May 24, 2001
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AMA Superbike teams completed two days of testing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on Tuesday and Wednesday.<BR><BR>Four teams took part in the co-operative test session and shared track rental and related costs, including Yoshimura Suzuki, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki and Yamaha.<BR><BR>The cost per team to participate in the tests, not including lodging and travel, was probably between $5000 and $10,000, based on costs at other co-operative tests.<BR><BR>The cost of stand-alone tests is becoming more of an issue with statements by AMA Pro Racing officials at Road Atlanta that they plan to eliminate Thursday practice at AMA Nationals starting in 2002. <BR><BR>Independent riders and teams which cannot afford to rent tracks and run their own independent test sessions--and cannot get into co-operative tests staged by the factory-backed Superbike teams at any price--will suffer a serious competitive disadvantage when Thursday practice is eliminated.<BR><BR>Independent teams and riders now use Thursday practice for bike development and for getting machines and riders up to speed. The incremental costs of arriving one day earlier at an AMA National are far less than the costs associated with stand-alone testing at tracks that charge rental fees ranging between $2500 and $7500 per day plus cornerworkers, ambulance and insurance.<BR><BR>AMA officials say they want to eliminate Thursday practice and use the day to set up the track and park team transporters.<BR><BR>Opponents of that plan say that the AMA should set up the track on Wednesday instead of eliminating Thursday practice and forcing independent teams and riders to either spend between $60,000 and $100,000 per year on stand-alone tests or become less competitive against factory-backed teams.<BR><BR>Several independent teams and riders are now able to run with factory riders in AMA 600cc Supersport events, and say Thursday practice is an important factor in their ability to do so.<BR><BR>The controversy illustrates the lack of representation of independent teams and riders versus factory teams in the AMA Pro Racing decision-making process: The dilemma the elimination of Thursday practice will cause for such teams is not being seriously considered by AMA Pro Racing officials, who seem to only consider factory teams and riders in a wide range of issues and situations.<BR><BR><BR><BR>Reader Feedback<BR>This just in from Jonathan Flack, Director, Visual Effects Supervisor, Gray Matter Productions, Inc., New York, NY:<BR><BR>"I couldn't agree more with your article about testing at Road America. It seems the AMA is moving closer and closer to being an organization supporting the factories and f--king riders. If they really want to do the sport a favor and boost participation they should be making decisions that help to improve the overall competitive nature of the sport FOR ALL RIDERS, not just the big-bucks factory teams.<BR><BR>"As an AMA member I am outraged at the mere consideration of Thursday practice elimination... if anything they should be adding days to better balance the competition.<BR><BR>"Besides, who wants to watch the same handful of riders run away from the pack on Speedvision every week? I'd rather see masses of talented pro riders fighting it out at the front with the results changing every single week.<BR><BR>"The factory teams already enjoy too big of an advantage over the privateer; eliminating the Thursday practice would just hurt the sport and make it less enjoyable for both the participants and the spectators.<BR><BR>"Kudos for having the guts to point this out... now if the AMA will just listen... and if they do listen, care."