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Jan 31, 2013

Cost Cutting Delayed: AMA Pro Racing Still Discussing 2014 Superbike Electronics Rules

AMA Pro Racing Director of Road Racing David McGrath. David Swarts, copyright Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
On November 2, 2012, AMA Pro Racing issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking companies interested in becoming the official Engine Control Unit (ECU) supplier for the AMA Pro Superbike Championship beginning no sooner than 2014. The deadline for submitting proposals was December 14, 2012, and AMA Pro Racing stated that any changes to the electronics rules for the 2014 AMA Pro Superbike Championship would announced made by December 31, 2012.

That deadline came and went, and on January 4, 2013, AMA Pro Racing issued a statement saying: "AMA Pro Racing is now in direct consultation with teams and associated O.E. manufactures, openly discussing the remaining options for future electronic regulations. Because of this very important dialog, any announcement pertaining to possible modifications to the 2014 American SuperBike electronic rules will be no later than January 31st, 2013."

Today is January 31, 2013, and AMA Pro Racing hasn't announced the 2014 AMA Pro Superbike electronic rules. Asked why not, AMA Pro Racing Director of Road Racing David McGrath explained what was going on.

McGrath started off by saying that AMA Pro Racing received three proposals AMA from potential control ECU suppliers and had narrowed down those to one viable option before the end of December.

"What has been more involved has been the discussions with what we'll call our 'Advisory Group,' our key players," McGrath said Thursday. "Please keep in mind that yes, we are talking about Superbike electronics, but it ties into other things, for example, perhaps in combination with the number of events, in combination with possible [other] rule modifications.

"We agreed, in coordination with the major players, that we need to identify real, applicable, cost-cutting measures that would work in our environment, in North America. And we've been very careful to talk to the different entities who this would impact and make sure we get it right.

"So yes, we're talking Superbike electronics and we did narrow down the RFP and we came to an understanding that if we go down this road it would involve this particular company. However, we're involved with the players that say, 'Well, what exactly would that specification be?'

"That's [using control ECUs] an option. And let's say Option B would be a very-well defined [race] kit electronics option. Or Option C would be very similar to status quo but a little clearer defined. But this is with input from everybody that's currently involved in the process.

"This has gone on through January, and now with these other developments [work on securing an enhanced television broadcast package], the very encouraging developments, the discussion has gotten very engaged because people are enthused, people are ramping up their programs, there's more involvement. A lot of people have been on the fence. So it's all intertwined. So we want to show the sensitivity of, like I said, getting it right and sitting down with these people and saying here are our options.

"We're doing it [discussing options] individually right now, and we have the intention of doing it with the Superbike group, which is basically the Superbike team owners and representatives from each one of the participating homologated manufacturers. Discussions are currently taking place, and that's where we are. We can't just ramrod it through. We've got to get it right.

"What I want to convey is that there's not just one silver bullet," said McGrath. "In regards to cost-containment, enhancing the environment so people can come and be competitive, depth of the field, etc., etc. There's a number of different pieces at play here, and they're all intertwined with each other."