Sep 28, 2001
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Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Despite recent AMA Pro Racing press releases touting new efforts at communicating with riders and other paddock dwellers, leading riders said they weren't asked their opinion before AMA officials decided to use a pace car at the final round of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Series, at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) this weekend.<BR><BR>The pace car being used is a Jaguar, a brand owned by Ford.<BR><BR>Asked if they had been asked about the use of a pace car, riders responded as follows:<BR><BR>Miguel Duhamel: "No. There are a lot of new things here at Virginia. I'm a little, let's say nervous about the whole just because there are so many new things this weekend, a lot of things people aren't used to. It was a lot of work to get the bikes back to pit stop standard. I think we should leave the pit stops to Daytona. I mean, that's our greatest race. The pit lane's good and you don't have to do 50 mph on pit lane. I'm happy they changed the flag. At least now we can tell the difference. I think they still have a few bugs. Let's just cross our fingers and hope we have a good weekend. I'm anticipating the worst and hoping for the best. Even today we have a lot of people walking around on pit lane. I mean 50 mph is still 50 mph. I should have brought it up to have nobody crossing pit lane. I'm going to go over and talk to them about it later.<BR><BR>"I think it could cause a lot of heartbreak," continued Duhamel. "We need to make our series really solid right now, and we're leaving it open for something to happen. There's a lot of gray area. I think there's going to be a lot of stories. Better have a lot of tape."<BR><BR><BR>Mat Mladin: "No. I'm just not a big fan of pace cars. I just don't think that pace cars should be used in motorcycle racing. We don't have radio communication at the moment and things like that. I'm just not a fan of the pace car at all. For one or two races a year? Why not use it for every race if that's the case? No, I'm not a big fan of the pace car. We've all seen what happened at Daytona. The fault of the accident at Daytona had nothing to do with the riders. It had to do with they couldn't see the flag. They didn't know there was a pace car on the track. I was the first rider out there. I had a five or six second lead at the time and I struggled to see the pace car. So you can imagine being in a group of six or seven riders nose-to-tail. I mean, the first rider gets a glimpse of it, what's he going to do? He's going to back off straight away. A lot of people think Kurtis (Roberts) just jammed on the brakes on the banking. Well, that's not the case. When you're doing 170 mph on the banking and you just back off, you slow down so quick as compared to the guys who are on it behind you it's unbelieveable. The flags were not adequate.<BR><BR>"I don't mind the pit stops," continued Mladin, "but the whole idea of what the pit stops are for is that it's better for the spectators. Well, no spectators are going to see the pit stops because spectators aren't over there to watch them like Daytona. The spectators are all out there (motions to back part of course), and we're doing the pit stops here (motions to pit lane). There's not going to be one single spectator see the pit stops unless they are standing right here behind the pits. If they are, they aren't going to see any of the race. Personally, I think the idea to have the pit stops really isn't going to work. It's not going to better for the spectators."<BR><BR><BR>Larry Pegram (laughing): "Ask a rider something before they do something? Come on! I don't mind the pace car. I just don't think this is the place to be making the race longer and doing pit stops. The pit road is too tight. The track's way too tight to run an extra-long race where we will be lapping more people more times. It's hard to pass. It doesn't let you rest. They need to do something about pit road speed some how to let us know how fast we're going. You don't wait until the last race when the championship's on the line then throw in a pit road speed that you haven't had all year."<BR><BR><BR>Nicky Hayden: "At Colorado, we made some suggestions to them. I think they talked to the team. I don't know about racing with the pace car again. I think it could be good. I'm in the middle with it. I don't know."<BR><BR><BR>Andreas Meklau: "No. It is very confusing. There are many things new to me. It is a long race. We have different things on the bike for change quick. The pace car is new and pit stops as well. It's confusing."<BR><BR><BR>Mike Preston, Manager, Kawasaki Road Racing, a team manager and a member of the AMA road racing rules advisory board, said he was not involved in the decision-making process regarding use of a pace car.<BR>