Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin won the most prestigious road race in America last weekend, in the second closest finish ever in the history of the Daytona 200.
"It's good to win it", the 28-year-old Australian, and defending American Motorcyclist Champion, said. "I've got an AMA championship and now I've got Daytona. Although they're not calling me Mr Daytona yet, it's good to win it because it is America's biggest race. Hopefully we can win a few more before I retire."
Mladin had qualified a very close second for the 200-mile race, which he finished in second last year by a scant 0.014 seconds. During the race, the only one in America which features pit stops and tire changes, Mladin was always at or near the front, due in part to the quick work of the pit crew.
Like last year, the race came down to the final lap with Mladin emerging on top this year in a scintillating finish over 18-year-old Nicky Hayden (Hon). The final margin of victory was 0.011 seconds.
"I looked at that yellow line, and all I could see was Nicky's wheel and that yellow line and I knew we got it", said Mladin. The victory was the first for Suzuki since Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki's former 500cc World Champion, won it in 1988. Schwantz has returned to the team as an advisor this year and cheered on Mladin from the pit lane of Daytona International Speedway.
1. Mat Mladin (Suz) 2. Nicky Hayden (Hon) 3. Doug Chandler (Kaw) 4. Miguel DuHamel (Hon) 5. Aaron Yates (Suz) 6. Steve Rapp (Duc) 7. Tommy Hayden (Yam) 8. Eric Bostrom (Kaw) 9. Pascal Picotte (H-D) 10. Larry Pegram (Duc)
Cycle Tours USA, out of Australia, is running a trip to this year's Sturgis Rally in August which happens to be the event's 60th anniversary. The tour includes visits to both the Harley and Buell factories, take in the casinos and nightlife of Las Vegas, a stopover in Los Angeles and a visit to some of the world's most famous Harley shops in San Francisco. Call (03) 9770 9900 for an info pack.
Ducati has started road testing its replacement for the 916/996 series, called the 999. This time around the machine is styled by Pierre Terblanche, who was responsible for the MH900e. Expect to see the result at this September's Munich Show. Meanwhile the company had a record sales year in 1999, with 33,124 bikes finding new homes.
The Paul Feeney Group - which does Cagiva and MV in Australia - recently launched its internet effort, which can be found at www.cagiva.com.au.
Continuing with the web theme, Ducati has announced that it is increasing the finance and development of its web presence after the run-away success of the limited edition MH900e Hailwood, which sold 2000 bikes exclusively on the internet in a week.
A number of other manufacturers are now talking of web sales, once they work out how to sell direct and still maintain a profitable dealer support network. The practice is widespread in the car industry in the USA. Autobytel, which sells exclusively on the web, is America's second-largest car dealer.
Mike Hailwood's widow is reported to be unimpressed with Ducati's use of the Hailwood name on its recent model, warning that future use of the name will need to be licensed.
Several manufacturers worldwide are talking once again of a voluntary performance limit for motorcycles, following a ruckus in Europe over machines such as Honda's Blackbird, Suzuki's Hayabusa and Kawasaki's ZX-R12 with their attendant 300kmh headlines. Some Euro governments have made noises about legislated limits.
Bikes will be speed limited to 300kmh in 2001, according to UK MCN, with lower limits to follow. A similar voluntary limit - of 130hp or 100kW - was tried with doubtful success over ten years ago.
Ducati's 996 replacement, the 999, is currently undergoing road tests in Europe. No pics are available yet, but we can expect to see a showing of the final thing at this September's Milan show.
Robbie Kneivel, son of accident-prone stunt man Evel, has recently managed to jump a moving train lengthways and land again in one piece. The stunt was performed in Texas.
Annie at Snow View Holiday units in Victoria's Mt Beauty has told us that she has a special deal for motorcyclists that includes good accommodation for $30 per head a night. A Triumph Thunderbird owner, she has plenty of advice to offer on the excellent riding in the area and can be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We forgot to mention the fortunes of another Australian racer in the recent Daytona 200. Troy Bayliss, mounted on a Vance & Hines Ducati, crashed on lap 35 while dicing for the lead.
