AMA Pro Road Racing Roster Filling In
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The roster for AMA Superbike, excuse me, AMA Pro Road Racing is starting to come into focus. After a turbulent off-season, rife with spats between the new Daytona Motorsports Group ownership and the manufacturers, new classes, new rules, the threat of a renegade MIC-sponsored league… The actual riders participating for 2009 seemed almost secondary to the boardroom dramas.
Six-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin will be back for the 2009 season after a turbulent off-season for the AMA Pro Road Racing Series.
The most notable AMA roster change is the absence of the three-time reigning Superbike champion Ben Spies, with the Texan pulling up stakes for the World Superbike series. The departure of Spies is a crippling one, but not unexpected (although the move to WSB instead of MotoGP certainly was).
More uncertain was the fate of Spies rival and six-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin. The Yoshimura Suzuki ace ran afoul of the DMG last year, when his chase for an unprecedented seventh title was ended via disqualification for a polished crankshaft on his GSX-R1000. Mladin was openly critical of the new DMG rules last season (reportedly venting frustration directly to the fans on the podium). Suzuki was also the last Big Four manufacturer to announce its participation, or lack there of, in the 2009 season – leading to much speculation about Mladin’s return.
Now it’s official, Mladin is back and will be headlining the Yoshimura squad with teammates Tommy Hayden and new-comer Blake Young. (Suzuki Announces 2009 Roadracing Plans
Other riders confirmed for 2009 include Josh Hayes, who finally gets a factory Superbike ride alongside Ben Bostrom (who is also moving back up to the premier class). The two veteran racers will campaign on the R1. The other Bostrom brother, Eric, is out of racing for the time being, apparently farming down in Brazil (I'm serious!). Josh Herrin and Tommy Aquino will campaign the R6 in SportBike.
When Honda exited from AMA Superbike for financial reasons, they still had former WSB champion Neil Hodgson under contract. Instead of staying idle, Hodgson will ride a Corona Honda for 2009
. It is uncertain if/when the timeless Miguel Duhamel will participate in AMA Pro Road Racing.
Kawasaki will support the Attack Kawasaki squad, which will race the ZX-6R in the SportBike class with last year’s factory riders – Jamie Hacking and Roger Hayden. (Kawasaki In for AMA Road Race Series
Two other confirmed teams and riders are Aaron Yates and Geoff May riding for Jordan Suzuki and Jason DiSalvo and Martin Cardenas campaigning for the M4 EMGO Suzuki.
The actual racing product on the track is unknown, but at least a couple familiar names remain. The safe bet is a return to the pre-Spies dominance of Mat Mladin – who will run the Number 7 plate (presumably because he is tracking down his seventh AMA title although the new DMG-rules stipulate that the teams, not the riders, select and retain rider numbers).
New classes, new rules, spec tires and fuel, and, of course, new management. Will the AMA Road Racing series flop? Will fan interest wander, like Spies to the World Superbike series… We’ll find out more on the banked oval at Daytona this March.
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