Exciting Times Ahead For AMA Superbike Series



Exciting Times Ahead For AMA Superbike Series
Written by: David Sadowski
Atlanta, GA – 2/24/2003

As all of us at SPEED Channel approach the opening rounds in the 2003 Worldwide Coverage of Motorcycle Roadracing, I don’t believe I’ve ever been more excited to see what’s going to happen with the future of motorcycle racing.

The AMA series with new rules across the board, specifically the change allowing 1000 cc multi-cylinder Superbikes to go against the Twins, is going to be fantastic to watch.

Shall we begin by looking at what most in-line four guys always complained about --especially when chasing Ducatis? They were all getting whooped off the second- and fifth gear turns with pure torque from the twins.

The face of AMA Superbike racing is going to change dramatically this season. I believe it just got a lift. Sure, Yamaha and Harley are gone; Aprilia is still dabbling and may go “Full Bore” soon. But remember the Formula Extreme Bikes from Yamaha and Honda can be easily converted to meet the Superbike requirements and be competitive. Should they decide to run Chandler (Hon) Buckmaster (Yam), R.Hayden (Hon), AA Gobert (Yam) or Hacking (Yam) at a select few rounds, it could present a new addition to the pack racing we are sure to see this year.

AMA is allowing the 1000 fours in Superbike was a change for the privateer team owners that could be capitalized on and should throw a few “new/old” names into the Top-10.

As was the case this past season with Parriots White Tip Suzuki GSXR 750, some rider’s have been hampered by size. Bigger guys are going to have better results with the new rules.

Fierce battles are going to take shape this year with the majority of manufacturers offering incentive bonuses to their rider’s for good results. With more changes in the near future already announced by the AMA, the series is taking on a whole new era of motorcycle technology and the challenges that it presents.

Computers and data recording on motorcycles have elevated the bar to its highest level in a long time. Speeds at the upcoming Daytona 200 will be precisely that – 200 mph.

Oh my! -- What about the tires?

Will the new big-bore machines find a way to hook-up with all their newfound torque or will they just build a tire to power-slide the entire race? Can they develop their new machines to meet or exceed the mighty Honda and Ducati Twins? Either way, a computer will help to figure all this out and that’s just a few of the scenarios I can list.

As Daytona approaches, I have to reflect on my first attempt to win the Daytona 200 in 1986. I safety-wired my new bike in a snow-covered Kevin Cameron shop on the way to Daytona from New Hampshire and helped my friend Kevin Monahan with his Yamaha FZ 750. We slept in our vans and I learned a lot from both Kevins about racing and the Yamaha 750 --four years before I won the blessed Daytona event on it. Funny how those things seemed grueling and insignificant at the time. Listening to Kevin Cameron was great and I couldn’t wait to get to Florida after learning some new tricks of the trade from some of the best in the business.

That’s just scratching the surface of Superbike for now!

How about 23 Factory supported 600-636cc Supersport machines for this year’s Daytona Supersport Sprint? The “Tire Wars” will be at a fever pitch because the race distance at 1:52 or 1:51 lap times is almost too much for the DOT tires. Many claim their tires have tested this distance with no problems, but the Daytona Speedway on race day changes her mind whenever she wants and can eat a DOT tire in six laps if you over do it in the early laps.

What we saw last year in the chicane was typical of a Supersport Showdown -- the chicane having been opened up will move the Draft and Pass zone right about the Start/Finish line if I have my calculations correct. Leading out of the chicane is not advised without a huge edge. The 600’s are by far the most competitive for a rider and now that the compression and cams can be altered, along with electric shifters, the crews will be improving the breed to perform as close to Superbikes in the history of Supersport racing.

The scary thing is my sons will be racing in this class in the near future and they brake harder than I ever did! Just need them to stop growing if they want to beat the Miguels, Hackings, and Disalvos. Weight is the key, and in Supersport , with all the drafting necessary to win, jockey-size guys at Daytona are the ticket.

Look for some odd twists from the aging Suzuki -- here one week and nowhere the next. Yates can over-ride a Suzuki 600 and keep it in the fray; we’ll also see a hard charging Ben Spies give it all he can to stay at the front.

In Moto-GP, we all have to rally around Nicky’s big adventure and with time Hayden should be able to show Rossi how an American-bred AMA Superbike hero can hang! The machines in Moto-GP are the closest to the production models we’ll see in over two decades and that means the new open displacement street bikes are really GP machines with lights. What a great era to be alive and still be able to ride track days on these purpose-built bullets.

Brian Drebber is back in the booth with me and Greg White will give us all the insider info from the pits and more. The SPEED Channel coverage team is aligned to bring you all the action with the best people ever on the cameras and in the truck. We should just have the time of our lives watching the world’s best contend for their respective championships.

See you in Daytona.

Top Bottom