During MotoAmerica’s sophomore year, Toni Elias was only supposed to join Roger Lee Hayden on the Yoshimura Suzuki team as a substitute rider in the Superbike class. Elias, a Moto2 Champion, was hired to ride for the injured Jake Lewis.But the Spaniard’s performance, which included six wins, landed him a full-time roll on the Yoshimura Suzuki team. When the season ended, he was one of only four riders who were victorious throughout the season; the only other rider with more wins was eventual 2016 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion, Cameron Beaubier (Graves Yamaha YZF-R1). The other winners were Beaubier’s teammate Josh Hayes (two wins) and Hayden (12 podiums, two wins).
Elias finished the season third overall, followed by Hayden, the younger brother of 2006 MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden. And for 2017, Yoshimura Suzuki has announced that both will return as the factory riders aboard the revamped Suzuki GSX-R1000.[Read Exclusive Interviews with Toni Elias and Roger Lee Hayden]“We are very happy to have both Roger and Toni back with Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing,” said Pat Alexander, Race Support Manager for SMAI. “With these two rider’s piloting our completely redesigned GSX-R1000, we have high hopes for a championship.“They both rode the new bike and were thoroughly impressed with the improved engine and chassis performance, even in its stock form, so we are hopeful that this will give them the edge needed to secure a championship this coming season.”“After a very competitive season last year, we are excited to have these two great talents back for another year of racing,” said Don Sakakura, Senior Vice President for Yoshimura Research and Development of America, Inc. “Roger and Toni made great progress with the team last year, and we are hopeful that the new GSX-R1000 will prove to be a winning combination for them in 2017.”Elias and Hayden will have their first outing on the new GSX-R1000 during the first test of 2017 MotoAmerica AMA Superbike March 28-29 at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.