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In the last issue of Powersports Business, we reported how factory sponsorship appeared to be returning to ATV racing after 15-odd years of grassroots survival and aftermarket support (ATV racing gains more OEM support, TV coverage, Jan. 24, 2005).
Since then, American Suzuki has joined the Grand National Cross Country Series as the first-ever title sponsor of GNCC Racing, christening the series as the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series.
Suzuki logos will adorn GNCC racetracks at all 13 rounds of the 2005 series, and the company has planned a contingency program for pros and amateurs. The first race of the season, the Lone Star GNCC, took place February 8 in Gilmer, Texas.
Sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country series is produced by Racer Productions.
American Suzuki’s factory racing team includes five-time GNCC Bike Champion Rodney Smith and William Yokley.
Series riders compete for over $1.3 million in prizes and contingency money. Other featured sponsors include Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF and ITP. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Alpinestars, Öhlins, Cometic, Outerwears, Pro Armor, Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Racer X Illustrated, Motion Pro, Moto-Tee’s, Warrior and Laeger’s.

Arctic Cat, Inc. is switching its emphasis from snowmobiles to ATVs, a move that seems to be working.
In a recent conference call with investors and analysts, Arctic Cat Chairman and CEO Chris Twomey discussed a number of topics sure to shape the company’s ATV business in the coming year. Twomey said he expects Arctic’s 2005 full-year sales to be in the neighborhood of $687 million to $700 million, driven by a 15% to 17% growth in ATV sales.
Asked about ATV product shortages or delayed shipments to dealers, Twomey said the company has indeed had a shortage of 650cc units due to “tremendous” demand for the machines. “We’ve been fighting that all year, just getting the engine out we need,” he responded.
When conversation turned to Arctic’s in-house ATV engine production, Twomey replied: “We continue to work that project. It is moving along about where we thought it would be. We are just now taking orders and we’re going to sell a limited quantity of ATVs with that engine in the fourth quarter.
“We’re just incredibly focused on making sure that it’s right. It’s the most complicated product that we’ve made. And, as a result, it’s a slow and tedious process.”
Twomey said Arctic should hit its fourth quarter sales goals with the engine, “which again is limited in production with significant increases in production for the next fiscal year,” he said.
An analyst then asked how Arctic planned to satisfy increased demand in Europe, on top of the increased business realized in North America. Arctic Cat distributes product in Europe through ACE Trade AG, Bischofshofen, Austria (www.ace.ag).
“In terms of Europe, we’ve been involved with our distributor who has really led the way on the QuadraCycle — the homolugation of units — and we want to continue to work with him and strengthen his business,” Twomey said. “We think there’s a nice opportunity for us there to grow in that fast-growing market. And, we’re working with him to make sure that he can grow that market as quickly as we think we have the opportunity to.”
Finally, Twomey was asked about consumer reaction to Arctic Cat's new certified pre-owned ATV program.
“It’s slower (program) than I would have liked, but I still think it’s the right direction, and we're going to continue to push forward with the program,” Twomey responded. “And it’s just a matter of selling, and getting the concept to the dealers.”

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