Many apologies for the late TOV-RR, jet lag, a regular job, and a cold have been a triple whammy this week.
European GP Nurburgring
The fabled Nurburgring GP circuit hosted yet another crazy F1 wet race. The track was dry as the cars pulled up to the grid but the realtime weather forecast predicted rain in 2 minutes. Sure enough, after the first lap the heavens opened and puddles of water quickly formed. A stream of water formed at the entrance of turn 1 and 6 cars went hydroplaning off the front straight as they came around for their second lap.
Among those that took the turn 1 slip 'n' slide was Jenson Button. Button was not able to continue, which was a shame since Button's smooth driving style is particularly suited to wet conditions. A finish in the points certainly wasn't too far-fetched.
The race was red flagged as a result of the sudden deluge and everyone came in to switch tires. After the restart Rubens Barrichello was punted off track by the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg but did not suffer any significant damage. He went on to finish 11th but it is doubtful that he would've gotten in the points even if he hadn't gotten shoved into the gravel.
European GP Results
1. Fernando Alonso Spain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-Mercedes 60 02:06:26.358
2. Felipe Massa Brazil Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari +8.1
3. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull Racing-Renault +65.6
4. Alexander Wurz Austria AT&T Williams-Toyota +65.9
5. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull Racing-Renault +73.6
6. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW +80.2
7. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW +82.4
8. Heikki Kovalainen Finland ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +1 lap
9. Lewis Hamilton Britain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-Mercedes +1 lap
10. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +1 lap
11. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda +1 lap
12. Anthony Davidson Britain Super Aguri F1 Team-Honda +1 lap
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Panasonic Toyota Racing-Toyota +1 lap
There were more new aero parts for testing at the Jerez circuit this week and it seems like Rubens Barrichello was able to take another small step forward.
For the first two days Honda F1's pace seemed rather disappointing but Rubinho revealed that the team was working on improving the baseline setup during those days. On the third day the improvement in pace from the new parts was readily visible. However, the RA107 is probably still going to be a midpack car so it is not quite time to buy champagne in anticipation of a podium appearance.
Rubens had this to say of his progress at Jerez:
"We have made a lot of set-up adjustments with the car to establish a good baseline and the mechanical and aero parts seem to be an improvement. I hope we have the basis for another small step forward next weekend now at the Hungarian Grand Prix."
Jerez Test Day 1 Times
1. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1min 20.111secs 71 laps
2 Franck Montagny Toyota-Toyota 1min 21.136secs 73 laps
3. Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1min 21.424secs 104 laps
4. James Rossiter Super Aguri-Honda 1min 21.682secs 92 laps
5. Christian Klien Honda-Honda 1min 22.035secs 70 laps
6. Nelson Piquet Jr Renault-Renault 1min 22.537secs 68 laps
7. Sebastien Buemi Red Bull-Renault 1min 22.565secs 78 laps
Jerez Test Day 2 Times
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1min 19.670secs 90 laps
2. Ralf Schumacher Toyota-Toyota 1min 20.540secs 73 laps
3. Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1min 20.588secs 83 laps
4. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber-BMW 1min 20.709secs 104 laps
5. Heikki Kovalainen Renault-Renault 1min 20.881secs 104 laps
6. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1min 21.071secs 75 laps
7. James Rossiter Super Aguri-Honda 1min 21.315secs 94 laps
8. Rubens Barrichello Honda-Honda 1min 21.444secs 79 laps
Jerez Test Day 3 Times
1. Alex Wurz Williams-Toyota 1min 19.962secs 86 laps
2. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber-BMW 1min 20.004secs 92 laps
3. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1min 20.220secs 111 laps
4. Rubens Barrichello Honda-Honda 1min 20.250secs 85 laps
5. Sebastien Buemi Red Bull-Renault 1min 20.318secs 68 laps
6. Jarno Trulli Toyota-Toyota 1min 20.377secs 70 laps
7. Heikki Kovalainen Renault-Renault 1min 20.828secs 65 laps
8. Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1min 21.186secs 108 laps
American Le Mans
Once again the Penske Porsche RS Spyders set the pace in the Acura Sportscar Challenge at Mid Ohio with another 1-2 finish overall. The highest finishing Acura was the Lowes Fernandez Lola which came in third. The Highcroft Racing Acura was the only one of the trio of Acuras that seemed to have the outright speed to run with the Porsches. Their fastest race lap was only one-tenth of a second slower than the lead Porsche but they were not able to capitalize on the car's speed.
The next round of the championship will be at the very long and very fast Road America track.
