We’ve been following along with the progress of Victory Motorcycle’s “Project 156” since it was announced, and it was starting to look like the cinderella story of 2015. Alas it was not meant to be.
Just when it looked like things were going swimmingly, the plot took a Hollywood twist, along with almost every major component on the motorcycle.
During a practice session on June 13th, just 15 days before the start of the Pikes Peak International Hill climb, a race for which “Project 156” had been specifically designed to compete in, pilot Don Canet had a high-speed crash. An onboard camera shows the events as they unfolded. We’ve include a link to the video below.
In the video you can clearly see the front end tuck under braking, going into a right hander, while headed strait at a guard rail and a long drop. Thankfully Canet avoided injury and slid to a stop up against the barrier. The bike was not nearly as lucky; It caught the first post on the barrier with the rear shock mount and frame (had it been 2 feet to the left it would have sailed off the mountain at close to 75 mph, and who knows what would have happened then). The result was a twisted frame and a pile of destroyed parts awaiting Roland Sands and the RSD team when they arrived at work on Monday morning.
After a week of thrashing to get everything put back together again, “Project 156” was ready for the last practice sessions prior to the race. A successful and trouble free practice and qualifying had the crew lined up on race day as the fourth place qualifier in the motorcycle division and first in the Exhibition class.
After a good start, pilot Don Canet managed the second best time of the day in the first section of the course, and looked poised for a podium position. Unfortunately the mountain bit back in the second section where a slow speed low-side crash caused the team to lose a significant amount of time. After remounting and continuing the race, the bike would eventually come to a stop just a couple of miles before the finish line as a result of electrical problems caused by the crash. Canet said: “I was off to a strong start and competitive with the fastest bikes on the mountain. My disappointment is more for the team and how much work they put into Project 156 from the very beginning. The bike was working really well today despite being a prototype and being rebuilt after the practice crash a few weeks ago. To go fast here you have to ride outside the paint lines and I got caught out crossing over one. I never let go of the handlebars and got right back up again but unfortunately the bike stopped running in the last section. Overall, I’m really proud of the team’s effort.”
Victory Motorcycles General Manager Rod Krois said: “The Victory team didn’t shy away from the challenge of racing Pikes Peak. Racing is the ultimate test for any machine and on the back of a podium at the Isle of Man TT a few weeks ago we were hoping for a strong result with Project 156 as well. We know that Don and the team were pushing hard to take a position on the overall podium and we absolutely support their commitment to racing as hard as possible at Pikes Peak this year.”
“We committed to racing a prototype Victory engine in one of the toughest ways possible, and we succeeded in showing how strong an engineering team we have at Victory Motorcycles to develop a competitive motor in such a short time,” said Polaris Motorcycles Product Director Gary Gray. “We may not have ended up with the result we all wanted today – but I can say that the Project 156 represents the two things that Victory stands for – performance and exhilaration. We got the bike back down to the pits after the race, and were able to fire it up. It looks like the crash may have resulted in an electrical issue that ended this run for Project 156. The team is investigating to find the specific issue, and we want to bring Project 156 back to the race again.”
Check out the Victory Motorcycle’s YouTube channel for more information about this amazing story and visit www.ppihc.com for the official results from the Pikes Peak International Hill climb on June 28th, 2015.