Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1997 12 03

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 , Ezra Lusk scored the overall win at the To kyo Su percross o n November 22. In . the two- mote s upercross, Lus k won . bo th ti mes w hile Larry Ward (Suz) wen t 2-2 for second ove rall . Third ove rall we n t to John Dowd (Ya m), who wen t 4-5, followed by Damon Huffman (Ka w) and Kevin Windh a m (Ya m ). AMA Supercross Champ ion Jeff Emig (Ka w) and former cha m p Jeremy McGrath (Ya m) did not fare too well : Emig wen t 9-6 for ni n th overa ll, and McGrath wen t 6-8 for seve nth o vera ll. In the FIM World Su perc ross Se ries point standings, Emig still leads with 141 points , followed by H uffma n wi th 125 points. Buddy Antunez (Suz) scored the 25Occclass wins bo th nights a t the P)l / AMA A re nac ro ss Se ries in Alban y , New York, Novembe r 21-22 , wh ile ser ies points leader Cliff Pal m er (Kaw) a nd Chad Pederson (Kaw) split 125cc-c1ass win s Friday and Sa tu r d ay nights, resp ectively. On Friday, Antunez took the 250cc-elass win over Pederson and Pa lmer, while Palmer took the 125cc w in over G r ay s o n Goodma n (Kaw) a nd Charlie Boga rd (Suz) , On Saturday nigh t, An tu nez again took th e 250ccclass wi n o ve r Ped erson and Jerom y Buehl (Han), while Pederso n too k the 125cc-class victory ov er Antunez an d Good man. Afte r fou r rounds, Pa lm er has a o ne -point lead o ve r Ped ers on , 124-12.1. Rumo rs have been ci r cu la ti n g tha t AMA National Hare & Ho und Champion Ty Davis has signed a contract wit h KTM , but a cco rd ing to KTM ' s Sco t Harde n, those rumors are untrue. "It is true, thou gh ; that KTM has bee n nego tiating with Ty Da vis' age nt for a possible con tract for quite som e time, since September 8:' Harden sa id. "Howeve r, as of November 20th, we have di scon tinued all negoti ations wi th Davis and have wi thdrawn the offer." Yama ha has finally annou nced its second rider for the 1998 AMA Superbi ke National Championship Series - Jamie Hacking. Hacking ha s signed a twoyear deal to ride a YZR600 in the 600cc Supers port class and a YZF750 in the AMA Su perbike class. "Jamie had a . good firs t yea r in 600 Supers port las t yea r, a nd we be li e ve that he ha s a n ex tre m e ly st ro ng fu tu re," said Larry Griffis, Yamah a' s d ivi sion manager of racing . "The co mbinatio n of ve teran road racer Rich Olive r and up-a nd-com ing Jamie Hacking will put Yamaha in s tro ng contention thi s yea r ." Steve Round s will serve as Oliver's mechanic, while Jeff Myer s wi ll wo rk wi th Hacking's 600 and T.). Fahey will lone Hacking's superbike. Tom Houseworth wi ll continue as the team's crew chief, Tom Hal verson returns as the racing coo rdi nator / data-acqu isit ion man , and Ken Tacke w ill serve as the transportation facilito r. -" Sw iss road racer Andreas Hoffmann (Ka w) w o n the M a cau Motorcycle Grand Prix on November 16, topping . England's Phillip McCalle n (Yam) and Ca liforn ian Sha w n Hi gb ee (Suz ). Higbee, who rode a Grav es Motorsports Suz u ki, qu alified seventh in his first visi t to the ra ce, whi ch is held on th e streets of Macau, and finished third in a race that was rest arted three tim es. Higbee also led the race for three laps. "The circuit is a bit scary in some places, and it's really cha llenging:' Higbee said. "I didn't give up on speed, and tried as ha rd as I coul d un til th e end . I thin k I had my fastes t time on that final lap." Brock Sellards (Han), Greg Rand (Suz), Mark Bu rkhart (Ho n) , Jim Neese (KTM) an d Ma tt Maximoff (Hon) capture d wins in th e first three rounds of racing in the Action Sports Arenac ross Series in Dayton a, Ohio, November 2123. Sellards aod Ran d won the 125 and 250cc classes on Friday night, Burkhart and Neese won the two races on Saturday night, and Maximoff and Rand won on Su nda y. Lance Smail (KTM) was the big winner a t the CMC orthwest Arenacross N ationals in Monroe, Washington, on November 23. Smail top ped both the 125 and 250cc Pro classes for the overall win . Do ug Blackwell (Yam) scored the overall win at the third round of the AMA M id-So u th Winter Hare Scrambl es Se r ies in Ford svill e, Kentu ck y , on t-, 0\ November 23. Runner-up hon ors went 0\ to Jim Jarrett (Yam), who was followed ,..... across the finis h line by Mike Sa mpson ~ (Kaw), Blair Bersano (KTM) and Scott .... McLaughlin (Yam). OJ ..0 E OJ u OJ c 2 KTM has officia lly signed Mike Lafferty to a o ne-year co n tract fo r th e 1998 off-roa d season. Lafferty will defen d his AMA