Feb 12, 2002
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From a press release:<BR><BR>Himmelsbach and Blackmans Racing match track record at North Florida Motorsports Park! <BR><BR>Mike Himmelsbach, the 2001 Formula USA Unlimited Grand Prix National Champion, tested the new and improved Blackmans Racing Aprilia Mille R for the first time in 2002. "The new bike feels really good, it's lighter, has better throttle response and more acceleration over last years bike I raced. I am really looking forward to using it at Daytona" said Mike.<BR><BR>Mike and the rest of the team have been working real hard for the opening of this season. Mike has committed to a full time training program, including learning riding and training techniques from 250cc GP master and former factory Superbike pilot Rich Oliver. Bill and the crew have worked to decrease the overall weight of the machine by 22 pound, increase the midrange by five horsepower, and improve the suspension and chassis.<BR><BR>Blackmans Racing sent Mike and crew chief Bill Himmelsbach to Florida to take part in a three-day test at North Florida Motorsports Park scheduled by Team Pro-Motion sport bike club, a sponsor for 2002. Thursday provided rain all morning and dried towards the afternoon. Mike used the latter part of the afternoon to make 30 laps to learn the track and get a baseline set-up for Friday's test.<BR><BR>Friday the team systematically tested suspension upgrades, Pirelli tires, and new chassis parts to improve rider feedback. With sufficient testing data recorded by 2:30 the team put on a set of Pirelli super soft "blue" tires to see how fast Mike could go. The result equaled the current overall motorcycle track record, a 1:17.6 on the sixth of eight laps.<BR><BR>"It felt great, I just kept pushing and it worked better and better. I was leaving black marks on turn exits from sliding the tires and white marks in the middle from dragging the fairings, it was a lot of fun" said Mike.<BR><BR>Saturday provided another great sunny day in Florida and the team was able to do their endurance testing. Mike tested the bike with really worn tires at a consistent low 1:19 pace with the new package as learned on Saturday. "We have had a problem with Michael's consistency and are looking to improve the late-race pace on worn tires. One of our goals in this test was to get more traction and predictability when exiting turns. We made some really good strides in that direction today" said Bill.<BR><BR>The team concluded the testing on Saturday afternoon with excellent results and high expectations for the first Formula USA race at Daytona. The team brought three bikes and put a weekend total of 303 miles on one bike, over 150 on other and only 50 miles on the new bike for Daytona with no mechanical failures or problems. <BR><BR>Mike and his championship winning Aprilia will be at the Indianapolis dealer show the weekend of February 16 and 17 with Clear Channel Entertainment, promoting the upcoming season.