BROOKLYN, NY, AUG 22: The Rockstar Makita Suzuki team will appeal the disqualification of Mat Mladin from the Virginia International Raceway results, but AMA Pro Racing does not have to accept the appeal.
Overnight, the team issued a press release stating they would appeal the penalty imposed after Mladin’s crankshaft was found to be illegal following his double race wins at VIR last weekend.
The violations fall under the rule A3.1 a. as an “equipment violation that could potentially or effectively enhance the performance of a motorcycle used in competition.”
The team now has until the "third business day by 5:00 p.m." after being notified, according to the rulebook, to appeal. The team was notified on August 20, three days after the second of Mladin’s two runaway VIR wins.
Both sides now have 14 days to produce documentation and witnesses that they plan to present at an appeals hearing. At that point, according to the rulebook, “AMA Racing will review all materials submitted as required and will, in the interest of deterring frivolous appeals, determine whether, in its sole and absolute discretion, the circumstances of the appeal warrant the convening of an appeal board.”
One need not look too far into the past to find a similar violation. Erion Honda's Josh Hayes was disqualified for an illegal crankshaft following his victory in the March Daytona 200. However, AMA Pro Racing refused to accept the team's appeal on the grounds that it was “frivolous.”
The Erion Honda crankshaft was clearly polished, according to several witnesses, which is in violation of the rules. However, the crankshaft in the fourth-placed Suzuki GSX-R600 of Team M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas was also found to be illegal because of a modification to the oil galley plug. The team was fined $2000, but Cardenas was not disqualified. On April 4, nearly four weeks after the 200, AMA Pro Racing issued a tech bulletin which stated that “Oil galley plugs may be modified, removed or replaced.”
Neither AMA Pro Racing nor the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team has been specific about the nature of the crankshaft violation in Mladin's Suzuki GSX-R1000.
If the appeal is accepted, and not deemed “frivolous,” the rulebook states that an “appeal hearing will be convened as soon as practical, and barring delays will be held no more than 45 days after the ruling/incident being appealed.” The appeal would likely be held well within the 45 day period, since the AMA Superbike Championship season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 27-28 falls well beyond that time frame.
Mladin, as much as the team, has a lot riding on the outcome. Given the number of races remaining, and the points up for grabs, it’s guaranteed that a Suzuki will win the 2008 AMA Superbike Championship, Yoshimura Suzuki's ninth in ten years. Monster Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking, third in the championship, has 403 points and, in the unlikely event he ran the table and Ben Spies didn't score another point, would finish with a maximum of 516 points, 35 short of Spies’ current tally.
The AMA Superbike Championship website now lists Mladin with 449 points to 551 for Spies. Should Mladin's points not be restored, his maximum possible points tally is 562. With three races remaining, two at Road Atlanta and the Laguna Seca finale, Spies would need to score just 12 points-a 19th place finish-to wrap up his third consecutive crown. Except for the first race at Barber Motorsports Park when he crashed, re-mounted, and finished 11th, Spies hasn’t finished worse than second all season.
If Mladin’s points are restored, he needs a little help to wrest the title from Spies. If he maxxed out his points haul-pole points, race win points, laps led points-and Spies finished second in all three races, Spies would win the championship by one point, 637 to 636, the same margin as last year.