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Mar 3, 2002

Wet-track Deal Defuses Threat Of Formula USA Rider Boycott At Daytona

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Formula USA officials and a group of top series regulars reached an agreement on wet-weather contingency plans for today's event at Daytona International Speedway, defusing a potential rider boycott.<BR><BR>While Formula USA Director of Road Racing Bill Syfan said that the group of riders, (which included Shawn Higbee, Matt Wait, Lee Acree, Larry Pegram, Michael Barnes, Michael Himmelsbach and Craig Connell) never actually threatened to boycott, Acree told reporters that they were planning a boycott if the race was run in the rain.<BR><BR>Eric Wood was on the other side of the controversy, and planned to race rain or shine.<BR><BR>Acree said that riders on his side of the question asked for Championship points to be removed from the race so they would not be contractually bound to race all-out on a rain-soaked Daytona track.<BR><BR>Riders are concerned about inconsistent wet-conditions traction on the Daytona road course, particularly in the chicane and across painted lines on the banking.<BR><BR>F-USA's Syfan contemplated the situation Saturday before holding another meeting with riders and team owners Saturday evening, after the end of on-track activities.<BR><BR>Former racer Syfan offered the riders a compromise, saying that if he determined the track to be fully wet Sunday afternoon, he would award eight Championship points to all riders who took to the grid and raced in the Unlimited Superbike, Sportbike and Buell Lightning Series races.<BR><BR>Eight points is in the middle of the points payout schedule.<BR><BR>The blanket points award is designed to give riders something for making the effort to compete at Daytona, and to give them an advantage over racers who didn't come to Daytona but show up at the second round of the series.<BR><BR>Syfan also added that if the race started in fully dry conditions and then turned wet (as happened in the controversial 2001 Championship-deciding final race), it would be stopped and competitors allowed to change to rain tires. But if the race started in dry conditions or semi-dry conditions, it will pay full Championship points and riders will have to race for those points.<BR><BR>Either way, Formula USA plans to pay the entire $20,000 cash purse.<BR><BR>Riders on both sides of the question agreed to the compromise.