Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1999 01 20

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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\ Jeff Willoh (Hon) won both 250cc main events and defending series champion Buddy Antunez (StlZ) topped both 125cc classes during rounds 13 and 14 of the AMA/PJI National Arenacross Series in Uniondale, New York, January 8-9. Willoh won Friday's 250cc feature over Cliff Palmer (Kaw) and Ty Wallace (Yam), while Antunez topped Willoh and Palmer in the 125cc main. On Saturday night, Willoh topped Antunez and Jeromy Buehl (Hon) in the 250cc class, while Antunez came back and won the 125cc feature over Wallace and Buehl. After 14 rounds of the 34-round series, Palmer leads the series standing over Antunez, 431-406. WilJoh is thi;rd with 399 poin.ts. Brian McGavran (Yam) won both the 125 and 250cc Pro classes in the opening round of the GFJ Winter Series, held at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California, on January 10. McGavran beat Rusty Holland (Suz) and Brett Racine (Kaw) in the 125cc class before topping Holland and Ty Kady (Yam) in the 250cc class. According to Colin Edwards II, a frontfork adjustment has made all the difference in the world to his factory. Castrol Honda RC45. Edwards tested at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan in December and lapped two seconds quicker than what he'd qualified with at the Suzuka 8 Hours in July. Edwards clocked a 2:08.9, with his teammate Aaron Slight logging a 2:09.6 at the recent test. "We found something in the front fork and it's money," Edwards said. "It's so good, it's unbelievable. It's so good now 1 can't wait to go racing. I'm going to win 10 races next year - I guarantee it." Performance exhaust manufacturer SuperTrapp has signed on as series title sponsor of the new AMA SuperTracker dirt track series. The 1999 series is now officially titled the AMA SuperTrapp SuperTracker Series. "It's a natural fit, really," said Chris Berger, president of SuperTrapp Industries. "SuperTrapp exhaust systems have a longstanding presence in racing, and the new SuperTracker Series fits well with our corporate philosophy. We're always looking to the future, working with the latest technologies and focusing on development. That's what the AMA SuperTrapp SuperTracker Series is all about:' SuperTrapp's support includes $20,000 toward the 1999 series purse. 2 The new Chaparral Suzuki road race team of Richard Alexander Jr. and Damon Buckmaster had its first-ever test when the team visited Willow Springs Raceway in Ro amond, California, on Monday, January 4. "I hadn't ridden in a couple of months, so it was good to get out there," said Alexander, the defending AMA 750cc Supersport Champion said. "Kel (Carruthers, the team's crew chief and team manager) told us not to worry about lap times. It was just to get everybody comfortable. We have new people, a new team and new riders, and it was Damon's first time at Willow. Everybody seemed really happy. We had awesome weather, and I ended up about a second off pole from last year's 750cc race, so I was pretty happy with that:' Alexander underwent shoulder surgery during the off-season and said that he's about 80 to 85 percent back up to full strength. "I had a lot of nerve problems in the shoulder last year," he said. "1 couldn't train or anything. The shoulder didn't hamper me at all at Willow for the test." Jason Pridmore's STAR Motorcycle School has just released its 1999 schedule, with 28 dates at race tracks allover the country. STAR is now offering several two-day schools in 1999 as well as early-sign-up discounts. For more information, call 805/658-6333 or see STAR's home page on the World Wide Web at l'he West Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a trial court's award of nearly $400,000 in attorney fees to American Suzuki and its parent company, Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan, according to a release from Suzuki. The award was granted against a plaintiff for his fraudulent conduct in connection with a products-liability lawsuit filed against Suzuki. "This case illustrates the significance of sanctions, including awarding of attorney fees, when valuable court resources have clearly been wasted and litigants with valid claims ha ve experienced delayed access to the judicial system based on a claim that