Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
By David Swarts
American Honda, Yoshimura Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Graves Yamaha all tested at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California between Wednesday, August 29 and Friday, August 31 in preparation for the AMA National September 12-16.
Yoshimura Suzuki arrived at Willow on Wednesday and stayed through Friday, but reigning AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin finished his testing schedule early, said he was ready for the upcoming races at Willow and Virginia International Raceway, and left the track Friday around noon. Aaron Yates and Jamie Hacking continued to test their Superbikes Friday after having already sorted out their 600cc Supersport machines earlier in the week. Yoshimura Suzuki Team Manager Rich Doan said that Friday would conclude the 2001 Yoshimura Suzuki testing schedule. All three of the Yoshimura Suzuki riders have contracts to stay with the team in 2002.
Honda, like Yoshimura, brought both of the team's semi-trucks to Willow Springs, but arrived one day later, on Thursday morning. Honda continued testing on Friday without Nicky Hayden. Hayden flew out Thursday night to attend the flat track triple-header this weekend in Springfield, Illinois. Hayden's tuner Dan Fahie said that Hayden had completed his testing schedule early. "He is 10 times better at giving feedback this year," said Fahie of Hayden. "Now we have a dedicated data acquisition guy that has helped Nicky a lot. Before it was up to us to do both, go over the data with Nicky and work on the bike. There was usually only enough time to make the changes, let alone go over the data in detail. Nicky being able to spend time working with the data is the big difference." Fahie said that during the day the team had enough time left to let Hayden go out and play, laying long rubber streaks all over the track for fun. "He likes to do that," said Fahie.
Miguel Duhamel and Kurtis Roberts rode their CBR600F4i Hondas on Thursday as well as their Superbikes, but Duhamel and Roberts continued Friday on only their RC51s. Roberts' crew chief David McGrath said that Friday was a much more productive day for Roberts on his Superbike compared to Thursday. Roberts was able to lower his time by over half-a-second on Friday while riding in a pack with Duhamel and Mladin. Word at the track was that Duhamel has reached an agreement to continue riding for Honda, but that an announcement would probably not be made until the Honda dealer show in September. Roberts and Hayden will be staying with Honda in 2002.
Yamaha's Anthony Gobert and Tommy Hayden were joined by the Graves Motorsports Yamaha Australian duo of Damon Buckmaster and Aaron Gobert for testing on Wednesday and Thursday, according to those at the track Friday.
Anthony Gobert spent his time on his YZF-R6 while Hayden split his time between his Superbike and Supersport bike. Buckmaster only rode his Formula Xtreme YZF-R1/R7 hybrid, but Aaron Gobert rode both his FX and Supersport Yamahas.
As reported here on Roadracingworld.com earlier, Yamaha's future in AMA Superbike racing may hinge on the company's ability to keep Anthony Gobert. In the paddock after the Brainerd race, Anthony Gobert told Roadracing World that he would probably stay here in the U.S. with Yamaha. Tommy Hayden's destiny with the team is unknown at this time, although Hayden has been with Yamaha since 1999. Aaron Gobert has already signed to stay with the Graves Motorsports Yamaha team for 2002, but Damon Buckmaster is the top candidate to move up to a AMA Superbike ride for the coming year.
Dennis Smith's Sport Tire Service brought out a tire changing crew to service the AMA testers, but most of the teams brought their own tires.
Suzuki sources said that Dunlop engineers developed two new, single-compound rear tires for this year's Superbike race at Willow, but Kawasaki mechanics said they didn't know of any new Dunlops to try. Doug Chandler said that he would probably be happy with the rear tire he raced on at Pikes Peak but said that he was informed by Dunlop that there were no more of those tires available. Sources said Dunlop had a total of 32 of those tires at Pikes Peak and that some riders, an example being Larry Pegram, didn't have one of the new tires for the race at Pikes Peak.
Eric Bostrom worked hard on his ZX-6R Supersport bike Friday morning with plans to roll out his ZX-7RR Superbike in the afternoon. When asked how things were going, Bostrom said, "We'll know here pretty soon." Bostrom confirmed that he is committed to winning both the Superbike and 600cc Supersport Championships. "One is within my grasp, but the other's gonna take some work. I think if I can win both of the next Superbike races, I'll win the Chamionship," explained Bostrom. When asked if winning the Championships would have any effect on whether he accepted a ride in America or in Europe for 2002, Bostrom said, "I think we'll have it worked out before the Championships are over."
Kawasaki Team Manager Mike Preston confirmed that Bostrom is a free agent and that the talented young rider has a burning desire to race in Europe.
Unofficial Lap Times From AMA Testing At Willow Springs As Of 12:00 p.m. PDT
Friday, August 31:
Superbike (Lap Record, Steve Rapp, Ducati 996, 9/30/00, 1:19.029):
Mat Mladin, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1:19.85
Nicky Hayden, Honda RC51, 1:20.24
Doug Chandler, Kawasaki ZX-7RR, 1:20.62
Kurtis Roberts, Honda RC51, 1:20.74
Tommy Hayden, Yamaha YZF-R7, 1:20.97
Aaron Yates, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1:21.05
Jamie Hacking, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1:21.37
Miguel Duhamel, Honda RC51, 1:21.49
Anthony Gobert, Yamaha YZF-R7, 1:22.20
600cc Supersport (Lap Record, Eric Bostrom, Kawasaki ZX-6R, 9/30/00,
Eric Bostrom, Kawasaki ZX-6R, 1:22.70
Aaron Yates, Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:23.42
Aaron Gobert, Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:23.45
Kurtis Roberts, Honda CBR600F4i, 1:23.49
Miguel Duhamel, Honda CBR600F4i, 1:23.54
Jamie Hacking, Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:23.75
Formula Xtreme (Lap Record, Jake Zemke, Honda CBR929RR, 9/29/00, 1:20.571):
Damon Buckmaster, Yamaha YZF-R1/R7, 1:21.71
Aaron Gobert, Yamaha YZF-R1/R7, 1:21.74