1. Bernhard/Dumas Penske Porsche RS Spyder 134 laps (LMP2)
2. Briscoe/Maassen Penske Porsche RS Spyder 134 laps (LMP2)
3. Pirro/Werner ASNA Audi R10 TDI 134 laps (LMP1)
4. Fernandez/Diaz Lowe Lola B06/43-Acura 134 laps (LMP2)
5. McNish/Capello ASNA Audi R10 TDI 134 laps (LMP1)
6. Wallace /Leitzinger Dyson Porsche RS Spyder 133 laps (LMP2)
7. Dyson/Smith Dyson Porsche RS Spyder 133 laps (LMP2)
8. Dayton/Brabham/Johansson Highcroft ARX-01a-Acura 132 laps (LMP2)
9. Pickett/Graf Cytosport Lola B06/10 AER 128 laps (LMP1)
10. Franchitti/Herta AGR ARX-01a-Acura 126 laps (LMP2)
World Challenge Touring
Not a fantastic weekend for the Realtime team at Mid Ohio but not totally disastrous as far as the championship is concerned. Championship leader Randy Pobst did not finish the race. Still, Pierre Kleinubing is 46 points behind the new points leader and is running out of time to make up that ground.
For Realtime to have a shot at the championship a couple of cars will have to beat the leading Mazda 6's in addition to Pierre or Peter taking some victories in the remaining rounds.
Don't forget to catch the race broadcast on Speed Channel this Saturday at 3:00 pm EST.
Mid Ohio Results (Top Ten & Acura Finishers)
1 Joey Hand Bimmerworld BMW 325i
2 Chip Herr StaSIS Audi A4
3 Jeff Altenburg Mazdaspeed Motorsports Mazda 6
4 James Sofronas Tecmark BMW 325i
5 Pierre Kleinubing Realtime Racing Acura TSX
6 Peter Cunningham Realtime Racing Acura TSX
7 Ian Bass StaSIS Engineering Audi A4
8 Charles Espenlaub Mazda 6 Tindol Motorsports
9 Adam Pecorari StaSIS Engineering Audi A4
10 Kuno Wittmer Realtime Racing Acura RSX
11 Brandon Davis Realtime Racing Acura TSX
17 Nick Esayian Realtime Racing Acura TSX
19 Brandon Peterson UPR Acura TSX
Sachsenring Wrap Up
What a surprise Sachsenring turned out to be. Casey Stoner had led every practice on the weekend and looked set to blitz the field but Dani Pedrosa had another idea about who was to stand atop the podium. After a brief skirmish in the first 2 turns Dani Pedrosa dropped the hammer and never looked back. When the smoke had cleared Dani Pedrosa won the race by a staggering 13.166 seconds, the largest margin of victory since 1997. That gap may not be huge by Formula 1 standards but in Moto GP that's a lifetime.
Nicky Hayden had another poor qualifying performance and started the race on the 5th row in 14th. Early in the race Hayden said his engine started making strange noises so he turned the power down [the RC212V has 3 rider-selectable traction control/fuel map settings] in fear of a DNF. The problem turned out to be a cracked exhaust. When Nicky noticed that the problem didn't get worse he switched the bike back to its full power setting and blistered through the pack en route to third place and a well-earned second consecutive podium.
1. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 41min 53.196 secs
2. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 42min 6.362 secs
3. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 42min 9.967 secs
4. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 42min 11.495 secs
5. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 42min 24.622 secs
6. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 42min 25.113 secs
7. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 42min 26.591 secs
8. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 42min 34.390 secs
9. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 42min 36.410 secs
10. Michel Fabrizio ITA Gresini Honda (B) 42min 37.655 secs
11. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 42min 55.090 secs
12. Kurtis Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 43min 3.917 secs
13. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 42min 48.710 secs
14. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 42min 34.089 secs
Is Ducati's Reign of Top Speed Terror Over?
When Ducati opened up the season they enjoyed an incredible advantage in straight line speed, literally obliterating all comers on the straightaways. Ducati's unexpected speed caught all of their competitors with their pants down, not the least of which was Honda.
But as one would expect HRC did not take that development lying down and steadily chipped away that advantage with new evolutions of the RC212V powerplant that they've given to Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden.
Now Ducati's advantage is all but a thing of the past as Dani's top speed during the German GP was merely 1 km/h slower than Casey Stoner's. In the remaining rounds of the championship look for the Hondas to run stride for stride in straight-line speed with the Ducatis.
