Mar 6, 2002
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From a press release:<BR><BR>CICCOTTO TO MAKE HISTORY?<BR><BR>The 2002 AMA road racing season is about to kick off and one man who is determined to make history is Mike Ciccotto. The Hal's Harley-Davidson rider () has extended his two year tenure with the team by recently signing an exclusive agreement with Hal's for two more years. After winning the 2000 Formula USA Buell Lightning National Championship with Hal's and finishing a very close 2nd in the 2001 AMA Buell Pro Thunder Championship, Ciccotto will welcome Shawn Higbee as his new teammate on the squad. For 2002, Mike plans on not only contesting the 2002 Buell Pro Thunder Championship, but also the 2002 AMA Superstock Championship (yes, against all those water-cooled Suzuki GSXR-750s!) – all from the perch of his new Buell Firebolt racebike.<BR><BR>Entering the final round of the Pro Thunder Championship at Road Atlanta last fall, Ciccotto had to qualify on pole, lead the most laps, and win the race in order to tie Thomas Montano in points and consequently win the championship in a more-wins tie breaker. Mike was up to the task, running the fastest time late in the qualifying session and feeling good about his chances to win the title. In the last few minutes of qualifying his bike began overheating and he was forced to pit early, but he felt confident that his time would stand. With just one lap to spare, however, Montano managed a time that was slightly quicker, earning the pole position and the extra point! Although Ciccotto ended up dominating the race and led the most laps (which earned him an extra point), Montano finished 3rd in the race and won the championship by a scant 2 points! That 1 extra point Ciccotto lost in qualifying (and gained by Montano) effectively was the only difference in the championship. So if his 2001 season is any indication, 2002 will prove to be even more exciting one for Ciccotto and for Buell fans, as he attempts to avenge his Pro Thunder Championship loss, while at the same time making history in the Superstock class with the Buell Firebolt.<BR><BR>But how can an air-cooled American bike compete against super fast water-cooled Suzuki GSX-Rs? <BR><BR>"The new bike is very precise and a lot easier to ride because of the fuel injection; the throttle response is so much better, and it has more power. It just feels more like a race bike than my old bike did. So at the tighter tracks I think it's going to do quite well. As an example, at the North Florida Motorsports Park a month ago, we went (unofficially) faster in one day of testing, on used tires, than any Suzuki there has been. We were very close to beating the track record. The bike is so incredible. And that was on used tires! Not only were they used, but the tires came to the track on the bike and had already been tested and used before I got on them. So it gave me hope that I'm not only going to be able to put the bike on the podium this year, but also win some Superstock races as well, which would be incredible for Hal's Harley-Davidson and for anybody who is a fan of Buell motorcycles. If we can win a (Superstock) race, it would be history making and I have the confidence that we can do just that. As far as I know, there has never been an American bike to finish on the podium of an AMA Supersport or Superstock national. That's all the motivation I need."<BR><BR>"But I'm really interested to see how it will do at the Superspeedway this weekend. I know the bike will do well at the tighter tracks, but I'm looking forward to running it at Daytona and seeing how well the new bike is going to cut through the air on the bankings and in the draft."<BR><BR>"I have never before looked forward to the start of a season as I do this year," says Kirk Topel, Owner of Hal's Harley-Davison. "I could not be happier to have the services of, in my opinion, the top privateer in AMA road racing today. Having worked with Mike the past two seasons we know what Mike is capable of. Over that time the team has continued to grow and to improve, by winning a Formula USA title (2000) and giving Ducati all they could handle in AMA Buell Pro Thunder (2001). Our team chemistry and a two year commitment to the future, I feel, gives us a definite advantage assisting the Buell Motor Company in a successful launch of this new motorcycle. I know we will surprise some people in 2002 and not just in Pro Thunder. Mike's commitment ensures that success."<BR><BR>