The procedure for disqualification could change. In Grand-Am they wouldn't have penalized the driver; they would have penalized the team owners, "because that's the way we're set up. So I'm not criticizing the AMA for their deal, because I don't know, but I do know that this is certainly one of the [policies] we're going to look at."
The AMA later issued a press release disqualifying Hayes. The release said the crankshaft was "polished, surface-treated and metal was removed from it. This is in violation of the 2008 AMA rulebook section 5.4." For comparison they used the crank in Neil Hodgson's CBR600RR. That crank looked like a stock piece, but it wasn't. Both cranks had been modified in similar ways, a source familiar with both says, the difference being that American Honda had employed a final process that makes the crank wheels appear stock.
Erion Honda crew chief Rick Hobbs said the team would appeal. The basis of the appeal is that it wasn't a Type A performance-enhancing violation. (Performance-enhancing Type A mod-ifications allow for disqualification; the less egregious Type B violations do not.) The appeal will be heard by a three-person board within 45 days of the infraction. The burden on Erion will be to prove that it wasn't performance-enhancing. That may not be difficult, as the crank treatment was done in the interest of reliability, not performance. The Honda FX machines are running so close to the edge that an engine only lasts about 350 miles. A winter's worth of development netted only about 2.5 horsepower. The limitation is mostly in the valve train. With the engine spinning in the 18,000 rpm range, and for extended runs at Daytona, the possibility of failure increases.
Roger Edmondson actually worked...
Roger Edmondson actually worked as a contractor for the AMA racing staff back in the '80s and is credited with creating the production-based Supersport class in roadracing. He came out on top of a nasty lawsuit with the AMA to the tune of $3 million.
That possibility will become more likely if the DMG moves to a 600cc platform for the premiere class in 2009. Asked at the news conference if he planned on having Superbike remain the premier class, Edmondson replied, "Superbike will remain the premier class in AMA racing." And it was his intent to restore it as the class for the Daytona 200. What he didn't do is define Superbike.
In an interview later that evening, he was more forthcoming. "It could be 600s," he said, before describing the process by which he plans to canvass the stakeholders. "Manufacturers still have bikes to sell, and the way they support the racing, not only with their teams, but with their sponsorship of events and stuff, that has to be recognized and rewarded, and you don't reward them by going in and cutting them off." He added, "I do think the current Superbike series is pretty dysfunctional, and probably the only one who would prefer to see the status quo is Suzuki. So I want to talk to all of them and see what they want. There is a variety of ways that could go, but Superbikes will be the premiere class. It could be the 1000s, it could be a new program or they could be companion pieces. Time will tell."
Edmondson knows enough about the U.S. racetracks to know that safety is an issue, "and that is one of the reasons why I question the viability in the long term of the 1000cc bikes. They are pretty fast, and while the racetracks are getting safer, the human body can still only handle a certain amount of impact." While it's true that most crashes happen in corners and 600s have greater corner speed than 1000s, the worry is a straight-line or high-speed disaster.
Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates...
Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates (20) emerged victorious in the Superstock event from a race-long battle with M4 Emgo Suzuki's Blake Young (79) and teammate Geoff May.
Whichever engine formula comes into being it will be designed to even the playing field. Edmondson wants every part on every machine to be available to every competitor. He wants the Jordan Suzuki team to have access to the same parts as the Yoshimura Suzuki team. He believes that if the competitive balance can be restored, the sport will attract the sort of deep-pocketed sportsmen who populate the Grand-Am series, which Edmondson claims is a good mix of factory teams and wealthy individuals. The difference with motorcycles, of course, is that a lot more skill is needed to ride them. But if nonfactory teams think they can attract the top riders and crews and build competitive machinery, they might want in. The jury's out on that one.