Team Hammer, Inc. has banned all factory team riders from its 2007 School, Track Day and Pro Practice Sessions, and will use the 2006 AMA Pro Racing list of factory teams to determine who is and is not a factory rider.
The ban applies to School, Track Day, and Practice sessions at Daytona International Speedway in March and October; Track Day sessions at Road Atlanta in August; and Pro Practice Sessions scheduled for the Thursday prior to AMA Superbike Nationals at California Speedway in April and at VIR in August. This decision has been made after an AMA rules change allowed all licensed riders to enter so-called “Thursday practice” in 2007. Previously, certain criteria arbitrarily restricted some riders from practicing while allowing others. The rule change sought to end previous controversies involving Thursday practice by opening it up to all racers and teams.
Team Owner John Ulrich stated, “Various factory team managers and sponsors are complaining that their costs will unreasonably increase due to a decision by AMA Pro Racing to open up Thursday practice to anyone. Recently, without any attempt to objectively determine the facts, a tabloid publication writer accused me of being in favor of opening up Thursday practice sessions because my company, Team Hammer, Inc., will profit from factory team riders having to pay to participate. The publication in question also dismissed Thursday practice as being of little or no use to private teams and riders, which anyone who has actually raced a motorcycle at an AMA National event would know is untrue.
“Team Hammer has supported Thursday practice for privateers not because of any potential profit but to help the competitive balance in the series. While the factory teams often have the best riders and machines at their disposal, they also fund more than 20 days of stand-alone private testing at AMA tracks, tests that are not open to privateers. Team Hammer Schools, Track Days, and Pro Practice Sessions are not the multi-day test sessions booked by the factory teams, but do offer an affordable way for private teams and riders to get an opportunity to test. In most cases, it is the only chance these riders and teams will get to work up to speed at a particular circuit before a race weekend begins.
“Thursday practice is not about factory teams, it is about providing private teams and riders a chance to set up their bikes and get going prior to the start of official practice on Friday,” said Ulrich. “Our ban on factory riders should answer concerns that factory teams will be forced to spend money at our events as well as point out how wrong it is to claim that we’re in favor of Thursday practice for the money.”