Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS?

07/11/2011 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Who Had the Better AMA Superbike Racing Debut: The KTM 1190 RC8 R or the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS? Chris Fillmore KTM 1190 RC8 R Mid Ohio AMA Superbike 5 635x423

Mid-Ohio is a great destination if you’re looking to do a track day (we’d recommend riding with these guys), and Mid-Ohio is an even better place to leave if you don’t have a motorcycle with you. However, once a year, the Buckeye State redeems itself by playing host to an AMA Pro Racing weekend. The AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio were extra special this year, as KTM debuted Chris Fillmore on its factory-backed KTM 1190 RC8 R Superbike, bringing the Austrian company into a more active relationship with the American Motorcyclist Association.

Also making its first racing debut was the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS Superbike, the race version of Erik Buell’s latest street machine (or is it the 1190RS the street bike version of Buell’s latest race bike?). However which way you read that development process, this weekend was the first time Geoff May got to flog the EBR 1190RS in anger on a track with other racers present.

The much anticipated bigger horsepower Superbike was supposed to put Erik Buell Racing on an even playing field with the other manufacturers, as the team had previously been cobbled with its 1125cc homologated Buell 1125R, and accordingly the EBR team tent saw it’s fair share of visitors..

With KTM making its first AMA race outing on its otherwise tried and tested RC8 R platform, and Buell banking on several AMA season’s worth of racing experience to launch its previously un-raced 1190RS Superbike, and interesting contrast comes out from AMA Pro Racing’s latest stop at Lexington, Ohio.

Pos.RiderTeamDiff. to LeaderGapBest Lap
Free Practice – 7/8/2011@ 1:00 PM:
1Josh HayesMonster Energy Graves Yamaha R1--1:26.117
10Chris FillmoreKTM/HMC Racing KTM 1190 RC8 R2.631-1:28.748
11Geoff MayAmsoil EBR Racing 1190RS2.8920.2611:29.009
Qualifying Practice – 7/8/2011 @ 4:00 PM:
1Josh HayesMonster Energy Graves Yamaha R1--1:25.639
10Chris FillmoreKTM/HMC Racing KTM 1190 RC8 R1.745-1:27.384
13Geoff MayAmsoil EBR Racing 1190RS2.8581.1131:28.497
Final Qualifying Practice – 7/9/2011 @ 9:30 AM:
1Blake YoungRockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000--1:25.025
9Chris FillmoreKTM/HMC Racing KTM 1190 RC8 R1.886-1:26.911
12Geoff MayAmsoil EBR Racing 1190RS2.5180.6321:27.543
AMA Superbike Race 1 – 7/9/2011 @ 3:15 PM:
1Blake YoungRockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000--1:25.786
7Chris FillmoreKTM/HMC Racing KTM 1190 RC8 R13.620-1:26.639
11Geoff MayAmsoil EBR Racing 1190RS31.19217.5721:27.225
Warm-up – 7/10/2011 @ 10:00 AM:
1Blake YoungRockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000--1:25.682
9Geoff MayAmsoil EBR Racing 1190RS2.172-1:27.854
12Chris FillmoreKTM/HMC Racing KTM 1190 RC8 R2.7520.5801:28.434
AMA Superbike Race 2 – 7/10/2011 @ 3:30 PM:
1Tommy HaydenRockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000--1:25.820
9Chris FillmoreKTM/HMC Racing KTM 1190 RC8 R26.602-1:26.966
10Geoff MayAmsoil EBR Racing 1190RS43.84117.2381:27.252

As you can see from the table above, KTM arguably had the upper-hand for its debut at Mid-Ohio, faster than Buell in every session except Sunday’s Race 2 warm-up. Likely due to the Austrian factory’s experience racing the KTM 1190 RC8 R in the German Superbike series and having the basic model out since 2008, KTM didn’t have nearly the learning curve and teething problems that Erik Buell Racing encountered during the Mid-Ohio Race.

“Nobody expected us to be inside the top ten. We really haven’t had much time on the bike and are way behind in terms of set-up compared to the teams that have been racing all season,” said rider Chris Fillmore after Saturday’s race. “When I qualified 10th fastest, we were all excited and couldn’t wait for the race to begin.”

“This was the perfect end to a great weekend. We are very excited to leave our first AMA Pro Superbike race with two top ten results,” remarked Fillmore in a separate statement on Sunday. “We definitely have some work to do before the next round but we are much further ahead than we expected.”

