Jun 16, 2001
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As told in a press release issued by his manager, Norm Viano:<BR><BR>"After a successful ride at Brands Hatch last weekend, American Mike Ciccotto finds himself back home, ready to win in Loudon this weekend. Ciccotto and Michael Barnes rode Superbike-spec machines at Brands for the FIM World Endurance Championship for the Belgium-based Herman Verboven Suzuki team. And although this was Mike's first trip abroad, he had no problem adjusting to the culture, and more importantly, to the new track: 'In the very first practice session, I went out and just tried to learn the track. I ended up being 5th quickest right out of the box. In the second and third practice sessions I just kept dropping my times. By qualifying, I was ready to go.' But luck wasn't on their side, unfortunately. 'During qualifying, Barnie went out before I did, got highsided, and hurt his shoulder. We didn't know if he was going to be able to ride the next day. So I went out in my qualifying session a little bit apprehensive; just making sure everything was put back together right and the bike wasn't going to throw me off. So I took it easy. But after awhile, I put my head down and did a 31.3, which qualified me 1st in the Superbike class, 4th overall. But because they average your time with your teammate's time, and Barnie was hurt, we ended up qualifying 8th overall, but still 1st in our class. The next day, at the start of the race, I knew it was going to be a long race. It's a six hour endurance race and I didn't know if Barnie was going to be able to race at all.' <BR><BR>"The race started, and Mike went out for the first hour and five minutes, and was 1st in class, 4th overall. He handed the 'keys' over to his teammate, and took a breather. 'Barnie went out hurt, so we dropped a little bit, but he did well considering his injury. For the next hour things went well, but I had a small electrical problem and had to push it back in. Then Barnie went out for about 30 minutes. When he came back, there were more than two and a half hours left in the race. Because of our problems, we were 26th overall and 8th in class. I was really bummed. So I went out for the next hour and really put my head down, and cranked out some fast laps. And when I came in, I was expecting to swap with Barnie again. But they told me that we were up to 5th in class, so I went right back out for another hour! When I came back in for a last splash of gas, they told me that I was 4th in our class, about 19 seconds off of 3rd place. I was tired, but I went out again! I caught the 3rd place guy with 4 laps to go, and we finished 3rd in class and 15th overall. We did well, but without the problems we would have easily finished top 3rd or 4th overall and 1st in Superbike.' <BR><BR>"But Mike turned some heads with his performance and has been invited back for the remaining (non-conflicting) FIM World Endurance rounds. 'I'm going to go back to race for the team at Spa Frankorchamps (Belgium) for the 24 hour race - that's after Laguna. Then I'm going to do the Germany round, then I'm doing the Suzuka 8 hour with my Hooters team.' <BR><BR>"His first experience racing overseas has got Ciccotto excited about his racing future, in addition to providing him with a little edge over his American competitors this weekend. 'During the last part of the race (at Brands), I practically rode for three hours straight, so riding for 30 minutes at Loudon will be easy!'"