WE ARE BACK IN MOTOAMERICA SUPERSTOCK 1000
Last year, I said we believed in racing—and specifically in American racing—when we first launched Man in a Van With a Plan, sending our own Hayden Gillim into a season of Motoamerica Superstock 1000 racing with a few flat-track races thrown in. After a strong season on pavement and off (podiums on asphalt and dirt, plus an epic win at the Peoria TT in GNC2), we believe in racing more than ever.
But MVP was more than just a race report after every round. The video and stories got into the racing life and how Gillim pretty much spends every waking moment working toward motorcycle-related goals. It was also (mostly) about the love of riding—particularly the last video following the seasonending New Jersey Motorsports Park round of Motoamerica, one that we’ve taken to calling Sweet Kentucky Home. It was pure magic and one of the best videos anywhere that shows what the love of motorcycling is all about.
That’s why we are doing it all again. But because Suzuki has launched the all-new 2017 GSX-R1000, we are calling it Man in a Van With a Championship Plan. High hopes, sure, but the new bike shows every indication of being a class-leading racetrack weapon, with excellent preseason superbike tests by Yoshimura Suzuki, as well as our own Bradley Adams returning from the Phillip Island a very happy, highly qualified magazine tester.
The bike is fast, and true to the very spirit of the GSX-R, it was built as a highly effective racing platform, DNA that reaches back to the GSX-R750 launched in the US in 1986.
Despite the fact that Peter Jones has his sportbike-and-racing sad face on (Bike Life, page 32) and says he wants to see naked bikes race, fully faired sportbikes are the pinnacle of performance. And while most highlevel car racing has essentially devolved into a spec class, motorcycle racing continues to see actual design differences and investment from manufacturers at top levels.
In true MVP fashion, we didn’t have 2017 GSX-R1000S until a week before the first test at COTA in late March, and we had to test on the 2016 racebikes Hayden had used to good effect. By the time you read this, we hope to have raced the new bikes at Circuit of The Americas April 21–23 in Austin, Texas. The paint will probably still be drying.
Crew chief Rick Matheny is back and building the bikes. He’ll be joined by Josh Day, who has hung up his racing leathers (“Head Trauma Hits Home,” April) and will work as mechanic.
We are fortunate to have Alpinestars on board also, who will be keeping Gillim safe and looking good in Tech-air leathers using the same electronic air-bag protection run by Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa in Motogp. Bell returns to keep Gillim’s brain—and widely varied facial-hair stylings—protected from harm.
Gillim’s off-season has been one of intense training, the 21-year-old cranking out 300 miles a week on his Giant road bicycle, with plenty of moto seat time too. In addition to racing select American Flat Track rounds on an RM-Z450, we couldn’t resist adding a few Hooligan-series flat-track races on a, wait for it…suzuki Vanvan 200. Man on a Vanvan with a Hooligan plan?
So, even though we aren’t quite ready as a team, we’re still ready.
Like it said on the side of our white Nissan NV3500 van last year, “Roadracer, flattracker, van driver.” To that we are hoping to add “champion.” But we’ve got a long road ahead. Ride along with us here in the magazine and on cycleworld.com. We are absolutely serious about winning the championship, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going have a good time!