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Feb 13, 2001

Ducati Race Manager Confirms Kocinski's Out, Slight's In

John Kocinski and Competition Accessories Ducati could not come to terms on a contract for the 2001 season even though they had been negotiating off and on for all of the 2000 season. In a matter of a couple of days, Aaron Slight signed a contract with the Ohio-based Competition Accessories team to ride in the AMA Superbike series for 2001 and immediately flew to California, arriving Monday to join his new team for scheduled tests at Willow Springs.<BR><BR>"Basically we couldn't come to terms on our contract," said Ducati North America Race Manager David Roy from his rental car headed to Willow Springs. "(John Kocinski) had different issues that we couldn't help him with. We just decided to part company as friends instead of drawing anything out any further than we had to. He asked for his own mechanics, and we went ahead and provided those for him. That wasn't a problem. There was never any conflict with tires this year. It wasn't anything major. It was just more of a couple of little things, and we didn't want to waste anymore time. So we decided it was better to dissolve our relationship as friends. I know the press wants to know all the details and stuff, but there's not really that much with the John deal. We had been negotiating with John for basically the entire time that he had been riding for us. We just couldn't wait any longer because the season is right on top of us. Those discussions were with the team. We (Ducati North America) were supervising all of that, but it was all done through Competition (Accessories)." <BR><BR>When asked the status of Aaron Slight, Roy said, "Aaron's sitting right next to me in the car. I don't know if he wants to give any interviews right now. He's really tired from the flight. Aaron will be riding for us this season. We do have something signed, but I can't go into the details of the contract at this time. I've been doing the negotiating with Aaron. I first met him at Brands Hatch. Basically the same way that I did things with Scott Russell and Tony "Slick" Bass. I initiated contact with those guys and negotiated the deals for the teams, of course, but Aaron's contract will be directly with the Competition Accessories team though. <BR><BR>"It's going to be an awesome season. The level of competition in the AMA this year is really, really good. We want to get through Daytona. Then we'll go from there. I think Aaron's going to do great. I'm looking for big things. I think this will be good for everybody. Ducati North America's very, very happy. Ducati Corse is very happy also. They are really ecstatic. They really wanted to see Aaron on a Ducati this year." <BR><BR>The HMC and Competition Accessories Ducati teams were originally scheduled to test at Sears Point but were rained out, so they headed for Willow Springs. But with rain predicted now in Southern California possibly through Thursday, Roy predicted that testing may in fact last through the WSMC race weekend.<BR><BR>"We might have to stay and cherry pick the WSMC races this weekend. I don't know," said Roy. "We'll see what the team says and what happens. This is going to be a more a relaxing, get-acclimated-to-the-bike sort of week. We want to keep everything real low key, no bothers, so (Slight) can get used to the Ducati versus the Honda.<BR><BR>"We want some more leverage to influence the AMA," said former pro racer Roy. "So we've increased our effort in the AMA two-fold to show them that we want to help anyway we can. Ducati doesn't hold any cooperate membership within the AMA. Unless you're a Trustee, it doesn't really matter. It's not worth it. There's not really any secret alliance or anything. I wish there was. But we just rely on our sponsor relationship and participating with two teams and being involved as much as we can. I'm working on some stuff like getting the 748 included in the 600 Supersport class."<BR><BR>Slight, 35, has won the Suzuka Eight-Hour three times (once with teammate Scott Russell), placed second in the World Superbike Championship twice, placed third in the World Superbike Championship three times, and has 13 World Superbike race wins. Slight finished the 2000 World Superbike series eighth in points after missing part of the season recovering from life-saving brain surgery. Slight has raced at Daytona twice, once on a Kawasaki 250 GP bike and once on a Muzzy Kawasaki Superbike in 1993. <BR>