Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2001 12 05

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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30 YEARS AGO•.. DECEMBER 14, 1971 Mark Blackwell was on the cover of Issue '48 after finishing as the top American in the Trans-AMA Motocross Series - 14th overall. Also on the cover was series winner Sylvain Geboers and 250cc Champion Tim Hart. The final event, held in Irvine, California, at Saddleback Cycle Park, was won by Roger DeCoster (Suz) with a 2- 1- J score. DeCoster won three of the last four races in the series, and finished second to teammate Joel Robert in the other... CMC Motocross held an event in Wilmington, California, at Lions Drag Strip, and Bill Payne topped the 125cc Expert class, while Mike Cram topped the 250cc Expert class and Werner Schutz finished second. Schutz won the 500cc Expert class, though, with Payne and Cram fmishing second and third overall, respectively... Gary Wilson, Mike Cone and J.C. Klusmeyer won the 200cc, 250cc and Open features, respectively at the San Angelo, Texas, SMRA Road Race. 20 YEARS AGO.•• DECEMBER 9, 19B1 Louis McKey, the Phantom Duck of the Desert, graced the cover of Issue '48 as he prepared to begin his trail ride from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, where a finisher pin and a possible winning poker hand awaited all the B-to-V III participants. The trail ride took all the participants along the race route in protest of the BLM's shutting down of the event... Carlsbad Raceway hosted the CMC Four-Stroke National Championship, and Honda factory rider Ron Turner walked away with the win after Donnie Hansen had his transmission go out on the last lap of the second moto, while leading... Smith Sport Optics released a new pair of sunglasses called the Hannah Sunglasses. They look a lot like the glasses we're all used to seeing Evel Knievel wearing... Greg Zitterkopf, Jim Anderson and Jeff Ward topped the Open, 250 and 125cc Pro classes, respectively, at Saddleback Cycle Park in Orange, California. 10 YEARS AGD.•. DECEMBER tt, 1991 Stefan Everts (So2) jumped across the cover of Issue 1148 in honor of him winning the Holland round of the Masters of Motocross Series. Everts' 1-2 finishes over the two days topped the 4- 1 finishes of Larry Ward (Suz), who finished second overall. Dean Matson (Suz) used 2-7 finishes for third overall... Scott Sheak (Kaw) captured the 125 and 250cc Expert championships at the 20th annual Florida Winter Olympics and also took home the Dunlop Silver Tire Award. Kevin Windham won the Worldsports Bronze Tire award after clinching the 85cc (12-13) class championship, and Donald Upton was the 250cc B-c1ass champion and won the Scott Golden Goggle Award ... Scott Parker was named the 199 I AMA Pro Athlete of the Year... Jeff Matiasevich topped Johnny O'Mara for the 250cc Pro win at Perris Raceway. Damon Huffman (Suz) topped Tyson Vohland for the 125cc Pro win, and David Pingree (Suz) won the 125 and 250cc Intermediate classes. In addition, Mike Battista topped the 125cc Novice class, ahead of Sal Ugarte and Greg Schnell, and Paul Bria topped Garth Milan for the 125cc Beginner win. S that was it, then, was it? - the 500cc class, I mean. Fifty-three years, 580 GPs, 90 race winners. And now it's dead. And there were very mixed feelings at the Rio funeral. I'm not talking about sentiment here, though there was plenty of that as well. I'm referring to the hardheaded business side of racing; the side that keeps the World Championship up and running, to the benefit of the pockets of a few people, and the enjoyment of many. Until the world changed a couple of months ago, it was easy to feel confident in this huge sea change in the highest level of the sport, because it had sparked off massive interest both inside and outside motorcycling, in a class which - technically at least - was stagnant. As well as the four current racing manufacturersthe Japanese big three and Aprilia - MZ, Ducati and Kawasaki were also comO mitted to joining the new class, and Fl constructor Sauber was also developing a motor. Same thing for the industry peripherals - tires, for example. In recent years, Michelin has had stifling control of the 500cc class, ceding the 250s and 125s to Dunlop, with some token interest from Bridgestone. The new four-strokes changed all that; next year, Michelin's fiefdom is to be invaded by Dunlop and Bridgestone, the latter having spent loads of money this year on their own private development team. Worldwide exposure in the media also started to ramp up, after years of increasing lack of interest. Sponsors would surely follow automatically, answering complaints that the new diesels will cost perhaps four times as much as the two-stroke lawnmower class. And then the tests - Yamaha kicking off by breaking lap and race records at Brno; Honda now doing the same at Motegi, where ex-GP racer Shinichi Itoh pedaled the V-five around in tests after the Pacific GP, the old lag comfortably beating hotshot Valentino Rossi's race-winning time of a few days before. Plus the word from ex-500 factory racer Niall Mackenzie, pilot in Sauber's shakedown tests in Malaysia, in an ad hoc Harris chassis, that even this first version was far and away the most powerful motorcycle he'd ever ridden. Doma, meanwhile, had announced strict limits to the number of entries allowed. The grid would be limited to 24 permanents, and even the MZ factory was allocated only a one-year ticket, so as to make way for Kawasaki and Ducati in 2003. What could go wrong now? Then a gang of murderous fanatics flew some aircraft into well-chosen targets in the USA, and everyone's mood changed. Existing fears of money, and ex-Ferrari designer Mauro Forghieri told Italian pressmen that he had pulled the plug on his contracted development program. From Italy, news failed to come from two major sponsors, who had been expected to clinch deals by the start of the Rio GP. One was for Jeremy McWilliams' German Aprilia team. That deal had unexpectedly collapsed in the week before Rio, when the disillusioned (or perhaps broke) sponsors didn't even bother to turn up for the crucial final meeting. That was for the 250cc class, but it turned out to be a bellwether for a similar collapse for Australian team owner Jeff Hardwick's 500cc contract with another Italian sponsor. Hardwick is currently sponsored by Shell Advance, and made few friends in Britain when he hired and then fired Chris Walker this season. But he too had a one-year entry for next season, to field Tetsuya Harada on a Vfour Honda, as well as Leon Haslam on his current V-twin. He arrived in Rio confident that the deal would aII come together by the end of the weekend. Instead, the axe fell, the money melted away, and he was left canning all 500cc plans, and rather desperately trying to sell his transporter. In the space of a couple of days, the 24-strong grid had shrunk to 20. The next move will be for the previously bullish Dorna to open up the closed shop somehow, and invite some of the current lowlevel privateer teams not to go away after all. Maybe worldwide recession were kick-started, and suddenly that crucial sponsorship hike went from almost certain to rather far-fetched. By coincidence perhaps, lots of chickens came home to roost at the Rio funeral. Or were they vultures? From Germany came the first news that MZ's proposed V-twin entry is apparently dead in the water. No Coming up in Cycle New5 I worry too much - but that is after all part of the job description. But as the last alltwo-stroke 500 GP came to an end at Rio, everyone's mood had undergone something of a reversa I. And it seemed that the daft name of the new series (MotoGP, for pity's sake) is not the only thing that has gone seriously wrong. eN • Open Four-Stroke MX Shootout • Interview: MV Agusta's Claudio castiglloni • A Day In the Dirt • Barstow to Vegas Dual-Sport Ride cycl. n • _ S • DECEMBER 5, 2001 75

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