Team Suzuki Press Office – July 19.
Angelle Sampey and her Vance & Hines/ Mission Suzuki Hayabusa edged closer to the lead in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship points standings with a solid run to the semi-final round at the NHRA Dodge Power Broker Mile-High Nationals in Denver on Sunday.
The Vance & Hines/ Mission Suzuki team’s other rider, Eddie Krawiec, was the fastest Suzuki qualifier in Denver, with a 7.164-second/186.56 mph pass that was good for third position in the eliminations ladder, just ahead of Sampey’s 7.171-second/186.95 mph fourth-place run.
Heading into Sunday’s final elimination rounds, Sampey was confident about aerodynamic and chassis setup adjustments throughout the 2022 season, making her Hayabusa one of the strongest Suzukis in the Pro Stock Motorcycle field. With 515 points, Sampey currently sits in second place in the championship points standings, just 10 points behind leader Steve Johnson. Suzuki-powered bikes continue to dominate the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, with eight of the top 10 bikes running Suzuki power.
Sampey advanced to the semi-final round with wins over James Underdahl, who fouled in round one, and Jerry Savoie in round two, whom she defeated with a quicker and faster 7.181-second/186.90 mph pass to his losing 7.311-second/185.13 mph run. In the semi-final round, Sampey faced top qualifier Matt Smith, who re-set the elapsed time and top speed track records during the weekend at 7.090 seconds and 190.22 mph. Despite a slim starting line advantage, her 7.253-second/170.15 mph run fell short of Smith’s Buell’s 7.121-second/190.03 mph run.
“In qualifying, I was already excited compared to how it went last year when I struggled to get the bike down the track. Couldn’t keep it straight, couldn’t drive it. It was very frustrating. And then we came here this year and it’s a whole different story. Good straight runs, good shifts. I felt good going in race day. I was extremely calm, had no nerves, and really enjoyed the day other than the heat,” Sampey said. “Going into the semis we knew Matt had the advantage over us. I did the best job I could, but when I saw he was out on me I knew I wasn’t going to get to the finish line before him, so to save some parts, I rolled off a little bit. It is what it is. A perfect light wouldn’t have won the round anyway. It was a fun weekend. I’m very proud of the team. There wasn’t anything we should be disappointed about.”
Krawiec advanced to the second round of eliminations with a 7.148-second/187.50 mph win over Kelly Klontz (7.399-second/179.76 mph) in round one. Facing Joey Gladstone in the second round, Krawiec ran 7.181-seconds at 186.30 mph to come up just short of Gladstone’s 7.155-second/185.08 mph pass.
“I won’t say it was a great weekend because I believe I had a motorcycle that should have made it to the final. We were off a tad on the tune-up for the second round and the bike slowed down. The tune-up was a little bit on the edge, and as the day got hotter from the first to the second round it caught us a little off guard,” Krawiec said. “This is my first year riding and tuning the Suzuki up here at altitude and I’m still learning the characteristics of the motorcycle. That’s what it comes down to. I think I’ll have a fast motorcycle in Sonoma next week. I’m looking forward to it.”
Crew Chief Andrew Hines was pleased with the performance of both bikes in the hot, thin air of Denver, considering the minimum weight disadvantage four-cylinder engines face against V-Twins under the current Pro Stock Motorcycle rules.
“We qualified as the fastest Suzukis, which was our goal. Unfortunately, we knew coming here that the V-Twins, especially Matt Smith’s bike, were going to be the top of the pack. Based on the rules for the season, he’s 10 pounds lighter and we’re 20 pounds heavier than last year. That’s a 30-pound differential and a huge advantage in his camp,” Hines said. “Angelle finished pretty much where we expected, but we wish Eddie’s bike would have been in the semi-final. He would have had a great chance to go to the final. Joey (Gladstone) just had the better set up today for taking Eddie out.”
Looking ahead to next weekend, the Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki crew will be busy with the quick turnaround for the Sonoma race, including swapping engines in both team Hayabusas.
“We’ll get back down to sea level and run some different engines because these things take a beating up here. We’re turning them higher at the finish line and they’re running for an extra half a second over what a good sea-level run would be. We dedicate an engine for each bike to this race and don’t use it again until it gets refreshed,” Hines said. “So we’ll get to Sonoma, throw our sea-level engines in, and take off from there. Hopefully, we have some good weather and smash something off in the low 6.70s and be well into the 200-mph mark again.”
After seven of 15 rounds, Sampey and Krawiec currently sit second and seventh in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship standings with 515 and 434 points, respectively. The Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle team will be back in action on July 22-24th at the DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Sonoma, California.