AMA

Riders shake down Sears Point for informal test

Chandler, other AMA riders shake down Sears Point, give thumbs up. SONOMA, Calif. - Three-time AMA Superbike champion Doug Chandler tested the twists and turns at Sears Point Raceway on Friday and was quite pleased with the changes to the...

Chandler, other AMA riders shake down Sears Point, give thumbs up.

SONOMA, Calif. - Three-time AMA Superbike champion Doug Chandler tested the twists and turns at Sears Point Raceway on Friday and was quite pleased with the changes to the 12-turn, 2.32-mile circuit.

Chandler, who rides for HMC Ducati on the AMA U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Championship Series, had a one-day informal test as part of a DP Safety School at Sears Point Raceway. Chandler will return to the Sonoma Valley May 3-5 for the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge.

"This is a much improved track over past years," said Chandler, who is coming off two top-five efforts at California Speedway. "It's a lot safer than it used to be and that's good for us. The biggest improvements are the runoff on the back side (Turns 7-9) and the repaving of the track at Turn 5 and the exit of the Carousel (Turn 6). Turns 9-10 are also loads better because of the repaving there."

Sears Point Raceway is in the final stages of a $50 million Modernization Plan that will transform the facility into one of the premier motorsports and entertainment venues in the country. In addition to fan amenities, increased runoff has been added at almost every turn on the road course to increase rider safety. Portions of the track have also been repaved, and the road course has been permanently separated from the drag strip. The entire track will be repaved immediately following the 2002 main-event season.

"It's good to see all of this happening. Once we get all of these stands filled during the bike weekend, it's going to be great," said Chandler, who sits ninth in AMA Superbike points.

Jake Zemke, who competes in Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport and Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme, and Jimmy Filice, the defending MBNA 250 Grand Prix champion, joined Chandler Friday at Sears Point.

"Fans are going to be pleased with what they see when they come out here," said Filice. "You are going to be able to see so much of the track from just about anywhere and that's amazing. I don't know that you can say that about too many places."

Said Zemke: "Overall, this place is a lot safer now and that's the main thing. The runoff is going to help us quite a bit."

A major project that raceway officials were unable to complete for this year's AMA event was the creation of increased runoff at Turn 1. The runoff cannot be created until officials abandon the existing wastewater treatment plant located inside Turn 1 and convert to a newly constructed facility located further from the track.

The new plant is complete, but it will not be connected and operational by the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge because of time constraints and county approvals. Once the new system is activated, track officials will be grading for additional runoff and installing new longer bridges at both Turns 1 and 6. That was the only real criticism Chandler, Zemke and Filice voiced on Friday.

"That's really the only thing I see. We will be carrying a lot of speed into Turn 1 the way I see it," Chandler said. "Turn 1 is the only suspect area but everything else is a lot better. And we know they (track officials) will take care of that. (The project) is just not finished yet.

The AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge at Sears Point Raceway will feature a doubleheader weekend, with Superbike main events scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. Competition will also be featured in four other AMA divisions.

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Series AMA
Drivers Doug Chandler , Jake Zemke