American Honda Motor Co. and American Suzuki Motor Corp. have joined the latest Japanese motorcycle importer revolt against AMA Pro Racing’s 2009 season plans, this one launched by Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. The violent reaction followed Thursday’s release of final 2009 AMA Pro Racing rules, which officials from Kawasaki et. al. claim are not what they agreed to during the previous round of threats and rules bargaining with Roger Edmondson, President of the series now owned by Daytona Motorsports Group, or DMG. Release of the final 2009 rules was followed by a war council under the guise of a Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) meeting, attended by representatives of the three companies. Specific objections involve rules requiring that non-standard parts and equipment be homologated and made readily available, including handlebars, rearsets, exhaust systems, camshafts and radiators. The importers also object to rules requiring use of 17-inch wheels that are no lighter than stock wheels; the move to ban lighter and smaller-diameter (i.e., 16.5-inch racing wheels) followed tire company objections to supplying both 16.5-inch and 17-inch tires for the American Superbike class, according to DMG officials. The German and Canadian Superbike Series require use of 17-inch wheels. Meanwhile, Yamaha has embraced the DMG/AMA Pro Racing Series, announcing last week that Ben Bostrom and Josh Hayes will race new YZF-R1 Yamahas in the American Superbike class while Josh Herrin and Tommy Aquino will compete on YZF-R6 Yamahas in the Daytona Sportbike class. All four will ride Graves Motorsports-prepared YZF-R6 Yamahas in the 2009 Daytona 200. Reached by phone Friday evening and asked if Yamaha had reconsidered its plans in the face of the latest developments concerning Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki, Yamaha Motor Company U.S.A.’s Bob Starr said, “No, we have had very clear direction and nothing has changed. We have a new model and racing helps sell motorcycles. We’re going racing.” Complicating matters for Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki are existing contractual obligations with various riders and teams. Despite signed contracts committing each of the companies to 2009 racing programs, insiders say that preparations for an upcoming tire test scheduled for December 5-7 at Daytona have come to a halt. Company officials plan to boycott the test in a show of force they hope will lead to additional concessions. A new round of press announcements is expected from the MIC, which claimed September 10th to be launching a new manufacturer-backed racing series. In an earlier meeting held at Infineon Raceway with representatives of several racetracks that host AMA events, MIC President Tim Buche said that an alternative MIC series could be organized with the help of a company that had not been involved in motorsports before, but had experience running an international cricket tournament. It was at that point, meeting attendees said, that the racetrack operators began to decide to cast their lot with DMG and the AMA Series.
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