Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2003 03 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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I Josh Demuth (Yam) clinched the 20021'03 National Arenacross Championship in grand style at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluff, Iowa, February 21-22, Demuth swept the weekend's ---.) racing, putting him over the top for his second consecutive Arenacross title, With two rounds left, Demuth has, so far, earned an insurmountable 875 points (with 27 wins), while Tommy Hofmaster and Buddy Antunez are battling over second in the series with 673 and 671 points, respectively. In \.....J Iowa, Hoffmaster's best finishes were a 1 pair of seconds, while Antunez's top finu ish was a third. ,..:: r o iJ n "< '= Suzuki has announced that Team So Be Suzuki factory rider Stephane RoncaI"""' da, who suffered a broken leg in the seventh round of the 2003 AMA U.S. ('""\ Supercross Series in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 15, will be out of action for the rest of the series. Roncada broke the tibia and fibula bones in his L J ,-.1 n o L left leg just above the ankle at the end of the second practice session when he 'l came up short on a triple jump. In his absence, Sean Hamblin and Danny Smith will be riding in the 250cc class ,....., for the Atlanta, Indianapolis and Daytona rounds of the AMA U.S. Supercross Series. "We are obviously very disappointed for Stephane and our other 250 riders this year, but we are very optimistic for Stephane's return in the AMA Outdoor National Series in May," said U O U O O O o SoBe Suzuki team manager Roger DeCoster. "Sean Hamblin did a great job for Team SoBe Suzuki last year in the Outdoor National Series on the RM250, so we're looking forward to strong performances from Sean and Danny Smith in the next three rounds of the AMA U.S. Supercross Series." Roncada hopes to be ready for the AMA Outdoor National Motocross Series scheduled to start in May at Glen Helen Raceway. KTM Sportmotorcycle USA Inc. will field a two-rider National Champi· onship dirt track race team for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The KTM National Dirt Track Race Team will consist of 2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp and Kenny Coolbeth, the 2002 AMA Grand National Championship third-place finisher. Both Kopp and Cool beth will campaign KTM Racing four-strokes on either the 450 SX or a slightly downsized 525 SX for both the AMA 505cc GNC series events and the 450 SX for the Formula USA-sanctioned K&N Filters Pro Series. Both Kopp and Cool beth will also be involved in the testing and development of the new KTM LC8 V-Twin cylinder engine during the 2003 and 2004 racing seasons. According to KTM National Dirt Track Race Team manager Mike Rosso, the team will start out with "an Americanbuilt brand of V-twin that has traditionally done very well in dirt track racing" before making the switch to LC8-based KTM twins. "Our original plan was to have the o [){j@]fJUDDDD \!ll®[jfJ Pf1 8fX]&J@@ @{P0 o o o Fonmer World Speedway Champion Billy Hamill has dropped a sensational preseason bombshell on World Championship speedway by pulling out of this year's Grand Prix series. Hamill, who has ridden in every Grand Prix round since the tournament was launched in 1995 and was crowned World Champion in 1996, has blamed financial rea· sons for his dramatic decision to drop out. The 32-year-old Californian, who will start his sixth season in the English Elite League with the Victor Chandler Bees when the tapes go up on the 2003 campaign next month, becomes the first rider to willingly withdraw from the GP series, having finished ninth Jast year to book an automatic place in this season's starting line-up. "I have been unable to put together a racing budget to compete In the Grand Prix this year: explained Hamill. "I have been in the Grand Prix from the start, so I have had a good run at it. I have enjoyed the involvement, and I think my record is pretty good, too. It has been a very difficult decision to make to pull out, as I have been pretty much focused on winning the World title ever since I started racing. I knew it might come to this Jast year, but I didn't really want it to happen. I wUJ now have to adopt a different way of thinking, and I can concentrate fully on my league racing in England, Sweden and Poland." Hamill has ridden in all 52 Grand Prix meetings since 1995, and as well as winning the title in 1996, he was also runner·up twice, once to ex-Bees colleague Greg Hancock in 1997. His year-by-year finishing positions since 1995 have been fifth, first, second, ninth, 18th (when he was making a comeback from a serious back injury in 1999), second, sixth and ninth last year. Denmark's Hans N. Andersen, who switched from Poole to Peterborough during the winter, will replace Hamill in this year's nine-round Grand Prix series. Grand Prix organizer Benfield Sports Intemational gave its reaction to the news that former Hamill has quit the series with BSJ chief executive John Postlethwaite's saying, "It comes as no surprise that financial problems have caused at least one casualty in speedway. No motorsport is recession-proof as proved by the fact that two Formula I teams have gone bankrupt in the past year." John Hipkiss 8 o o o o o o o o o (I u '1 \.....J 2 MARCH 5. 