Want to know something INTERESTING???
Once again no disrespect to Mike Sleeter, but ever since they went to press with the whole "Factory for a day" thing and all that, I smelled a RAT in the soup... It didn't seem logical to me that a company would choose this method to showcase the merits of several of their bikes side by side. Don't get me wrong, it could only bolster the 450SXF's credability if the privateer they chose went out there and got ANY sort of results at all..., BUT I was also thinking to myself that it would discredit the 250SX 2t quite a bit to hype this thing the way they did, and give the public the impression that a fast guy from KTM was going out there on the 2 stroke, and then have him pull a "Charlie brown kicks the football" moment and not even qualify, or perhaps run dismally in the main on TV.
We heard fair amount of hype about Factory For A Day "ONE LUCKY PRIVATEER IS GOING TO GET TO RACE HANGTOWN ON MIKE SLEETER'S FACTORY KTM450SXF... BECAUSE MIKE HAS CHOSEN TO RIDE A 250SX TWO STROKE AT HANGTOWN!..." What they aren't telling you is that Mike Sleeter HAS HARDLY EVER QUALIFIED IN THE MOTOCROSS CLASS... http://www.amadirectlink.com/.../proracing/index.asp
I checked all the AMA Motocross Results Archives going back to Hangtown 07 which is the first national where he did timed qualifying for the Motocross Class. So far, and I have been looking, I haven't been able to find an archive of the results for the 2009 year. I'm still trying though!
His results, while riding a KTM450SXF, were:
Hangtown 2007 - 42nd Place Qualifier KTM450SX
Washougal 2007 - 36th Place Qualifier KTM450SX
Thunder Valley 2007 - 49nth Place Qualifier KTM450SX
Glen Helen 2007 - 37th Place Qualifier KTM450SX
Thunder Valley 2008 - 48th Place Qualifier KTM450SX
Washougal 2008 - 42nd Place Qualifier KTM450SX
Bear in mind, only the top 35 make the cut.
Public Relations is a complex game, with lots of ways to work the angles. I think KTM got exactly what they wanted out of this years Hangtown national. The black helicopters outside tell me that perhaps they got what they planned to get... Their new 350 4T came out shining brighter than Mike Alessi's "Jersey Shore" podium talk. One lucky unknown guy got his golden ticket to the chocolate factory onboard the 450 4T. And, a guy who had never, or almost never, qualified in the Motocross class went out there ON THE 250sx and did it like he always does, and "Took the fall" perfectly.
I'm about to head out to Pennsylvania for a Memorial day weekend of riding, and I should be loading up right now. But I wanted to write this out and post it immediately when I saw how Sleeter's bad results had dissapointed 2 stroke fans. I saw that a few people were scratching their heads while perhaps looking for their answers in the wrong places.
Don't blame the 2 stroke is right! Sleet actually improved on some of his past results and 46th wasn't far off his average. And, he's older now!
KTM is a brilliant marketing machine. They know where it pays to dump a lot of money into promotion... Mike Alessi costs more money than Snooki! They know how to generate positive press. "Unknown guy is FACTORY FOR A DAY!... Makes the main on borrowed 450SX-F!" And, they also know how to use marketing sleight of hand.
If you're like most people, you probably got the impression that Mike Sleeter had a "Factory" KTM 4 stroke that he was vacating for this 1 round so that he could ride the 2 stroke, and having a "Factory" bike, with your number on it, to lend out to one lucky privateer makes it appear that you are a factory guy, granted maybe a less well known factory guy. And being a "Factory" guy who doesn't qualify for the main leaves people with the impression that something had to be wrong, either with the rider, or the bike... Unless those people know that the guy in question hasn't qualified no matter what bike he was on, and of course that fact wasn't in any of the "Factory for a day!" fluff and hype.
It's not that KTM is working to kill their 2 strokes, they make great bikes everyone knows this and states it over and over. But I do believe they're smart enough to know that their 2 stroke lines will sell no matter what press they get. 2 Strokes are selling based on their merits these days. They have begun to regain popularity IN SPITE of more than a decade of steep bias in the rules, and the media. For a long time, the industry tried to stack the deck with mountains of pro 4 stroke hype, and an almost complete media exclusion of the 2 stroke. Now with the backlash to that approach starting to take root, and people like Brian Shuckhart (He qualifies, that's for sure!), John Nicolas, Mike Leavitt, Sedric Soubreyas, John Dowd (MB250 win at 338!), James Stewart (When he's riding, not talking), and Jake Weimer actually doing things that reflect positively on the 2 stroke, it appears that the "Mums the word when it comes to the 2 strokes" approach isn't working as well as it once did. I thought pretty soon some people in the industry would probably start to take a more active approach to downplaying the 2 stroke.
I think that's exactly what KTM did by publicizing Mike Sleeter's hangtown trial on the 250SX. What else could your intentions be when you put a guy who hasn't ever qualified out there on the 2 stroke and give this attempt more press than all of his other national rounds combined have gotten him?....
It smells fishy...