AMA Pro Racing today announced modifications that will begin with the 2010 AMA Pro Road Racing season. Though the basic rules for the AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited, Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL and SuperSport presented by Shoei will remain unchanged, procedures will be modified to increase rider safety. In addition, AMA Pro will expand the SunTrust Moto-GT class structure and form advisory committees to better communicate with its key constituents.
"Based on the competitive balance we have seen on the racetrack between various brands in 2009, the fundamental structure of the rules package will remain unchanged," said AMA Pro President Roger Edmondson. "We foresee that certain competition adjustments will be made to ensure that competitive balance continues. During the offseason, we will be finalizing the analysis of all the data before those competitive adjustments are announced."
Beginning with the Daytona 200 in March of 2010, all races will begin with clutch starts for all series. In addition, where possible, the race starter will be positioned at ground level to assist riders’ ability to see the flags.
"While it was our intention to maximize safety at the beginning of races by utilizing the rolling start, it brought its own set of challenges, and we have not been convinced that our goals of safety were realized in the way that we wanted," Edmondson said. "It was clear from the response of fans and the AMA Pro community that they prefer the original clutch starts, and because the rolling start did not prove to be clearly safer, we will return to the clutch start for all AMA Pro Road Racing divisions in 2010."
Previously, a decision was made to suspend the use of Pace and Safety vehicles on a hot racetrack during yellow flag conditions. Furthering that decision, for 2010 and beyond, the Pace and Safety vehicles will only be used to restart the field following red flag situations.
In another effort to increase safety, two-way radio communication between riders and their crew chiefs will be mandatory in select classes. Also, AMA Pro is currently working with potential suppliers to develop an early warning system to notify riders of changing track conditions.
"Rider safety is an ongoing concern," Edmondson said. "We need to explore new technologies when seeking to resolve problem areas. It is time for a new way to warn riders of problems or changing track conditions beyond the old flagging system. We are encouraged by our discussions with suppliers, and hope to introduce the early warning system for the 2010 season."
SunTrust Moto-GT will expand to three classes from its previous two-class format. The new GT3 class will feature machines that currently fit the technical specifications of the Formula 450 structure. AMA Pro is also investigating the potential of adding up to two additional single-brand series to complement the existing class structure.
"We will continually work with manufacturers to create compelling competition to showcase their product on the racetrack and provide great value to our fans as well as exceptional content for our promoter partners," said Edmondson.
Advisory Committees will also be formed in order to better communicate with the AMA Pro community. The committees will include representatives of promoters, riders, entrants and manufacturers. The three main sub committees will be Technical, Facility and Race Operations.
The Technical Committee will focus on rule changes, equipment changes and homologation issues. The Facility Committee will deal with safety, promotion, event infrastructure and general show quality. The Race Operations Committee will focus on race operations, penalties and appeal processes.
"We believe direct communication is vital to the growth of our sport," said AMA Pro Vice President of Marketing & Communications Ollie Dean. "We feel that organizing these committees and giving structure to the communication process will best serve the needs of our community. This will give us the ability to hear from diverse perspectives on a variety of issues and give us the ability to develop strategies and initiatives that will best serve the shared goal of growing our sport."
More information on the AMA Pro Advisory Committees, including the nomination process and meeting dates, will follow.