Laguna Seca Wrap Up
A Heroic Ride from Marco Melandri
Marco Melandri dug deep and rode like a hero in Sunday's race after having suffered a big crash in Saturday's qualifying session. He was on a hot lap when Team KR's Kurtis Roberts rolled off the throttle and looked back to let other riders by. Melandri came by to pass him, swerved to miss him, but clipped Kurtis' bike which sent him careening off into the turn 3 gravel pit.
At first it wasn't clear what his injuries were but now it has become known that Marco dislocated his ankle in the tumble. He ended up qualifying 10th and only did one lap in the morning warmup on race day due to the pain.
When the green flag dropped on Sunday Melandri soldiered through the pain and scrapped his way all the way up to a podium position. That great result hints at what could have been had he not gotten hurt. Over the course of the weekend Melandri looked to be the only rider with the pace to fight Stoner for the win.
As for the Repsol team, realistically it did not look like any of the Michelins were going to be able to fight for the win at any time during the weekend so it was not surprising to see Pedrosa slide down to 5th place. It was quite a dramatic change in fortunes after Dani's dominant win at Sachsenring.
Nicky's Race Over Before it Started
Nicky Hayden's hopes of a three-peat at his home track were dashed quickly when he got tangled up with fellow American John Hopkins in turn 2 of the first lap of the race. Nicky actually got a great start and was second into turn 2 when Casey Stoner pushed him a little bit wide and Hopkins slipped under him where Nicky did not expect him to be. The contact almost caused Nicky to fall but he was able to maintain his balance. However, the contact did damage his front brake adjuster which prevented him from adjusting his brakes later in the race when the brake lever started to get long. Eventually Nicky retired since he was having problems getting the bike stopped and was getting lapped by the lead riders. A tough break for the Kentucky Kid in his home race.
Team KR Debuts New Chassis
The development of Team KR's brand new chassis came down to the wire as team manager Chuck Aksland actually had to carry the new chassis and parts on his commercial flight to Laguna as checked luggage.
We talked to Team KR's team manager Chuck Aksland for a few minutes at Laguna Seca and he summarized the changes in the new package they had for Laguna Seca:
"Stiffness-wise you know you're always making little tweaks here and there, it was more of an idea on engine position. In the beginning with our first frame all that was in line with what the satellite Honda factory bikes are. We thought maybe there was some room there to improve so we changed the engine position and right away it helped the turning of the bike and give it a little bit more secure feeling for the rider.
And along with that we made some exhaust pipes -- you know Honda didn't wanna give us the specification but we understand what they're doing with the factory bikes and we have the flexibility to make our own. So we made our own, sent 'em to Japan, because they sort of need to check everything before we put it on the bike, and we have those [the exhausts] here too."
Kurtis Roberts was immediately faster than he was at the previous round but ended up qualifying 18th. On the surface it was an abysmal qualifying position, but it wasn't so bad considering the entire field was covered by 1.8 seconds. Kurtis was only about .6 seconds outside of the top ten.
Unfortunately a strange engine problem reared it's head during the race and Kurtis had to retire. A considerable disappointment that Kurtis was not able to take advantage of the bike's new found pace.
Laguna Seca USGP Results
1. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 44min 20.325 secs
2. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 44min 30.190 secs
3. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 44min 45.966 secs
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 44min 50.989 secs
5. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 44min 55.947 secs
6. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 44min 58.631 secs
7. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 45min 01.747 secs
8. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 45min 02.680 secs
9. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 45min 03.845 secs
10. Roger Lee Hayden USA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 45min 04.045 secs
11. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 45min 07.701 secs
12. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 45min 13.173 secs
13. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 45min 18.735 secs
14. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 45min 35.691 secs
15. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) +2 laps
16. Chaz Davies GBR Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) +3 laps
Marco Melandri Leaving Honda
The writing was on the wall for quite some time now but after the race at Laguna Seca it was officially announced that Marco Melandri will be heading to the Ducati Marlboro team in 2008 in a 2-year deal. Marco actually had an offer from Ducati for this season and was their number 1 pick but an option in his Gresini Honda contract prevented that from happening.
This is surely a blow for Honda since Marco is one of their strongest riders and in the last 3 seasons has actually won more races than any other Honda rider, with 5 victories to his name. This development opens up a valuable slot in the Honda lineup for a new rider. James Toseland and Andrea Dovizioso would have to be the front runners but one never knows what the machinations of the silly season have in store.
Brno Wrap Up
At the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic James Toseland filed another entry in his case for the World Superbike championship as he managed the race from the front to take the win in Race 1. In race two King James was not able to get the best of the Roman Emperor (Max Biaggi) but took a respectable second place to consolidate his lead in the championship. James Toseland now leads the title chase by 43 points.
