Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
By David Swarts
Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin lowsided his GSX-R750 Superbike at the end of Sunday morning's Superbike final practice session at Virginia International Raceway, and the bike burned.
Mladin was unhurt after a long slide and got up to turn off the bike's ignition, only to discover that the bike was beginning to burn.
Then, as seen on a Speedvision replay, Mladin began to motion to cornerworkers that a fire extinguisher was needed on his bike. Before Mladin returned his view down to his bike, flames burst from the downed machine and enveloped Mladin's legs.
According to Suzuki's Kevin Schwantz, Mladin "felt himself getting hot." Mladin then looked down to see the flames surrounding him and immediately jumped back.
Seconds later, cornerworkers arrived on the scene and began to use fire extinguishers on Mladin's burning bike. Unfortunately, the fire extinguishers seemed to have little effect on the raging blaze that could be scene from hundreds of yards away on pit lane. After a few moments the flames were finally extinguished but to many observers the fire fighting efforts seemed to take too long.
"The fire extinguishers didn't seem to have too much effect, did they?" said Yoshimura Suzuki Team Manager Don Sakukura. "It seemed like it took forever for them to put it out. Mat's tank was punctured."
What appeared to be plain water coming out of the fire extinguisher used on Mladin's fire was actually a mixture of water and a fire suppressant called "Cold Fire", according to VIR's Assistant Director of Emergency Services, David "Cowboy" Crumpton. "It's mixed 24 ounces to two gallons of water, then pressurized with air into canisters," said Crumpton. "It's the latest stuff. We've used it with good results in car fires. It's what is used in fire extinguishers at all of the Winston Cup tracks." Crumpton then said that rescue vehicles at VIR carry an equal number of "Cold Fire" and conventional CO2 canisters.
On the effectiveness of the "Cold Fire" on Mladin's bike, Crumpton said, "The problem was that the fuel was still leaking out feeding the fire."
Sakukura said, "Mat's going to have to race on his back-up bike now." It was also confirmed by Yoshimura Suzuki that Jamie Hacking's Superbike would become Mladin's new back-up bike, as Hacking was injured when he crashed in 600cc Supersport practice on Saturday.
Chevy Trucks AMA Superbike Practice Times, Sunday Morning:
1. Doug Chandler, Kawasaki, 1:26.491
2. Mat Mladin, Suzuki, 1:26.503
3. Nicky Hayden, Honda, 1:26.941
4. Eric Bostrom, Kawasaki, 1:26.961
5. Kurtis Roberts, Honda, 1:27.063
6. Aaron Yates, Suzuki, 1:27.249
7. Miguel Duhamel, Honda, 1:27.335
8. Anthony Gobert, Yamaha, 1:27.608
9. Larry Pegram, Ducati, 1:27.936
10. Steve Rapp, Ducati, 1:28.196
11. Pascal Picotte, H-D, 1:28.470
12. Andreas Meklau, Ducati, 1:28.684
13. Tommy Hayden, Yamaha, 1:28.849
14. Jordan Szoke, H-D, 1:30.686
15. Mauro Cereda, Suzuki, 1:31.953
16. Anthony Lupo, Suzuki, 1:32.298
17. Greg Fryer, Yamaha, 1:32.580
18. Tony Meiring, Suzuki, 1:32.637
19. Robert Jensen, Suzuki, 1:32.645
20. Andrew Deatherage, Suzuki, 1:32.662
600cc Supersport Practice Times:
1. Aaron Yates, Suzuki, 1:28.741
2. Eric Bostrom, Kawasaki, 1:29.197
3. Kurtis Roberts, Honda, 1:29.367
4. Miguel Duhamel, Honda, 1:29.429
5. Tommy Hayden, Yamaha, 1:29.559
6. John Hopkins, Suzuki, 1:29.626
7. Anthony Gobert, Yamaha, 1:29.631
8. Roger Lee Hayden, Honda, 1:30.242
9. Jake Zemke, Honda, 1:30.370
10. Josh Hayes, Honda, 1:30.540
11. Grant Lopez, Suzuki, 1:30.908
12. Aaron Gobert, Yamaha, 1:31.071
13. Jimmy Moore, Suzuki, 1:31.349
14. Chris Caylor, Suzuki, 1:31.539
15. Lee Acree, Suzuki, 1:32.207
16. Vincent Haskovec, Suzuki, 1:32.284
17. Robert Jensen, Suzuki, 1:33.737
18. Daigoro Suzuki, Kawasaki, 1:34.039
19. David Ortega, Suzuki, 1:34.285
20. Tyler Wadsworth, Yamaha, 1:34.439