Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1998 07 29

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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Page 90 of 91

IN THE PADDOCK BYM HAELS O IC C TT o you ever get the feeling you' re being led by the nose? Let me tell you, it's worse w hen a blind man is d oing it. At leas t if he pin ches yo u ha rd eno ug h, it disguises the smell of fish. . " No apo logies for the mixed metaphors. It's like that at the mom ent, t leas t wh en it comes to the issue of our-strokes in Gra nd Prix racing. A~d o apologies eit he r for ret u rn ing to a amiliar subject. It is the issue of the day, nd it gathers im pe tus an d impli cations like on a daily basis. To recap: Rumors of a plan to change he SOOcc Grand Prix class to admit four troke prototypes su rfaced at the second ace of this year. Thi s reporter was mildy prou d to have sec ured a scoop at uzu ka in an off-t he-record con versaion with a top Jap an ese industry figure in which he revealed th e notion, and howed a lot of favor for it. At the next ace, I further secured confidential inforat ion from high-level Dorna figures: he gist being that it was them (Dorna) ho had pu t the id ea to th e Japanese ndustry, via the Grand Prix Manufacurers Associat ion (GPMA). More pride, especially .since the artiles I wrote got mo re response inside cing than anything else I've ever writen. But the feeling didn't last, as a series f event s made me realize tha t all this nformation wa s being carefully fed to e. This in itself is fine - it's how a lot of ournalism works. But only i f you nderstand where the inform a ti on is oming from, and why. And the answer o this has become increasing ly elusive. The plo t thickens. T he maj or implications are clear nough. C reating a fou r-stroke class ' ou ld send costs sky-rocketing. O nly D major manufacturers and big-time (i.e., tobacco) sponsors could afford it ; it would be a real p roblem filling the grids.. Even if new en trants do come (names ranging from BMW to Triumph to Ha rley -Davidson are gaily bandied about), it's hard to imagine mo re than 12 or so works bikes at the outside-unless there is some sort of homologation or numbers rule, obliging each maker to provide bikes for, say, five riders. Or more, perhaps, to feed GP-linked National Championship classes. This route leads inexorably toward basing machines on production models. Turning the premier bike-raci ng class into a sort of production-bike series would be an ana thema to any true GP fan . Th15. remains true even if "p rototype" rules allow free cylinder hea ds, for exa mple, a nd free frames. It's still production-bike racing. But it make s se nse to a lot of other people, in va rious ways. It offers the factories an op po rtunity to justify top-level racing costs on both marketing and, more imp o r ta n tly, research-and -development term s. If the two-stroke sports road bike is a dead duck, then what' s the po int of racing them (a s a facto ry accountant might think)? It opens the game up to small manufacturers, who can race-develop aftermarket pa rts for street bikes; or alternatively become part of a racing-service ind us try in the Formula One model certainly, four -stroke racing would give employment to a much greater number of engineers than at present. That's one reason why many pit-lane overall-wearers are in favor of the change. A nd in a strange kind of way, the escalatin g cost m ight (in the way o f oYEARSAGO... UGUST 15, 1968 as there ever any beller a IT rider than Ski p Van Leeuwen? Apparently not, at least in 1968 anywa y. Van Leeu wen (Tri) kept his u nd efea ted treak intact, as he stormed to the win at the Castle Rock a tional IT i n Wa sh ington St ate. Followi ng Van euwe n acro ss the line in second and third place were .ck Mann (BSA) and Emil Ahola (H-D)... Mel Lacher H-D) mad e it nine wi ns in a row at the Ascot Park these things) bring in the sort of outside money that it's going to need - an inversion of the supply-and -demand laws that some might find a little w himsical. One can argue things back and forth, but there is one clear fact: Design of racing SODs has been more or less stagnant since around 1991. For this reason alone, even the most pure of aficionados might come to the conclusion that change is necessary, if only for the sake of change. But there is another driving force here, so who is behind it? Ah, that is the question. There is definitely somebody pulling some sort of strings. But the explanations I have been offered leave me none the wise r. Is it Dorna, as I was led to believe back in Spain? O r were they in at the birth just as part of the structure of racing? It's poss ible tha t Dorna itself was fed a line, which in turn led them to feed the Same lin e to the GPMA? But wh o fed Dor na? Was it t he GP MA th em selves? Or was it one