Kiwi world superbike championship rider Aaron Slight is on the mend after surgery to correct a brain injury. He says he now feels better than he has for two years and feels the problem effected his performance in 1999. Don't expect to see him back on a bike just yet, but he's home and definitely on the mend.
In Slight's absence, the ride on the Castrol Honda VTR has gone to fellow Kiwi and former GP rider Simon Crafar. We can't think of a more deserving person.
This weekend's world MX round at Broadford (Vic) has been boosted with the news that the venue will host the second round - and all three classes - on April 22, 2001.
Kevin Schwantz, the Texan who took out the 1993 world 500GP championship, is rounding out his NASCAR and truck-racing career with a ride in this August's Australian Safari on a Suzuki DR-Z400.
The 500cc GP World Champ is ill. Or is he? According to the latest press releases World Champion Alex Criville is as fit as a fiddle, or is he?
Criville collapsed at the HRC test at Phillip Island at the end of the first of a three day test. Mind you the first day was pretty casual, it rained most of the morning and the track wasn't dry enough to use until about three o'clock. So Alex didn't actually do a lot of testing before collapsing.
What was not widely known is that he collapsed in Spain prior to the Valencia GP. And then he has apparently collapsed in Spain three weeks prior to the latest fall down at Phillip Island.
The press releases that followed the collapse at Phillip Island came from two sources, neither of which were at the track. Dorna Communications, the PR arm of the management company that run everything GP and Maria Vidal Quadras, the Honda-Repsol Team PR lady.
So these releases had Alex having a fainting fit caused by stomach problems or digestive problems or a virus.
Outsider knows a bit about stomach and digestive problems having digested quite a lot over the years, and I haven't fainted once, ever. Got the shits, thrown up and just generally felt like crap, sure, but fainted, not this little black duck.
So Alex shot through back to Spain, after a quick look at the inside of the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne. Once back in Spain Alex went to his own doctor, someone more likely to have a very unbiased view on the overall health of the current World Champ and hero of the moment in Spain.
The releases then said the same thing , kind of. His team release says "The World Champion went through an exhaustive medical examination, confirming that his fainting fit was only due to physical and mental stress and that this will not prevent him from carrying on with his racing career. The medicines prescribed together with some rest will let Criville soon be fully fit to race."
The Dorna release, "...500 World Champion Alex Criville's health is in perfect condition and will be able to be on the starting grid of the first GP of the 2000 season in South Africa" according to the official medical report released on Tuesday in Barcelona (Spain).
Criville's personal doctor, Josep A Gutierrez, explained that after intense medical examination and analysis he had found that the reason for Criville's sudden faint in Australia last week was stress.
"He has no organical or functional problems", Doctor Gutierrez concluded. "All checks have shown Alex Criville is ready for joining immediately to his sporting activities."
Physical and mental stress?! One at a time...
Physical stress: after flying in business or first class from Europe to Australia for a day and then going to sit around at some low rent hotel to get over jet lag for a day or two at Phillip Island before watching the rain come down and then dry out while at the track for six hours doesn't sound to stressful to me. Boring as shit, yes, but stressful ...
Mental stress: sure there are the pressures of being a world champ in a country that hasn't had a 500 Champ before - especially a country such as Spain. But mental stress - wouldn't you see a shrink and learn how to cope better?
Medicines for stress? Usually antidepressants - if you are stressed out, you need calming down, yes? Have a few downers before hopping on a 500? Talk about going from one extreme to the other...
And then he has collapsed before. Twice. Honda, as is its way, had no one to handle any spin control at the track, after all it was a private test. Apparently Alex has to have a letter from his doctor saying that he is okay before they will let him back on a bike, which is fair enough. You can't go hurtling towards turn one at any GP track and collapse in the saddle. It's not a good look.
So why did he collapse, three times? I don't know and if anyone does they aren't saying, and you definetly won't hear about it from the Spanish PR machine.
Let's all just hope that it is nothing and that it doesn't happen again, especially while hurtling towards turn one, anywhere.
