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May 19, 2001

Road Atlanta Inside Info

Reigning AMA Grand National Dirt Track Champion Joe Kopp Tries Pavement At Road Atlanta<BR><BR>Reigning AMA Grand National Dirt Track Champion Joe Kopp, 32, is at Road Atlanta trying his hand at road racing. "I've wanted to try it for a couple of years now," said Kopp.<BR><BR>Kopp attended Kevin Schwantz's new riding school on Wednesday May 18, rode in promoter practice Thursday, and was riding as #143 in 600cc and 750cc Supersport practice Friday. "I don't know if I'm going to race or not. I'm going to practice and qualify and see how comfortable I am out there. If I'm comfortable, I'll race," said Kopp.<BR><BR>Although he rode a stock Suzuki GSX-R600 in the Schwantz school Wednesday, Kopp will be riding an ex-Eric Wood Kawasaki ZX-6R purchased for him by <BR>Darrell Jones of Jones Powersports, Columbia, Missouri. Kopp said that he was still trying to gain confidence in his Dunlop tires, but Kopp's 1:34 lap times showed that he was well on his way to success after only two days of pavement riding, and only one on his Kawasaki.<BR><BR><BR><BR>Michael Barnes And Team Take 12th In World Endurance<BR><BR>Former Formula USA Champion Michael Barnes co-rode with Wim Van Achter and Herman Verboven Suzuki to a fifth in the Superbike class and 12th overall in the 40-entry, 6-hour FIM Endurance World Championship race at Brno, Czech Republic. Barnes said that the team would have finished higher had it not been for tire troubles on a drying track forcing two unscheduled pit stops early in the race. "We might have been on the box if it wasn't for those two extra stops," said Barnes. The Boca Raton, Florida resident confirmed that he would be riding the rest of the World Endurance rounds for Herman Verboven Suzuki with the exception of Suzuka. "Few of the World Endurance regulars actually compete at Suzuka," reported Barnes. "There are so many one-off, factory and wild card teams from Japan that the points you get there is not worth the expence of the trip."<BR><BR><BR><BR>Riders Meeting Notes<BR><BR>During the Riders Meeting Friday, AMA Superbike Racing Operations Manager Ron Barrick said that, as usual, there would be no intentional stopping or riding without a helmet on track. Barrick also warned against doing celebratory burn-outs in the victory circle area. Barrick did advise that AMA officials are considering designating an area near winners circle where riders could safely do victory burn-outs.<BR><BR><BR><BR>Injured Renfrow Won't Ride<BR><BR>Former AMA 250cc Grand Prix Champion Randy Renfrow planned to race this weekend at Road Atlanta and rode in promoter's practice Thursday May 17, but packed up and went home to Virginia before AMA practice started Friday. "I crashed during a track day at Summit Point and busted up some ribs. Another guy went down in front of me and I fell with him," said Renfrow on Thursday. <BR><BR>Renfrow attempted to ride but could not perform comfortably and left the track the same day. Renfrow's departure and inability to ride healthy was a shame because there is one of the best 250cc Grand Prix fields at Road Atlanta this weekend.