is both fraudulently asserted and pursued," the Court stated. The case, Pritt ,vs, Suzuki Motor Corporation, involved a plaintiff's claim that he suffered permanent injuries in an accident that allegedly occurred while he was riding a Suzuki ATV. The plaintiff, Dr, D~nald S, Pritt, filed a lawsuit against Suzuki, alleging that as a' consequence of the accident he was permanently disabled and could walk only in a stooped-over manner and with the assistance of a cane. He further claimed that he was no longer able to work, and that his intelligence quotient had been reduced to about 60. During pretrial proceedings, however, Suzuki's counsel obtained several hours of videotape showing Dr, Pritt performing numerous tasks that were clearly inconsisfent with his claimed injuries. Although the all-new New Zealand BSL 500 Grand Prix team has announced its presence in the 1999 500cc World Championship, the International Road Racing Teams' Association (IRTA) has yet to accept its entry, according to Cycle News contributor Darryl Flack. Though IRTA recently released its provisional 500cc GP entry list without the BSL 500 or its rider Mark Willis, IRTA will be closely monitoring the BSL and Willis in the open IRTA test at Phillip Island in Australia, January 26-29, to assess the team's eligibility, "lRTA has made its position clear, so we must start to prove ourselves at Phillip Island," said BSL team coordinator Dave Stewart. "Although I wouldn't call it a formality, I'm very confident that the BSL and Mark will be ' able to satisfy lRTA that the bike will be competitive, which will obviously improve with more testing:' Gas Gas North America, located in Cleveland, Mississippi, recently announced its new off-road racing and motocross teams, Frank Ramey, Nolan Knight, Clay Baering and Nathan Night will campaign the AMA National Enduro Series; Ray Mitchell will represent Gas Gas in the National MX Series; and Jay Hall, ~eorge Waller, Craig Hayes and Jeff Park will compete in regional events. ' Television coverage of the 1998-1999 AMA/PJ1 National Arenacross Series returns to Speedvision on February 9, with regularly scheduled coverage et for Tuesday nights at 8 p,m, (Eastern), Max Biaggi's Ferrari aspirations seem to be more than just daydreams, as the Italian road racer has a full-bore test of the Formula One car scheduled for January 18 at the factory's own Fiorano test circuit. Biaggi is hoping for a full day to try to get the measure of the awesomely powerful Ferrari, as driven by Michael Schumacher. "I am serious about this," Biaggi said, "It's not just a fun day for me," Earlier, he'd told how John Surtees, the only man to win World titles on two and four wheels, had encouraged him, but warned him not to leave it too late. Meanwhile, although Biaggi's name appears alongside that of -Carlos Checa in the provisional GP entry list (released in the first week of January) riding for Yamaha Racing Team, there has still been no official confirmati.on that he has signed, either from the Yamaha factory or expected sponsors Marlboro, Ricardo Tormo, luckless one-time 50cc Grand Prix road racer, has died at the age of 46 of leukemia. The Spanish rider, who won 21 GPs in the 50cc class as well as the championship in 1978 and 1981, riding a Bultaco, ended his career prematurely at the start of 1984, Testing a new Derbi in the factory grounds, he collided with a car and suffered catastrophic leg injuries. Aprilia will return to the 500cc Grand Prix class for 1999, with thwarted near'98 250cc World Champion Tetsuya Harada at the controls of a completely revised and updated version of the super-250, which came do e to success before being withdrawn in 1998, The news broke with the release of the provisional entry lists early in January. Harada had earlier expressed doubts, but successful tests on the revised bike, combined with factory pressure to clear the way for Valentino Rossi as their only 250cc rider, evidently won him over. The race department has not been idle during the V-twin's year out of racing, and a full program of evolutionary changes has considerably improved the all-around performance of the lightweight bike, last raced by Doriano Romboni to a best of third in the Dutch Grand Prix, So said Aprilia development engineer Jan Witteveen, in an exclusive telephone interview with Cycle News GP correspondent Michael Scott in which he