Dec 21, 2001
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Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Two-time AMA 250cc Grand Prix Champion Chuck Sorensen lapped under the official track record at Roebling Road Raceway in Faulkville, Georgia Sunday, December 16 during a shake-down run on his new Stargel Racing Aprilia RSV250. Sorensen turned a 1:12.07 on his team's hand-held stop watches, significantly lower than Steve Grigg's official mark of 1:12.75 set in May of 1995 on a Michelin-slick-shod Muzzy Raptor.<BR><BR>The bikes Sorensen rode at the test were Aprilia RSV250s, two 1999 ex-Jeremy McWilliams machines and one 2000-model. "I only picked (the bikes) up less than two weeks before the test and basically spent what free time I had just laying hands on them and getting familiar with how everything went together," said Sorensen's new team owner/tuner, Rocky Stargel. "I've never wrenched on them. So we essentially wanted to see how they ran and try to get up to speed on what they wanted as far as jetting and very, very basic set-up. <BR><BR>"The suspension that was on them was box-stock stuff that was very old. The forks, for instance, were original and I don't think the fork oil had ever been changed. So the suspension was far from optimal. I ran the same internal gear ratios that came in the bikes and didn't even have time to pull it and check it. So we're not even sure what the internals were. We do know that they weren't optimized for Roebling, either. <BR><BR>"From a tuning standpoint, the bikes were extremely fast, but I've got a long way to go to get the maximum horsepower out of them. I mean it was impressive that they were that good straight out of the box, and we were encouraged due to the fact that we know there's a whole lot more to come.<BR><BR>"We had a bunch of small problems and glitches that held us up about half a day on Saturday. What laps we did get in at the end of the day, Chuck did a 1:14.0, maybe a 1:13.9, and I asked him how hard it was to run that pace. He said, ‘I'm not trying at all.' I knew then we were 1.2 seconds off the lap record, and I said, ‘Maybe tomorrow, if we get things working a little bit better, that's a goal we can shoot for.' <BR><BR>"We broke (the lap record) quite easily at a 1:12.4 and then came back within two laps and did a 1:12.0. I really thought on the very next lap that he would have a high 1:11 just because he was taking it down in such big chunks, but there were other folks out on the track and one fellow got in his way going into a corner and Chuck wasn't going to be rude or do anything risky and he backed off. <BR><BR>"(Roebling Road is) my favorite close track, and a lot of people talk about going down there and flirting with the record. The fact that we were able to literally do it so easily, I'm pretty excited about that.<BR><BR>"If you would have been there and seen the sheer straightaway speed of this bike. I expected to be impressed with the speed of the bike but was really kind of blown away."<BR><BR>Unfortunately, Stargel wasn't able to provide as many details about his team's 2002 racing plans. "We're hoping to issue a broader statement about (our plans) in the next two weeks outlining all of our intentions and sponsorship and that kind of thing," Stargel explained in a telephone call to Roadracing World. "We do plan on doing the whole AMA 250cc Grand Prix season next year. We just want to give that all out at one time when we have all of the details in place. We've got some really good sponsorship and support lined up, and I think they'll want to make that announcement themselves. Very strong inside-the-industry support and something that I think the 250 class sorely needs.<BR><BR>"The last couple of years I've club raced 250s myself and spent a lot of time working with the things and realized just how much I love them. We're just trying to talk it up another notch and see if we can make a legitimate impact on things."<BR><BR>Stargel did say that Sorensen would be his only rider and, "As it stands right now, I'm doing the majority of the tuning, working in conjunction with the factory guys in Italy."<BR><BR>While we had Stargel on the phone, we asked him about the 1993 ROC-framed Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix bike that he purchased in 2000.<BR><BR>"Right now we're getting parts for it," explained Stargel. "The engine's in pieces and it's being gone over with a fine-tooth comb. When I get the pieces back in, it's going back together and we're going to do a good bit of dyno time with it, checking ignition advance and jetting and that type thing. Eventually, I would like to get it out on the track and do something with it just to have the excitement of people getting to see the thing run." <BR><BR>What about having Sorensen race the YZR500 in the proposed $250,000 race at Willow Springs in 2002? "I'll tell you, I did get kind of excited about that," admitted Stargel. "And Chuck and I have talked about it. For what it's worth, you should twist (Willow Springs owner) Bill Huth's arm. What he's (Huth) saying to Chuck is that they want to do a real long race and have pit stops, and obviously that's not very well suited to a 500 GP bike. If it was in any kind of a normal race format, yeah, we would have interest in participating. But if it's a pit-stop type situation, that's kind of tough. That's not a race. That's an endurance (race). That's going to appeal to a lot of folks, and I won't argue with that. But personally, I was somewhat disappointed that he wanted to take that approach with it. He could break it up and have two races like World Superbike. <BR><BR>"I think Chuck's best time around (Willow Springs) on a 250 is a 1:21.5, and we felt like to be serious about it you'd have to run consistent low-1:19s. (Sorensen) seemed to feel like on a 500 he could do that. <BR><BR>"I own that bike, and there's another newer 500 that I have access to. Like I say, I would consider putting something together if it was a good fit and if it was a truly no-hamstrung-rules approach, i.e. we would run carbon brakes and a full GP set-up."<BR>