The New AMA Rules/Classes

Henny Ray Abrams | October 24, 2008
BROOKLYN, NY, OCT 24: The American distributors of Japanese motorcycles have prevailed in a battle of wills with AMA Pro Racing with the announcement that the 2009 AMA Superbike Championship will feature a factory Superbike class.

The class structure and rules package came to a conclusion six months after they were first announced, at Barber Motorsports Park, and five months after Daytona Motorsports Group CEO Roger Edmondson said they were imminent. On the May 19 Infineon Raceway race weekend, Edmondson said, “I’ve asked for [Colin Fraser and Bill Syfan], if possible, to have a set of rules that we can release next week. When I say a set, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to talk about what happens if you jump the start.”

What followed was a continuous stream of announcements and leaks that finally slowed with the revelation that the Motorcycle Industry Council was considering running an alternative series. That, along with a concerted push by the event promoters, who grew increasingly irritated with the waffling and lack of finality, pushed the process forward.

Edmondson acknowledged the changes in today’s press release.

“The class structure we are announcing today bears little resemblance to that which we proposed several months ago, however I believe it will accomplish our goals of increased safety, parity and cost containment,” Edmondson said. “The program we have worked out with input from the industry will provide for participation by a wide variety of brands, and should provide a showcase for the best riders in American racing, with the added benefit of running at the best venues in the United States. We were fortunate to have the assistance of many stakeholders in the creation of the program, including the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).”

As recently as mid-August, he’d denied the possibility of a factory Superbike class.

“It’s past closing time here and there is clearly not sufficient support to include Factory Superbike in our program and we won’t,” Edmondson said when announcing the class structure, which included horsepower and weight restrictions for Daytona Superbikes. He later added, “This is the set of rules that we’re going to run our series by next year.”

The American Superbike class, which will be the premier class, will run under a new set of rules, closer to traditional Superstock. The rules are similar to those that were agreed to by the manufacturers in the summer of 2007. The main differences from current rules are 17-inch wheels, front and rear, original front forks, though fork kits are allowed, no options on the stock transmission and gear sets, and stock connecting rods and pistons. British Superbike failed in their experiment to run stock rods and pistons this year – there were a number of spectacular engine failures – and they’ll race under World Superbike rules in 2009.

The final rules won’t be out until November 20. The announcement didn’t say how long the rules would remain in place.

American Superbike is the only class that keeps Superbike in the name. At one point there were three classes with Superbike in the title, Factory Superbike, American Superbike, and Daytona Superbike. American Superbike was Superstock, basically, with horsepower and weight restrictions. The change reduces the confusion of similar names.

“Aftermarket parts and equipment must be approved by AMA Pro Racing and must appear on the Eligible Equipment List before being used in competition,” the release said.

No details were given on when the homologation process for aftermarket parts will be finalized.

Dunlop will be the control tire and Sunoco the spec fuel, the release said. No term was given for the contracts, though the RFP called for three years.

Daytona SportBike, formerly Daytona Superbike, will feature rules similar to Supersport, but not entirely. Stock forks have to be used, along with stock rods and pistons. Daytona SportBike will be the class that runs in the Friday night, March 6, Daytona 200.

Supersport will become an entry-level class designed for 16 to 21-year-olds racing 600cc production motorcycles with limited modifications. After three years, the riders have to opt out of the series.

In addition, Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup will run at many races, as will SunTrust MOTO-GT, formerly MOTO-ST. The structure will go from three classes to two (GT1 and GT2) and include 600cc four-cylinder motorcycles.

The weekend schedules will be determined by the individual race promoters in consultation with AMA Pro Racing.

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.