According to American Suzuki Vice-President Mel Harris, there is a strong possibility that Suzuki won't be racing the 2009 AMA/DMG Superbike series.
Harris said that two factors are in play in this situation, the rules released by DMG last week and also the weakening US economy. "There is a very real chance that our trucks will be parked," Harris said yesterday, "and we won't be racing the series. We'd pay Mat (Mladin) and any other obligations that we have to people such as Yoshimura but Suzuki would not be racing. It's a very viable possibility."
Harris expected something more akin to the rules package he and the other OEMs started working on over a year ago when the DMG released the class rules last Thursday. The issues
Suzuki has with the rules are centering on the homologation requirements and some of the equipment requirements.
"We're not going to race under these rules," Harris said. "I've notified the tracks that I do business with that this may be the case. It's a very bad situation.
"Not only me, but I think all of the factories have a little bit of a problem with the specs coming out. There is proprietary information (in these bikes) and once you homolgate a bike, that's it. It can't be changed. Plus, you know as well as I do that Superbikes are constantly changing, evolving, they move header pipes around, run different exhaust, try things with the swing arm. You can't do that if you go by the rules."
"You know how this is in racing. The teams improve the bike throughout the year. We learn things and the things that we learn are then incorporated into the next model. That's why we race. We've said this from day one to Roger (Edmondson) that we're not in the entertainment business like NASCAR is. We race to improve the technology and to make our production bikes better. If we can't do that, then the factory says we can't race."
The proprietary issues faced in homologating certain parts will incense some of the factories. "Can you imagine HRC putting out their specs for everybody to see?" Harris asked. "It doesn't happen. It's the same way with the other manufacturers."
The use of stock components inside the engine cases also is an issue with Harris. "We've pointed out to him that the British Superbike series used stock pistons, rings and rods this year. It didn't work. Every manufacturer was blowing up engines and then what did they do? They sided with the WSBK series on those rules modifications."
DMG Superbike rules require OEM forks, but one can add internal parts to improve them. Bolting on a set of high performance brakes to a stock fork is an issue for Suzuki, Harris says.
"There's some liability concerns, frankly," Harris said. "Exotic brakes on a motorcycle with stock forks? We don't sell those bikes that way and if you start racing them that way and you have a problem you're going to hurt riders. And if you don't have a problem then you have a product liability situation because you're going to have a lawyer who is going to point out, Jeez, you don't do this on your streetbikes but you do to race them?".
Harris admits that the current economic climate has forced them to take a second look at budgets for all of their teams. Team Jordan is seeing their support from Suzuki decreased. "We've offered Team Jordan some assistance is the way I'll put it," Harris said. "John Ulrich will be offered some assistance. Some of the other support teams will basically be buying equipment at a very reasonable price. Everybody thinks that free bikes are free but you know and I know that I have to pay for them."
It's heavily rumored that Suzuki won't have a hand in homologating any of their bikes to be raced in DMG/AMA, leaving it up to the teams themselves and won't pay any contingency support in the series. Neither will they be supporting B-level riders with a salary, as they have done in the past.
"September and October were bad (for motorcycle sales)," Harris said. "People were hoping that after the election that things would settle down and start going back a little bit, but we're not seeing that anywhere in the industry, in motorcycle or ATV. November is not looking very bright. It's not a time where you're going to be out there (spending) a lot of money.
After seeing the success of Supercross first-hand, Harris was one of the early proponents of the AMA licensing their Pro Racing arm to a more professional organization
. His enthusiasm for the subject began to wane the day that the AMA announced that they had actually sold the property, not leased it out.
"This was a gem of a series," Harris said. "We thought it could really become something, maybe more than a national series, maybe a rival to World Superbike, that's why we, the manufacturers, made such an investment in it. We thought it was the best thing that nobody seemed to know about and I think that you can see the series really took off with our investment."
hmm if this is true i wonder how this will impact the other major suzuki teams.... its been said that rizla motogps lack of development is due to low funding well im sure not paying spies salary or racing in the u.s. should free up some money