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M4 EMGO Suzuki And Cardenas Vindicated: AMA Penalties Overturned On Appeal

By December 5, 2007April 27th, 20212006 News

On Tuesday, December 4, 2007 the AMA announced the reversal of an earlier decision to punish Team Hammer, Inc. rider Martin Cardenas (riding under the M4 EMGO Suzuki banner) and Jordan Suzuki teammates Aaron Yates and Jake Holden for technical infractions at the season finale at Laguna Seca, held September 15-16. All three riders had the 20 points they were docked restored in the standings and their $2000 fines will be returned.

Both teams appealed the decision when it was handed down, pointing out that two sections of the AMA rulebook were in conflict on the issue, that AMA technical personnel had approved the minor modification to the crankcase breather tube routing over a two-year period, and that team bikes had passed technical inspection numerous times with the alteration–with specific attention paid by tech inspectors to the modification in question. The AMA reversed its decision based on the evidence presented by the teams and on the conflicting statements in the rulebook.

The evidence presented by the teams included an e-mail sent by an involved AMA tech official to one of the involved teams, admitting that an error had been made and asking the team not to lodge an appeal–because doing so would likely result in the original penalty being overturned, thus damaging the image of the AMA and the sport of professional motorcycle racing in this country.

While Team Hammer is pleased that the penalties were reversed, the team is disappointed in how the AMA handled the situation at Laguna Seca in September. The reputations of the involved riders and teams were unfairly harmed due to poor internal communication on the part of the AMA staff. Team Hammer feels that the AMA should have resolved its internal issues regarding this matter at the track, not 11 weeks after the event. In the future, Team Hammer hopes the AMA will try to handle situations like this one in a professional and correct manner as the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle racing in the U.S. should.

“The fans of M4 EMGO Suzuki and Jordan Suzuki need to know that this was not a situation where the teams were trying to do anything that was not fair or against the rules. The AMA tech officials told us everything was OK with this modification for two years before the penalty. Falsely accusing teams and riders of cheating is about the worst thing a sanctioning body can do, especially since the riders in this case have nothing to do with preparing the motorcycles,” said Team M4 EMGO Suzuki Crew Chief Keith Perry, who handled the appeal for the team. “We have always felt this would be overturned on appeal. There was never any doubt in our minds. We thought this was a bad deal and it makes the AMA look bad–with justification.

“This situation happened when some AMA people who were not on the technical side of things had a knee-jerk reaction for what we firmly believe were political, retaliatory reasons. They wanted some big notches in their gun belt and didn’t care how they got them, and took the one opportunity they had to stage a phony enforcement action when a factory team Suzuki was not on the Superstock and Supersport podiums. Some of the AMA technical staff that we respect and have worked with for years weren’t at the circuit that weekend and clearly some others didn’t understand or care what had taken place in the past or have all the facts,” continued Perry. “Having said that, if the AMA wants to make any rules changes, we will be glad to conform to any changes they want to make. We’re always willing to consult with the AMA technical staff about any concerns they might have; if we weren’t, we never would have talked to them about this modification when they asked us about it in the first place. Our goal is to build fast and legal bikes and as a team we’ve been doing that for over 25 years.”

In 2008, Team Hammer, Inc. will celebrate its 28th consecutive year as a professional motorcycle road racing team.