UP FRONT

WE ARE BACK IN MOTOAMERICA SUPERSTOCK 1000

Cycle World - - Front Page - By Mark Hoyer

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!

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