Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2001 11 28

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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J l CJ The fifth and sixth rounds of the National Arenacross Series were played out at the Centrum Centre in Worcester, Massachusetts, November 16-17, and Darcy Lange (Kaw), Josh Demuth (Yam) and Damon Bradshaw (Yam) came away the winners, Bradshaw was the most successful, though, winning both the 125 and 250cc main events Saturday night, Lange topped Friday night's 125cc main, while Demuth won the 250cc main event. Demuth, who went 4-1-2-5 over the weekend, extended his series lead to 49 points over Lange, 213-164. Bradshaw is currently third with 156 pOints. Massachusetts' own Doug Henry (Yam) gave Arenacross racing a try in Worcester and he did quite well. Henry competed on Friday and finished second to Demuth in the 250cc class. He also took third in the Dash For Cash, ~[fJ[lDffD@gD@D@ U@ [){)@~11 iJJfli}iJJ iJJDiJDffJl1@G!J[l [§)D[J1J WffJ@DI The AMA has announced that its 26th Annual Dirt Track Grand Championships will be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois, July 1-7, 2002. AMA Sports, in cooperation with the lUinois Motorcycle Dealers Association (IMDA) , will join forces to produce its annual amateur national motorcycle dirt-track races at the sport's most revered venue. The event moves to Illinois after a successful five-year stretch at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Lawrenceburg Motorcycle Speedway. "We've enjoyed a great run in Indiana, and we'll miss working with the people at both facilities: said Bill Amick, Vice President of AMA Events and Entertainment. "But It's been our goal to base the AMA Dirt Track Grand Championships at a single venue - we've Just been holding out for the right opportunity. With this move to the lUinois State Fairgrounds, our goal will become reality." AMA Sports will promote the event, while the lMDA - the exclusive presenter of motorcycle events at the Illinois State Fairgrounds - will lend its promotional expertise and coordinate preparation of the four tracks to be used during what will be a busy week of racing. The IMDA will also promote a round of AMA Pro Racing's Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships on Saturday, July 6, creating a unique dirt-track doubleheader on the final day of the AMA Grand Championships. C Jamie Dobb (KTM) won the second round of the Clear Channel British Supercross Series, held at Birmingham, England, November 17. The 125cc Motocross World Champion was in good form, winning his heat race and then the final. Second place went to series leader Mark Hucklebridge, and third was Jason Higgs. In the 125cc class, Brian Jorgensen (Yam) won ahead of South African Leig h LeReservee (Yam), and Tom Church (Kaw) claimed third place. be Tohru Ukawa (Hon) who held off another big name wildcard rider, Tadyuki Okada (Hon) by only 0.2 seconds. Third place went to the first of the all-Japan regular Ryo, who was crowned new champion after the race. It was his and Suzuki's first championship success since the championship went to the Superbike format. Ryo's only potential championship challenger, Makoto Tamada (Hon), set the fastest lap of the race but fell while leading on lap 11. Akira Ryo (Suz) claimed the the AIIJapan Championship during the traditional season-ending meeting at the Suzuka circuit on November 18. The event offered the closest finish of the year, with no fewer than eight riders within 1.9 seconds of the lead, after 20 battling laps. The race winner proved to Prior to printing last week's story on the current AMA Supercross/Clear Channel Supercross situation, we were unsuccessful in our attempts to get in touch with PJ Harvey, the oil company owner who negotiated on "The Springfield Mile is the crown jewel of AMA dirt-track racing." Amick said, "and IMDA has a tremendous following for its events. We'll be staging the first-ever motorsports event on the fairground's superb half-mile training track. And we couldn't hope for a better short-track and n venue than the Fairgrounds' open-air rodeo arena." "IMDA is best-known for the many AMA Pro Racing events we promote, at facilities like Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds: said IMDA Executive Director Tommra Luparell. "But without amateur racing, there would be no pro racing circuit. So we're thrilled to join AMA Sports in support of grassroots dirt-track racing." Plans are also being made to conduct a vintage national event on the Springfield Mile in cooperation with the American Historic Motorcycle Racing Association (AHRMA). That AHRMA National event is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, July 7. The 26th Annual AMA Dirt Track Grand Championships will get underway with registration on Sunday, June 30. More than 1200 entries are anticipated, as riders vie for AMA Grand Championships in 21 classes and age groups. For more information on the 2002 AMA Dirt Track Grand Championships, contact AMA Events and Entertainment at 13515 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, Ohio 43147; or send an e-mail to Cherie Daniels of AMA Sports at behalf of the AMA with Clear Channel regarding a new Supercross contract. On November 13, we got in touch with Harvey and he further explained some things. ·1 was involved in the face-toface negotiations,· Harvey said.