Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
By David Swarts
Firestorm Racing's Chris Normand was wrongly disqualified from his third-place finish in the AMA Buell Pro Thunder final on Sunday, September 30 at Virginia International Raceway for being underweight.
Normand told Roadracing World as he rolled his Suzuki Cup-spec SV650 out of the tech barn at VIR, "I weigh 352 (pounds) and they said that I have to weigh a minimum of 380 (pounds)."
But while AMA Pro Racing rules at one point established a minimum weight limit of 380 pounds for all Pro Thunder machines, a February 9, 2001 AMA Pro Racing bulletin issued by AMA Chief Technical Inspector Rob King announced that: "Due to our association with WERA and input from competitors, the following changes are being made.
"Effective immediately, the minimum weight rule is removed for the following two engine displacement sub classes, (Page 55, 2001 AMA Pro racing Rulebook):
"Unlimited 4-stroke single cylinders
"600cc - 850cc 4-stroke liquid-cooled twin cylinders (except desmodronic)(sic)"
The Suzuki SV650 is a non-desmodromic, 650cc, liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder machine and therefore exempt from the minimum weight requirement.
Yet when asked about the disqualification at VIR, AMA Media Relations Contractor Larry Lawrence confirmed the disqualification of Normand and produced revised results showing Thomas Fournier as finishing third in the Pro Thunder final.
Apparently, AMA tech officials at VIR were not familiar with the rule change and consulted a rulebook which had not been updated.
Contacted Monday, October 1 by telephone, Normand said, "I went to (AMA Pro Racing's) Ron Barrick after I got disqualified and asked him, ‘Why do you guys make 70-horsepower machines weigh the same as machines making 130 horsepower?' He was like, ‘Well you know, that's the rules.' I said, "I thought you all wanted SV650s to run in this class?' He said, ‘Well, that's what the rules are.'"
Normand stands to lose $800 in purse, $750 in Suzuki contingency and $300 in Pirelli contingency for a total of $1850 if the AMA's mistake is not corrected. "That's awesome!" yelled Normand over the phone when told that a mistake had obviously been made. "Thank you guys very, very much."
At post time, official results posted on the AMA Pro Racing website did not include Normand's name.
The applicable rule can be seen at:http://www.amaproracing.com/rulebook/combuls/combul65.pdf
It was not known at post time if AMA officials will correct their error, and Ron Barrick had not returned a phone message asking for comment.