2003· c: U c: • ... n ... _ s LCa ready by Springfield, but that timetable was a bit optimistic," Rosso told Cycle News. "As soon as the bikes are completed, Joe and Kenny will begin testing them, and we will let them deCide when they are ready to debut them." Kopp's motorcycles will be maintained and tuned by former Chris Carr assistant mechanic Travis Smith, Coolbeth's by former AMA road racer Andy Fenwick. Both race mechanics will be based out of Darrell Jones' Jones Power Sports KTM in Columbia, Missouri. Jones, a long-time dirt track and road race sponsor to both Kopp and Coolbeth, will act as crew manager. KTM's engine development in the U.S.A. will be handled in-house by KTM USA's Sean McLaughlin and Rosso. In addition to KTM Sportmotorcycles USA. Jones Power Sports KTM, WP Suspension and Wiseco Pistons will sponsor the KTM Dirt Track Team. Just prior to the rest of the teams taking part in the IRTA preseason test in Jerez, Spain (which is covered elsewhere in this issue), HRC conducted its own test at Sepang in Malaysia, a two-day session that ended on February 20. SurpriSingly, reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi didn't lead the Honda boys at the test, his best of 2:02.9 just a fraction off the best time set by Japanese star Daijiro Kato. "Basically I'm very happy with the results of the two-day tests," Rossi said in a release issued by HRC. "The whole point of thiS session has been to test setup on the 2003 bike and not go just for fast time, which we were really trying to do with the tests here last month. The team has worked hard, and we are happy with the results. We did some long Simulated race runs and are happy with the way things went, especially with the way the Michelins worked. I feel much more comfortable on the bike today. I'm recovering from a little surgery on my butt, and yesterday was pretty uncomfortable! Today I'm much happier. I can concentrate on riding now, not thinking how much it hurts! I'm going to have a few days' rest here in Malaysia before traveling directly to Australia and onto Phillip Island. " Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden bettered his lap times by half a second on the final day of the test. ending with a best of 2:04.8. "The two days here have been not so bad." Hayden said. "I guess it's a little frustrating at times because I want to make progress faster, but it's coming. I just gotta keep plugging away I know it's there. The team seems happy with some of the times . my fastest one was on a long run, and all the laps were consistent in being pretty fast. The new bike feels good, and I'm learning just how the little tweaks make a big difference. We're off to Phillip Island next, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm really looking forward to learning more circuits before the season starts." Telefonica MoviStar Honda's Daijiro Kato was impressive in lapping at 2:02.8, the best lap time turned during the test. "Today I am again very satisfied with my results: the team's work here in Sepang has been great; they have supported me a lot and enabled me to improve my personal best on thiS circuit," Kato said. "I believe we are working well and in the right direction; my results prove it. My next test is scheduled at the Mugello circuit, a racetrack where I never rode too fast. It will be very important for me." Kato's teammate Sete Gibernau had a good second day at Sepang, setting a personal best lap time at the circuit, slashing a second off his best time on the opening day. Camel Pramac Honda rider Max Biag. gi, meanwhile, ended the test with a best lap of 2:02.9 - the same time as recorded by his rival Rossi. "The two days here have been good training for me; we have covered many kilometers at thiS test," Biaggi said. "Today we again tried several different things on machine setup but ended the test with settings close to those we used at the January test at Sepang and set around the same lap times. This shows we did a good job in January; the team is able to find a good setup quickly. The other riders tried many things at Sepang so we hope to have something-new next time we test. Now I go back to Nice, then on to a Moto Exhibition, in Lanciano, with my fans." Biaggi's teammate Tohru Ukawa was also on hand at the test, and he ended up just two-tenths off Biaggi's best. Triumph is slated to return to road racing with the Valmoto Team, competing in the British 600cc Supers port Series. The team will be fully factory backed, according to Triumph Motorcycles America Ltd., who says its involvement is only as a spectator. "At this time we have no plans of our own to compete and simply wish our British brethren the best of luck," said Triumph America's Mike Vaughn in an e-mail. American Honda Motor Co. has announced its racing contingency program for 2003. The 2003 contingency program will post more than $6.9 million at over 600 events across the country and will include road racing, supercross, motocross and dirt track, according to Honda. With the addition of the new CBR600RR to the line, thiS year's program is expanded to cover road racing events in 12 series nationwide. The motocross and supercross program has grown to include dirt track, "It's the most aggressive program we've ever had," said Ray Blank. vice president of American Honda. "With payouts at over 600 events nationwide, it makes more sense than ever to race a Honda." Payouts will be credited to the Red Rider Rewards card, and racers can

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