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First Tests Of Season, At Talladega

By January 16, 1998April 26th, 20211998 News

New Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki member Mike Smith joined team veteran Tray Batey and teammates Grant Lopez and Josh Hayes during a one-day test session at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway, in Talladega, Alabama on a cold January 16.

Working with Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki is a homecoming for Smith, who rode for the team in 1989 and 1990, winning the 1990 Formula USA Championship after finishing on the podium at eight straight events. Notable among Smith’s 1990 finishes was a win at Road Atlanta, in which he used a steel-tanked GSXR1100 Superbike to beat a Marlboro-backed YZR500 Yamaha!

Batey and Smith rode big-bore GSXR750-based Formula USA/Formula Xtreme racebikes.

Batey’s bike ran flawlessly, but Smith’s was plagued with an hot-condition misfire that consistently showed up after five laps of hard running.

Smith had a mishap when he jumped on a Superstock-spec GSXR750 on DOT-labelled tires and highsided on his first lap out of the pits, destroying both the bike and the leathers he was weraing, which were leftovers from a previous season’s ride. Smith ended the day cautiously, wearing a borrowed set of leathers.

Batey ran long strings of 57.0 and 57.1 laps around the short, tight Talladega course, in the clockwise direction, despite cold temperatures.

Lopez, riding a Superstock-spec GSXR750, ran in the 58s and Hayes did similar times.