Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1997 01 15

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

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IN THE WIND The 1997 Total Dakar Rally got under way January 4 and after three stages four-time winner Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel (Yam) was leading when the field arrived in Mali. At the completion of the third stage January 6, Peterhansel led countryman Thierry Magnaldi (KTM) by some 35 minutes. Spaniard Jordi Acarons (KTM) is third, another six minutes behind, with Americans Danny LaPorte (KTM) and Jimmy Lewis (KTM) fourth and seventh, respectively. Steve Lamson (Hon) and Kevin Windham (Yam) were'the big winners at the GFI Invitational Supercross at Perris Raceway, in Perris, California, January 4. Lamson topped the 250cc class over Jeff Ernig (Kaw) and Damon Huffman (Kaw). Windham came from behind to win the I25cc race, while Casey Johnson (Kaw) and Scott Sheak (Hon) finished second and third, respectively. Cliff Palmer (Suz) won both nights of racing in the 125cc class of the AMA PJl National Arenacross Series in Fort Worth, Texas, January 4-5, while Buddy Antunez (Hon) and Jeff Dement (Kaw) split 1-2 finishes in the 250cc class. Palmer beat Mike Jones (Kaw) and Jimmy Gaddis on Friday night, and followed that up with a victory over Chad Pederson (Yam) and Charlie Bogard (Suz) Saturday. In the 250cc class, Antunez beat Pederson and Palmer Friday night, and Dement topped Antunez and Palmer to score the win Saturday. After 24 races, Pederson leads Antunez in the ti tle chase, 422-379. Brits Dougie Lampkin (Bet) and Steve Colley (G-G) battled it out in the final at round two of the World Indoor Trials Championship in Sheffield, England, January 4, with Lampkin coming out on top. Reigning Indoor and Outdoor World Trials Champion Marc Colomer (Mon) finished third. Lampkin now leads Colomer in the series points standings, 37-35. Ronnie Tichenor (Suz) won both the 125 and 250cc Pro classes in perfect fashion during round two of the Florida Winter AMA MX Series, held in Ocala, Florida, January 5. Tichenor topped Brock Sellards (Kaw) and Paul Currie (Kaw) in winning the 125cc class prior to beating Barry Carsten (Suz) and Sellards in the 250cc Pro class. Pat Barton (Suz) won the Vet Pro class. Rusty Holland (Kaw) won both the 125 and 250cc Pro classes during the opening round of the CMC Sunstar Sprockets Golden State National in Gorman, California, January 5. Holland beat Dustin Nelson (Yam) and Spud Walters (Suz) in the 125cc class and Lance Smail (KTM) and Nelson in the 250cc class. Former AMA Superbike Champion Jamie James has announced his retirement from the sport after a professional career iliat spanned some.l0 years. The 35-year-old Louisiana native will turn his full attention toward trying to win Rookie of the Year honors in the 18race USAR Hooters'Cup Late Model stock car racing championship. James won his AMA Superbike National Champions1tip on a Yoshimura Suzuki in 1989, prior to winning a Pro Twins title in 1990 on a Fast By Ferracci Ducati and a 600cc Supersport Championship in 1994 on a Vance & Hines Yamaha. James will begin J; 1997 rac- ing season on February 8 in Lakeland, Florida, for his Ashevi.lle, North CaroJina-basedĀ·Cajun Mountain Motorsports team. PACE Motor Sports, a producer of the AMA Super'cross Series, has announced that it plans an increase of $100,000 to be awarded to participants iJ;l the 1997 season. Prior to this announcement, PACE and International Speedway Corporation, the promoter of the Daytona Supercross, had already committed $100,000 to be put toward the series point fund. The additional $100,000 brings the total amount of purse money available to riders in 1997 to $980,000.. A $56,000 Privateer Bonus Award fund has been established as part of the total package, a fund that will divide $4,000 per race among any privateers who make the 250cc main event. If no privateer makes the main, the money will roll over to the next event. Longtime Harley-Davidson dealer, former dirt tracker and renowned engine builder Leonard Andres, 84, died December 25 in San Diego, California. Leonard Andres built and tuned the Harley-Davidson that his son Brad Andres rode to victory in the 1955 Daytona 200, the same rear that the younger Andres went on to capture the AMA Grand National Championship. Prior to becoming a dealer and mechanic, Leonard Andres raced professionally in Northern California. He took over a motorcycle dealership in Stockton, California, in 1946 before moving to San Diego and opening San Diego Harley-Davidson in 1952, a business he sold in 1976. Andres is survived by his son, Brad, a sister, Norma Baxter, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Spec fuel rule: NASB/F-USA has announced that it has signed a deal with Sunoco Race Fuels that will name the company as the "official fuel of NASB and Formula USA." Under the terms of the agreement, Sunoco Purple (leaded, 110 octane) and Sunoco GT (unleaded, 100 octane) will be the only legal fuels in the Formula USA and EBC Brakes Sport Bike Series in 1997. "We've just leveled the playing field and eliminated the need for $15-pergallon witch's brew fuels," Formula USA president Doug Gonda said. "Sunoco makes top-notch racing fuels that already have a winning record in Formula USA competition. With this program we can see our races decided on the track and not in a chemical lab." NASB president Roger Edmondson sees it as a safety issue. "Some of the fuels that have shown up from time to time at the track have reeked terribly," Edmondson said. "There have been some grave concerns about the toxicity of some fuels and the long-term health effects of exposure to those fumes. With a choice of safe and stable Sunoco fuels, our racers will not have to worry about that." In addition to awarding a 55-gallon drum of fuel to the fast qualifiers in the two classes, Sunoco will also post some $20,000 in cash awards through a Sunoco bonus program, according to NASB/F-USA. The NASB Championship will consist of five classes this season, one fewer than it ran in 1996. Headlining the program will be the Sunoco Race Fuels Formula USA Series, which will be supported by the EBC Brakes Sport Bike Series, the Idemitsu American GP Yamaha's