Natio nal Enduro ti tl e and w ill compe te in selected Grand Na tiona l Cross Country races. Lafferty wi ll aga in be teamed with mechanic Ala n Randt. . Form er 250cc World Champi on a nd noted engine tuner /build er Kel Carruthe rs ha s been hired by Cha pa rra l Racin g as its engine-deve lopment man ager. Carruth ers, w ho tu ned for Kenny Roberts and Edd ie Lawson wh en th ey won six SOOcc World Championships on Mar lboro-ba cked Yamahas and also for AMA Superbike Na tio na l Cha m pion Dou g Chandler when he rode factory Cagivas, w ill "build th e race team's Yama ha YZ1 25 / 250 a nd YZ400 r a ce motors, with th e ultimate goal of bringing these pr oducts to the marketplace: ' acco rding to a p ress release issued by Chaparral. Chaparra l will fiel d a tworider tea m in 1998, headed up by mu ltitime AMA National Champion Jeremy McGrath a n d Jimmy Button . Carru th ers most recently was in cha rge of engine building a nd engi ne developmen t for Team West coast, which field ed Sea-Doc's fac to ry persona l wa tercra ft racing effort. According to the press release, Chaparrel Performa nce /Chapa rrel Ra ci ng will s oo n be provid in g such items and servic es as programma ~ ble ignition systems, exhaust pip e s, silencers, porting and full mot or build ing. Changes, cha nges... The AMA has mad e some cha nges to the 1998 AMAIMBNA S u perbi k e Ser ies sc hed u le . Road Atlanta is now o n th e schedule, with the race planned for May 31; in addition to Road Atla nta , a round has also been ad ded for August 9 at Route 66 Race)Yay in Joli et, Illinois; tw o races ha ve also changed da tes, wi th Brainerd mo ving to A ug us t 2 and Las Vegas changing to September 20. The keyn o te for crucial rider moves for nQt yea r's 500cc G ra nd Pr ix season seems to be delayed confirmation. It is, for example, thou ght to be certain that Michael Doohan will stay with Honda, and that new Worl d Superbike Cham pi on John Kocinski will also move to the SOOcc class on a V-four factory Honda, acco rd ing to Grand Pri x corres po ndent Michael Scott. So far, nothing has been confirmed, however. In Doohan 's cas e, he an d HRC see m to have been circling each ot her for weeks like a pair of dogs. Do ohan' s s ticki ng p o int ha s been to see k a degree of independen ce wi th in the team, so that he d oes n 't have to share the benefit of all his settings, etc., . with other Honda riders. HRC's interL obviou sly go beyond just one rid er, 'StS so th ey need to find a po sition that can sa tisfy Doohan and kee p sponsors Repsol happy, while still allowin g HRC to foster o ther fa vored riders. This last category incl ud es not o n ly their homeg row n Ja pa nese sta rs but a lso th e hottest na me on a ny body's shop ping list - Kocins ki. Doo ha n' s hopes of a per- _ sonally independent team seem to have com e to no thing. He is kno wn to have approac hed bo th Marlboro and departing sponsors Lucky Strike with a package, but eve o if he had fou nd a bu yer , th e pl an w as jeopardized by Repsol 's insistenc e that their co ntinued suppo rt d epended on ret aining Doohan's services. It remains to be seen exactly what com prom ise wi ll serve to sa tisfy all roncerned . Joh n Kocinski wi ll return to GPs next yea r on a factory Honda, ridi ng for Sito Pons wi th MoviStar backing, according to reports fro m Spa in. But th e World Su per bi ke a nd fo rmer 250cc World Cham p io n's b ert h m a y b e a t the ex pense of fo u r- ti me 250cc World Champion Max Biaggi. Pons had the op tio n of employing either rider, with Biaggi having the attraction of Marlboro ba ckin g , th ou gh cu rre n t spon s or s MoviStar favored Kocinski, wh o is very po pular in Spain. High-level m eetings this we ek between HRC chief Kanazawa and form er 250cc Wo rld Champion Pon s - a team owner since his retir em ent - sett led o n Kocinski. Kocinsk i will be we lcomed back to GPs as a tim ely in fus io n of fresh in te r es t. Carlos Checa w ill remain with the Mo vi star team, wi th Alberto Pui g announcing his retirem ent. Th e deci sion leaves Biaggi o ut in the cold, w ith Erv Ka ne mo to struggling to find the extra backing he needs to run a one- rider SOOcc Marlboro Honda tea m, Kenny Roberts ended rum ors o f the imminent w ithdrawa l o f Mod enas last week, confirming in an exclusive interview w ith Michael Sco lt th at "we are ve ry close to s po nsors hip ag ree me nt with Phillip Morris (Ma rl boro) th a t means w e w ill have at leas t o ne rider next yea r (and that rider would be his so n, Kenny [r., for a second yea r), but we're st ill talking wi th o ther people, and we might easily have at lea st on e more rider." Roberts revealed that he and his engineers had explored switchin g to four-cylinder p ower, and had held talks with Swissauto, design ers of the EIf /MuZ mot o r. Asked a bo u t rumors from Sw it zerland that he had placed a substa ntial order for V-four mo to rs, he said : " It never go t that far , but we did ha ve discussions with them . Th ey were a fallba ck option that we deci ded aga ins t following. 