In the Erik Buell Racing camp, the team had been complaining throughout the season on the noticeable power deficit between the Buell 1125R and the rest of the AMA Superbike grid. With the EBR 1190RS being the great white hope of American superbike racing, the added weight that comes with the extra 74cc’s of displacement proved to be a larger obstacle than the team could overcome on race day.

“11th and 10th first time out. Bike was very solid and reliable, but we waaay underestimated the difficulty of set up with the extra 25 lbs of weight strapped on,” wrote the team on the Erik Buell Racing Facebook wall. “Today with all that weight and some chassis changes we made trying to compensate for it (which included running a soft rear tire), we destroyed the tire mid[sic]race, and Geoff had to slow way down. We’ll try to get some more testing before Laguna.”

Time will tell how both bikes and teams move on from Mid-Ohio, as they will race again at Laguna Seca in two weeks’ time. Either way, the big winner are the fans, who have two more manufacturers to root for in a series that’s otherwise been dominated by Japanese manufacturers.

Source: AMA Pro Racing; Photos: Brian J. Nelson / KTM

Comment:

  1. spytech says:

    That KTM RC8R is a nice piece of kit. can you guys elaborate on what is done to this bike? superbike kit? how much more has to go into this bike, besides the $20k for the track version, is what i am asking.

    i really hope buell can get this bike together and get a win, it would really justify (to some) the $40k price tag on that bike.

  2. Adam says:

    Nice article. Where are the pics of the 1190? All I see are KTM pics.

  3. Steve says:

    Great to see Chris do so well on the KTM and I’m sure he’s benifited from racing that Harley XR ancor and gained lots of experience. All the best to him and KTM after a great weekend. The Buell also looked good and shows promise if only Eric could get an even break. Go try running a 10K wearing a 25 lb weight belt. Unbelieveable ! Hang in there boys!

  4. I was at the launch of the RC8, and recall them telling us that KTM produces a ‘Superbike’ kit for its IDM racers. IIRC, the kit brings it up to FIM Supersport motor specs, since the German series operates on restricted engine rules. That kit would get you pretty close to the prevailing AMA Superbike rules, too.

    The availability of that kit, plus (one presumes) some feedback from KTM racers who’ve been racing the bike for a couple of years in Europe. And, let’s not forget, a basic architecture that is a lot better understood… combine to make getting the KTM up to speed a slightly less daunting task than the challenge facing EB.

    I would go out on a limb and say that the gap between the bikes would have been even larger if the riders had swapped machines.

  5. Clarification:

    You state the following:

    “the added weight that comes with the extra 74cc’s of displacement proved to be a larger obstacle than the team could overcome on race day.”

    The added weight is not due to the extra displacement, the stock 1190RS in race trim weighs in more than 25 LBs below the AMA’s minimum weight for twin cylinder machines, so EBR had to add a 25 LB block of lead to the bike. It was the addition of that added ballast that led to the challenges on track. It’s odd that the rules require a minimum weight that is greater than the stock street bike and 10LBs greater than that required for the four cylinder bikes. That rule is unfair to the KTM and the EBR bikes. Let’s hope AMA Pro Racing has sense enough to modify it accordingly.

  6. Spytech asks: “That KTM RC8R is a nice piece of kit. can you guys elaborate on what is done to this bike? superbike kit? how much more has to go into this bike, besides the $20k for the track version, is what i am asking.”

    Start with a Magneti Marelli traction control system, a ffully outfitted factory tractor trailer rig, a full compliment of team personnel including an expert data system technician (traction control). But just the bike itself with the MM traction/wheelie control system is into well over six figures.

  7. DanG says:

    Most people don’t realize that the KTM American headquarters are in Cleveland, about a ninety minute drive to Mid Ohio… I’m sure they’ve had some time on the track with the RC8R.

    Great bike, great debut… maybe AMA racing will be a better show than it has been since the Nascar people alomost killed it.

    The Buell needs a lot more work than the KTM, and they have fewer resources. Good to the bike out there racing competitively.

  8. Desmo900 says:

    Buell had a fantastic day at Mid-Ohio. How long has Erik Buell Racing been in business? 2 years ? and they have what, 12 people in the whole company now… the 1190 with Geoff May did a wonderful job. Congratulations to Erik and the Elves!!!

  9. Buell Forum, I don’t know where you get you information, but you’re misinformed on a number of things here. As was told to me by an EBR race team member, the 1190RS is roughly 25 lbs over the minimum weight requirement set by the AMA (which is now 385 lbs).

