A Moment With Mat: Can Somebody Please Explain ...
by mat mladin
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It was nice to win the first race of the season. The new Suzuki GSX-R1000 is an awesome motorcycle. Um, that's it.

There's not much more to say about Daytona, as it really was a major let down. The three real classes produced some good racing but the main class was boring, to say the least. Nobody has claimed responsibility for making the decision to run the 200 with a bunch of underpowered mini-bikes as yet, and after seeing what happened last weekend I doubt anyone will soon.

My dictionary defines "Leading" as: To guide on a way. To go at the head of. To direct the OPERATIONS, ACTIVITY or PERFORMANCE of ... .

Why are there two 1000cc and 600cc classes? I am not sure. Over the past 12 months there have been a lot of people saying that the series is so strong. I agree that our series is a competitive one, but the people who deserve most of the credit for that are the manufacturers. The manufacturers pay for almost everything. Without them, there is nothing. The reason that they can do that is because since the early 90's motorcycle sales have rapidly climbed back towards their mid 1970's highs. The manufacturers are cashed up. The reason the series is attractive to World riders like Neil Hodgson is because Ducati can pay him well and they are prepared to spend, hoping for success on the race track, and ultimately success on their dealers showroom floors. Of course Neil is relishing the challenge as any good racer would but if he could only make half of what he could make in WSB then I believe he wouldn't be here. The US motorcycle market is a big one, a very big one. The reason I get paid well is because Suzuki is the leading sport bike seller in this country. Racing is a strong advertising tool. However, I wonder what is going to happen when things take a downward turn and people stop spending money. It will happen, it's just a matter of when.

When it does happen it will take a series with a strong foundation to keep moving forward. Similar, I guess you could say, to the crash of the tech stocks a few years ago. The foundation and people working towards a common goal for the future of the sport is vital. I hope the manufacturers will get together soon and onto the same page and bring the best riders in the country together in the top class for the fans to watch. Let's hope the organization listens.

"Why are there two 1000cc and 600cc classes? I am not sure. Over the past 12 months there have been a lot of people saying that the series is so strong. I agree that our series is a competitive one, but the people who deserve most of the credit for that are the manufacturers."

I am not sure what direction the powers that be are steering the series in, but most in the paddock seem to be asking for at least a slight departure form the current course. Even with the small amount of hours I have as a pilot, I know that when I hit rough air, you change your altitude a little looking for a smoother ride. It seems for the most part, that most of the manufacturers are being ignored.

Here's what I think: get rid of the two 1000cc classes. Have Superbike as main class. Anybody competing in Superbike cannot compete in any other class. The AMA are always going on about the privateers, how they need to include them in this and in that, and I agree, yet there is not one class in AMA that the factory doesn't compete in and win. I don't believe that's looking after the privateers. Have two 600cc classes, one with the current Supersport rules for the manufacturers support teams and anybody else to compete in, and one stock 600cc class as a proving ground for young talent and for people wanting to race motorcycles on a tight budget. Two sets of tires for the weekend, a bike + rider weight limit, good prize money, no factory involvement etc. That would be looking after the privateers.

I kept hearing the announcers talking about the 200 like all was normal. I know it's their job, but a little reality would have been nice. As the race was being run, there were important to our sport' people just sitting in the pits, because they couldn't be bothered watching the procession. It is sad when it has come to that. Whoever is to blame for the current mess needs to stand up and take it like a man, then take steps to improve the race and the series for the people that pay at the gate, the people who buy the bikes, the people that keep us in a job.

That brings me to the issue of MR DAYTONA. I am not taking away the fact that the 2005 version of the 200 was won by Miguel DuHamel who has won four of them previously, but am alluding to the fact that such a lame race with two factory 600's racing a bunch of privateers should not be the way that Scott Russell's MR DAYTONA title should be tied. Scott got the name because he won the 200 five times with strong Superbike fields. He still is MR DAYTONA and will be in my eyes and I'm sure in many others until Miguel can win another two 200's on a Superbike or I can win another three. Maybe the title MR 4.25 would be more appropriate for the latest winner. I would be embarrassed to hold up five fingers after that.

Marty Craggill On the Mat Mladin Motorsports Suzuki at Daytona.
image by brian nelson
Mat Mladin Motorsports had a steady start to the season, which was all we were looking for. The bike hadn't turned a wheel before Wednesday at Daytona. One session was washed out so track time was limited leading up to Saturday's race. Since then Marty has done a days testing at Infineon and will do two days at Fontana in early April. The bike is coming together nicely and this few weeks off between races is giving Marty's mechanics time to get things sorted.

To see Michael Jordan in the pits with his team is pretty awesome. His team has grown tremendously for 2005 and I hope the series can present to him what he needs to see to be involved in our sport for a long time. I even got myself a pair of MJ shoes at Daytona. As soon as I got them I pulled them out of the box, put them on and went straight over to my guys and said "check these out".

They weren't happy that I hadn't shown up with an extra five pair for them. Of course, I rubbed it in all weekend.

Ride smart and stay safe.



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