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Sep 13, 2002

WSMC Toyota 200 Draws Big Guns For Friday Practice And Qualifying

<BR><BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Ending the question of who is going to race, some of American road racing's stars arrived at Willow Springs International Raceway Friday to practice and qualify for Sunday's $150,000 WSMC Toyota 200.<BR><BR>WSMC Toyota 200 entrants have two, 20-minute practice sessions Friday prior to the final, 30-minute qualifying session tentatively scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time. <BR><BR>Friday's fastest qualifier will earn the fourth and final front-row starting spot. <BR><BR>Three front-row starting spots and 25 total grid spots have been earned through the three previous qualifying sessions.<BR><BR>Only the fastest 40 riders will qualify for the race. <BR><BR>According to factory Yamaha Team Manager/Crew Chief Tom Halverson, front-row qualifier Aaron Gobert will not race in Sunday's 80-lap, $150,000-purse race because he is currently in Australia. Halverson and Tony Romo (Anthony Gobert's factory Superbike mechanic) are working with reigning WSMC Champion Chuck Graves this weekend.<BR><BR>In the big race, Graves will be riding his WSMC Formula One bike, which is a Yamaha YZF-R7 chassis fitted with a modified YZF-R1 engine. For this weekend, Graves has borrowed quick-change hardware from Gobert's Yamaha Superbike as well as the manual bike-lift stands used by Gobert at this year's Daytona 200.<BR><BR>"We're just babysitting the parts," joked Romo as he worked on Graves' bike Friday. Romo often works for Graves on non-conflicting WSMC race weekends.<BR><BR>Another favorite for the Sunday's race will be 2002 AMA Formula Xtreme Champion Jason Pridmore. Pridmore's Attack Suzuki team raced in the last two, 24-hour races at Willow Springs and has detailed information on fuel mileage and tire wear. In addition, Pridmore has been racing in World Endurance events over the last two seasons on Dunlop-equipped Suzuki GSX-R1000s, including a recent successful run at the Suzuka 8-hour in heat similar to that of the Mojave Desert.<BR><BR>Pridmore will ride Ben Spies' AMA Formula Xtreme bike fitted with full quick-change gear and a FIM-spec, 24-liter endurance fuel tank. <BR><BR>Spies will not ride at Willow Springs.<BR><BR>Corona Extra Suzuki has brought its full AMA paddock presentation to Willow Springs for two-time AMA Superstock Champion Jimmy Moore and former rider Vincent Haskovec. According to Crew Chief Carry Andrew, Haskovec will ride a bike "specifically-prepared for this event." Andrew and Haskovec have won many races together at Willow Springs, on big bikes and small bikes.<BR><BR>Andrew said Moore was a late addition to the team's plans and would probably ride Steve Rapp's Suzuki GSX-R1000 Formula Xtreme bike.<BR><BR>Corona Extra Suzuki mechanic Jeremy Daniel will split his time between working with Moore and working with young gun Hawk Mazzotta. Mazzotta recently contracted Daniel to build an AMA Superstock-spec Suzuki GSX-R750 in preperation for the 2003 AMA season. Mazzotta's priority at Willow is to get up to speed on the new bike, said Daniel, but the 21-year-old Califorian may enter the Toyota 200 if things go well.<BR><BR>Synergy Racing Technologies Honda stopped young Canadian rider Andrew Nelson on his way home from the Portland Formula USA race to have him come to Willow Springs at the last minute. Team co-owner Glenn Dekoven said the team mainly wanted to give Nelson some seat time on the Honda CBR954RR in preperation for 2003 and that Nelson may run the Toyota 200 on his CBR600F4i.<BR><BR>Also planning on running the long race on a 600cc Supersport bike is's Matt Wait. With a seven-gallon endurance fuel tank on his Yamaha YZF-R6, Wait's strategy calls for only one, 30-second pit stop to change one rear tire and refuel.<BR><BR>Tommy Hayden plans on running his 2002-model factory Kawasaki ZX-6R Supersport bike in the 200-miler and in several WSMC sprint races. According to Hayden's crew chief Joey Lombardo, the bikes have no quick-change hardware. "We'll just go until we need fuel or tires and put more on," said Lombardo. "We're here just to have fun and get Tommy some more seat time." Hayden will use Dunlop slicks for the 200.<BR><BR>Tech Star Industries' Michael Hannas will also race his AMA Supersport Kawasaki in the WSMC Toyota 200. Hannas finished eighth in the AMA Supersport finale at VIR and grew up racing at Willow Springs.<BR><BR>Team Embry/'s Geoff May is still deciding whether he will ride his Formula USA Suzuki GSX-R1000 or his AMA Superbike GSX-R750 in the main event. In his first visit to Willow Springs, May feels that he has the tires, Pirelli, and the conditioning to be a contender for the win.<BR><BR>Local ace Jeremy Toye will be a threat on his Lee's Cycles Suzuki GSX-R1000. Toye has added an earlier model kit swingarm and quick-change gear to his normal WSMC Formula One racer but admits his front set-up is only good enough for 25-second front wheel changes. Toye has thousands of miles of experience at Willow Springs including time in both of the recent 24-hour races.<BR><BR>Another WSMC racer with a strong race package is Team Orthopedics' Jack Pfeifer. Like Toye, Pfeifer has also added a 1999 Suzuki GSX-R750 Superbike swingarm and made custom adjustments to his Superstock Suzuki GSX-R1000's front end for quicker wheel changes. Pfeifer added a dual-dry-brake refueling system to his stock Suzuki fuel tank.<BR> <BR>Top WSMC racer Richard Headley is coming out of retirement to ride his 2002 Ducati 998RS World Superbike in the race, which pays $50,000 to win.<BR><BR>Curtis Adams, another former WSMC star lured out by the potential payday, will race on the same bike that he has ridden for years around Willow Springs, a 1993 Suzuki GSX-R1100. For this weekend, Adams has added a single-dry-brake to the fuel tank, quick-release pins (from the old Fastline Suzuki endurance bikes) to his front calipers and a quick-change rear wheel system. Adams will roll on 17-inch front wheels and 16.5-inch rears to accommodate Dunlop's latest rubber.<BR><BR>Las Vegas Xtremes' Pauly Sherer escaped injury when he highsided in Friday morning's Toyota 200 practice, but Sherer's GSX-R750 suffered a broken frame. Sherer is attempting to get his frame fixed before qualifying Friday afternoon.<BR><BR>The WSMC Toyota 200 race is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time Sunday, September 15.<BR><BR>For additional information on the WSMC Toyota 200, call (661) 256-6666 or go to or<BR>;