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Discussion Starter #1
Harley has teamed with Ford Racing, Cosworth Racing, Buell, and long time partner Gemini technology to increase their effort and focus on superbike racing. They have allocated more funds a new facility, and more engineering time to finally get serious about racing. They have stated that this year will be a rebuilding year.
I hope this will finally turn things around for them. Maybe we will finally get a VR 1000 engined Buell!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
ROAD RACING
1/23/01 - Harley Loses Weight

By Henny Ray Abrams
Photo By Henny Ray Abrams
(Photo ©Copyright Cycle News, Inc. 2000)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spinning Up
Harley-Davidson showed up at Laguna Seca with a new boss and a new bike, at least that’s what it felt like to Pascal Picotte. Though the VR1000 is visually unchanged, the bike features a new lighter crankshaft and Picotte made the most of it, lapping Laguna Seca faster than he ever had.

“I did mid-28s yesterday, a 28.5,” Picotte said. “Today I did 28.7 and the conditions are not that good. I think on a race tire I never did a 28. A 28.5 is good for me.”

Picotte said the new crankshaft transformed the VR1000.

“Changing the crank changed the handling,” Picotte said. “It accelerates better with less internal friction. It doesn’t make it flat on top. It pulls to the rev limiter easier and vibrates less. The throttle connection’s way better. Before it waited for a little bit. It gives much better feedback on the rear tire and rear suspension.”

The power characteristics helped the front and rear suspension. Because it isn’t as abrupt, the front forks don’t dive as much off-throttle.

“I can steer it with the rear a little bit,” Picotte said.

The new boss is John Baker, a long-time Harley-Davidson employee who took over for Steve Scheibe. Scheibe, who was synonymous with the VR Superbike program, resigned on January 2. Scheibe attended the test on his own, spending most of his time around the Harley tent, but said he wasn’t sure what his next move would be.


cn
 

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HD press release on above; believe 'em???

Harley-Davidson Dedicates 2001 Race Season to Rebuilding VR 1000 Superbike Program

Company to Increase Resources, Restructure Development and Organization of Race Team

MILWAUKEE, WIS. (Jan. 28, 2001) - Focused on strengthening its VR 1000 Superbike racing program, Harley-Davidson will devote 2001 to a rebuilding effort, the company announced today. Among several initiatives, Harley-Davidson will restructure and expand the development program of the VR 1000.

"We've begun an aggressive effort we believe is necessary to move the program forward," said John Baker, director of racing. "The 2001 racing season will be a rebuilding year. But this change is necessary to get us where we expect to be in the future."

Increased funding will drive the development program, and provide greater resources in both manpower and hardware.

Organizationally, the new development effort will be focused internally. As a result, engineers from Harley-Davidson Research and Development will work in close concert with partners at Buell, and will begin work immediately to realize the performance potential of the VR 1000.

"By tapping our vast internal engineering capabilities, we're confident we can improve," said Baker. "Our racers, Pascal Picotte and Mike Smith, are excited about the new direction of development and the rewards it will bring the program in the future."

Harley-Davidson will increase its involvement with Cosworth Racing and Ford Racing and continue its long association with Gemini Racing Technologies, which will maintain some development duties and provide all race team operation functions.

"We expect our partnerships with Cosworth Racing, Ford Racing and Gemini Racing will yield results, and we're pleased to continue our relationship with them," said Baker.

Harley-Davidson's VR 1000 Superbike team will open the AMA season March 7-11 at the Daytona 200 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I hope so. I would love to see a competitive, reliable, and winning bike from Harley/Buell that would trickle down to a street model. Time will tell.
 

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I would like to see it too, but I'm not holding my breath. Call me skeptical, but it seems like we've heard these kinds of statements before, but HD is not gaining on the pack. They came close to winning races several times in earlier years, but last year they never even came close.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The rumor of late is that Harley-Davidson is looking to hire an experienced team manager or "advisor" to give an experienced hand to the factory VR1000 Superbike team.
Harley-Davidson's Director of Racing, John Baker said in his recent interview, "We're always looking for top talent, both technically and organizationally. If the right person comes along, and there's a good fit for the organization, certainly we'll evaluate what they can add to the program depending on the needs of the program."

Rumor has it that "right" person is American Honda team manager Gary Mathers. Mathers, certainly the most successful team manager in Superbike history, is set to retire from Honda very soon and could certainly lend a experienced hand to any motorcycle racing team.

Mathers' resume drips with Superbike and Supersport wins and championships. If it is a valid criticism of the VR1000 team that they lack support and management personnel with winning records in Superbike, hiring Mathers would certainly go a long way to silencing that criticism.

Be that as it may, when reached for comment at Honda Monday, Mathers denied he was entertaining a job at Harley-Davidson.

"I don't know where that came from," Mathers said, " but it's not true. They already have a team manager there: John Baker."

"It's not true and that's that," Mathers said.

Mathers' last event for Honda will be the season opener at Daytona next month.

Harley-Davidson PR man Paul James replied with a succint "no comment" when asked about Mathers, etc.

Courtesy AMA Superbike.com
 

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Hiring Gary Mathers, or any other individual, totally misses the point of what HD needs to do, IM(admittedly not so)HO.

There are two ways to win in a competitive series like AMA Superbike: One, get extremely lucky, as Thomas Wilson almost did at Mid-Ohio back in 1996 on the VR1000, when he would have won if the race had been red-flagged one lap later, or Two, the right way, which is to invest in research and development, support the program year after year so it doesn't fall behind, update the equipment, hire a top-notch team and hire good riders. HD has done some of those things some of the time, some of them all the time, but not all of them all the time, which is what it takes to match tough competition.

Hiring an individual, no matter how experienced, knowledgeable and talented, again strikes me as HD looking for a shortcut to winning instead of doing what must be done, which is replace the aging VR1000 and spend the money on a top-notch program.

Or, pull the plug.

All in my overworked opinion. ;)

P.S. -- My "extremely lucky" comment above should not be construed to mean that Wilson did not ride a helluva race. He most certainly did.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well I read an article somewhere the other day that said Harley has increased the budget this year over 50% for their superbike program. I think they have finally gotten serious about the program. Time will tell though!
 

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I see one other problem for the Harley racing program. Judging from the contributors to this thread, all but two people have lost interest in it! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #11
When they first announced racing plans, I think it was 94, I was all fired up about it. Then the results never came. Oh sure there was a bright spot here and there, but there was definately not much effort put into the program. Then to watch Aprillia come out competetive there first year was a kicker. I mean Harley has the money to really do this if they were focused and got the right people involved. Hopefully they have finally gotten serious. I'm not as excited as I originally was 7 years ago. Now I kinda watch from across the way, just kinda keeping an eye on them!
 
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