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As I reported last time, AMA Pro Racing (aka Daytona Motorsports  
Group) has now announced its classes for 2009 with an overview of the  
rules, named Dunlop and Sunoco as tire and fuel suppliers, and has  
named the racetracks that have essentially signed on to hold races.  
So most of the pieces are in place. But the silence from the  
manufacturers since says to me that not all of the major players are  
in agreement, despite a comment by DMG’s Roger Edmondson in a Daytona  
Beach, Florida newspaper article that "everyone was on board."

Henny Ray Abrams of Cycle News follows all this very closely and has  
been doing some good undercover work. He finally got one of the OEM  
managers to talk recently and his two-part report in this week's CN  
edition reveals what I was fearing, that things are still not in  
place with the four major companies. And there was a stunning  
reference in his story that Edmondson may be heading to Japan later  
this month presumably to try to sell the Japanese management over  
there on the idea of running in his series instead of sitting out  
2009, and/or starting up their own series through the Motorcycle  
Industry Council. To be going over the heads of the management here  
in the U.S. should make things very "interesting" as we move forward.

I think enough has been written about DMG’s first 60 to 90 days after  
taking over the AMA racing series. Things got rough at times and it  
seemed for a while that there may not be any roadracing at all in 2009.


Then came "Phase II" where Edmondson began to negotiate, and making  
major adjustments to his rules and classes in an attempt to get all  
the major players committed to the AMA series. Back about the time of  
the Indy MotoGP there was talk of encouraging discussions between  
Edmondson and Honda’s Ray Blank and I think the industry took a  
collective sigh of relief that things might be falling into place  
after all.

But if the November 20th meeting or meetings do happen in Japan, it  
seems to me that we'll instead be moving back the other way into a  
new period that will find Edmondson and at least two of the companies  
pretty far apart. I could be wrong, but I can't really imagine the  
parent company in Japan for any of the four makers forcing its  
American distributor to change its mind on where it goes racing. And  
if those meetings happen, things will now be personal, and that can  
take a long time to patch up.

So with everything I know right now, here is how I think things are  
going to go here in the USA with the four Japanese brands:

Yamaha: I believe Yamaha has been "on board" with Edmondson and the  
new AMA/DMG series all along. I'd bet they run two factory bikes in  
both classes (Superbike and American Sportbike) in the full 2009 AMA  
series, starting at Daytona. I expect B. Bostrom, DiSalvo, Herrin and  
one other rider on the team. They have a press day on Friday, Nov.  
14th and all should be revealed about their plans for 2009.

Kawasaki: They have been the “Wild Card” in the deck throughout all  
the negotiations, but I expect to see two factory Kawasakis in  
Superbike (likely R.L. Hayden and Hacking) and the support Attack  
Kawasaki team (Davies and Rapp) on the 600s at Daytona and beyond. At  
the moment, it’s the only series on the table and they would have no  
reason I can think of to not be planning to race in 2009.

Suzuki: Vice President Mel Harris expressed a lot of concerns in  
Cycle News this week, which confirms in my mind what I have thought  
all along, that Suzuki may not be in the 2009 AMA series on a factory  
level. It’s logical that he would get the GSXR1000 Suzuki homologated  
for the AMA Superbike class, which would allow Michael Jordan, EMGO,  
Corona and other privateer teams to run the Superbike class on  
Suzukis. Their 2008 Superstock machines adapted to the 2009 rules  
requirements would likely be very competitive as long they can hold  
up with the new stock piston and rods rule. Your British Superbike  
series tried that and the Suzuki motors were found NOT to be as  
reliable as they need to be. And from what the Americans know about  
the GSXR motor trouble in the England, maybe that's their major  
objection here? As for riders, Ben Spies is gone to World Superbike,  
so the question is what happens to Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden?

Honda: I have felt from the start that we'd just see just the Erion  
team at Daytona for Honda and I still think that. Jake Zemke and Josh  
Hayes on 600s for sure, and maybe Superbikes too, but the latter is  
less likely. And I wonder what is happening at Daytona about Honda’s  
naming rights to the 200? Would Honda sit out the Daytona 200 by  
Honda? Or maybe that’s one of the big negotiating issues yet to be  
settled? Rider wise, I think you guys get Neil Hodgson back and  
Miguel Duhamel either retires, or gets a ride from Erion or maybe one  
of the other teams. He still wants to race and is very popular, so  
I’d bet we see him somewhere in 2009.

So what happens if Suzuki and Honda sit out in 2009 here in the U.S.?  
That keeps the door open for the MIC to unleash its USSB series in  
2010. They first said it would come in 2009, but I would hope they  
could see that is now not realistic. But if Yamaha and Kawasaki go  
racing with AMA, I wonder what a new USSB series would really bring  
to the table? Honda and Suzuki Superbikes with two riders each? Who  
else? A four rider field doesn't sound very exciting. And would many  
racetracks want the financial risk of such a race? We'll have to wait  
to hear what they have to say about this, but I’m hoping they don't  
go that route.

One thing a lot of people in the sport and industry over here lament is the big Power Play by some of the four Japanese companies to get racing suited to their own specific strengths, particularly how it has left everyone else on the sidelines waiting to hear where things are going to shake out. With Ducati, BMW, KTM, Aprilia, Buell, MV Agusta and Triumph, to name a few, having machines that fit into some of these classes, it's sad that the current AMA/DMG/MIC "negotiations" doesn't have them sitting at the table too.


As things move forward, I am hoping that the sport and industry can  
now agree that racing needs to go forward through the AMA series. I  
think a lot of people, including me, would have liked a higher  
performing Superbike, but it didn't go that way and it's time to move  
on. We may only have two of the four Japanese brands with factory  
teams for 2009, but rather than starting a competing series in 2010,  
I would much rather see Honda and Suzuki work with the guys in  
Florida to find an AMA rules package for the future that they can all  
agree to race in. Talk of all the major racing series around the  
world adopting the same World Superbike, or perhaps a more economical  
universal rules package, is the way to go. It would get all companies  
back on the track, would involve the smaller manufacturers, and would  
open the door for a new era of racing where teams in any country  
could crate up their machines and go to another country for a major  

The MIC has a Board of Directors meeting later this month, and  
Edmondson's meeting in Japan is reportedly set for Nov. 20th, so I  
think things will remain pretty quiet for a couple of weeks, but  
after November 20th we should have a few more clues about the future  
of roadracing in America. Stay tuned!


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