PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 31, 2004) -- Jason Pridmore's pair of second-place finishes at the Mid-Ohio doubleheader of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship last weekend on his Attack Suzuki marked the best finish in the series for a ...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 31, 2004) -- Jason Pridmore's pair of second-place finishes at the Mid-Ohio doubleheader of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship last weekend on his Attack Suzuki marked the best finish in the series for a non-factory team since Dale Quarterly's second on a Ducati in 1995 at Laguna Seca.
Pridmore's success highlights what has been a very good year for privateer teams in the championship -- four non-factory riders are in the top 10 in the series standings. New AMA Superbike rules allowing 1000cc, four-cylinder machines have proven to make it possible for the first time in many years for non-factory riders to be competitive at the top level of motorcycle road racing in the United States.
Pridmore, son of three-time AMA Superbike Champion Reg Pridmore, earned his best-ever AMA Superbike finish last weekend, even better than when he was a factory Suzuki and Ducati Superbike rider. Pridmore is a 13-year AMA racing veteran.
"I think this is what we need," said Pridmore of the new AMA Superbike rules. "I think next year if we can get Kawasaki and Yamaha and some of the other manufacturers involved in the new formula then things will really get moving in the right direction for many of the privateer and support teams in Superbike."
Shawn Higbee is another leading AMA Superbike rider who feels he is benefiting from the new rules. Higbee raced as a factory Ducati rider in 1996 and is matching or bettering this season the performances he had on a factory bike.
"The new Superbike formula has definitely brought the field closer together," said Higbee, who rides for Kaufman Trailers/Millennium Technologies Suzuki. "The gap has closed between the privateer and factory teams. The biggest difference is the cost. Before, even if you could buy the parts, it was very expensive to field a competitive Superbike. That left the smaller teams to race 750 Superstock machines and they had nowhere near the horsepower to be competitive. With the new rules a team can buy a bike and do fairly light modification and have trap speeds within a few miles per hour of the factory bikes."
In addition to the competitiveness of the non-factory teams, the new rules have lead to very close racing in 2003. This season Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki have each earned victories in the Superbike class and Ducati has made the podium. Up to the Mid-Ohio round, the championship race was one of the closest in years with just six points separating the top two riders and the top six riders all within reach of the championship. Several of the races have been decided on the final lap with close battles at Daytona, Road America and Mid-Ohio.
While Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin has won the majority of races and leads the championship as it nears the final round, he's fought hard for his wins. This was evident in the dramatic conclusion to Saturday's Superbike race at Mid-Ohio that saw he and Honda's Kurtis Roberts swap the lead several times on the last lap before Robert's crashed near the finish line opening up the door for Mladin to take the victory.
AMA Pro Racing Vice President, Director of Communications, Kerry Graeber says the rules package established by AMA Pro Racing has caught the attention of other sanctioning bodies around the world. "We're glad to see that other organizations are looking at the new AMA Superbike rules as the basis for their rules," said Graeber. "There's movement to unify national and World Superbike rules to encourage participation from the factories as well as making it cost effective for smaller non-factory teams to be competitive."
The AMA U.S. Superbike Championship, in its 28th season, was the first national championship featuring street-based motorcycles and spawned the Superbike World Championships as well as numerous national Superbike championships.
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. -ama-