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Following up on my report earlier this week, on Friday AMA Pro Racing  
(aka Daytona Motorsports Group) released it class and rules packages,  
as well as naming Dunlop and Sunoco as "spec" tyre and fuel  
suppliers. If you only read the official press release, it would seem  
that the long running drama here in the States is finally over, and  
we're good to go for 2009. I hope that's the case, but fear it's not  
quite that simple. As we look forward to the week of October 27th,  
here's a few additional thoughts and things to watch for:

AMA/DMG has been now negotiating individually with the four Japanese  
manufacturers and collectively through its communications with the  
Motorcycle Industry Council for six months now. It was great news  
earlier this week to read in the Daytona Beach Morning Journal that  
Roger Edmondson was saying "everyone is on board." But as I reported  
in my last piece, the talk of the town here in Los Angeles was that  
everyone was in fact, NOT on board. And what now tells me that the  
latter may be true is that there was no comment sent out from any or  
all of those four OEMs on the day of Edmondson's release. Through the  
years I've been involved in various negotiating efforts and when it  
was all said and done, a final release with comments from all the  
parties is pretty customary to set the public's minds to rest that  
things are truly worked out. All we got on Friday was the AMA's side  
of the story.

In the end, I'm guessing Edmondson knew it was time to announce their  
package, despite not having all four on the same page. Make no  
mistake, it was never all four of these companies against Edmondson.  
Those four are competitors and surely negotiated for the rules option  
that favors them the most. Roger probably felt he would eventually  
strike an accord that suited them all, but alas, I'll bet it was not  
to be and he knew he had to go forward with what, and who, he had.


Way back in March and April, the cry over here went out to just  
extend the 2008 AMA Superbike rules for one more year to let everyone  
have time to work on a good long term plan. If Roger had agreed to  
that, this whole mess would never have happened. But now in late-
October, it's not that simple anymore. Time is tight to get teams and  
bikes ready for Bike Week in March. Looking over the Superbike rules  
package released yesterday, it is reportedly the same as what a group  
of representatives had come up with a year ago when they worked as an  
AMA Pro Racing sub committee. It also resembles the previous AMA  
Superstock class we've had over here for a few years. On one hand,  
this set of rules is probably the most cost effective option the  
teams could have expected. But how each company looks at 2009 may or  
may not have a lot to do with costs alone.

Suzuki, on one hand, should be happy with the new format, since that  
company had the most success in the 2008 Superstock series. At the  
season finale, 18 of the 19 finishers were on Suzukis run through  
Michael Jordan, EMGO and other satellite teams. But as far as a  
factory team, outgoing Suzuki executive Mel Harris had previously  
rejected the lesser performing package as "club racing" and didn't  
leave a lot of hope that his company would field a factory effort, or  
even participate in the homologation process that would allow the  
privateers to run. Hopefully they'll do both, or at least the latter.  
Ben Spies is now gone to World Superbike, but Mat  
Mladin and Tommy Hayden are two top pilots for hire yet and I would  
think Suzuki would want to see them in their blue colors on the track  
next year. 600s will probably continue only through satellite teams.

Yamaha didn't run a team in the 2008 Superstock series, but they did  
in previous years, and that company has been committed to the DMG/AMA  
format all along, so we should assume they have been preparing the  
longest for the 2009 season and I expect we will see a factory effort  
there. Eric Bostrom announced this week that he was going to take  
some time off from racing in 2009, so that leaves brother Ben, Jason  
DiSalvo and Josh Herrin to ride team bikes, and/or new additions that  
Yamaha might bring in. I expect that we'll see Ben and one other on  
the R6 in the Daytona Sportbike class, and two others on Superbikes.

