Man in a Van with a Plan 2.0 Race Report: Road America

Feeling confident on the dirt, but on the pavement not so much

Racing can be a cruel game. A national victory can push a rider’s self-confidence to chest-thumping heights, but just days later at another track, another bike, where things aren’t going to plan, it can go south in a hurry. A rider can question himself and his abilities. Those are the low moments. That’s the rollercoaster ride our man (with a van and a plan) Hayden Gillim was dealing with at Road America.

A week after feeling the thrill of victory with his win in the Springfield TT, Gillim was feeling the agony of seeming to hit a wall in terms of his feel and confidence on his still new, Cycle World Suzuki GSX-R1000. Gillim said he was having trouble finding pace all weekend on the vast expanses of Road America's four-mile road course.

motoamerica riders holding nicky hayden tribute helmets
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson

After winning dirt track TT in Springfield, Gillim attended the funeral of his second cousin Nicky Hayden in Owensboro on Memorial Day. He then had just two days of training time before loading the van up for the drive to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“We did a little dirt tracking at the house, rode some bicycles and just hung out really,” Gillim said.

Road America, with its long straights, is a horsepower track and Gillim is a physically larger than most of his competitors, so he’s got a bit of a disadvantage on power-to-weight ratio to start with. And the team is still chasing setup on the bike they’ve only raced once.

hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson

“I think all my mojo went towards dirt tracking,” Gillim said. “My road racing has been a little off. I feel like I’m riding good, but right now I just can’t wrap my head around what’s been going on and I’m having trouble explaining to the guys what the bike is doing or what it’s not doing. It’s been a struggle communicating what the problems are.”

It’s a process to set up a new machine for racing and crew chief Rick Matheny has a big, long list of adjustments to go through on the 2017 Gixxer and the team is still early in that evolution.

In Road America’s Superbike race one Gillim finished 12th. He wasn’t happy.

“I was really far off what I know I’m capable of doing,” he explained. “Even in Sunday morning’s session I was pretty far off the pace I need, even though it was better than Saturday. The key for me is to get out there, get a good start and see what the guys towards the front are doing and be able to know that I can run that pace.”

hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson

Gillim’s going through a strange state of mind right now with one part of his riding so good and the other off the mark.

“Right now, my confidence is at an all-time high dirt tracking,” he admits. “I’ve been riding the best I ever have. But things are different on the pavement right now and that’s hurting my ego a little bit. So, I’m just trying to figure it out.”

In race two on Sunday Hayden rallied to score his best result of the season with a ninth overall and third among the Superstock 1000 entries.

hayden gillim motoamerica superbike race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson

“We found some better suspension settings for race two,” Gillim said before quickly adding. “but a lot of it was in my head honestly. Clearing my mind and getting my head straight was the biggest thing.”

It was a good rebound for Gillim and a positive way to end the weekend in Wisconsin.

Now Gillim has a couple of weeks off before putting some serious mileage on the van in this summer’s West Coast MotoAmerica swing, which begins with Utah and then further west to Laguna Seca and Sonoma.

motoamerica superstock 1000 podium
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson

Road America MVP Results Recap

Session/Race Position Best Time
Race 1 12th overall, 6th in class 2:17.103
Race 2 9th overall, 3rd in class 2:15.923
Current Superbike Standings 12th

Scroll down for even more MVP photos from Road America

hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
hayden gillim motoamerica race action
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
hayden gillim superstock 1000 podium
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson
motoamerica superstock 1000 podium
MotoAmerica, Round 4. Road AmericaBrian J. Nelson