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Jul 23, 2010

Riders Exploiting Loophole In AMA Pro Racing Testing Restrictions To Gain Extra Track Time, Advantage At Laguna Seca

Several top racers are exploiting a loophole in the newly-amended AMA Pro Racing rule governing pre-event testing at race venues by participating in the Monterey Challenge this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to gain more track time prior to competing in the AMA Pro Racing event later this weekend.

When the season started, riding or testing at non-AMA Pro Racing race events, track days and riding schools at AMA Pro Racing venues was prohibited within 14 days of the start of a scheduled AMA Pro Racing event.

Later, it was brought to the attention of AMA Pro Racing that this prohibited riders from competing in club racing events at AMA venues and that such a restriction could be against the law in some states because riders can win cash prizes and contingencies in those events. Some riders make a living off the money they win at club races.

So AMA Pro Racing, after consulting with several stakeholders during the event at Infineon Raceway, amended the rule to reduce the restriction to just five days preceding an AMA Pro Racing event.

The matter was then further complicated by special events at Mid-Ohio (AMA Sports Grand Championship) and the Monterey Challenge. The late addition of the Vance & Hines XR1200 class and its competitors' lack of testing time was another factor to be considered.

In response, AMA Pro Racing issued Competitor Bulletin #2010-14 on June 29, which stated:

"To determine rider eligibility for the events immediately prior to both Mid Ohio and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, please consult AMA Pro Road Racing Technical Bulletin #2010-05.

"'If riders have not competed in more than two AMA Pro events in the current season AND have not competed at the upcoming track in the current year, they may petition AMA Pro Racing, via phone or email, to attend a practice day immediately prior to the event. Any riders attending a practice day without written approval may be disallowed from the upcoming race event at that track.'"

"In the case of the two above indicated events, they will be regarded as 'practice' by AMA Pro Racing."

By participating in the Monterey Challenge, those riders could get 40 minutes of extra track time plus the 10-lap race, while regular competitors in the AMA Pro Racing series are prohibited from participating in the event and getting the extra track time.

Riders Austin DeHaven, Hawk Mazzotta, Brian Parriott and Jeremy Toye are some of the riders entered in both the Monterey Challenge and the AMA event.

But not everyone is taking advantage of the loophole. Josh Waters, who is riding in place of Rockstar Makita Suzuki's injured Blake Young, and Eric Bostrom, who is riding the Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki magazine project bike, could have ridden in the Monterey Challenge sessions and race, but they and their teams decided against it.

"Those riders who meet the criteria and have not raced with us more than two times this year and have not raced at this racetrack this year are eligible to ride in track days and things like that in the five days prior to the event," said AMA Pro Racing Race Director David McGrath. "The on-track activity that happened before Mid-Ohio [AMA Racing Grand Championships] and here [Monterey Challenge] were deemed to be very similar to a Thursday track day type deal."

Asked if he felt he was gaining an advantage by participating in the Monterey Challenge, a race he won Friday, Toye said, "Of course. We're starting at a disadvantage on track time [with a] brand new motorcycle [BMW S1000RR] and some other things. So we're just trying to do as much catch-up as we can. Part of playing catch-up is finding loopholes and using them to your advantage."

Considering Toye has been a regular on the AMA series in the past, he was also asked how he would feel if he was on the other side of the situation and was prohibited from getting the extra track time.

"For sure I wouldn't be too stoked about it," said Toye. "There's no doubt about it. It's an angle where they wrote a rule and didn't cover themselves, and that's the way it plays. That's part of racing. You use the rules to your advantage."

Immediately after riding in the Monterey Challenge sessions and race, DeHaven then led the first AMA SuperSport practice session ahead of competitors who were not allowed to participate in the Monterey Challenge's extra sessions.

"This adjustment that was made at Infineon is designed to get through the remainder of 2010," said McGrath, "and we are working with the paddock to find the best solution for the future."