The point standings were extremely tight as the 2010 AMA American Superbike series came to a close; the winner was not decided until the final of 10 rounds at Barber Motorsports Park.
And it was Monster Energy Graves Yamaha rider Josh Hayes who earned his first-ever American Superbike championship, edging out Tommy Hayden on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki by a mere 14 points.
Looking to defend his AMA SBK title, Hayes kicked off 2011 in grand style, posting the fastest time at the Dunlop Daytona Tire Test in January, edging out his rival Hayden by 0.279 of a second.
Hayes will be looking to carry his momentum into the first round of the American Superbike championship this weekend at Daytona International Speedway during the famed Daytona Bike Week.
Hayden is expected to again be tough competition for the reigning champion from Mississippi. One only has to look to last year for concrete evidence. Hayden won Race 1 at that final round in Barber last year, bringing Hayes’ lead to only 18 points. But during Race 2, Hayes, who had seven wins and three pole positions in 2010, finished seventh in a damp race.
Hayden, who had four wins last season, including his maiden American Superbike victory, managed fourth, but it wasn’t enough to win the American Superbike championship.
But besides the Hayes/Hayden duel, there should be many rivalries in 2011 due to the pool of talent.
Hayden’s Suzuki teammate, Blake Young, was also quick at the Daytona Tire Test. He finished last season with victory at the final race of the season, which was a wet one at Barber. Young also appears to be fully healed from his wreck last year while testing at Barber in June.
After seeking medical advice, it was determined Young fractured the L-1 vertebrae in his back, causing him to miss three rounds. He will be seeking the kind of performances he had last season at Road Atlanta, where he took the double win.
Kawasaki will return to this season with Eric Bostrom. Eboz will pilot the all-new Cycle World Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-10R, which has proven to be a quick machine from pre-season testing. Eric Bostrom will also compete in the 70th running of the Daytona 200 alongside Kawasaki’s sportbike rider, JD Beach.
Eric’s brother Ben Bostrom has switched teams for 2011, joining Michael Jordan Motorsports/National Guard Suzuki. Instead of running the number 155, the 2008 Supersport Champion will field the No. 23 GSX-R1000.
Bostrom, who finished the 2010 AMA Superbike series in fourth, will be joined by Roger Hayden, the brother of MotoGP star Nicky Hayden. Roger returns to AMA Superbike after a not-so-good year competing in World Superbike (Team Pedercini Kawasaki), and will field the No. 54 Suzuki that Jake Zemke competed on in 2010.
Zemke will not be joining the 2010 SBK grid; he has not signed with anyone as of Daytona. Zemke, who doubled at Daytona in American Superbike last year, will compete in the Daytona 200 aboard the Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha YZF-R6.
The third largest Suzuki team besides Rockstar Makita and Jordan is M4 Suzuki. Chris Ulrich returns, and will be joined by 2010 AMA Daytona Sportbike Champion Martin Cardenas.
The Colombian finished the championship with nine wins and 13 podium finishes, edging out Danny Eslick by eight points.
The star of the six-episode series on HD Theater Superbike Family, Larry Pegram, will once again return as the main privateer effort in American Superbike. But Pegram will not be fielding a Ducati at Daytona; the Ohio native will compete on the Foremost Insurance BMW S1000RR. Pegram finished fifth overall in 2010.
Another notable BMW S1000RR will be piloted by the Canadian Chris Peris for Team Iron Horse. Also returning in 2011 is Geoff May, who will ride the Erik Buell Racing Superbike.
Daytona practice will be on Thursday, with Race 1 set for 4:30 p.m. Friday, and Race 2 at 11:15 a.m. Saturday. Both 15-lap races will occur on Daytona’s repaved 2.9 Short Course. SPEED TV will broadcast Race 1 at 11 p.m. Saturday, followed by Race 2 at midnight.