Brno Race 1 Results
1 James Toseland GBR Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR 41mins 02.730 secs
2 Max Biaggi ITA Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 K7 0.237 secs
3 Yukio Kagayama JPN Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 K7 1.185 secs
4 Noriyuki Haga JPN Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 2.403 secs
5 Roberto Rolfo ITA Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR 3.472 secs
6 Michel Fabrizio ITA DFX Treme Honda CBR 1000RR 3.758 secs
7 Troy Corser AUS Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 18.235 secs
8 Lorenzo Lanzi ITA Ducati Xerox 999F07 19.653 secs
9 Max Neukirchner GER Suzuki Germany GSXR1000 K6 22.230 secs
10 Shinichi Nakatomi JPN Yamaha Motor France-Ipone YZF R1 31.662 secs
11 Regis Laconi FRA PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse ZX10R 32.796 secs
12 Ruben Xaus ESP GMB Racing Ducati 999F06 47.360 secs
13 Vittorio Iannuzzo ITA Celani Team GSXR1000K6 1 min 01.983 secs
14 Jirri Drazdak CZE Yamaha Jr. Pro SBK Racing 1min 02.052 secs
15 S. Cruciani ITA Celani Suzki Italia GSXR1000 K6 1min 48.872 secs
Coca Zero 8 Hours of Suzuka
The four defenders of Honda's honor in the 30th running of the 8 Hours of Suzuka are James Toseland and Ryuichi Kiyonari on the customary number 11 bike (the 11 signifies two number riders, hence the 1-1) and Carlos Checa and Tady Okada on the second CBR1000RR-W (the 'W' stands for Works).
As has been covered here, Ryuichi Kiyonari is leading the British Superbike championship and is very familiar with Suzuka, having run the 8 Hour before. He and King James will be starting from the pole position. Carlos Checa of course rides for LCR Honda in Moto GP and Tady Okada is a HRC test rider and former GP and Superbike racer. Their team is in second. For some odd reason Johnny Rea was relegated to back up rider for Honda at the last moment. Quite a shame considering his recent BSB and Suzuka 300 km success.
British Superbike rookie standout Leon Camier is contesting the race with the Moriwaki Honda team again this year. They qualified 11th for the race.
This race is very important to Honda as it held at the house that Soichiro Honda built. As always they've stacked the deck with some of their best pilots to ensure that they have the best chance of victory in this anniversary running of the 8 Hour.
8 Hours of Suzuka Qualifying Results (Top Ten + 1)
1. Team HRC 11 (Ryuichi Kiyonari/James Toseland), Honda CBR1000RR, JSB, 2:08.344
2. Team HRC 33 (Tadyuki Okada/Carlos Checa/Johnny Rea), Honda CBR1000RR 2:08.352
3. Yoshimura Suzuki with Jomo 34 (Yukio Kagayama/Kosuke Akiyoshi), Suzuki GSX-R1000 2:08.735
4. Yamaha Racing 21 (Nobuyuki Osaki/Katsuyuki Nakasuga/W. Yoshikawa), Yamaha YZF-R1 2:08.904
5. Kyubo.com Team HARC-PRO (Yoshiteru Konishi/Takashi Yasuda), Honda CBR1000RR 2:09.235
6. Yamaha Racing 81 (Jamie Stauffer/Norick Abe), Yamaha YZF-R1 2:09.292
7. Yoshimura Suzuki with Jomo 12 (Atsushi Watanabe/Daisaku Sakai/Nobuatsu Aoki), Suz GSX-R1000 2:09.535
8. Masked Rider DEN-O Honda Dream RT (Kazuki Tokudome/Gaku Kamada), Honda CBR1000RR 2:09.550
9. Team Sakurai Honda 2 (Chojun Kameya/Russell Holland), Honda CBR1000RR 2:09.585
10. F.C.C. TSR ZIP-FM Racing Team (Y. Teshima/Shinichi Ito), Honda CBR1000RR 2:09.753
11. Moriwaki Motul Racing (Tatsuya Yamaguchi/Leon Camier/Shogo Moriwaki), Honda CBR1000RR 2:10.212
The main event kicks off this Sunday at 11:30 JPN time.
Laguna Seca Wrap Up
The factory Hondas were having a terrible time in practice but Jake Zemke was able to pull things together to qualify 6th. Unfortunately his CBR1000RR succumbed to a mechanical DNF when his clutch failed at the start of the race.
