Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1996 09 25

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 75

-I·IN.THE 'WIND' I Roberts and Yamaha to K enny Roberts, who has been strongly affiliated WIth Yamaha for more. than 25 years, will be splitting from the factory at the end of the year to pursue his own 500cc project, a source close to the team said at the Catalunyan Grand Prix on Sept~m bel' 14. The split between the man who had won two AMA Grand National Championships and three 500cc World Championships as a rider, and three more 500cc titles as a team owner, and the factory which he's been teamed with since his junior year as a dirt tracker, has been expected for weeks now. "Obviously, there's a lot of speculation that's been put into gear by their management and my management," Roberts said, neither confirming nor denying the split. "Officially, I probably won't be making any announcement until everything is done." Roberts said he didn't know the time frame. For years Roberts has been critical of Yamaha and it may finally have taken its toll. The management that was in place when he started is long gone and the new regime takes a different approach to racing than he would like. They may also have been upset that he was proceeding with an engine of his own. Though he was non-commital, Roberts did sound like a man on the verge of a breakup. "If I was going to leave, it would be because their direction and my direction have ceased to be the same," he said. "It'll be a mutual thing and everybody will be happy. This year we didn't see eye to eye. Last year the negotiations were not so good. It's like a m~riag~. We've been married a long time and after a while you're like wallpaper. Staymg WIth Yamaha would be good for my golf game. If I really ran a racing team like they want, I'd fire all the engineering staff and just go to the races. All week I could play golf. I don't want to do it like that." All Roberts would say about his future is that Marlboro, his current main sponsor, as well as his other technical sponsors, would be involved. "I don't move my foot without talking to my major sponsor or any other sponsor," Roberts said. "I don't do it without their financial backing or wisdom." The split also confirms what many have long thought to be the reason he moved his shop fro~ Barc~lona to Bainbury, England, the heart of Formula One racing country: He IS building his own motorcycle. Various leaks from his team and Tom Walkinshaw ~acing sug.gest;that .the motorcycle will have a three-cylinder engine. The configuration IS no surpnse smce It was the Honda three-cylinder of Freddie Spencer that beat him in 1983, his final championship year. At the time he .was openly covetous of the machine. .Th~.engine is known to be up and running on a dyno, though there are reports of reliability problems, which are to be expected with a clean-sheet design. The team is expected to have the bike ready for track testing in November, according to one report. Who will ride the new bike is another unaTISwered question. Asked who would beinvolved in his future projects, Roberts said, "We're very happy with Jean-Michel (Bayle) and (Kenny Roberts) Junior and very happy with Norick (Norifumi Abe). They're three v~ competitive young riders who I think in the future will be a major threat. If I split WIth Yamaha, they (Yamaha) may keep Abe, possibly. I have no idea what they're doing." With Wayne Rainey becoming the official Yamaha works team, and Rainey saying he would have a second rider alongside Loris Capirossi, it's a virtual certainty that Abe will move to the Rainey team. Elevating Rainey to the .number-one squad is a huge leap of faith for the factory. This year has been something less than a success for the team. They've fired former World Champion Tetsuya Harada, and Loris Capirossi's results have been disappointing. After finishing sixth in last year's 13-race championship with 108 points, Capirossi stands in 11th in this year's after 13 races with 69 points. One of the more embarrassing episodes for the team was when Capirossi ran out of gas in the Dutch Grand Prix. Greg Zitterkopf (Kaw) scored the overall win at the AMA National Hare and Hound in Yerington, Nevada, September 15. The win was Zitterkopfs second of the series, giving him a 22-point lead over Paul Krause (Kaw), who finished third in·Nevada. Second place went to Colorado's Donnie Book (Kaw) with fourth going to Dave Ondas (Kaw). Jeff Capt (Hon) rounded out the top five. With two rounds left in the series, Zitterkopf leads Krause, 124-92 with Ty Davis, who didn't compete in Nevada, two points behind Krause. Ty Davis (Kaw) made his choice to ride the National Enduro in London, Kentucky, instead of the National Hare & Hound in Nevada payoff as the defending enduro champ scored the overall win over Mike Lafferty (KTM), Randy Hawkins (Suz), Tim Taber (Hon) and Harvey Whitaker (Hon). With only two rounds remaining in the' series - and with both throwaways factored in (the of nine rounds are .counted) - Davis and Hawkins are tied for the lead with 136 points. Scott Summers (Hon) was the overall winner at the AMA Grand National Cross Country Championship Series round in Fairmont, West Virginia, September 12. Doug Blackwell (Yam) finished second with third place going to Brian Keegan (Yam). Rounding out the top five were Frank Keegan (Yam) and Jason Dahners (KTM). A number of title contenders registered DNFs, including defending' champ Scott Plessinger (KTM), Fred Andrews (Yam) and Steve Hatch (Suz). Jamie Whitham (Yam) won both races in round eight of the British Superbike Championship at Mallory Park, September 15, moving in front of his teammate Niall Mackenzie in the championship point standings. Mackenzie finished third and second in the two races and now trails Whitham by nine points with two rounds remaining. Peter Goddard (Suz) clinched the 1996 Australian Superbike Championship at the fifth and final round of the series in Mallala, South Australia, September 15. Goddard finished third behind Martin Craggill (Kaw) and