• My motivation in all of this is to see that the motorcycle competition in North America develops for all the players: riders, promoters, sponsors, the AMA, racetrack owners, etc. This is not the same old AMA - there is quite a bit of transition going on there. I think we handled it [the negotiations] fairly and diplomatically. We were honest. open and as ethical as we can be. I just believe they [Clear Channell have a different business model. It [the proposall just wasn't adequate. The Jam people seem to be of an ,.,. LJ c o c c ~ o L; As time passes, and the wall of official silence surrounding the rumored WSB team led by Carl Fogarty intensifies to a silent scream, some details of the plan seem to be firming up, although speculation (rather than hard facts) is still the watchword, simply because no one is talking. It does appear, however, that Fogarty, a four·time World Superbike Champion and a name synonymous with Ducati since the early '90s, has indeed worked out a deal with an unnamed backer to finance and implement a full-on, non-Ducati World Superbike effort, with engines expected to come from Sauber and the rest from an unspecified source. (Rumors of current involvement by the English· based Team Roberts were scotched by manager Chuck Aksland, who said in mid-November, "We haven't been approached by anyone yet to build a Superbike.") That leaves the obvious choice, in the short term at least, as Harris, which has alreacly been heavily involved in chassis package for the Petronas/Sauber Moto GP machine, tested recently by development rider Niall Mackenzie and expected to be tested again in December, in a further modified form. Harris, however, has no recent experience with volume production of finished streetbikes, no small undertaking in these days of type approval, increasingly demanding buyers and an ever-congested sportsbike market. Sauber is the name which keeps echoing forth from the whispering gallery of outsiders, but the use of a modified 990cc (we pre· sume) Sauber MotoGP engine is fraught with problems for the Swissbased, Malaysian-owned engineering house. First of all, sleeving down the existing engine to meet the 900cc SBK limit for triples until the blanket 10eocc rules come in for 2004 would be a far-from-desirable option. Second, the MotoGP rules preclude any part from a street machine being used in the prototype class. Then there is the problem of how to make a clearly custombuilt, high-maintenance, short-lifespan. prototype four-stoke into something of a "productionized" race replica for SBK. There is patently nowhere to hang a starter motor on the existing GP engine, 2 NOVEMBER 28,2001 • cue • _ n __ s to name but one technical departure from the bikes SBK machines must be based on. Also, there is the possible homologation problem, with 150 bikes needing to be built· by a manufacturing partnership which has no experience at producing volume motorcycle build - at some stage to satisfy the SBK regulations. The other factor is that the Sauber MotoGP project is well advanced, has had considerable amounts of time and effort expended on it by people who expected to go GP racing to show off their engineering prowess now and in the future. With the financial collapse of some of the supposed MotoGP efforts in the 2002 champi· onship, Sauber would now have little problem being accepted onto the Moto GP grid - should they beat aU development records and be ready to rumble come the Suzuka GP on April 6 . if Doma chooses pragmatism over inflexibility. So it would be no surprise if Sauber, as engineers, resisted any moves to dilute its GP prototype more than it has been already. With an initial rumored asking price of $5 million for the use of Sauber engines in Moto GP for a season, there is also the development-cost factor to be considered. Logic dictates that developing even a lower-spec SBK/road bike engine will still cost a fortune at those price expectations, maybe more than an SBK team will be willing to pay - even if such exotica as pneumatic valves and so on have now been ditched on the GP bike engine. Taking the opposite view, that all those potential problems will somehow prove surmountable, the money needed to tempt away Fogarty from Ducati on a personal level must stili be considerable (even if some of the newer faces in Ducatl find his ruthless and often acerbic honesty and simple lack of diplomatic skills unwelcome. And Ducati now has a new trio of high·profile SBK heroes out on track, including the reigning World Champion, plus fast Englishman Neil Hodgson, so it doesn't really need Fogarty anymore). Gordon Ritchie entirely different mindset - it's not just take, but also give. I was explicit and they [Clear Channell were explicit. The AMA has legislative responsibilities, membership support and growth responSibilities. We need funds to run the whole thing and we can't operate on a break-even or at a loss. We're looking for a partner to get this accomplished .• With the 2002 schedule for the World Championship Motocross Series still yet to be filled, rumors from Europe have a British Motocross Grand Prix set for Donington Park on May 26. Rounds three and six of the 13-round FIM series are yet to be officially set, but in recent weeks, employees of Clear Channel Motor Sports have been spotted at the Donington facility, and the chances of a May 26 British MX Grand Prix being run by the current promoter of the American EA Sports Supercross Series are looking very good. While Clear Channel is keeping tight-lipped about the possible move into Grand Prix Motocross, Clear Channel's Director of Operations, Todd Jendro, feels the American-based company would like to do something with the Grand Prix scene, although he was unable to comment on what that might be. ·We have invested in the sport in America,· Jendro said. ·We now own the British Supercross Series in England, and we are trying to make a series that will improve the riders, with the possibilities of a World [Supercrossl Series in the future. We don't want to get into running [outdoor] motocross races in America; unless a promoter comes along and asks us to run a National, we won't get involved. As far as what might go on in Europe, it's too early to say for sure. There is some interest here, though.· The other free date on the World Motocross championships is April 14 and that date looks likely to go to Australia. Clear Channel Entertainment's motor sports division announced an exclusive

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