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Jan 24, 2001

AMA Pro Racing CEO Plans To Move Pro Thunder Class Entirely To Regional Level In Future, Ducati Official Says

AMA Pro Racing CEO Scott Hollingsworth told Ducati North America Marketing Manager Jim Viola that the AMA ultimately plans to eliminate the Pro Thunder class from AMA National weekends entirely and to run it at non-AMA events, according to Viola.

In a January 24th phone interview with Roadracing World, Viola said that AMA officials did not discuss new restrictive rules prior to those rules being imposed on the Pro Thunder class, but did reveal that the class has no future at AMA Pro events.

Describing a series of conversations he had with Hollingsworth in an unsuccessful attempt to get the Ducati 748 declared legal for the 600cc Supersport class, Viola told Roadracing World "In the last conversation we had in September or October, they told me that they wanted to keep us. That we were a strong consideration, especially our 748, when it came to racing. Then they changed the rules for the 748 and this Pro Thunder deal without telling us. Then they also said they weren't having it at all of the events. I don't see any benefit there for Ducati. What Scott then told me was the eventual plan was to have it (Pro Thunder) at the local level. Am I happy about that? We really enjoyed the Pro Thunder class. We seriously need to discuss this with them."

Voila said that he was caught off guard by the changes in Pro Thunder rules and venue, especially since he had already proposed sponsoring the class and spending enough money to get Pro Thunder races televised on Speedvision. The way Viola tells it, Speedvision was not interested in his proposal.

Asked what Ducati North America could do to help Ducati 748 racers who face financial hardship due to the announced-at-the-last-minute rules outlawing existing 800cc engines, Viola said, "We're not really in a position to pay for the AMA's decision making, but we are thinking about those guys. We can't do anything for them this year, but we are thinking of ways to help our 748 guys out."

Speedvision Productions President Dan Murphy could not be reached for comment prior to posting. AMA Pro Racing CEO Hollingsworth did not return a phone call prior to posting.