Issue 33, 10.3.00
MOBIL HAS come forward with confirmation of problems with premium unleaded petrol from its Altona (Vic) plant, shortly after an extended drama with its avgas. The fuel "may cause a deterioration in the effectiveness of engine lubrication in certain cars", according to a company statement. There have been no reported incidents with motorcycles, so far.
The problems came to light recently when a small number of Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars suffered uncharacteristic engine problems that were eventually traced back to the fuel. Mobil says the culprit is a high level of diolefin -- a compound used to boost octane levels. The fuel affected was distributed for up to two years among Mobil, Caltex, BP and independant outlets in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria up until last February 15.
The cars concerned were all very late models (up to 18 months old) and so far number 43. All had travelled in excess of 10,000km since their last oil change, and most had done 20,000-30,000km. It is suggested by the company that motorcycles are unlikely to be victims, given their generally lower fuel consumption and shorter oil change intervals.
Mobil spokesperson Samantha Potts explained to us that the fuel could contaminate the lubricating oil of an engine, changing it to a thick sludge. "It's easy to detect...you just need to look at the oil," she advised, "It looks broken down, or thickened in some way."
BMW cars and Mercedes are writing to several thousand of their customers, asking them to take their vehicles in for a check and oil change. Mobil is paying the costs for that exercise and the repairs to the 43 damaged cars.
Calls to three major Australian motorcycle distributors to day reveealed that none had reports of any problems.
The company has a news release published on the web, at www.mobil.com.au and asks people with any questions to call its customer line on tel 1800 557 654. We suggest an immediate oil change if you happen to be running PULP.
AUSTRALIA'S MOST successful motorcycle club, assuming voluntary membership numbers is the criteria, is the Ulysses Club for the over-40s. Member number one Stephen Dearnley has published a very readable history of the organisation, which can be had for $14 including postage from The Ulysses Club, PO Box 122 Bargo, 2574. Proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation.
THE WORLD MX GP at Broadford (Vic, Australia) on March 18-19 is looking for officials/marshals. Call (03) 5192 4311. That's also the number to dial for tickets.
Sydneysiders should remember to listen to the Ride Rage radio show, 2.00-4.00pm, Mondays, Radio 2RRR, 88.5mhz.
FROM THE Formula Xtreme promoters: two 214hp (167kW) missiles head the Formula Xtreme Tri-State entry list at Eastern Creek Raceway on April 1-2.
The two Suzuki New Zealand Hayabusas, racing under the Action Motorcycles banner, are in the hands of seasoned New Zealand championship chargers Brian Bernard and John Hepburn. Reigning Formula Xtreme champion, R1-mounted Kevin Curtain, reckons, "Just because they've got heaps of horsepower doesn't mean they're going to walk away with the Formula Xtreme crown. We'll just wait and see what happens." .
DUCATI IN Oz has gained a good response to its down-spec 748 which retails for $19,995 -- $3000 less than the Strada. The machine runs basically the same chassis and powerplant as the more expensive version, but drops the adjustable steering head and gets by with less exotic suspension. The company reckons it now has a modest waiting time on its hands.
Q: What are your aims for 2000?
Q: Who do you expect the frontrunners will be in this year's 250cc world
Q: Are there any changes in the Shell Advance Honda team this year?
Q: Outline what are you doing in the off-season to prepare for the 2000
Q: Why do you rate fitness as such an important aspect if your preparation
Q: Do you have any special diet?
Q: The first grand prix of 2000 is at Welkom in South Africa what
do you think of the track?
Q: What were the main things you learned in your debut grand prix year
Q: Were you satisfied with your performances in 1999?
Q: How did you adapt to the different languages, lifestyle, and cultures
in Europe in 1999?
Q: What are your favourite grand prix tracks?
Q: How do you relax in the off-season?
Q: Are you interested in other forms of motorsport?
Q: When did you start riding motorcycles?
Q: How did your racing career begin?
Q: What prompted you to get into road racing?
Q: Have you set any long-term goals?
Article by Guy Allen
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