Heading into round two of this year’s AMA Pro Road Racing championship at California’s Auto Club Speedway, to be held March 26 – 28, riders, teams and fans are ready to rejoin the battles that begin at the opening round last month at Daytona International Speedway.
The Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge weekend will feature two action packed races in each of the three AMA Pro Road Racing classes. Practice and qualifying begin on Friday, March 26th at the 2.36-mile combination speedway/road course.
Saturday, March 27th will see more qualifying and the first of two AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike races. Just prior to the American SuperBike race on Saturday, fans will be treated to rider introductions and a Grid Walk. The second American SuperBike race will be on Sunday, March 28th.
After an historic two-race Daytona sweep for Jake Zemke and his No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000, all eyes will be focused on whether the California native can build on his fast start to the season with his new team and maintain his championship points lead.
Hot on Zemke’s heels is No. 22 Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Tommy Hayden, who finished second in both Daytona races after running in the lead in race two before Zemke passed Hayden for an incredible 0.009 of a second win at the line.
Both National Guard American SuperBike races at Daytona International Speedway were wild affairs and a number of riders held and battled for the lead in each race. No. 72 Foremost Insurance Ducati 1098R rider Larry Pegram finished a strong third in race one and backed that up with a solid fifth in race two to put him in third place in the points.
Round one Pole Position winner Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) underscored the strong weekend for the Jordan Suzuki team by finishing fourth in both races under the watchful eye of team owner Michael Jordan.
Hayden’s teammate, Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000) also ran well at Daytona and currently sits fifth in the points after solid fifth and seventh place runs.
Taylor Knapp is in sixth place in the points after two strong races on his No. 44 RidersDiscount.com Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Conspicuously absent from the top of the standings are Yamaha riders Ben Bostrom (No. 155 Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha R1), Josh Hayes (No. 4 Graves Motorsports Yamaha R1) and Chris Clark (No. 48 Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha R1), but even though their Daytona performances didn’t meet their expectations, keep your eye on this group at Fontana and beyond.
Bostrom had a tough start to his season with an eighteenth place finish in race one but recovered nicely to take a strong third in race two on his Pat Clark Motorsports/Palms Hotel/Las Vegas Motor Speedway Yamaha.
Bostrom’s teammate Clark just missed a top ten performance in race one and finished sixteenth in race two.
Team Graves Yamaha rider Josh Hayes took fourteenth after an early off-track excursion in race one and improved to a solid sixth in race two but is still below his and the team’s expectations.
Two other riders that had up and down weekends at Daytona were Chris Ulrich, who finished a solid sixth place in race one and recovered for another strong finish in race two after he also had an early off track excursion on his No. 18 Roadracingworld Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R1000.
His teammate, fan favorite and former MotoGP star John Hopkins had a troublesome first weekend back on his No. 21 M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R1000, but stayed tuned as this strong combination will soon take their rightful place at the front.
After a busy winter testing schedule at Auto Club Speedway, the teams are ready to tackle the exciting 21-turn, two-mile plus combination circuit and with the unpredictable start to the season, this weekend’s Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge races should be more competitive than ever.
AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike practice begins on Friday, March 26th at 12 noon with first round qualifying at 3:50 PM. Saturday will see final SuperBike qualifying at 9:50 AM and the 21-lap race one will be at 1:30 PM. Sunday’s race two will line up at 4:00 PM and start at 4:30 PM, bringing the weekend to an exciting finish.
Another fun aspect of the weekend will be "Lefty’s Family Fun Day and 5K" event taking place on Saturday, March 27th. Starting at 7:00 AM, everyone participating in the non-competitive 5K walk, run, ride and roll around the 2.36-mile motorcycle road course will be admitted free to the Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge that same day, which includes an action packed day of qualifying and races in all three categories of AMA Pro Road Racing.
Please visit www.autoclubspeedway.com for more info and ticket information.