The 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing SuperBike championship fight reaches its midpoint this weekend as the tour arrives at scenic Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and prepares to do battle at the Triumph SuperBike Classic.
The 2014 title picture has already taken on a fascinating shape as three riders of contrasting pedigrees and experience are in a virtual deadlock atop the order.
Heading into the weekend, the all-time great, the rookie phenom and the perennial contender are all locked close enough together in the points that, should any of them win on Saturday, they’re guaranteed to be the title leader heading into Sunday’s rematch.
Last year’s stop in Alabama was all about the all-time great – three-time AMA Pro SuperBike king Josh Hayes on the No. 4 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 – and the perennial contender – Roger Hayden aboard the No. 95 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000.
The duo qualified 1-2 and then ran away from the field to square off in a pair of epic clashes for victory. Ultimately, both checkered flags went to then-defending champ Hayes, albeit only by margins of 0.245 and 0.221 seconds.
The 39-year-old Hayes rolls into Barber Motorsports Park as the man on the move, having picked up significant ground in the championship hunt following his 2-1 performance at Road America. What had been a significant early deficit behind the championship leader has been reduced to just four points, and the third-ranked Mississippian is poised to strike this weekend.
Kentucky’s Hayden is motivated as well. He not only survived one of his worst tracks in Wisconsin, he actually moved forward and now stands equal in points at the top of the order. Now the Yoshimura ace heads into one of his best circuits and hopes to set himself up for a run to a first-career AMA Pro SuperBike crown.
However, the addition of Cameron Beaubier, pilot of the No. 2 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1, to the premier-class equation this season means that history could be out the window. His presence has immediately and undeniably added a new dimension to the SuperBike title chase.
While Beaubier’s teammate, Hayes, boasts back-to-back weekend sweeps (pole and double victories) at Barber Motorsports Park, the same was true heading into Road America. Beaubier came out swinging there, topping the charts from the very first practice and displaying unmatched speed throughout the weekend.
The rookie has been so consistently fast on a SuperBike in fact, that it might be considered an upset if he doesn’t prove to have the pace to run with his title rivals again this weekend.
While equal with Hayden in points, Beaubier is technically in the championship lead on the strength of his two early-season victories. Last season, en route to his dominating AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike title, the Californian walked away with a pair of lopsided Barber wins.
There will be little time for games in Alabama. The field will immediately be thrown into conflict at Barber Motorsports Park, as the event represents the first of three two-day weekends this season. Qualifying 1, 2 and 3 will all take place in the morning and early afternoon on Saturday, setting the stage for the day’s 21-lap race, which is scheduled for a 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT) start. Sunday’s schedule will feature a morning warm-up, followed by another 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT) SuperBike showdown.
While the top of the order features two of the most decorated racing outfits in AMA Pro SuperBike history, the man in fourth is doing his best David vs. Goliath impression.
Yoshimura Suzuki and Monster Energy Graves Yamaha represent formidable Goliaths, but this David – David Anthony on the No. 25 ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 – is still very much in contention with an outstanding start to his 2014 campaign.
The privateer has reconfigured his race program this season, allowing him to focus more on his riding, and he’s reaping the benefits now. Anthony, an Australian, has finished in the top five in all four races this year, including a runner-up result at Road America last time out. That finish was the first podium of his AMA Pro SuperBike career.
Hayden’s Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing teammates, Chris Clark on the No. 6 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000 and Martin Cardenas aboard the No. 36 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000, figure to be in the mix this weekend as well.
Clark is enjoying his finest season yet in the premier class, having reeled in three fourth place results.
Meanwhile, Colombian Cardenas is working hard to make up for disappointing outings at Daytona International Speedway and Road America. However, those 12th and seventhplace runs have been offset a bit by a pair of podium finishes. He should be considered a genuine threat in Alabama, the scene of his first-career AMA Pro SuperBike victory, which he scored while still just a class rookie in 2011.
Chris Fillmore on the No. 11 KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R endured a frustrating weekend of electrical woes on the long straights at Road America, but tight and twisty Barber Motorsports Park could allow him and his striking orange KTM to shine.
The same is true of EBR pilots Cory West on the No. 13 Team AMSOIL Hero EBR 1190RS, and Larry Pegram on his No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing EBR 1190RS. The EBR 1190RS has done well at the circuit in the past. In 2012, Geoff May qualified second provisionally and then took the American-made twin to a pair of fourth place results.
Californian Chris Ulrich on the No. 18 GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR1000RR and Spaniard Bernat Martinez, riding the No. 76 Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha YZF-R1, round of the 2014 AMA Pro SuperBike championship top ten with both men having secured race results in the top ten already this season.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA’s development and single-make series, and NASCAR’s touring and weekly series.