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Discussion Starter #1
Carmichael Penalized for Illegal Fuel; Suzuki Responds
By Dirck J. Edge

In a stunning blow to Ricky Carmichael and his factory Suzuki squad, AMA Pro Racing announced it would take 25 points away from Carmichael as punishment for use of illegal fuel in the San Diego round of the AMA Supercross series held a few weeks ago. In short order, Suzuki responded by pointing out the fuel in question came from a third party vendor. Suzuki will appeal the penalty. Here are the two press releases, beginning with the AMA's:


Penalty issued for illegal fuel at San Diego Supercross

AMA Pro Racing has announced that Ricky Carmichael has been penalized 25 points for using illegal fuel at round six of the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on February 11.

Fuel samples from eight motorcycles were collected at the San Diego round and the sample from the motorcycle of Ricky Carmichael was found to be in non-compliance. Fuel from the motorcycles of Mike Alessi, Grant Langston, Jeremy McGrath, Nate Ramsey, Chad Reed, Andrew Short and James Stewart was found to be in compliance.

As is required by the AMA Supercross/Motocross rulebook, the samples were sent to a certified testing lab which confirmed the results of the testing.

AMA Pro Racing has required the use of unleaded fuel in the AMA Supercross Series and the AMA Motocross Championship since the 2004 racing season.

Now, Suzuki's response:

Team Makita Suzuki Racing to Appeal AMA Penalty for Illegal Fuel

BREA, Calif. (Feb. 24, 2006) - Team Makita Suzuki Racing announced today that the team will appeal the penalty imposed by the AMA for the use of illegal fuel at round six of the Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series in San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 11, 2006.

The entire Team Makita Suzuki Racing organization, including Ricky Carmichael and his crew, have followed closely all the rules established for AMA Supercross and Motocross racing. The team has purchased the same fuel throughout the last several seasons; it has been tested and was never found in violation of fuel rules before. The fuel used by the Supercross team at the San Diego round was supplied by a third-party vendor and was not tested by Team Makita Suzuki technicians before the race.

Carmichael and Team Makita Suzuki Racing will compete at round eight in Atlanta with the same determination that earned World and AMA Championships in 2005, and has kept Carmichael near the top of the standings in 2006.

Source: Motorcycle Daily
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The AMA/Carmichael Dilemma

The AMA/Carmichael Dilemma
By Dirck J. Edge

Okay, here is what we think we know after reading all of the press releases issued in the past week by AMA Pro Racing, Suzuki (Ricky Carmichael's employer) and VP Racing Fuels (fuel supplier to not only Suzuki, but Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and KTM).

The trace levels of lead found in Ricky Carmichael's Suzuki RM-Z450 following the San Diego round of the AMA Supercross series could not have provided any performance advantage. We know this because the trace level found (a minute amount by everyone's estimation) simply could not have had a measurable impact on horsepower or torque in Carmichael's motorcycle.
Suzuki's violation of the AMA rule, if it occurred at all, was inadvertent or, at worst, a result of negligence, and not the result of a deliberate effort to cheat.

The AMA has never articulated why the standard is so strict, and why it has now penalized three teams in the last two years (Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki) knowing that none of these teams could have gained a performance advantage or would have any motivation whatsoever to deliberately violate the rule by including such a tiny amount of lead in their fuel.
Environmental factors, including dust at the race track, can introduce trace levels of lead into the fuel of racers that might lead to a violation of the AMA's ridiculous standards (we are taking VP Fuels' analysis at face value in reaching this conclusion).

Here is the dilemma. The AMA, in order to be consistent, must penalize Carmichael and Team Suzuki, just as they penalized Yamaha and Kawasaki previously. If application of this rule was just as ridiculous when Yamaha and Kawasaki were punished (and knowing what know now, we think it was), "a rule is a rule" and it will be difficult for the AMA to cut Suzuki a break in light of what happened with Yamaha and Kawasaki. One difference might be the fact that the championship outcome was not affected in prior years -- Chad Reed won the championship for Yamaha despite the penalty levied against him in 2004. The penalty against Carmichael and Suzuki, on the other hand, certainly will impact the title chase this year, and could effectively rob Carmichael of the Supercross titles at stake in 2006 (including both the AMA title and the World Supercross GP title). If the penalty stands, it will certainly affect Carmichael's strategy for the remainder of the year.

So, what does the AMA do? First of all, they need to change the rule. If environmental factors can introduce trace levels of lead into racing fuels, in amounts that do not impact the performance of the race machines (keep in mind that some of these 450s are de-tuned by the factories for supercross, because they make too much power to be rideable to begin with), the standard needs to be re-set to permit a higher level of lead (which still does not impact performance of the motorcycle) to prevent inadvertent/environmental circumstances penalizing a team/rider. We don't think anyone can argue with this point.

A more difficult question the AMA faces is what it should do about the penalty it has already assessed against Ricky Carmichael. We think the penalty should be overturned for the following reasons. First of all, the penalties issued previously did not impact the outcome of any championship, while it certainly could this year, and could result in Carmichael crashing while riding as if he has "nothing to lose" (with a huge points deficit). Second, two wrongs don't make a right (remember when your mother told you that?). If the penalties assessed against Yamaha and Kawasaki didn't make sense (and they apparently did not) punishing Suzuki doesn't make sense either. After all "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds".

