DMG Lays Out the Case Against Suzuki

Henny Ray Abrams | August 30, 2008

BRASELTON, GA, AUG 30: The crankshaft in the Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Mat Mladin was clearly “out of compliance” following Mladin’s win in the Aug. 17 race at Virginia International Raceway and again after provisional Superbike qualifying at Road Atlanta, according to a senior Daytona Motorsports Group official. During a noon press conference at Road Atlanta, DMG deputy road race manager Bill Syfan laid out the facts that AMA Pro Racing and DMG had gathered in making the decision to disqualify Mladin from both victories at VIR and to disallow the times put up by Mladin and teammate Tommy Hayden in Friday qualifying in Atlanta. In the VIR case, the Mladin’s crankshaft was compared to a control, homologated unit at the track. It was also compared to two samples sent by Yoshimura Suzuki to AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio. The crankshaft in Mladin’s Suzuki had “no manufacture date etched into the far right hand number four connecting right counterweight,” unlike the three control pieces, Syfan said. “The bearing codes are laser-etched on a different weight than the three control parts, which are mechanically etched on the three control parts.” He also said Mladin’s crankshaft “had no chamfering on any of the crank bearing or rod bearing oil delivery holes, unlike the three control crankshafts.” Finally, the VIR crankshaft “is much darker in color than the three control parts with a smoothness and texture not found on the other three. The consistent sharp edges found on the three control crankshafts are smooth on the number 6 Suzuki crankshaft.” The parts were inspected by Syfan, AMA tech inspector Jim Rashid, and five others in Pickerington and all came to the conclusion that the part was out of compliance. Mladin was then disqualified from both races, as per the rulebook. Following Friday Superbike qualifying at Road Atlanta, the left hand engine cover was removed to facilitate a visual inspection of all three Rockstar Makita Suzukis. It was determined that Mladin’s and Hayden’s crankshafts were non-homologated parts. “The telltale signs from pulling the left hand case is the color of the crankshaft and the production code that is mechanically etched in on the homologated crankshafts,” Syfan said. Rockstar Makita Suzuki mechanics tore the engine down to the cases and the crankshafts were removed by AMA Pro Racing officials. “The crankshaft from the number 6 Suzuki matches the non-homologated part in every way listed above, with the exception that the bearing codes are hand engraved; they weren’t done by a machine, they were done by hand,” Syfan said. The crankshaft removed from Hayden’s bike “matches the non-homologated part in every way with the exception that it has no bearing codes whatsoever. If this is a production part, as claimed, it would be extremely difficult for a dealer, receiving this crankshaft, to put in a customer’s bike without the bearing codes.” Those two crankshafts will be held by AMA Pro Racing pending an appeal. Syfan noted that the crankshafts in six privateer Suzukis all revealed homologated crankshafts. As did all three Rockstar Makita Suzukis after Saturday morning qualifying, in which Spies, Mladin, and Hayden swept the top three spots. Syfan said that Yoshimura Suzuki’s Don Sakakura had been told on Saturday morning what he had to provide for an appeal. The appeal needs to be filed by Friday, Sept. 5. “He needs to provide to us production records for these crankshafts, vendor information, and the VIN range of the motorcycles that they went in. That’s part A,” Syfan said. “Part B is they have to provide a motorcycle in that VIN range, whether it’s new or used, and have it disassembled with an AMA official there. “They have to prove to us that those aren’t production parts. It’s as simple as that. American Suzuki and Yoshimura Suzuki have to prove to us that those are production parts.” Syfan said the rule isn’t clear on when a decision will be made on whether the appeal will be accepted, “but obviously we want this to be wrapped up as soon as possible. This is not good for anybody. I mean, these are great riders, Yoshimura’s a great team. This is just an unfortunate situation for the whole paddock and the series.”

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.