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GP Week : Issue 54
>>Moto GPnews MotoGP shows up us race organisation shambles MOTOGP’s Race Direction has had some trouble communicating with Laguna Seca’s corner workers in the past, but the smooth running of the MotoGP practice sessions and racing at this year’s US GP was a beacon of efficiency compared with what happened when national AMA officials took over. The support-programme- heading AMA American Superbike final (pictured right) came inches away from major disaster when riders failed to see a Pace Car waiting to lead the field through a crash scene. Collision was narrowly avoided as the leaders piled past the car, as the driver tried to get up to speed. The main race had already been stopped once. At the restart, a major tangle at turn two, a sharp hairpin, saw three riders down and debris littering track and run-off area. The Pace Car policy of the AMA Pro Racing Group, that purchased all racing rights “I can't tell you why people didn't respond. Please understand that the safety car had to be somewhere where it could control the field through turn two. “Clearly, it didn't work well. I'm not going to pretend that it was successful,” he concluded. But AMA Pro Racing plans from the start of this year, was put into action … but at Laguna’s short lap there was little time to warn the riders, nor any place easily accessible from the pit exit where the car could await the arrival of the leaders, in their clear view. The car was perforce almost over the blind rise of the fast first corner, and somehow the leading riders also failed to see yellow flags that officials insisted had been waved vigorously round the second part of the lap. Several passed the car, others braking hard to avoid it; luckily all made it safely through the scene of the original accident, and the race was promptly red flagged. AMA Pro Racings competition director Colin Fraser called a conference after the race to explain what had gone wrong … the second time in his maiden year he has had to do so, after a different Pace Car debacle at Daytona. Flags had been clearly shown and apparently seen. to modify this controversial race-control system only slightly, planning a Buell pace-bike rather than a Pace Car, and also hoping to introduce radio communication with the riders. MotoGP race director Paul Butler watched events unfold in dismay. “We have put a lot of time and effort, especially at Laguna, to get marshalling up to standard – but with just over a minute for the lap, it is difficult.” His solution would have been to red-flag the race immediately. “We’ve tried radio communication, and we know it doesn’t work,”he said. ‘Formula 450’ gains strength in usA THE four-stroke threat to the existing all-two-stroke 125 class is gathering strength in the USA, with the AMA’s adoption of the seminal Formula 450 as a new entry-level national championship next year. AMA Pro Racing announced plans for a spec engine class at Laguna Seca. The class will use single-cylinder four-stroke motocross engines of 450cc in a purpose-built chassis, from a 1 manufacturer yet to be decided. 30 identical machines will be built and taken to the tracks for the riders, and will remain the property of AMA Pro Racing. The US version of the junior entry-level Red Bull Rookie’s Cup, which set the pattern for this operating system, was cancelled unexpectedly this year, after the selection process was already completed. This dealt a major blow to any chance of expanding the 125 class in the USA, and left a niche for what many see as the eventual 125- class replacement. AMA Pro Racing CEO Roger Edmondson, announcing the “arrive-and-ride” programme, said “this would become … the new young gun’s programme”. The class would be encouraged at grass-roots club level. But there are serious doubts about the potential costs of the class, compared with the relatively easy-maintenance two-strokes. A typical single-cylinder 450 motocross engine has twin over- head camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and programmable fuel injection … making it much more of a motorcycle than the 500cc single Manx Nortons et al that kick-started the premier class of the World Championships.