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Jul 8, 2007

Updated Again: Aprilia USA 2 Wins Problem-Plagued SunTrust MOTO-ST 500K At Road America

MOTO-ST 500K at Road America third-place finishers Team Florida. Photo by David Swarts
San Jose BMW (Brian Parriott/Tom Montano) and Aprilia USA 2 (Ty Howard/Troy Green), the two main protagonists in the inaugural SunTrust MOTO-ST Championship, battled each other and adversity until the last lap of the 500K at Road America.

Two Safety Car periods threw both teams off their normal pit stop strategies and drew both into a game of gas-mileage chicken at the end of the race. Neither team blinked, and both stretched their fuel loads to the end.

Aprilia USA 2's Howard almost didn't make it as his Tuono shut off on the final lap, long enough for him to radio to his crew, "We're done." But the Aprilia sudden sprang back to life, and Howard got back on the gas, well behind San Jose BMW.

Then, San Jose BMW's R 1200 S sputtered to a halt in the last few hundred yards of the race, handing the overall and Super Sport Twins (SST) class wins -- and bigger Championship point leads in both -- to Aprilia USA 2.

With San Jose BMW dead on the side of the front straightaway, Aprilia USA 1 (Henry Wiles/Jon Francis) and Team Florida (Gustavo Laya/Armando Ferrer) held another race to the finish for what would become second place. Aprilia USA 1 had a horsepower advantage with its RSV1000 Tuono and beat Team Florida's stock Ducati 749R to the finish line by a wheel.

Team Florida, however, was robbed of its trip to the podium when another of MOTO-ST's many timing and scoring mistakes during the weekend temporarily lost one of Team Florida's laps. Surprised Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki riders Chris Ulrich and Mark Junge were directed to the podium, where they stood in Team Florida's spot. Only after all of the podium ceremonies had been completed did MOTO-ST realize its mistake, acknowledge Team Florida's third-place finish and invite the Team Florida riders and crew to celebrate their third-place finish at the podium"¦alone.

Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki was ultimately scored in fourth overall on a SV1000S, and San Jose BMW was credited with fifth place overall and fifth in the SST category.

Provisionally, the Grand Sport Twins (GST) class win went to Richie Morris Racing, which had Shawn Higbee and Dan Bilansky riding a Buell XB12R. Higbee said the team had a flawless race and perfectly-timed a pit stop during a Safety Car period. James Gang Racing's Paul James and Jeff Johnson finished second on a Buell XB12R, one lap behind Richie Morris Racing due to what they said was a poorly-timed pit stop during a Safety Car period. Team Ducati Indianapolis's Dr. Jeffrey Purk, DDS, Robert Oliva and Scott Harwood finished 2.2 seconds behind James Gang Racing to take third in GST on their Ducati 1000SS.

The Sport Twins (ST) class was shaping up to be a close battle between Pair-A-Nines 9 (Jimmy Filice/Jay Springsteen) and Speedwerks.com (Brian Kcraget/Scott Ryan), but Pair-A-Nines 9's Kawasaki Ninja 650R expired in the second half of the race. Speedwerks.com was able to bring its Suzuki SV650 home for its second consecutive class win, according to provisional results. Team Rightsforbikers.com 16's Robert Fisher and Justin Filice (Jimmy Filice's son) finished one lap behind Speedwerks.com, second in ST. Eagle Racing Suzuki's Eric Konigsberg and Ryan Hall finished third in ST on a Suzuki SV650.

The Safety Car was called out two times during the race. First, it was brought out when Pair-A-Nines 99's Deb Barton, who teamed with Angie Loy, crashed the team's Kawasaki Ninja 650R which landed close to the edge of the track in the final corner. The Safety Car stayed out when Touring Sport Ducati 77 (Peter Friedland/Frank Shockley/Brad Phillips) crashed its Ducati 1000SS in The Bend, picked it up and then immediately crashed it again in the next corner.

The second Safety Car period came when Pair-A-Nines 9 suffered its mechanical problem and stopped on the edge of the track in turn 12.

No serious injuries were reported during the race.

At post time, not even provisional results had been issued in a hard-copy format and the status of several of the podium-finishing teams was still in question during post-race dyno testing and tech inspection.

