VIDEO: Project 156 at Pikes Peak

It’s a tall mountain, but we’ve made good progress with Victory’s prototype V-twin racer.

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With racing, even under the best of circumstances, what can go wrong, will go wrong. And it all began with my flight to Denver for our first test at Pikes Peak of the Victory Project 156 prototype V-twin racebike. Storms in the Denver area delayed my arrival so badly that I ended up getting only 55 minutes of pillow time before I suited up at 3 am and piled into a crew van for our first test on the mountain of this scratch-built machine.

Just like during race week later this month, practice began soon after the first rays of light appeared on the horizon and would wrap up at 9:00 am. Bad news at the rider meeting greeted us: There were 3-foot snow drifts and ice on the upper portion of the course, which made it unfit for travel on two wheels or four! So we’d be practicing on a shortened midsection this first day, and then the bottom section on Sunday. I was disappointed, because every precious inch of testing on this bike will help ready it for the race.

Project 156 racebike action at Pikes Peak

Thankfully, my crew had run Project 156—a prototype V-twin-powered Victory built by Roland Sands Design—on a dyno at Sangers Cycle in Fort Collins the previous afternoon to establish baseline fuel calibration prior to running at higher elevation. Even with that, our first practice—on a stretch of the course that climbed from 10,900 feet to just over 12,000—was plagued by just about the worst throttle response imaginable. On the gas, power was good, but at smaller throttle openings we fought an intermittent misfire, buck, surge, and even a total flameout in a low-gear hairpin. Such are the challenges on a project of this magnitude, with troubles compounded by the thin air and challenging conditions at Pikes Peak. But my AF1 Racing crew, working with a MoTec technician and pair of Victory powertrain engineers, rose to the occasion with more tuning on a Superflow dyno at Fox Performance in nearby Colorado Springs that afternoon.

Fueled by optimism and java, our Sprinter caravan left base camp and headed up the hill at o’dark thirty for Day 2. I was treated to the sweet sound of improved engine response as I blipped the throttle while heading to the start for my first practice run. Through the day, our MoTec man made further refinements to the fuel map, while my crew dealt with a leaking upper radiator core. The temporary fix involved bypassing the upper core while allowing an epoxy patch to cure. Rising engine temp mandated I cruise the latter half of each run. Teething problems like these are the very reason we registered for both practice weekends leading up to the June 28 race.

Project 156 and Don Canet in front of snowcapped mountains

Hard work and focused efforts have resulted in huge progress. I’m quickly getting acclimated to the Project 156 racebike, and reacquainted with the 12.43-mile, 156-turn mountain course. My fifth and final run of the day saw a fully functional cooling system, hugely improved fueling, and burning desire to see how the bike would perform at speed. I’m happy to say it performed very well, even as I tiptoed across the paint lines as I worked to use all the available tarmac.

This onboard video clip is of my final run, the second quickest time of the day behind Honda CBR1000RR-mounted Jeff Tigart.

I’m excited about the progress Project 156 has made in such a limited time and I eagerly await next weekend’s return to the clouds for one last shakedown before race week. And yes, I made sure to book a flight that will get me into Denver a little earlier this time.

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Becca Livingston

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Becca Livingston

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya

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Robert Pandya