1don 't know if that op tio n' would be ava ilable any more. In any case , we're conce ntrating on red esign in g our triple. We're welladva nced with th e d esign, a nd manufacture shouldn't be a problem. It' s not as difficu lt to ma ke th e se t hi n gs as Ho nd a and Yama ha would ha ve you b el ie v e ." The r ede si gn w ould a d d a no ther crankshaft m ain bearin g (to so lve vi bration p roble ms wi th the first engine, which had a shared crankcase for tw o of th e cy li nders) as well as a balance shaft (for the same reason). The ra cing future of ex -Lucky Strike Suzu ki rid er Daryl Beattie is clouded wit h uncertainty. There does not see m to be an immediate GP berth available, w hile he has said he does n ' t wa nt to take "a ba ck w ard s te p" i nto World Superbikes, Thi s, howe ver , ma y be the only cho ice left for the form er title challenger , after a lack of interest in Au strali an ca r-racing circles g reeted his announcemen t of an interest in moving o ver to four wheels. Th e Gra nd Prix preseason testin g season wi H s tart ea rly fo r Yamaha, w ith Team Rainey planning a Suz uka outing in the last week of November. Norifumi Abe and new teammate JeanMichel Bayle will ride the bike - the latter r ea cq u a int i n g hi mself w it h th e V-fo ur Yama ha after a har d and fru itless yea r on the Modenas . Controvers ial Australian rider Anthony Gobert will be required to submit to "a medical inspection " for dru g testing before eve ry FIM-sanc tio ned ra ce for the foreseeable future, after a deci sion made behi nd closed doors at the October A M congress. Th is was confirmed by FIM press secre ta ry Marc Perrier. who sai d: "This mean s internat io nal races, includ ing Grand Prix and World Superbike events . It does not apply to N ati on al Championship races, such as th e AM A series." Gobe r t, w hos e GP car eer was terminated abru p tly after he reportedly failed a team dru g test, disputes th e results of th e test s, and had already accepted a ride with Vanc e & Hines Du cati for th e AMA Superbike Series w hen the decision was made . H~ had severa l offers, sai d hi s manager /mother, Sue Gobert , and he d e cid ed to acce p t that o f Vance & Hines. In a m o ve that w ill fin d few fa ns am on g cu rren t co mpetito rs, the A M has d eci d ed to introduce an age limit to th e 125cc class of Gra nd Prix roa d raci ng ยท beg inning ne xt year - alo ng wit h a limit to th e amount of time any o ne ri d er can spend in th e class. The rule revi sio ns also rul e o ut any more dou b le Wo rl d C ha m pions - win the title once from now on, and you must leave the class . New riders must be no older th an 25 on January 1 the following yea r; a nd they w ill be a llowe d to race on ly a maximum of four seaso ns in the clas s - as long as th ey st ill remai n under thi s age limit at the start of each new season . For riders already in the class, the rules are retroactive. A rider who has co m ple ted two o r more se asons alread y may rid e fo r tw o more; those wh o com peted for th e first tim e in 1997 may race for three more seaso ns. Th e age-limit rul es do not apply to rid ers a lready in volv ed - if it had been a pplied, it would have devastated th e upper levels of 125cc racing - hit ting the prominent Japanese conting ent especially ha rd , with many rid ers for who m an en try to GPs is the culmination o f a s uccessfu l dom es ti c 125cc ca re er . The mo ve is s een as ano ther ste p in redu cin g th e importan ce of the 125s in favor of th e 500s and 250s - a m ov ement led by IRTA officia ls and 500cc~cl ass team owner Sito Pons . Not o nly d o th e 125s ta ke po tential s po nsors away fro m the bigger classes, they often (vexingly) are the bes t races of the day. It will institutiona lize th e 125s as an official beg inner's class a nursery for future 250 / 500cc riders . T his is a role it already fills. However, the class has als o been a happy hunting ground for specialists on sm aller bikes, who for >

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