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May 16, 2002

HMC Ducati Previews Road Atlanta

From a press release:<BR><BR>Preview Report<BR> AMA Chevy Trucks Superbike Round 4<BR> <BR>Track<BR> Road Atlanta, Georgia<BR> <BR>Track Length<BR> 2.52 miles<BR> <BR>Track lap record<BR> 1'22.735 M Mladin (2001)<BR> <BR><BR>AMA's Chevy Truck Superbike Championship heads inland for its fourth round in Georgia this weekend and after the slower pace of Sears Point the bikes will be modified for the high speed corners of the Road Atlanta Raceway.<BR><BR>The layout and surface of the track have been modified over the past ten years, making it safer and more enjoyable for the bikes to race on. A chicane has been added in corner ten, slowing the pace of the long, back straightaway and improving safety. This will be the best viewing area for spectators as the riders wheelie out of the fast double corner then dive hard on the brakes as they enter the penultimate turn, setting themselves up for a good drive onto the short front straight. There'll be a lot of passing on the brakes and riders will be straight back on the throttle as they fight to cross the start/finish line first. Anything can happen in those last few bends! <BR><BR>Most of the 2.5 mile racetrack gives ample passing opportunities, it's only the esses that will force riders to fall into line. Corners six and seven require the most focus, making sure the bike is well balanced and stable so the rider can stay on the right line to get a good drive onto the long back straight. This is made doubly difficult with the addition of a concrete section that has been recently added to turn seven. It has a slippery surface making it difficult for the riders to get traction. The HMC Ducati team found this a problem during testing last month and this will be where they will focus their attention the ensure Doug Chandler gets the right drive through the corner to maximize his speed along the fast back section. The conditions of the turn could be different this weekend but that won't be determined until Friday's practice. It's a problem that will affect the entire field - some riders during testing rode around it only to lose the right line for the crucial drive onto the straight, but Doug chose to drive right through it. <BR><BR>The track begins to drop off after turn eight and bikes will wheelie as they head onto the downhill slope coming into turn nine, banked right over on the edge of the tire, the bike will tend to wiggle and become unstable as the tire begins to spin-up. Gaining speeds up to 314km/h (198 miles) will cause the tires to heat more than usual.<BR><BR>Already the HMC Ducati team has experimented with different sized rims to reduce tire spinning so their focus during Friday's practice and qualifying will be on loading the front end of the bike to stop the bike from wheeling. Another solution will be to change the bike's gearing so it's not in the main power band. <BR><BR>