PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- 2003 marks the first major rule change in 20 years in the AMA U.S. Superbike Championship. Now 1000cc four-cylinder machines can compete alongside the traditional 1000cc V-Twins and 750cc four-cylinder machines in the Chevy...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- 2003 marks the first major rule change in 20 years in the AMA U.S. Superbike Championship. Now 1000cc four-cylinder machines can compete alongside the traditional 1000cc V-Twins and 750cc four-cylinder machines in the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship. Daytona served as a great example of how the new rules helped privateer riders and teams close the gap on the factory squads.
Privateer Brian Livengood of Nellville, Ga., the pilot of a new Suzuki GSX-R1000 and the 2002 AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year, is looking forward to a new season of racing and a new bike. In 2002, Livengood qualified a Superstock-spec GSX-R750 for the Daytona 200 at 1:57.034. This year on a GSX-R1000, his best qualifying lap was almost three-and-a-half seconds faster at 1:53.698. "We are hoping to be more competitive this season," states Livengood. "Having the power of the 1000 should help us stay up with the factory teams."
Livengood is one of many riders who are privately funded and competing in the AMA U.S. Superbike Championship. Check out a sampling of other privateer Daytona qualifying times from last year as compared to this year: Leading privateer qualifier Michael Barnes went over two seconds faster (1:53.854 to 1:51.695) on his Suzuki; veteran rider Rick Shaw went from 1:58.686 to 1:57.057 on a new GSX-R1000; and perennial top privateer Andy Deatherage was nearly 3 seconds faster, going from 1:56.048 last season to 1:53.272 this year.
"The new Superbike rules allow 1000cc four-cylinder bikes with an increased minimum weight and limited modifications. This gives non-factory supported riders the ability to build machines that are closer in performance to the equipment fielded by the top teams," stated Ron Barrick, AMA Pro Racing Road Race Manager. "Even at the first event of the season the large number of entries conforming to the new Superbike formula was great to see," continued Barrick. "The competition is going to be closer than ever this year."
Privateer Michael Barnes of Boca Raton, Fla., rider of the No. 34 Suzuki GSX-R1000, feels the rule change will help the lone bike men of the AMA Superbikes. "By far it has definitely allowed us to get easy, cheap horsepower by just getting a different model of motorcycle," said Barnes. "We spent a lot of money to trying to get horsepower (from the 750s) near where the 1000s are and now with minor modifications we are well above that."
The numbers dramatically confirm Barnes' statement. In 2002 the spread between the pole winner and the 20th-place qualifier was 9.2 seconds. In other words Nicky Hayden was nearly a full 10 seconds per lap faster than Marco Martinez. This year the spread was only 5.2 seconds between pole setter Ben Bostrom and 20th qualifier Eric Wood.
Another notable change at Daytona was the qualifying times of the positions 20th through 40th, the bracket of top privateers. In 2002 the 20th place rider qualified at 1:56.373, this year 1:53.598. Also, last year the 40th-place qualifier clocked in at 1:57.965 as compared to 1:56.243 this year. With such a dramatic decrease in lap times for the privateers at Daytona, it's clear that the new rules have had the intended effect.
A privateer has not finished on the podium of an AMA Superbike race in seven years. With the new rules chances are better than ever that a non-factory rider could make that exhilarating walk up to the box.
For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto www.USSuperbike.com, the official website of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S Superbike Championship, the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship and the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.