Benn Archibald (Duc) in the first leg and topped Damon Buckmaster (Kaw) and Craggill to win the second race. Angelle Seeling (Suz) became the first woman in NHRA history to win a National event in the Pro Stock Motorcycle division when she defeated Dave Schultz (Suz) with a 7.373-second, 178mph run in the NHRA Pioneer Keystone Nationals, held in Reading, Pennsylvania, September 15. Schultz continues to lead the championship point standings over John Myers, 990-930, with two rounds remaining in the 12race series. Willie Price (H-D) rebounded from a horrible previous round to claim the 800cc-class win at the AMA National Championship Hillclimb in Middlebury, Indiana, SepteJ;I1.ber 15. Points leader Lou Gerencer (H-D) finished second in front of Bob Castledine (H-D), who rebounded from his 13th place in the first round. In the 540cc class, Paul Pinsonnault (Hon) may have delivered the knockout punch in the 1996 title chase as he took his third win of the season, while his main title challenger, David Watson (Hon), finished a lowly ninth. Scott McNeely (Hon) finished second, with Mike Pulver (Hon) third. Texan Kevin Schwantz is scheduled to drive a super kart in a support race for the Australian Grand Prix at Eastern Creek, October 18-20, reports Cycle News contributor Darryl Flack. The 1993 SOOcc World Champion will be in Australia to compete in the 1997 Australian NASCAR Championship which kicks off the week before the Xustralian GP. Mike Brown (Hon) won all four Pro motos to claim overall wins in the 125 and 250cc Pro classes during the opening round of the AMA Fall Classic MX Series at Birch Creek MX Park in Danville, Virginia, September 15. Brown topped Brock Sellards (Kaw) and Barry Carsten (Suz) in the 125cc Pro division, and finished ahead of Todd DeHoop (Suz) and Keith Bowen (KTM) in the 250cc ranks. Mike Young (Hbg) claimed the overall win in the opening round of the AMA Eastern National Four-Stroke Motocross Series, which was held in conjunction with the Fall Classic. Bowen (KTM) finished second while Larry Gessner (Hbg) was third. Tom Norton (Yam) won the NETRA Stateline Hare Scrambles in Boyntonville, New York, September 15. Second went to Josh McLevy (Hon), followed by Todd Levesque (yam), Scott Phelps (Yam) and Dave Gunn (KTM). During his television commentary of the Catalunyan Grand Prix on September 15, Barry Sheene reported that his young protege Garry McCoy will have ;lccess to two Honda NSR500 V-twins in 1997, courtesy of his current 125cc GP team, the Italy-based Scuderia Alta'. McCoy finished second in the Catalunyan 12Sec Grand Prix, his best result in a disappointing 1996 season. Speaking of Sheene, the former 500cc World Champion will appear with Carl Fogarty'during the Gold Cup International road race in Scarborough, England, September 20-22. The pair wiJI complete a number of exhibition laps on the 2.5-mile Olivers Mount circuit'to celebrate 50 years of racing at the infamous track. Fogarty will ride his Castrol Honda RC45 with Sheene expected to ride a Suzuki RG500. The pair will be joined by Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read and local favorite Mick Grant. Kyle Lewis was awarded a $500 check from Hatch Gloves at the AMA Motocross National Championship finale at'Steel City Raceway for being the top finishing privateer in the series for 1996. Lewis finished the season as the sixth-ranked rider in the 250cc National MX Championship. More than 700 motorcyclists raised a record $104,000 for pediatric brain tumor research in the fifth annual Ride For Kids, h.eld on September 15. The ride started in Columbia, Maryland, and concluded at Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Former AMA Grand National Champion Mark Brelsford is a confirmed entry for the Team Obsolete Del Mar Road Race, scheduled for October 10-11 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, California. Brelsford will race an ex-factory Harley-Davidson XR750. Brelsford also will attend the AMA Heritage Foundation Banquet on October 11. Tickets are still available for the banquet. For more information, call 800/711-3872. For an entry fee of $15, vintage motorcycle owners will get the opportunity to tour the Del Mar road race circuit as part of a Vintage Parade on October 11. Shawn Morgan and Brad Woolsey will team with current AMA Arenacross National Champion Jimmy Gaddis for the 1997 PJl National Arenacross Series. The team will ride Kawasakis and will be managed by McGrath Motorsports of Elgin, illinois. Tickets for the GFI Lake Elsinore Saturday Night Concert, featuring Robbie Knievel, the Jason Bonham Band, a fireworks show and Wheelie King Doug Domokos, are now on sale for the November 9 show. For ticket information, call Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore, California, at 909/245-4487. For information on the Elsinore Grand Prix, call 909/653-4042. The GFI $10,000 Supercross Invitational and Winter Series Warmup will be held on January 4, 1997, at Perris Raceway in Perris, California. This issue of Cycle News will mark the one-year anniversary of Cycle News Online. In addition to selected articles and departments from the current weekly printed issue of Cycle News, Cycle News Online also contains the complete 1996 Buyer's Guide, complete listings of broadcast times for all motorcycle racing in the United States, and a complete archive section of past online articles. Response to the online service has been enthusiastic with Cycle News Online now receiving/some 48,000 hits per day from 56 different countries around the world. Cycle News Online is at the following address: The infield se:tion of the 1.51-mile road course at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona, will be completely repaved and graded, according to a press release from the race track. "The new surface is going to make things easier for the motorcycles and sports cars that rely on our infield road course," said track owner and president Emmett "Buddy' Jobe. ".In the past few

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's - Cycle News 1996 09 25