2012 Road Atlanta AMA Superbike Preview
AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike
A diverse and highly-competitive field of 23 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBikes will take flight for practice at noon on Friday as the first on-track competition at Road Atlanta’s 2.55-mile road course for the M1 PowerSports-promoted Triumph Big Kahuna Atlanta presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince.
Blake Young (No. 79 Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) earned his maiden National Guard SuperBike victories in a thrilling weekend sweep, taking pole position and both race wins over Josh Hayes (No. 1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1), when the Series last competed at Road Atlanta as part of the 2010 season.
The recent history between the two riders has been no different, Hayes coming out strong and taking a win in last month’s season-opening Race 1 at Daytona International Speedway followed by Young nipping the defending Champion at the line in Race 2.
Hayes’ win at the “World Center of Racing” was his first on a SuperBike in Daytona Beach and he is looking to stake a similar claim in Braselton; with five Road Atlanta wins in AMA Pro SuperSport and AMA Superstock to his credit from 2006-2008, both he and Yamaha are hoping to score their first SuperBike victory at the venue. The rivalry and winning ways of Hayes and Young all but guarantee an entertaining battle between the Japanese marques’ leading riders this weekend.
New to the National Guard SuperBike ranks this season is Hayes’ teammate and local hotshot Josh Herrin (No. 2 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1), who turned in an impressive performance in his SuperBike debut during last month’s Daytona 200 Week. Herrin, who hails from Dublin, Ga., showed impressive speed by taking a holeshot and taking a Top 5 finish in his first SuperBike race weekend.
Another local star with a proven track record, Geoff May (No. 99 AMSOIL Hero Moto EBR 1190RS) is set to impress on the only American-made SuperBike brand in the field. May is from Gainesville, Ga. and is joined on the Erik Buell Racing squad for the 2012 season by two-time, defending AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Champion Danny Eslick (No. 69 Hero Moto EBR 1190RS).
The Michael Jordan Motorsports duo of Roger Hayden (No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Ben Bostrom (No. 23 Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) are also expected to perform well. Hayden took home a pair of podium results at Daytona and will have a large group of supporters at what he considers as his home track. Teammate Bostrom found his pace during last month’s test at Homestead-Miami Speedway following a frustrating Daytona event. Both riders have won at Road Atlanta, Hayden in AMA Pro SuperSport (2005, 2004) and AMA Superstock (2005) and Bostrom in AMA Pro SuperSport (1998).
Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing BMW S1000RR) edged out Steve Rapp (No. 15 Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Big Kahuna/LeoVince Attack Kawasaki ZX-10) in both races at Daytona International Speedway and they are currently sitting fourth and fifth in the SuperBike point standings, respectively. AMA Pro veteran Jake Holden (No. 59 EvanSteelPerformance.com BMW S1000RR) grabbed a pair of Top 10 finishes to land sixth in the points, followed by Young’s new teammate on the Yoshimura Racing squad, Chris Clark (No. 6 Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Robertino Pietri (No. 3 Team Venezuela Suzuki GSX-R1000), David Anthony (No. 25 Kneedraggers.com/ Motul/Fly Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Chris Ulrich (No. 18 M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki GSX-R1000) round out the Top 10 in the points heading into this weekend.
Qualifying for National Guard SuperBike grid positions will take place in two sessions, Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and Saturday morning at 9:50 a.m. The National Guard SuperBike division will be featured in a doubleheader format with 20-lap race finals scheduled for Saturday, April 21 at 3:15 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m. local time.
SPEED will run same-day delayed broadcasts scheduled to begin Saturday at 8:30 p.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. PDT) and Sunday at 11 p.m. ET (8:00 p.m. PDT).