross track. You need suspension that will soak up very rough bumps, but that’s stiff enough that it doesn’t get out of control on the big hits.
7. Good Tires
Ones with built-in warmers that grip on tarmac/dirt/snow would be best, but nobody makes them yet. We tried a few combinations of tires from Pirelli. For practice, I really liked an intermediate rain front and soft slick rear. Pressures were a little lower to try to keep heat in the tires (there was still snow on the ground). But before the race, we switched to a soft front slick because race-day temperature was much higher.
6. A Bitchin’ Motor
People think you need big power, bullshit! I had a detuned ZX-10R and still didn’t use all the power. My Pikes motor made 15 less hp than my short circuit motor and felt faster. We made a motor that started pulling at way lower rpm and had a very smooth delivery. We ran a normal Kawasaki kit ECU with a very mild TC setting: I like the bike to spin but not go into a cloud of smoke. Don’t get me started on TC settings! You still see MotoGP guys highsiding!
5. A Case of Arma Energy Drinks
Getting up at 2 am really sucks, really, really sucks. You need to be at the mountain at 3:45 a.m, to be set up by 4:30, to be riding by 5:15. Practice was from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m. Then you’re done. Race day was even worse – at the mountain by 2 f#%&*@g a.m., and our race run was around 10 a.m. This is all because there is only one way on and off the mountain. Arma Arma Arma Arma!
4. Snowboard Socks and Thermal Underwear
No joke here, that shit is cold! Adjust to the cold? I’m from SoCal! I’m a pussy in the cold!
3. Track Knowledge
I did it by numbering turns in a rhythm. I can’t read, but I can count. I learned the track by playing the video game a lot, and I watched videos. I count turns in a rhythm, like 1,2, tight 1,2, tight, 1,2,3 fast, 1,2, don’t be a pussy… [Don] Canet (who finished third in his rookie attempt this year) knew every turn by name; that is narly! I can’t remember shit, but I’ve got rhythm. I did the same thing for Isle of Man.
2. A Great, Light Bike
This is the third year with no dirt sections, so it was as good a time as any to show up with a ZX-10R. We tried to lighten the bike up as much as possible: BST wheels, carbon Catalyst Composite bodywork, lots of titanium and aluminum hardware. But on the flip side, stock bars, clamps and calipers, because they are lighter than aftermarket stuff.
1. A Good Crew
My crew put up with my shit, rebuilt the bike after I destroyed it, and never missed a beat. Jody Scheuring (pictured above with JT) gets his own line cuz he’s that bad-ass!, Joey Lombardo and Brad Puetz from Kawasaki and Jeff Johnson from Pirelli made this possible. I broke one of my own rules, No Crashing On a Road Circuit, and crashed during qualifying. What can I say? We were going for it and the chassis was too soft from the prior day, when testing on the top section. I lost the front at the end of the fastest straight on the course. Because of the airfence though, the only thing that happened was I destroyed a bike and f*#ked up my knee, so thanks to RoadRacing World and Honda and whoever else had a hand in putting up airfence. I was able to get on my back-up bike and still qualify. Then Jody was able to put my A-bike back together and I just dealt with the pain in my knee, which made downshifts next to impossible.
It really does take a village. I need to thank Kawasaki and Arma Energy, Pirelli , Brock’s, BST, Catalyst Composites, Two Brothers Racing, DynoJet, Maxima, KFG suspension. Shoei, ACT leathers, SIDI, Lee’s Cycles, Evolution Concrete and Left Coast Designs.