Harley-Davidson Happy About Road Atlanta
Racing in damp to drying conditions,Pascal Picotte gave Harley-Davidson's VR 1000 its best ever finish atRoad Atlanta with a 7th place on Saturday during the AMA Superbikedoubleheader weekend. Teammate Mike Smith, who finished 12th Saturdayafter experiencing tire problems, nearly equaled Picotte's mark in dryconditions Sunday, running competitive lap times and racing for 8thbefore crashing just before the final lap. Picotte suffered a mechanicalfailure on Sunday and did not finish...
"Although the second race didn't turn out the way we would have liked,the weekend was another step in the right direction," saidHarley-Davidson's Director of Racing John Baker. "A lot of developmentwork is in progress and this weekend was about achieving specificimprovements in suspension and handling. With an integrated effort therace team and engineering were able to achieve this result."
On Saturday, heavy rains soaked the track before start time, though thesun would emerge to begin drying the course throughout the race. As twoof the better rain riders on the AMA Superbike circuit, Picotte and Smithboth climbed quickly into the top five.
"I thought we were both going to be on the box for awhile," said Smith,who finished 12th after pitting for a tire change.
Picotte fought most of the race with Honda's Nicky Hayden in a battle forfourth, but eventually lost ground to riders with greater horsepower asthe track dried.
"It was fun racing Nicky; I'd take him in turn one and turn seven, butwith more horsepower, he'd pass me in the backstretch," said Picotte."Rain is an equalizer for us, but as the development program movesforward and gives us more horsepower, this race showed that we candefinitely battle at the top."
On Sunday, Smith was attempting to pass Yamaha's Tommy Hayden for 8thwhen he crashed in the last turn heading into the final lap. He did notfinish, but did not sustain serious injuries.
"I was setting him up for the pass, but just got a little out of shape,"said Smith. "The setup was great on Sunday. We tried a lot of things allweekend, and we found some good stuff that we can definitely build on."
Also over the weekend, Harley-Davidson VR 1000 privateer Jordan Szokefinished 13th on Saturday and 11th on Sunday racing for the Austin-BleuBayou H-D team.
"Jordan has been one of the top privateers on the circuit, and we'reproud of the quick improvement he and his team have made," Baker said.
On Saturday, Suzuki's Jamie Hacking placed first, followed by teammatesMat Mladin and Aaron Yates in second and third respectively. On Sunday,Mladin took the victory, with Yates and Hacking in second and third.
The Harley-Davidson VR 1000 team will test at Road America in ElkhartLake, WI this week and compete again June 8-10, when the AMA Superbiketour heads to Road America for another double-header weekend.
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