Attack Performance's Steve Rapp failed to qualify for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix after months of hard work by the team were scuttled by a fuel pump issue.
Rapp's last chance of qualifying for his first MotoGP race came in the Sunday morning warm-up. He had to come within 107% of the fastest rider to qualify, something he hadn't done to that point. But a fuel pump issue killed power and prevented the team from lining up on the grid. Had he met the mark, he would have been put at the back of the grid.
The fact that they even made it to the track was a major accomplishment. Attack Performance owner Richard Stanboli worked flat out for the past three months to design and build the CRT machine, while at the same time running his business and his Superbike team. The team cut it so close that they weren't able to test, stranding a Bridgestone technician at Buttonwillow Raceway when they didn't show up.
Once on track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Rapp had the target of the 107% mark, which was a tough ask considering he'd never ridden the bike. The other CRT machines had nine races of experience, plus testing, while Rapp had nothing. But the final straw came this morning.
"We had to make 107% and we weren't able to put any laps in," Stanboli said. "The fuel pump got some crap and it may be the new fuel tank or something. On the day it just ran lean and wouldn't run on top. Weird problem. It was running good all weekend. Just went through the chassis motions, but that bit us.
"We plan on going and doing a couple of private tests, at least one, for a couple of days. And then going over to Indy and doing testing with the Bridgestone. This time we'll be there. I promised (Hiroshi) Yamada," the head of the Bridgestone race program who traveled to Buttonwillow Raceway, "I wouldn't leave him in the desert next time."
Stanboli said he was "highly disappointed. I would've like to have seen us do every lap, because we had been; that was my goal. We missed that goal by a little bit.
"If he would done with 107% of anybody-they did a 21-something-so if he'd have done the same lap time pretty much as he did yesterday or a tick faster we'd be right there. And I thought we would improve through the race too. Like every time (Rapp) kicks a leg over it he's almost a second faster. So it's taken a little bit of time."
Rapp said he wasn't disappointed. "We had a major task ahead of us," he said. "Considering it's a bike that's been built for the first time and never ridden on the track, I'm not disappointed at all. I thought it was a great effort. I don't think anybody could do better, I don't."