Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin and Monster Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking will both sit out this round of the AMA Pro racing series at Heartland Park Topeka. Both of the premier riders on their respective teams cite a lack of rider safety as the reason for the boycott. Below are the official press releases from both Suzuki and Kawasaki regarding the matter as well as an e-mail from Mladin that addresses the reason from his perspective:
Mat Mladin may be out because of safety concerns but the rest of his team doesn’t appear to consider the track a risk.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. (ASMC) announced today that RockstarMakita Suzuki riders Tommy Hayden and Blake Young will compete without teammate Mat Mladin atround nine of the AMA Superbike series at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kansas this weekend.
According to six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mladin, he has concerns about the track’s safety and prefers not to race at this venue. Currently, Mladin is in first place in the overall AMA Superbike championship points standings. Mladin’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammates Hayden and Young are currently in second and sixth place, respectively, in the overall standings and plan to race this weekend.
“I can’t speak for our rider, Mat Mladin,” said the Yoshimura-backed Rockstar Makita Suzuki Team Manager Don Sakakura. “However, the team does respect his choice to not participate in this race meeting. Mat is a six-time AMA Superbike Champion and he has raced in other series and at tracks all over the world, so he understands that track safety is paramount. At the same time, the team appreciates that Heartland Park Topeka is doing everything humanly possible to make this track acceptable to the AMA riders. Currently, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden and Blake Young intend to participate in the race meeting and we hope that this weekend will be a safe and successful one for everyone.”
For more information on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team, please log on to www.suzukicycles.com
Press Release from Monster Energy Kawasaki
Monster Energy Kawasaki’sJamie Hacking has decided not to race the ninth round of the AMA Pro Road Racing Series at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kansas citing safety issues.
Hacking met with AMA officials to explain his withdraw and then met privately with Heartland Park Track Owner Raymond Irwin to discuss areas of concern around the track.
“I was introduced to Raymond (Irwin) and had the chance to go over a track map with him,” said Hacking. “I think that he really respected my concerns and was very receptive to my suggestions.”
Hacking will still take part in the autograph session during the fan party on Friday night.
“We support Jamie in his final decision,” said Kawasaki’s Road Race Team Manager Mike Fisher. “Jamie is an experienced racer and has always been an advocate for track safety.”
Teammate Roger Hayden plans on competing and will finalize his qualifying position during Saturday’s final session.
Press Release from Mat Mladin
With a 126-point lead in the AMA Superbike, Mladin can afford not to race, but do any other riders share his concern?
Due to safety concerns I will not compete in this weekend’s round of the AMA Superbike championship in Topeka.
It is important to note that Topeka is a newly sanctioned round on the championship schedule. It is also important to note that Topeka has made changes to the track, but unfortunately, as is the case too many times, the track approval process was flawed and we arrived at a facility that was not ready for our caliber of competition.
This is 2009, and the days of showing up to race tracks that we know nothing about and have not been allowed to test at because of the AMA/DMG new rules regarding our testing are raising serious safety issues.
We race 200hp motorcycles where with constant development, the brakes, the tires, the chassis, the engines and the complete package as a whole gets faster every year. With this development the corner speeds and straight line speeds get faster and faster. With these extra speeds the margin of safety gets much smaller if the racetracks are not made safer.
We go to a few venues that still have some safety issues, but many of these venues have made vast improvements over the past few years. Sanctioning new venues with numerous safety flaws is just plain ridiculous.
Why do people have to get hurt seriously or worse before a racetrack is made safe before adding it to our National Championship schedule?
The adage of “they are going to make changes” doesn’t cut it after someone has hit a concrete wall.
With acceptance of these new venues with obvious safety flaws, the bar has been dropped in regards to safety, opening the door to many other circuits that are not acceptable or fit for racing modern day motorcycles.
I will never accept the lowering of safety standards for the sake of a few people making money. It is the young kids, the future of the sport that will bear the brunt of the worst of this. One day, the teams and riders need to come together for the well being of each other.
Last but not least, I thank my fans for their continual support over the years. Without you, none of this racing is possible, and I’m very upset about not having a safe platform to put on a show for you guys this weekend, but I also know that none of you want to see me busted up in the bottom of a concrete wall or ten foot deep ditch. I look forward to seeing you all at VIR in two weeks.