On Wednesday, NHRA announced changes to the Pro Stock Motorcycle class for the remainder of this season and next year.
For 2013, Harley-Davidson and Buell will both be allowed a maximum 160-cubic inch displacement (cid), in a 60-degree, two-valve, push rod engine. Minimum weight for both motorcycles will be set at 625 pounds. The four-valve Harley-Davidson engine combination will no longer be allowed. Suzuki will still have a maximum of 107-cid, in a two-valve engine. Minimum weight on the Suzuki will be 595 pounds. NHRA also will discontinue the four-valve option on the Suzuki ,motorcycle.
“The changes for next year are good,” said Matt Smith, the 2007 NHRA Pro Stock world champion who rides a Buell. “It is a step in the right direction for all three makes (Harley, Buell and Suzuki).”
LE Tonglet, the 2010 Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ who rides a Suzuki powered by Vance & Hines motors had the following to say about 2013.
“It is going to hurt the Harley team really bad, they are going to have to go back to their old motors,” Tonglet said. “They were fast with their old motors so it is just a matter of time before they get fast with the push rod. It is really not going to do anything to the Buells because the 10 pounds isn’t really going to hurt them. We will see next year.”
According to Smith, the last year Harley-Davidson ran the two-valve motor in NHRA was 2008 and Vance & Hines Harley rider Eddie Krawiec won the championship.
“Right now they (Harleys) are running a four-valve overhead cam motor,” Smith said. “(In 2013), everybody has to run a two-valve just like what we have been running the whole time. It will definitely level the playing field. Sure they are still going to have some kind of advantage because I’m sure they have known about this. There’s no question that Vance & Hines knew this was coming. I’m sure they have been working on the motors and trying to make power with them.”
Smith’s biggest concern for 2013 is what type of two-valve motor the Harley-Davidson’s are going to run.
“This is the thing that scares me,” Smith said. “Since they (NHRA) are saying Vance & Hines has to go back to the two-valve motor, are they going back to their motor they had in 2008? Or are they getting to build a whole brand new motor with whatever they want to do with two valves? That’s the whole issue I have with it. They (NHRA) have not clarified that. They could make a two-valve motor, overhead cams and all that stuff and nobody even know that for next year. That’s the big problem. They need to have the same length push rods that we do. They need to have same rod configuration and the same type of deal and then it will be an even playing field. They do not need to be able to go and just put two-valve per cylinder and then rewrite the rulebook on everything else. That’s not fair. There are a lot of variations that need to be cleared up before we all get real happy about what they have done.”
Hector Arana Sr. and his son Hector Arana Jr. race Buells, providing the toughest competition for the Harley-Davidson riders this season.
“I was surprised that they are making changes (for 2013),” Arana Sr. said. “I’m OK with it. They (Harley-Davidson) should be up to speed right away. It doesn’t matter what you give Byron (Hines). He is a very smart, intelligent guy and he is very smart and very good at what he does. He will be back on top.”
For the five remaining races this season, NHRA announced a minimum weight increase of 10 pounds for Harley-Davidson riders Krawiec and Andrew Hines in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. The change takes place immediately at the NHRA Fall Nationals Friday through Sunday at the Texas Motorplex in Dallas. The new minimum weight for Harley-Davidson motorcycles will be 670 pounds.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles now weigh 55 pounds more than a Buell and 75 pounds more than a Suzuki.
“On the changes for this season, I still think it is a joke,” Smith further said. “NHRA told us all year long that they (Harley-Davidsons) do not have a performance advantage, yet they are changing the rules like they are for next year. Obviously, they know more than what they are telling everybody else. Regardless, they got paid to let this happen this year by Harley-Davidson. Just flat honest, there is no other reason they would have done what they did to the class this year. For them (NHRA) to add 10 pounds, they are just justifying that they can say that they did something. That’s all they are looking at. That 10 pounds is going to do nothing to them. The only way that Harley-Davidson and Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines are going to lose a race this year is either on a parts failure or they screw up. That’s it. They will sweep the whole year unless one of those two things happen.”
Tonglet offered his thoughts on the changes for rest of 2012.
“I’m surprised they added 10 pounds to the Harleys in the Countdown,” Tonglet said. “I do not see them doing anything to the Buells. The right thing to do is to add weight to both the brands, Harley and Buell because the Hectors (Aranas) can run right with Vance & Hines most of the time. They just fall apart on race day and that’s not Vance & Hines’ fault. The Hectors running with Harley shows that a Buell can go that fast and everybody else is just missing the tune-up. Right now, they could add weight to the Buell, but I doubt they will do anything. They took 10 pounds off the Buell in the Countdown in 2010 because some person was crying at a lot of the races saying they were down on horsepower and they have never added that 10 pounds back. I do not think 10 pounds is going to hurt them. They would have to do more than 10.”
Tonglet’s suggestion NHRA should add weight to the Buells is something which doesn’t sit well with Arana Sr.
“Why should they add weight to the Buell?,” Arana Sr. said. “The Suzukis have been fast and this year something is missing. Of course, I think they need to find their problem. I listen to them and some of them say ‘we get the motors from Vance & Hines and we do not know what we get.’ Then, they need to do their own work. Here you are depending on someone else and they come crying that they can’t go fast. On Sunday, we do the numbers on the back half and they are right there with us. I feel they have the power. I feel we (the Buells) are down on power.”
As for the additional 10 pounds on the Harleys, Arana Sr. has not thought much about NHRA’s move.
“I sure hope the added 10 pounds on the Harleys will help us,” Arana Sr. said with a laugh. “I have not really thought about it and I’m not going to worry about it. If you are thinking about them (the Harleys) all the time then you lose focus on what you are doing with your team and that’s what I do not want.”
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