    The rules were made before EBR even showed up with the 1190RS, so I don’t know what’s “weird about them”. Nonetheless, EBR lists the street bike as 389 lbs with fluids, but not fuel, so it’s actually 9 lbs over the minimum racing weight, not 10 lbs under as you suggest.

    The minimum weight requirement is in response to the extra 200cc’s two-cylinder motorcycles get in the rules, so I don’t see how the extra weight can be considered unfair. Regardless, it affects KTM and EBR equally, so it’s a moot point to bring up.

    As for the alleged Magneti Marelli traction control system, take a look at the photos of the KTM from Mid-Ohio. There are no traction control pick-ups on the front and rear tires, which you would see with a Magneti Marelli system. As for the price tag, the hardware costs under $10k, it’s hiring someone that knows the 0’s and 1’s that’ll cost you, and at the AMA level I’d say there’s a pretty wide range on that price tag (outside the Top 3 teams though, I’d bet good money the price comes down significantly, and doesn’t change substantially from the teams that actually have the systems…if any).

    If we’re going to bring up tractor trailers, and race team personnel, we might as well bring up cotton t-shirts, and water bottles…all the teams have them.

    DanG:
    As for KTM’s home field advantage…I’d look closer to where HMC is based, and what they’ve done as a team, since they’re the ones actually setting up the bikes. If you’ve seen KTM’s offices in Ohio, I don’t you’d think they’re going out to the track and setting up the RC8 R for race duty, as they’re too busy crunching spreadsheets, filing warranty claims, and making sure shipments from Austria keep arriving.

  10. More than 12 people work at Erik Buell Racing.

  11. Mark says:

    For the record, the AMA superbike minimum weights are 370Lbs for 4 cylinders and 390lbs. for Twins.
    This is a BS rule to begin with.
    The equivalency is already factored into the displacement limits, allowing twins to be 200cc larger to make up for their inherently lower volumetric efficiency vs. a four cylinder. Penalizing a twin even more was purely a political move to make sure Ducati could not dominate the AMA series like they did in WSBK. They had no problem with two years of Suzuki domination though.

    Yes, the new Buell 1190 superbike came in 25 lbs lighter than the allowable minimum weight in race trim, and needed to add 25 lbs. of ballast.

    What I don’t understand is why this was such a problem for Buell. They knew months and months ago what the minimum weight was, and had plenty of time to figure out exactly were to put the ballast.
    For a company claiming to be all about mass centralization, putting the ballast under the rear subframe, seems to be the last place you would want to put an extra 25 lbs.
    I think a little more forethought and planning would have served them well.

    I also get a kick out of some Buellers out there, especially those that were never really into racing, that assumed the new Buell would just show up and fight for a podium position. This shows how little they understand and respect the efforts and competence of the other bikes and manufacturers in the series.

  12. Jon says:

    Mark, what “Buellers” are you talking about. I don’t see any comments reflecting that…and haven’t heard any on the forums.

    Frankly, this new racing effort is what the majority of Buellers want. We (I am one) were completely sick of the lack of racing when Buell was hammered by HD all of those years. Now that EB is out on his own, we finally get to see the bikes we love racing. To make that statement is pretty idiotic of you.

  13. AMA/DMG hater says:

    At least the KTM didn’t try to run with the 600s in it’s debut. The crap that Buell and DMG pulled a few years ago destroyed the little amount of credit that both companies/organizations had. Kind of like “rolling starts” “pace bikes” “Ambulance ‘s riding around an active course, topped of by invisible flag men and corner workers. Can’t wait until the series tanks and a real one replaces it

    Again, props to KTM …but get out of AMA/DMG, be smart like Honda and the other factories
    Buell 1100 against 600s? F*cking idiots. you deserve nothing! Stay in the series and piss your money away.

  14. Mark says:

    Jon, I didn’t mean to imply all Buelers. In fact the majority of them are knowledgeable race fans. I was referring to a small segment of them that I happened to have conversations with, that assumed the new 1190 was going to stick it to the other factories.

    I was just trying to point out the ridiculousness of people on both sides, who slam other manufacturers simply based on the country of origin. I have nothing against good old fashioned enthusiasm for the home team, I for one am hoping for the same, but I respect the amount of work involved to get to that level.