Update: Team Ducati Indianapolis, the second-place finisher in GST, and Team Rightsforbikers.com 89 (Christopher Boy/John Linder), the fourth-place finisher in GST, were disqualified for being under the class' minimum weight limit of 390 pounds despite the Team Rightsforbikers.com 89 racebike weighing 394 pounds on the official scales on Saturday. Officials promoted Touring Sport Ducati 38 (Brad Phillips/Garrett Rick/Frank Schockley) to third in class.

Team Rightsforbikers.com 16, the second-place finisher in the ST class, was disqualified for having 500cc too much fuel capacity despite running the same fuel tank that passed capacity checks at Daytona and Homestead. That promoted Eagle Racing to second in class and Go Big Racing (Ross Milson/Paul Glenn) to third in ST, in spite of a crash during the race.

C.J. Czaia, owner of the penalized Team Rightsforbikers.com 89 and Team Rightsforbikers.com 16, said that MOTO-ST officials had moved the scales between Saturday and Sunday, relocating them on an angle, had changed the scale calibration, and had instituted a new method of measuring fuel capacity at Road America, resulting in his previously declared-legal, unchanged racebikes being disqualified. Czaia also said that he was told by MOTO-ST officials there was no protest or appeal process available to him, and that "it's over." Czaia, an attorney and Democratic Party official from South Florida who runs four teams in the MOTO-ST series and has been one of its strongest proponents from the start, said the DQs "took all the fun out of what is supposed to be a fun thing" and that he considered turning his two transporters around and heading back to Florida instead of continuing on to the race in Iowa next weekend.

Provisional Overall Race Results:

1. Aprilia USA 2 (Ty Howard/Troy Green), Apr RSV1000 Tuono, SST, 68 laps

2. Aprilia USA 1 (Henry Wiles/Jon Francis), Apr RSV1000 Tuono, SST, -52.234 seconds

3. Team Florida Ducati (Armando Ferrer/Gustavo Laya/Rodolfo Ramirez), Duc 749R, SST, -52.287 seconds

4. Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki (Chris Ulrich/Mark Junge), Suz SV1000S, SST, -77.217 seconds

5. San Jose BMW (Brian Parriott/Tom Montano/Nate Kern), BMW R 1200 S, SST, -1 lap

6. Team Rightsforbikers.com Suzuki 69 (Mark Crozier/Nathan Dressman), Suz SV1000S, SST, -1 lap, 190.202 seconds

7. Wagner Motorsports Racing Aprilia (Mark Reynolds/Gus Holcomb/Jurgen Frasch), Apr RSV1000 Tuono, SST, -2 laps

8. Vallely Racing Suzuki 33 (Matt McBride/Dave Loikits), Suz SV1000S, SST, -2 laps, 9.701 seconds

9. Team Zyvax Suzuki (Steven Green/J.B. Layman), Suz SV1000S, SST, -2 laps, 43.735 seconds

10. Richie Morris Racing Buell (Shawn Higbee/Dan Bilansky), Buell XB12R, GST, -2 laps, 47.012 seconds

11. Speedwerks.com Suzuki (Brian Kcraget/Scott Ryan), Suz SV650, ST, -2 laps, 47.152 seconds


Provisional Championship Point Standings, By Team, By Class:

SST:
1. Aprilia USA 2, 134 points
2. San Jose BMW, 110 points
3. Vallely Racing 32, 102 points
4. Team Rightsforbikers.com, 99 points
5. Team Florida, 96 points
6. TIE, Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki/Vallely Racing 33, 95 points
8. Aprilia USA 1, 91 points
9. TIE, R&R Racing/Wagner Motorsports Racing, 89 points


GST:
1. Richie Morris Racing, 135 points
2. Touring Sport Ducati, 122 points
3. James Gang Racing, 116 points
4. Team Ducati New York, 106 points
5. Team Rightsforbikers.com, 76 points
6. RPM Motorsports Keesee Racing, 63 points
7. Touring Sport Ducati 38, 54 points
8. Team Ducati Indianapolis, 51 points
9. Motorsports MG, 47 points
10. Drummer Racing, 26 points


ST:
1. Pair-A-Nines 9, 128 points
2. GoBigRacing, 122 points
3. TIE, Speedwerks.com/Edge Racing, 102 points
5. Team Mid-Illini Motorsports, 78 points
6. Momentum Racing, 72 points
7. Team Rightsforbikers.com, 71 points
8. Blue Ridge Performance, 53 points
9. Eagle Racing, 32 points
10. Pair-A-Nines 99, 28 points




More, from a press release issued by MOTO-ST:

Aprilia USA 2 Wins SunTrust MOTO-ST Series Race at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, WI (July 8, 2007) The final lap of Sunday's three-hour SunTrust MOTO-ST Series race at Road America provided drama, jubilation and heartbreak for several of the contending teams. When all was said and done, Aprilia USA 2 team rider Ty Howard took the checkered flag on his No. 6 Aprilia Tuono 100R. But the Weatherford, TX resident rode a roller coaster of emotions during the final two minutes of the race, before claiming the victory.