four-stroke MXer O utdoor motocross Nationals will never sound the same. On the heels of California's first attempt at regulating the emissions of off-highway motorcycles, a regulation that renders 1998-model two-strokes illegal for use on public land in the state, Yamaha has debuted its brand-new YZM400F, a super-trick prototype four-stroke motocrosser that harkens back to a time before the AMA instituted its MX/SX production rule, a time when exotic materials ruled the day and the bikes on the track had almost nothing in common with the machine you could buy in the dealership. And this is definitely not a bike you'll be finding at your local Yamaha dealer. The 400cc liquid-cooled four-stroke was designed with one goal in mind: to qualify for 250cc Nationals. As such it represents a reassessment of what a four-stroke can be and is a fuIlon works prototype, practically hand-made and littered with exotic materials. . Don't believe it? The cases are machined from billet aluminum and fitted with magnesium covers. The frame is fabricated out of chrome-moly steel tubing and features a titaruum subframe. The valve cover is machined from titanium. The fuel tank is hand-fabricated from aluminum sheet and the airbox is made from carbon fiber. It's a beautiful thing to look at. As a motocrosser, rather than a warmed-over off-road bike, the YZM was designed arourid a YZ-like package. The frame, for instance, has near-YZ geometry. The suspension and triple clamps, too, come from the works two-stroke and the bike uses a stock YZ seat and plastic. It was this YZ-like package that ultimately led the YZM design team to settle on 400cc for the displacement, rather that going to the AMA limit of 550cc for four-strokes competing in the 250cc class. Simply put, a 400 fit, while still providing more than enough power. How much? All Yamaha would say is "over 50 horsepower," although sources in Europe indicate that output may be 57. Our opportunity to see the bike came in late December at Yamaha's offices in Cypress, California. Yamaha was very tight with details about the powerplant, though it seemsĀ· highly likely that the Keihin FCR flat-slide carb feeds the three intake valves characteristic of Yamaha's five-valve Genesis engines. As a testament to the amount of torque available, the YZM is presently fitted with a four-speed gearbox. As for the dry weight of the bike, Yamaha wasn't talking about that either. However, they did say this: '1t meets the (AMA MX/SX minimum weight) regulation," said Keith McCarty, Yamaha's race team manager. "You know, right now I honestly don't know (how much it weighs) because we (Yamaha USA) haven't put it on the scale at all because we're putting various parts on it and that sort of thing. I know it's not lighter than the AMA limit. The limit is 216 pounds. I believe it's going to be competitive in that area, at least we hope so. Picking it up it feels nice, but that's not a scale. You can see they've gone to great extent to keep it as light as possible." We were allowed to heft the bike on and off the stand,. and this is one light four-stroke. While the immediate goal for the YZM400 is to race the AMA Nationals in the capable hands of Doug Henry, the long-term goals fall into a more practical category. "As you know, the EPA requirements and clean air acts are becoming more and more prevalent," said Yamaha's National Communications Manager Bob Starr. "The example we use is you can't buy a two-stroke lawn mower anymore in the country. July 1 you can't use two-stroke weed blowers in Los Angeles County. Obviously this is becoriting more and more an issue. So down the road it's going to be four-strokes. Does that mean twostrokes are going to go away.right away? No. But this is the future." Works bikes disappeared from AMA motocrbss ahd supercross racing when the production rule was instituted in the mid-'80s. However, with an eye toward the future the AMA has given the manufacturers a one-year "coupon" - redeemable in the year of their choice - to develop a machine of this type. "The AMA was asked if there was a way that this could be homologated or used in racing and because of the reasons that you talked about earlier - what's going on in California," McCarty said. "Right now the AMA has a very successful series in Nationals and Supercross and I think they viewed it as a way to ensure that it was going to be successful (in the future) and realized that all the manufacturers need some time to, a) find out are these going to be competitive, or could the four-strokes and two-strokes work togethl!r and have a competitive series and, b) if the two-stokes end up going away that this is a way to help their future to let us do development now. The rule is pretty simple: They've suspended any homologation for one year for each manufacturer - and (the manufacturer) can choose that year. For Yamaha it happens to be 1997. The only real rules there are is that it has to meet the minimum weight requirement, which is 216 pounds, it has to meet the sound requirement, which is 102 decibels and it has to use the same fuel as the twostroke. So it's a pretty simple thing for us. "Other than that we can do anything we want to do to the motorcycle in a works..type state. I guess it's the first time we've had that kind of freedom in a long time to do something like this and we hope to get in th,ere and be noticed." Henry is slated to contest the entire outdoor N ationaJ series, though the possibility is there for him to compete in selected supercross dates with the YZM, based largely on whether or not Henry would like to do it. "Our goal is to race it in all of the Nationals and if Doug rode this bike and said, 'Man, this thing is really good and I'd like to ride it in a supercross race: then that's not out of the question either:' McCarty said. "We just haven't planned for that at this moment. Bu if testing goes really well and things happen, that's an option. In either case we're commit ted to using it at the Nationals. We're optimistic and hope that things are going to go rea ly welL Really it is a look to see if technology has caught up in the four-stroke area, haS' technology moved forward enough to compete on a heads-up basis with a two-stroke." Mat:kHoyec

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