Source: Motorcycle Daily
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Carmichael Gets His 25 Points Back

Carmichael Gets His 25 Points Back
By Dirck J. Edge

Ricky Carmichael received his 25 points back today from the AMA. The reason? The AMA and the FIM (which controls the World Supercross GP) utilized different testing methods. Read the press release below for details. Suzuki's press release on the same topic is also included below. The bottom line is that Carmichael is back in the title hunt -- just a few points behind Yamaha's Chad Reed.

AMA/FIM Reach Resolution on Carmichael Penalty

AMA Pro Racing News Release (March 3, 2006) The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) have announced a joint resolution to the points penalty imposed by the AMA on Ricky Carmichael following the February 11 San Diego round of the AMA Supercross Series and the FIM World Supercross GP.

In a post-race tech inspection, the fuel in Carmichael's motorcycle was found to contain more lead than allowed under a standard jointly adopted by both sanctioning bodies beginning with the 2004 racing season.

The AMA has enforced that fuel regulation in its AMA Supercross Series and AMA Motocross Championship for the past two years. However, this is the first time that testing has revealed a fuel violation affecting a competitor entered in both the AMA and FIM series, and while the fuel standard is the same in both rule books, the two sanctioning bodies call for different testing protocols.

The AMA initiated an investigation into the fuel requirement and testing protocols. It then became apparent that this difference in testing protocols would make consistent enforcement of this standard difficult, and the two sanctioning bodies have agreed to cooperate in the investigation, with the goal of creating a unified unleaded fuel standard and testing protocol for the 2007 season.

Meanwhile, the AMA and the FIM jointly agreed that, because of the disparity in testing protocols, a points penalty would be inappropriate in this case. As a result, the AMA has rescinded the 25-point penalty imposed on Carmichael in the AMA Supercross Series standings, and the FIM has said that it will not impose a points penalty in the World Supercross GP standings.

Both sanctioning bodies agreed, however, that a penalty is still appropriate for this fuel violation, and the decision was made to impose a $20,000 fine on the Suzuki team for which Carmichael rides. The AMA and the FIM will equitably donate the fine to the Asterisk Mobile Medical Center, which provides trackside medical support to riders at all AMA Supercross Series/FIM World Supercross GP series and AMA Motocross Championship events and to Riders for Health, a humanitarian organization working in Africa for 15 years reaching nearly 11 million people with regular health care workers riding motorcycles.

"It was clear that the differences in testing protocols raised serious problems for enforcement of this rule,'' said Steve Whitelock, AMA Motocross and Supercross Series manager.

"We think this is a fair and equitable resolution of a difficult situation" said Wolfgang Srb, President of the FIM Motocross Commission.

The AMA has announced that the fuel investigation will be conducted by the Southwest Research Institute's Fuel and Lubricant Lab, an independent consulting organization with nearly 60 years of experience. It is expected that teams as well as fuel suppliers, among others, will be interviewed in this process.

Makita Suzuki's Carmichael Back in Supercross Title Chase after AMA Rescinds 25-Point Penalty

BREA, Calif. (March 3, 2006) - Team Makita Suzuki Racing announced today that defending AMA Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael regained the 25 points that he lost when the AMA penalized him for use of illegal fuel at round six of the Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series in San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 11, 2006.

"I'm super-pumped about the points -- not just for me, but for my Makita Suzuki team and the fans," said Carmichael. "I'm happy for my team because they've put in too much effort this year to just sit back and watch the other guys compete for the championship. Everyone in Supercross has been working hard to make the racing better for the fans and having the top three guys all going for the title will make the racing even better. Finally, the AMA and FIM's solution is fair for everyone and will help all the teams in the future."

After the San Diego round, Carmichael led the points chase in the AMA Supercross series. The AMA's 25-point penalty, however, moved him into a distant third place, strongly hindering the multi-time champion's possibilities for a fifth AMA Supercross title. With the withdrawal of the penalty, however, Carmichael is back in the championship hunt.

"Obviously we're happy with the decision," said Mel Harris, ASMC vice president of the Motorcycle/ATV division. "Suzuki feels strongly that the Supercross Championship should be decided on the track, by the racers."

According to an AMA press release, the points penalty was rescinded because of the differences in gasoline-testing protocols between the AMA and the FIM, the sanctioning body for the concurrently running 2006 Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP, which Carmichael leads. The AMA and the FIM agreed that imposing a points penalty on Carmichael would be inappropriate and instead fined the Makita Suzuki team $20,000, which will be donated to the Asterisk Mobile Medical Center and Riders for Health.

"Of course we're happy that we got our points back," summed up Makita Suzuki Team Manager Roger DeCoster. "I am also happy that the AMA and FIM were able to come together and resolve this issue. Several unfortunate comments were made in the heat of the moment and I'm glad that cooler heads prevailed and a solution was found."

Carmichael and Team Makita Suzuki Racing will compete at round nine of the Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series in Indianapolis, Ind., Saturday night at the RCA Dome.

Source: Motorcycle Daily
 
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