Kawasaki has now won the Daytona 200 two years in a row through the  
Attack Kawasaki team, so I expect they will be at Daytona and beyond  
with Davies and Rapp on the 600s and Roger Lee Hayden and Jamie  
Hacking on the Superbikes. The new AMA format should work well for  

So that leaves Honda. Like Kawasaki, Honda has a strong 600 program  
through Erion Racing with Jake Zemke winning the Formula Xtreme title  
in 2008 and his teammate Josh Hayes coming within one legal  
crankshaft of a Daytona 200 victory in 2008. Josh has been exploring  
other ventures in Europe, but a return to Daytona and the AMA series  
might be his best options at the moment. Then the biggest question  
mark is what will Honda do in the Superbike class? A really  
interesting development is the recent departure from American Honda  
of both of its Superbike crew chiefs. Miguel Duhamel's crew chief Al  
Lundington took a job at the AMA in the technical department, and  
just this week Neil Hodgson's crew chief David McGrath announced he  
was also leaving Honda. Honda, I believe, would have supported the  
2008 AMA rules, but the new '09 "Superstock" package is not one they  
have been working with directly. So I will not be surprised at all if  
Honda is the company that we see reacting most negatively to the new  
format. I could actually see Honda sitting out the 2009 Superbike  
class, and just focusing on the Daytona Sportbike class. They had  
600s at Daytona for Duhamel and Hodgson, so they could join Erion on  
the track like they did this year, or just let Duhamel and Hodgson go  
and have Erion do the job. The scariest scenario, in my opinion, is  
if Honda pushes the MIC to revive its USSB plans to run a series with  
the previous Superbike rules. I think Suzuki might support the idea,  
maybe Kawasaki would too, not sure about Yamaha. If Kawasaki and  
Yamaha did, then I think it might be that they would do both. Such a  
USSB series, in my mind would be a made-for-TV series with only the  
top level Superbikes on the track. But a full weekend racing event  
for the fans and industry can only now, in my opinion, come from the  
AMA. They have the tracks lined up, the staff, and now the rules in  

Last thoughts.

I was happy to see that the manufacturers prevailed in their protest  
of DMG's original plan to limit horsepower with dynamometer testing.  
That idea went one step too far in trying to make close racing, as it  
would take away the manufacturer's ability to gain any benefit from  
its involvement in the sport. They all know they are not guaranteed  
any success in racing, they have to earn it on the track. But when  
they do, that's their chance to blow their horn and those race win  
ads are the best tools they have to send to Japan to show the factory  
how they are spending their money. So only Moto-GT (formerly Moto-ST)  
will be horsepower controlled and that's a good thing.

I don't agree with the decision to allow four-cylinder 600s in the  
Moto-ST series, now called Moto-GT. As I mentioned previously, the  
Japanese companies got their 600s as the bike of choice for the new  
Supersport class where something like a spec-450 class would have  
made for a more fan-friendly race weekend. But even the Moto-ST now  
goes the way of a twins only class and we have yet one more class of  
Japanese sportbikes on the track. As stated above, Moto-GT will  
remain as a dyno controlled series, but I'd say what's the point of  
messing with the twins-only format?

I read in that Edmondson article from Daytona the other day that he  
said they were going to embark on an effort to get support from the  
FIM to settle on a rules format on the world level that would create  
the same rules packages for all the major Superbike series. It would  
be a notch below what the World Superbike Series runs, but having the  
consistency would allow teams to bring their race bikes and teams to  
Daytona and other events around the world. I support that idea, and I  
think the American OEMs would as well. But as Edmondson found,  
getting people onto the same page can be harder than it first seems.  
That idea might take a few years to come together.


Lastly, the door is still open to solve one of the final pieces of  
the puzzle here in the United States: to have Superbikes running in  
the Daytona 200 instead of the 600s...which is what Roger Edmondson  
told the press was going to happen when he answered his very first  
question at the Daytona press conference last March. With Dunlop as  
the sole tyre in the series and the lesser performing performance  
package, if they get through 2009 Daytona Bike Week without tyres  
being an issue, I think a good argument could be made for the  
Superbikes and that would be a huge step towards the Daytona 200  
regaining its prestige around the world.

The next few days, weeks and months should be very interesting, if  
not historic.

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