24 Hours of Glen Helen Race Report
Photos by Jerbal Shots, Revco Photography
Sometimes things go to plan, and sometimes it doesn’t. In an off-road motorcycle race that’s 24 continuous hours, it’s more common than not that you experience issues. Unfortunately, we were on the brute end of that at this year’s 24 Hours of Glen Helen.
We came into the race feeling confident in our bike setup and riders, hoping to try and defend our win from last year’s event. Our YZ450FX was built methodically with some key parts in place and some parts left off, which we felt confident in. You can read more about our bike setup HERE.
Our team was composed of four riders again, the max limit when racing the Pro class. Tyler Belknap, Clayton Roberts, and Cole Zeller joined myself on the #1 Yamaha YZ450FX. The other big names in contention for the win were thought to be the SLR Honda team of Cole Martinez, Jack Simpson, Chance Hymas, and Ryan Surratt, and the Kilmartin Racing KTM Team of Colton Aeck, JP Alvarez, RJ Wageman, and Nick Stover.
Saturday morning, Roberts started off the race for us, quickly gaining the lead and holding it for about half of the opening lap. Aeck was able to get by just before entering the dusty ridges, but we still held a solid 2nd place at the end of the first lap. Through the first two hours, we held 2nd Overall behind the Kilmartin Team but ahead of SLR Honda. I jumped on for the third hour of the race and I was plagued with several mistakes and poor riding, ultimately losing a position to the SLR Honda boys with Chance Hymas at the controls. During my stint, I switched the mapping to our “JL Smooth” map and the bike started running weird. Not thinking much of it at the moment, I switched back to the richer “Magic Map” and it ran perfectly again, so I left it there.
After another hour or so of racing, Clayton Roberts was back on the bike and noticed the engine light flashing. We were having trouble connecting to the GYTR App so we sent the bike on its way for another lap while we pulled up diagnostic codes for the bike. Well, about 5-6 minutes later, the bike showed back up in our pits as it started sounding rough and we didn’t want to take a chance on ruining the engine.
We quickly started pulling the bike apart and found a load of oil in the intake, having been pumped in there through the crankcase breather that feeds into the airbox. The airbox was covered in oil and a pool of oil was sitting on the butterfly valve on the throttle body. We pulled the spark plug and no oil was at the top of the piston.
Upon further inspection, the radiator coolant was practically non-existent. We tried filling that back up but almost as quickly as we could pour it in, it’d flow right back out of the weep hole by the water pump, showing us that our water pump seal is leaking.
As a result, and while we haven’t torn into the bike just yet, we expect the bike got hot or the seal just went bad at some point, causing us to lose all our coolant. Thus leading to the bike getting hot and pumping out a bunch of oil, ultimately feeding into the airbox.
As quickly as it started, our race was over at just 4.5 hours in. We’ve never had any issues with Yamaha durability issues and are still perplexed with this one, but we plan on further tearing down this bike to see what all went down and why.
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