Saturday, September 29, 2012

AMA Flat Track: In the Interests of Balance & Fairness, Sammy Halbert Speaks About His Thoughts on the Kawi Vs XR Battle

Round 10 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season saw Sammy Halbert grab the gold by winning his first-ever mile National main and taking the dirt track grand slam along the way.

However since, Halbert has let it be known his disdain with what he considers a wide margin in the rules variance between the long-standing Harley-Davidson XR750s and the new, fast and much-less expensive to campaign, Kawasaki 650R Ninja-based parallel twins that are starting to make a dent in the record books by having won a whopping two races this season after winning their initial two in the 2010 season.  And as we know, all of those four wins have been accomplished by one rider, Bryan Smith, on the original Kawi XR-beater campaigned by the Werner Springsteen Racing team two seasons ago, and this year on the Rick Howerton-built and masterminded Crosley Radio/Howerton/Eaken horse.

With Halbert's win at the 2012 Lucas Oil Indy Mile on his #7 South East H-D/The South Ass/Mo Vaughn Transport/LZ Racing-sponsored H-D XR750 (pictured above just before the final qualifying round at Indy on August 18, along with Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Kiesow Racing XR) coming at the expense of the battery failure on the Smith/Howerton rocket, his win was also extremely hard-fought in fending off another of the new breed of mile equipment.  And that strong effort came from Brandon Robinson #44 on yet another version of the Werner-Springsteen Kawasaki that set the tide to turning in what teams were going to campaign what machinery just two seasons ago in The Rolling Thunder Show.

We have yet to see the new breed Kawi Twins Series machines win on anything other then a mile oval, although there have been several top-5 efforts by several people on various incarnations of the bike and motor combination that has seen as many as 11 or 12 riders minimum at the highly-attended events enter a Kawasaki.

The long-running and very-expensive to campaign XR750 still has the grunt and ground-pounding ability to 'tractor' out of the corners with advantages of a heavier flywheel that has assured those in control that putting the power down is a foregone conclusion when riding one, whereas the Kawis, Ducatis, KTMs and Triumphs show more spin, as a general rule, due to loss of power planted to the ground by a lighter output flywheel. 

With Slammin' Sammy's win at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile came shouts of unbalanced competition and the variance in the rules in the areas weight differential and use of restrictor size.  And after taking 2nd to Flyin' Bryan again at the Springfield Mile II, His thoughts and ideas were more then being heard throughout flat track nation.

The XR must run a 32mm restrictor since it is a prototype racing engine, whereas the Kawis don't since they are a production-based 650 motor punched out to 700-750cc.  The other production-based bikes that campaign the series also must run restrictors IF they are over the 750cc barometer for engine size for the Twins Series events.  Also if one were to decide to campaign a Honda RS750, they would also be required to run a 32mm restrictor due to the fact that they were a prototype racing engine as well.

In areas of weight differential, all XRs (and the RSs were they to campaign the Grand Nationals) have a minimum weight requirement of 310 lbs., as do any of the machines over 751cc.  The Kawis or even the SV650-based Suzuki have no weight minimum.

Both of those areas leave, in the balance of equality throughout the series, some tweaking that could possibly be made during the off-season in the AMA Pro Flat Track rulebook, of which another millimeter of restrictor could be given to the XRs and a minimum weight limit added to anything lower then the 750cc class barometer.  However, talking to team owner Rick Howerton about the differences he mentioned that "we're not as light on the weight as we look.  It just looks smaller."  Which is true, but he wasn't too concerned, either, about having to add a few pounds to the two-wheeled rocket should the need arise and if the rules are tweaked in that area.

Sammy Halbert made a better case for his shouts of unbalanced competition this week in replying to Cycle News' Paul Carruthers original story in the September 18, 2012 edition of the online mag that 'all the crying' about the Kawi Vs. XR battle was getting a little carried away after just two races this year.  The other day he put up a great response to the original story and better explaining his thoughts for a better balance between what in all likelihood will become the future battle of popular machinery to campaign in The Rolling Thunder Show. 

Read it here to see Sammy's input on 'balancing the act' in the greatest racing series on wheels in the world:

Cycle News' Paul Carruthers original story:

Stu's Shots original story about the Kawi Vs XR battle:

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