Brian Parriott (No. 46 San Jose BMW / R1200) led the first half of the race and took the white flag to start the 68th and final lap around the four-mile, 14-turn road course just 2.130 seconds ahead of Howard. Entering the first turn, Howard felt his bike sputter in turn 1 almost out of fuel leaving him dejected as he struggled to re-fire his engine. Somehow, he coaxed his bike back to life and set about chasing Parriott, who hails from Calistoga, CA.

Parriott was also in dire straits with regard to his fuel situation, but he couldn't have imagined how close it would be. With four laps to go, he and the San Jose BMW team made the decision to stay out on track and go for the win. Entering the 14th and final turn, Parriott's engine started to miss. By the time he turned onto the front straight, his engine was completely silent and he realized his race was done, given that he was literally facing a long, uphill climb along the Road America Straight to the finish line.

Howard's Aprilia blasted past Parriott en route to the checkered flag earning a spot on the top of the podium for he and teammate Troy Green (Dallas, TX), adding to their Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) points lead in the process.

"Late in the race, we were in second in good shape and I was running consistent lap times, not really pushing it very hard," said Howard. "My crew told me I was gaining on him [Parriott] and were telling me they [San Jose BMW] had to pit. But I didn't care. I couldn't count on that, so I started pushing it. When we came by to start the last lap, I was within striking distance. But going into turn 1, my bike just died. I almost came to a complete stop, but it fired up and I took off. He [Parriott's bike] died coming out of the last corner and he couldn't make it up the hill. He got halfway up and stopped. We screwed up in the pits last race [at Virginia International Raceway], but we got it back this time."

Following the race, Parriott discussed his team's decision to stay out, and the heartbreak of coming so close to the win. "With four or five [laps] to go, we decided we had to go for it. I asked my guys if we were going to make it. I heard a bunch of 'maybe', 'possibly' and 'we hope'"¦ but never a 'yes.' But they felt confident about it and we came up an eighth of a mile short."

Asked about the sinking feeling he felt when his BMW began to coast within sight of the checkered flag, he said, "If I wasn't so particular about the paintjob on my helmet, that thing would still be rolling down the road. I was furious. I don't get upset, but that was really bad. I felt it [his engine] popping before coming to the last turns, and I knew I wasn't going to make it." Tom Montano of Berkeley, CA was the other rider of the No. 46 BMW.

San Jose BMW's misfortune turned into a dream finish for the Aprilia USA outfit as their No. 5 Aprilia Tuono 100R came across the line next, earning second place for riders Henry Wiles (Blanchard, MI) and Jon Francis (New Braunfels, TX). "You can't beat a one-two finish on the Aprilia; we're really stoked," said experienced flat track racer Wiles, who did all but 12 of the 68 laps during the race. "This is about my third road race but I'm starting to feel comfortable on the bike and with a little more seat time, I know I can get the job done."

The third and final podium SST podium spot went to the No. 21 Team Florida Ducati 749 ridden by Armando Ferrer (Sunrise, FL) and Gustavo Laya (Miami, FL). "It was an unbelievable race and especially the last lap," said Laya, of the team's first SunTrust MOTO-ST Series podium result. "We stopped three laps before the finish line. When I exited the pit, the third-place Aprilia [No. 5 Aprilia USA] was with me. I passed him and then he passed me. I stayed with him and he passed me by like half a wheel by the start / finish line. I'm very happy with the result."