  15. G.Irish says:

    For those saying it’s unfair that twins have to run at a heavier weight, keep in mind that with 200 cc of extra displacement they’re making about the same power that a 1000 cc 4 makes, but they have more torque and arguably better power delivery than a 4 does. If you allowed twins at 1200 cc to run at the same weight as 4’s chances are they’d dominate (assuming equally talented riders and level of prep).

  16. Mark says:

    @G.Irish, I don’t agree. The top 4 cylinder bikes still produce more HP than the best twins. The extra 200cc given to the twins is more than offset by allowing the 4 cylinder bikes to run twice the amount of cylinders. As far as I’m concerned this is a fair trade and no other allowances should be given.

    The goal posts for the twins are constantly moving. As soon as a twin starts winning races, it’s always assumed that the rules must be stacked in their favor, regardless of how innovative and hard working the factory is in developing the bike. The better the bike performs, the more the rules get stacked against them.

    This is never the case with the 4 cylinder bikes. Imagine if Mladin and Spies were riding Ducatis instead of Suzukis during the years they completely dominated AMA superbike racing, the AMA would have forced them to keep adding more and more ballast until they could no longer dominate.

  17. G.Irish says:

    @Mark which series are you talking about? If you’re talking about AMASBK, the top teams running 4’s are better funded, more experienced teams than either EBR or HMC KTM.

    To give a better example, look at Larry Pegram on the Ducati last year. He’s a decent rider but he had never won a race in any AMA Pro class until he got on that Ducati. Last season, in 11 races he had a win, 4 podiums, and 8 top fives. This season in 11 races on a S1000RR he has only two top fives to his name. He could be struggling with a learning curve with the new bike, but the results suggest that the Ducati netted him better results. Was it because a twin has an inherent advantage? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s certainly not at a disadvantage.

    I’d agree that it’s tough to say whether a twin is winning races because the rider is performing exceptionally or if it’s because of the displacement advantage. But the fact remains that a 1200 cc twin can make about the same power that a 1000 cc 4 can but with better torque and better power delivery.

  18. spytech says:

    In WSBK it is clear that the ducatis have a hp disadvantage. it is said to be around 20hp. in current trim, the ducatis have more torque but can not rev to the same range that the inline4’s can, so they can not make the same hp. maybe with the new ducati and the more oversquare engine they will but not now.

  19. Jensen,

    You information is inaccurate. Mine comes from the people at EBR. Repeating:

    The added weight is not due to the extra displacement, the stock 1190RS in race trim weighs in more than 25 LBs below the AMA’s 380 LB minimum weight for twin cylinder machines, so EBR had to add a 25 LB block of lead to the bike. It was the addition of that added ballast that led to the challenges on track.

    That is straight from EBR. See their Facebook page to confirm.

    The weight of the street bike minus all the stuff that is typically removed, you know like headlights, tail-light, license plate holder, kickstand, mirrors, turn signals, street bike muffler, etc is what I was referring to concerning the weight of the bike and what anyone familiar with superbike racing would understand.

  20. Concerning the KTM’s machine and it’s state of investment:

    Per Road Racing World and the KTM racing team leader:

    The KTM RC8R that Chris Fillmore will ride is a different story, however, as it is very similar to the machine Martin Bauer and Matej Smrz are using to win German/IDM Superbike Championship races, complete with a sophisticated Magneti Marelli electronics package.

    “The nice thing about it is the IDM Superbike rules are almost identical to the AMA’s [rules],” said Mitch Hansen, owner of HMC Racing and leader of the HMC/KTM Superbike Race Team. “They’re doing really well with it now, and the bike is almost the same as their bike. We’ve done some different things with the electronics and some different things with the motor, but very similar. So we think we should be competitive. We hope we will be.

    “It’s Superbike, so the electronics is probably the most important thing, other than getting the motor up to par. We think we’re in the ballpark with horsepower compared to some of the inlines [four-cylinder motorcycles], but it took a little help from Austria and a little help from some of my friends in Italy who have some electrical experience.”

    source: http://roadracingworld.com/news/article/?article=45177

  21. Jensen,

    “It’s Superbike, so the electronics is probably the most important thing, other than getting the motor up to par. We think we’re in the ballpark with horsepower compared to some of the inlines [four-cylinder motorcycles], but it took a little help from Austria and a little help from some of my friends in Italy who have some electrical experience.”

    Mitch Hansen, owner of HMC Racing and leader of the HMC/KTM American Superbike Race Team

    Jensen, If that isn’t talking about traction control, then what?

    You’re not doing your readers much of a service lying to them. Shame on you.