Race Preview: Road Atlanta
April 15, 2010 | 4:39 P.M. EST
American Superbike Race Will Produce New First-Time Road Atlanta Winner
Last year at Road Atlanta, the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team accomplished an amazing feat in taking their 50th (and 51st) consecutive AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike series race victories. Their rider, Mat Mladin went on to capture his record breaking seventh AMA Pro American SuperBike Championship. This year, heading into the Suzuki SuperBike Showdown at Road Atlanta, April 16-18, the story couldn't be more different.
The 2010 season began with Jordan Suzuki rider Aaron Yates taking a popular pole position at the opening event. Under the watchful eye of team owner Michael Jordan, new National Guard Jordan Suzuki rider Jake Zemke followed up Yates's great performance with double race victories on the high banks of Daytona. Yates continued his show of qualifying speed with another pole position at the Auto Club Speedway last month. But that weekend saw two more different winners on the California track.
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati rider Larry Pegram took a very hard fought and popular victory in race one ahead of the Jordan teammates Zemke and Yates. Sunday's second National Guard SuperBike race once again saw the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team regain their rightful place atop the podium but this time, it was a well deserved and long overdue first time victory for Tommy Hayden. Hayden and his Suzuki have been frontrunners all season, with two close second place finishes at Daytona and a relatively solid performing package all year long, the team leader for Rockstar Makita Suzuki and Yoshimura, finally answered the pundits with a extremely well judged and executed victory over Team Graves Yamaha rider Josh Hayes and Hayden's Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Blake Young.
In a sad twist of fate, Yates had an unfortunate accident during the Sunday morning warm up at Auto Club Speedway and suffered multiple injuries to his right leg. While he recovers at his Georgia home, young Canadian rider Brett McCormick will move from his Celtic Racing Suzuki to the Jordan Suzuki.
Another rider undergoing medical treatment is M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider John Hopkins. "Hopper" underwent surgery after the Auto Club Speedway race. Hopkins ran very strong during the early stages of the California races and will hopefully be able to show his true potential on his return to the American motorcycle racing scene after a number of successful years in Europe in MotoGP and World Superbike. His teammate Chris Ulrich has also had a good start to the 2010 season with a sixth place at Daytona. Riding his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, he is currently just behind Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha rider Ben Bostrom in the point standings. RidersDiscount.com Suzuki rider Taylor Knapp is ninth in the points just ahead of McCormick, who is tenth in points.
Yates is the only active rider with an AMA Pro American SuperBike victory at Road Atlanta so there will be a new, first time winner at the Suzuki SuperBike Showdown on the 2.56-mile permanent road course.
Practice and qualifying begin on Friday, April 16th and final qualifying and the first of two exciting AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike races will take place at 3:00 p.m. local time Saturday and race two will be Sunday, April 18th at 3:00 p.m. local time.
Daytona SportBike Looking Ahead to Wild Weekend
The 2010 AMA Pro Racing Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL series has delivered three of the wildest races yet in this exciting class and the Suzuki SuperBike Showdown April 16-18 at the legendary Road Atlanta road course will again host the next edition of this exciting series.
The cast of characters on display in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike show the deep range of talent and experience coupled with pure youthful aggression that continually provide some of the best motorcycle racing anywhere. This year's championship began in Florida at the famous Daytona 200 and the race didn't disappoint as any number of riders could have taken victory at the famed Daytona track. Josh Herrin riding his Team Graves Yamaha emerged with a well deserved victory.
At last month's Auto Club Speedway race in California, Herrin took another win in the second of two Daytona SportBike races. The first race was won by M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas after a well judged race-long battle with reigning Daytona SportBike champion Danny Eslick riding his new GEICO Powersports Suzuki.
Eslick, who won at Road Atlanta last year, has provided a good deal of the fireworks this year, racing as hard as he possibly can to a fourth at Daytona and two hard fought second place finishes in California.
Another rider who has been right in the middle of the action is local Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha team rider Dane Westby. He currently sits third in the overall points standings and has also been a featured player in each of the first three races. Westby took second at Daytona and followed that up with third and sixth place finishes at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
Right in the middle of this group of young chargers is veteran Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati rider Steve Rapp. After his strong third place finish at Daytona, Steve backed it up with another solid run to third in the second Auto Club Speedway race and his seventh place finish in race one puts him in fourth place in the season long championship chase.
Another excellent run was delivered at Fontana by DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducati rider Bobby Fong who posted his best finish of the 2010 season by taking fifth during race two. Fong also grabbed a ninth place finish in race one to add to his season points total.
We can't go any further without mentioning a rider who also has shown excellent speed and competitive nature in finishing in the top ten in every race so far this year, highlighted by a season high result of fifth at Fontana. Cory West on his Vesrah Suzuki has also been right in the thick of things in each race with additional finishes of sixth at Daytona and seventh during race two at Fontana puts him fifth place in points, just two ahead of Cardenas who won his first Daytona SportBike race at Road Atlanta last year.
A number of other riders have shown excellent speed but just don't have the results to show for it but nonetheless, they are real threats for victory every weekend and have been held back by the usual combination of bad luck and misfortune. Team Graves Yamaha rider Tommy Aquino, Chris Fillmore on the second Vesrah Suzuki, Clinton Seller on the second Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha and Mark Crozier on his DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducati have all shown good speed and will feature at Road Atlanta and beyond.
Local favorite Geoff May will be back out on his GMR Racing Suzuki after missing the California race as will be Melissa Paris who will be racing with a special paint scheme on her Suzuki and a special riders leather suit showcasing the new Marvel Entertainment Paramount Pictures Ironman 2 movie staring Robert Downey Jr. Paris, showcased on a recent CBS Sunday Morning show segment, has recovered from her injuries sustained at the season opening race at Daytona.
The April 16-18 Suzuki SuperBike Showdown at Road Atlanta will be the first race of the 2010 season on a permanent road racing course and will showcase the many AMA Pro Racing Daytona SportBike riders at this storied racetrack.
Practice and qualifying begins Friday, April 16th with final qualifying and race one of two kicking off 1:45 p.m. local time on Saturday, April 17th and race two will be at 4:15 p.m. local time on Sunday, April 18th. All three AMA Pro Road Racing categories will be racing at Road Atlanta along with many other fun activities at this beautiful 2.56 mile racetrack.