The No. 18 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki team of Chris Ulrich (Lake Elsinore, CA) and Mark Junge (Union Grove, WI) was originally scored in third-place, but after a review of the scoring, they were found to have finished behind the No. 21 Team Florida crew. Nonetheless, fourth-place was a very respectable outcome for the Roadracingworld.com Suzuki team as they battled to overcome engine trouble throughout the weekend at Road America, changing two motors on their Suzuki SV1000S during their stay. "I have to hand it to my crew for us even being here," said Ulrich, after the race. "Everybody helped." Rounding out the top five finishers was the No. 46 San Jose BMW, ridden by Parriott and Montano.

Following four rounds of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series, Aprilia USA 2 leads the standings with 134 points. Despite their troubles on the final lap, San Jose BMW sits second with 110 markers. The No. 32 Vallely Racing Suzuki of Mike Himmelsbach (Quaker Town, PA), Frank Trombino (Toronto, ON) and Tom Vallely (Flagler Beach, FL) are third with 102.

In the BMW Grand Sport Twins (GST) class, the No. 8 Richie Morris Racing team of Shawn Higbee (Oconomowoc, WI) and Dan Bilansky (Waukesha, WI) took their Buell XB12 to a comfortable win over the No. 70 James Gang Racing Buell XB12 of Paul James (Waukesha, WI) and Jeff Johnson (Minneapolis, MN). At the finish, the gap between the top two GST bikes was one lap.

"Everything went surprisingly smooth in the race," said Bilansky. "We only had a little bit of practice time yesterday and we didn't even end up using that bike because we had mechanical difficulties with it. The Pirelli tires were just unbelievable. We haven't done a tire change at any of these races, yet. We've finished all of the races on the tires we started on. And I have to thank Shawn [Higbee] for going out and laying down the laps and letting me bring it home pretty easily without any fights."

Following a pair of disqualifications for bikes found to be too light in post-race technical inspection, the No. 38 Touring Sport Ducati II team of Frank Shockley (Greenville, SC), Brad Phillips (Greer, SC) and Pete Friedland (Columbia, SC) was elevated to third-place after crossing the line in fifth.

On the strength of their third win in four outings, the No. 8 Richie Morris Racing team leads the GST standings with 135 points. Next is the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati team with 122, followed by the No. 70 James Gang Racing team with 116.

Earning the victory in the Sport Twins (ST) for the second event in a row was the No. 87 Speedwerks.com team of Brian Kcraget (Danville, VA) and Scott Ryan (Lemont, IL). Recording another dominant performance on their Suzuki SV650, Kcraget brought their bike home three laps in front of their closest rival, the No. 50 Eagle Racing team of Eric Konigsberg (Kalamazoo, WI) and Ryan Hall (Goodview, MN).

"This is the longest race I've done, by far, other than the Daytona 200," said Ryan in victory lane. "Everybody out there rode extremely well. The series is put on really great; I haven't seen anything this professional in a while."

Said Kcraget, "I ride the best bike here in the ST class and I'm really fortunate to be racing with Speedwerks.com. This track is a lot of fun; it's the first time I've ever been to Road America. It was very challenging"¦ I got some tips from Scott [Ryan] and he goes really well around here. I'm glad to have him as a teammate."

The #79 GoBigRacing Suzuki team of Ross Millson (Hamilton, ON) and Paul Glenn (Keene, ON) overcame a lap 52 crash in turn 12 to claim the final podium position in ST, thanks to tenacity and the post-race technical disqualification of a team that had originally finished in front of them. Millson and Glenn were 10 laps back of the class winner at the finish.

Despite dropping out of the race with mechanical trouble on lap 40, the No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki Ninja 650R of racing legends Jimmy Filice (Modesto, CA) and Jay Springsteen (Lapeer, MI) will leave Road America with the ST class lead. They have 128 points after four events. The No. 79 GoBigRacing team is next with 122. Sunday's race-winning No. 87 SpeedWerks.com team is tied for third with No. 23 Edge Racing (with 102 points) after four events.

Following this weekend's race, the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series will head to Iowa for the Iowa Speedway 500k on July 12-13. The season concludes with the 8 Hours At Daytona Finale, October 19-20 at Daytona International Speedway.

MOTO-ST is organized and sanctioned by Professional Motorsports Productions (PMP) of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the Grand American Road Racing Association, based in Daytona Beach, Fla., provides the series with administrative and commercial support. The MOTO-ST advisory board features some of the most respected individuals in the world of motorsports, including Hall of Fame members, respected motorcycle racing journalists and renowned officials from various forms of road racing. Learn more about MOTO-ST at www.moto-st.com.