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In my last report, it was “all quiet on the western front,” as in indications from the California offices of the four Japanese manufacturers as to their intentions for the AMA roadrace series in 2009.

One expected announcement since, came from Yamaha, who unveiled race teams recently at its annual press day. Their roadracing plans went pretty much as I had indicated here previously with one big exception: the addition of “almost-2008 Daytona 200 winner” Josh Hayes to the team, replacing Jason DiSalvo. Hayes had long sought a factory Superbike ride with Honda which never materialized and he jumped at the offer from Yamaha. Yamaha also added new kid Tommy Aquino to join Hayes and returning team members Ben Bostrom and Josh Herrin.

So Yamaha is all set to go racing with the AMA starting at Daytona. And they have been all along. But what of the other three Japanese companies, and the variety of American and Euro models that potentially have a class to run in? Still no other announcements that I have seen. So what is happening?


As reported in Part Five, Cycle News had it a few weeks ago that Roger Edmondson was heading to Japan to meet with the head honchos over there to get their commitment to his series. I read somewhere that no one at the three unconfirmed manufacturers would meet with him. This doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m suspecting that each meeting request by Edmondson was followed by a call by the Japan office to the marketing heads in California asking “Who is this guy and what does he want?” Not sure if Edmondson really thought he would get in the door using that strategy, but I guess he figured it was worth a shot.

The AMA did make two announcements recently that I’m sure they thought would get everything kicked into gear. One announcement was to begin the process of getting the aftermarket companies signed up to have their products used in AMA competition. The other announcement was the final details of the machine rules.

As it turned out, the AMA’s announcements came out the same week that the Motorcycle Industry Council was hosting an annual conference relating to the motorcycle business, with most of the OEMs and major Aftermarket companies in attendance. I had a chance to talk with many representatives at some of the breaks to get their reactions and I came away with the feeling that this whole mess over here is far from over.

The new “#1 problem” as I see it is the AMA’s requirement that all of the Aftermarket products to be used to make a stock sportbike into a racing machine need to be on the AMA’s Approved Products List. And that happens only if the manufacturer submits an application to the AMA, pays $500 per class to handle the paperwork and agrees to offer a contingency fee. I don’t think this is an unreasonable process for a company that already uses racing in this way, but like one chain representative I spoke with this week, their concern is that if they don’t make the necessary application, a rider or team couldn’t even buy that chain to use. They can only use a chain from a company that has signed up. Which means that in addition to the “spec” tire and fuel suppliers already announced, by default this could lead to a spec chain and other products on the AMA’s list. Or…what happens if not one chain manufacturer signs up? No chains, no racing? Run the stock chain that comes on the bike? Same goes for exhaust systems, electronics and more.

In most cases, the Japanese factory teams have aftermarket suppliers that they have worked with for a long time. So it can’t be helping them make a commitment to the AMA series to hear that they might be forced to bolt on some exhaust system, chain, etc. that is not what they have been using. And likely in most cases, there are some contracts in place already for 2009 and beyond with their existing suppliers.

Up until now, we’ve all be watching and waiting for the 2009 roadracing series to come together. But despite the obvious need to “get to work,” a date is fast approaching that may well indicate who is going racing in 2009 and who isn’t. The first weekend in December there is a tire test scheduled for Daytona. It’s an annual test, but the significance of this year’s test is that Dunlop is now the sole tire supplier and more importantly, AMA Pro Racing and Daytona International Speedway have announced that the 2009 Daytona 200 will be run at night for the first time, and also returning to the use of both high banks. So Dunlop and the teams need the test data to know what is needed for the races there in March.

Right now, all we know for sure is that the big blue Yamaha race hauler will be at Daytona with machines for four riders. Everything else is still pretty much up in the air over here. So as I have been saying in my previous reports, stay tuned. This isn’t over yet.

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