said the two-cylinder machine was likely to get priority over the troublesome V-four project for 1999, "I still have complete faith in the concept," he sili.d. "The factory priorities are firstly to maintain our competitive level in the 125 and 250 classes; secondly, to develop the new Superbike (Australian veteran Peter Gocldard has signed to racedevelop the Ducati-like V-twin); an.d thirdly, to re-enter the 500 class, We will continue with the V-four project, and we are building our second prototype. But in the short term, we are more likely to race the V-twin." John Kocinski is now almost certain to come back with an Erv Kanemoto Honda next season, after testing the exBiaggi bike after the end of last season, wi1h backing expected from Shell Advance, Austntlia-sourced funding which last year ran a pair of V-twin 500 Hondas. The econd rider would then be Garry McCoy, who made an impressive class debut on one of the Shell bikes last sea on until injury at Brno in the Czech Republic cut his season short. With the deal stiJl in the planning stage, it is not yet known whether McCoy would race a V-twin or a V-four, but Kocinski would be certain to get a factory V-four, fulfilling his own pledge , to Kanemoto, Who was left high.and dry by Biaggi's departure to Yamaha, Kanemoto has two entrie on the provisional list, both with riders "to be announced." Modenas has entered Jean-Michel Bayle after a last-minute threat that he may be taken by Erv Kanemoto - and t)1e Frenchman will be joined by another rider, also "to be announced." The favored candidate is Texan Mike Hale, whose pnce-promising career has nosedived after unsuccessful seasons of World Superbike racing with Ducati and Suzuki, followed by his disastrous AMA season with Fast By Ferracci Ducati, Top British 250cc GP rider Jeremy McWilliams is still awaiting confirmation that his QUB Team Optimum outfit will get a factory Aprilia for next season. Passed over once again for a works Honda even after his sterling efforts on a private 250cc last season, McWilliams was determined that he would only come back on a machine with race-winning potential - and the name remains blank on the provisional IRTA entry list. There is confirmation that Japanese superstar Shinya Nakano will join Olivier Jacque in the revived Yamaha factory effort, riding the new factory bike, Honda's numbers are strel1gthened by the confirmation of champion Loris Capirossi's switch to Honda with Team Gresini. One new recruit is likely to enliven the class: last year's near-125ct World Champion Tomomi Manako, riding a Yamaha for Team Kurz. Japan's Kazuto Sakata is to switch from Aprilia to Honda for the first time, for his defense of his 125cc World Championship, It now seems likely that he will join Team Pileri, after rejecting Aprilia offers from both his 1998 UGT team and from DocShop, The reverse switch sees strong Italian 125cc riders Mirko Giansanti, Roberto Locatelli and GianLuigi Scalvini as well as promising Frenchman Arnaud Vincent with works-backed Aprilias, Yamaha has disappeared frqm the 125cc class, but Derbi is back in, with their new Harald Bartoldesigned machines ridden byex-Yamaha ace Youichi Ui and newcomer Pablo Nieto, Three of 13-time World Champion Angel Nieto's sons are now in GP racing - but it remains to be seen which will be th~ fast one, Angel Nieto Jr. is an unlikely candidate, entering his third full season with no fireworks so far. Pablo Nieto will join him in the 125cc class, with Alfonso Nieto coming in as a Yamaha-mounted 250cc rookie, The 1999 World Superbike Championship will visit Germany twice, according to the latest sched ule issued by the FIM, The original June 13 round scheduled for the urburgring remains on the schedule, with Hockenheim taking an open date on September 12. Misano in Italy has also been confirmed as the site of the San Marino round of the series, scheduled for June 27. The 1999 calendar is as follows: March 27 - Kyalami, South Africa; April 18 - Phillip Island, Au tralia; May 2 - Darrington Park, England; May 16 - Albacete, Spain; May 30 - Monza, Italy; June 13 - Nurburgring, Germany; June 27 - Misano, Italy; July 11 - Laguna Seca, California; August 1 Brands Hatch, England; August 29 - A-I Ring, Austria; September 5 - Assen, Holland; September 12 - Hockenheim, Germany; October 10 - Sugo, Japan.

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