Neil Hodgson did a stellar job in his substitute ride. In a prolonged 3-way battle for third Hodgson fought tooth and nail with Miguel Duhamel and Jordan Suzuki's (yes, Michael Jordan's race team) Aaron Yates for the final spot on the podium but faded ever so slightly at the end of the race
Neil Hodgson's 5th place was particularly impressive considering that he opted not to use traction control on his bike for the weekend. With such a strong performance in his first race one can only hope that we'll see more of Neil on a Honda this season. Some rumors indicate that this ride was meant as a sort of audition for a factory Honda seat in 2008.
James Ellison (the regular Corona Honda rider) did not do too well in practice and qualifying but gathered things up and scored a credible tenth-place finish making it 3 Hondas in the top ten.
Laguna Seca Superbike Results (Top Ten)
1 Ben Spies Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000
2 Mat Mladin Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 +4.924
3 Aaron Yates Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 +29.237
4 Miguel Duhamel American Honda CBR1000RR +29.572
5 Neil Hodgson Corona Honda CBR1000RR +32.642
6 Jamie Hacking Monster Energy Kawasaki ZX-10R +36.752
7 Jason Disalvo Yamaha USA R1 +39.160
8 Jake Holden Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 +40.272
9 Eric Bostrom Yamaha USA R1 +42.185
10 James Ellison Corona Honda CBR1000RR +55.027
It has been a pretty successful two weeks for Honda racers on two wheels. Honda riders have taken victories in almost all of the major road racing championships and naturally, they dominate this edition of Soichiro's Heroes.
Dani Pedrosa (Moto GP)
2007 has not gone according to plan for HRC in Moto GP to say the least. Dani Pedrosa was looking to challenge for his first title and at the halfway point in the season the wins column was still empty for the sophomore Repsol Honda rider.
At the Sachsenring in Germany Pedrosa not only recorded the first win for Honda this season, he absolutely obliterated the field with the largest margin of victory seen thus far in the four-stroke era*. The normally very low key and unemotional Pedrosa was visibly affected after struggling to make his mark all season. HRC desperately need that win, and perhaps little Pedrosa needed it more.
Kenan Sofuoglu (World Supersport)
The young Ten Kate rider from Turkey is well on his way to being crowned World Supersport champion, taking 6 victories out of 9 races this season. At Brno last weekend he started from pole and controlled the race. With this kind of championship form he'll be a force to be reckoned with should he decide to move up to World Superbike next season.
Marco Melandri (Moto GP)
Marco Melandri's 2007 fortunes have been mixed at best as he has struggled to get the results with the difficult-to-ride RC212V. But as the updates from HRC have been applied to his satellite Honda Marco has improved his results bit by bit.
At last weekend's Moto GP US Grand Prix Marco seemed set to take on Ducati's Casey Stoner in a battle for Bridgestone rider supremacy but his race was thrown in jeopardy when a collision with Team KR's Kurtis Roberts resulted in a dislocated ankle and various cuts and bruises for the Italian rider.
But when the green flag dropped Marco took the bit between his teeth and fought his way onto the podium (ahead of one Valentino Rossi). A gutsy and impressive performance for sure, which is why it is a shame Honda will be losing him to Ducati next season. He will make a formidable adversary atop one of the bikes from Bologna.
James Toseland (World Superbike)
King James took another large step towards winning his second World Superbike crown by finishing 1st and 2nd in the two races at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic. It may be too early to bequeath him with the crown and scepter for the 2007 World Superbike Champion but round by round he is edging closer to the number 1 plate. The question that remains is will he stay in World Superbike for 2008?
Honda Racing on TV (All times are EST)
Saturday July 28th
3:00 pm Speed Touring Car Championship Mid-Ohio (SPEED)
Sunday July 29th
4:00 pm FIM World Superbike Championship Czech Republic - Race 1 (SPEED)
5:00 pm FIM World Superbike Championship Czech Republic - Race 2 (SPEED)
Sunday, August 5th
3:30 am Formula One Qualifying Hungary (SPEED)
7:30 am Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix (SPEED)
2:00 pm FIM World Superbike Championship Brands Hatch - Race 1 (SPEED)
3:00 pm FIM World Superbike Championship Brands Hatch - Race 2 (SPEED)
4:00 pm AMA Superbike Championship Mid-Ohio - Day 1 (SPEED)
5:00 pm AMA Supersport Mid-Ohio (SPEED)
6:00 pm AMA Superbike Championship Mid-Ohio - Day 2 (SPEED)
*The premier class of motorcycle grand prix racing did not switch to four stroke engines until 2002