of the ma nu facturers? For a number of reason s, the name of Honda comes to mind. Never mind that now. Ano ther racing insider insists that the prime mo ver was in fact Sito Pons, that calcu lating team owner and ex-champion , al re ady a powerful fig u re within IRTA and in the Spanish racing est ab lishment. His putative mot ivation is typically two-sided: firstly to use th is cause to gain grea ter political power on his own behalf, and secondly to curry favor withHRC And there it is aga in - the big H of Honda casting a shadow over the scenario. One can rule out the FIM as prime mo vers - they are too busy with their weekly flat -track races... Sammy Tanner (JAP) was the top dog at the Whiteman Sta dium "Class A" speed wa y races, taking the A m ain-event win over John Hateley (JAP) and Pa u l Co ns er i e r re (JAP) ... Hodaka took ou t a n ad, claimi ng to be th e "Choice of Ch ampions" in roa d raci ng... Larry Butterfield won two classes a t th e Ridger unners M.e. Ti re Climb in Troutdale, Oregon. 20Y ARSA O E G ... A UGUST2,1 978 ank Scott rode his Carl Patrick-tuned Harley-Davidson to a wire-to-wire victory at the Sacramento Mile. Ste ve Moreh ead (H-D) and Corky Keener (H~:JiJ'"I";'Jn"]-_ _ joined Scott on the podiD~) " . u rn... Broc G lo ver (Yam) was the m an to beat at th e Mi d Ohio 12Scc U.S. GP. Glove r pu t toge the r perfect 1-1 mo tosfor the overall win, leading Ge rard Rond (Ya m) a nd Marty Mo ates (Suz) . John Savi tski (Yam) won the 2S0cc Suppor t class... We ra n a n inte rv ie w w ith the AM A's Doug Mocke ll. A mon g t he items discussed wer e the H ookle se nsation Indeed: Wayne Rainey had a heck of a eshman year In the 1988 SO cc GP wars , winning the O rltlsh Grand Prix at Donlngton Park and finish ing up the ea r third In the series standings aboard his Team Lucky rlkeIRoberts Yamaha. own labyrinthine political struggles, and they enjoy the status quo, with fat payments from both GPs and World Superbikes. Then again, the who le thing could be comme rcially motivated - part of a much large r plan that seeks to rationalize the busi ness of racing. This im plication requires first that we ask: If GPs do go four-stroke, what happens to the su pe rbikes? Well, consider this: Both the World Su perbike Ser ies and the Grand Prix Series have new owners. Octagon, the four-stroke owners, a re heavy hillers in media circles. In a TV war between the two series, they would al most certa inly win hand s d own. The GP owners, on the other han d, are financiers ve ntu re ca pit a lists, w ho finance ma nagement bu y- outs, a nd th e n se ll their own sh ares to ma ke a pr ofit o n th eir ov erall in ve s tm en t. This m ig h t be ach iev ed by extra i nvest me n t o r by s tri pping off asse ts for sa le; it m ight take three weeks, thr ee years, or three de cad es. It is far from imposs ible that the se two commerci al big-timers m ight be cooking something up between themselves that would involve combining the two series. Superbikes, if they survive at all , will beco me closer to production bikes; the new GP machines would be much like current superbikes, but without the obligation for look-alike bod ywork and other specificat ion re strictions. Now that I ha ve s ha red my confusion with this situation, may I make one prediction? That th e change will happen , an d it will be for reason s tha t have no t hin g to d o wi th motorcycles or sport. CN possibility tha t the Ca mel Pro Series would be d ivided into two separate series - road racing and d irt track - and tha t Superbike racing could one day become the p remie r class for AMA road racing... Fourteen-ye a r-old Rick Joh nson (Yam) became the youn gest pro eve r to win a round of the TRIVIC Summer Series at Speedway 117 in Chula Vista, California. Johnson won both motos for the ove rall victo ry. 10 YEARS AGO... JULY 27,1988 h ri s. Carr (H-D) was all but perfect as he won th e Camel C hallenge and bac ke d it u p wi th a f1ag-to-f1ag d o m ination of t he Parke rsbu rg Half Mile in West Virginia... Fritz Kad lec (Yam) grabbed the lead on lap two and we nt on to win the AMA Na tio nal H are Sc ra mbles. . in Wald en , Co lorado ... Do n Estep (W-R) held o ff Kevin Atherton (W-R) and Will Davis (H-D) for th e wi n in th e Hagerstown, Maryl an d, 600cc National d irt track... We interv iewed "rookie se nsation" Wayne Rainey, w ho was piloting a Lucky Strike Yamaha in the . World SOOcc Road Racing Cha mp ionship se ries... Dave Thorpe (Hon) hailed the recen t win st reak of his factory Ho nda teammate, Eric Geboers, w ith back-to-back moto w ins in the British SOOcc MX GP... Former road racing wo rld ch a mpio n Hug h Anderson mad e a s uccessful return to Assen, Holland, as he won the Du tch Histori c GP road race aboard a 1961 Mat chless GSO single. CN C R B ~ 91

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