New Jersey Motorsports Park Wrap-up

July 25, 2009
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

We just returned from the first AMA team test at New Jersey Motorsports Park and the outcome seems pretty positive, especially from those on smaller bikes.

Mat Mladin was the fastest rider on the New Jersey circuit.
Mat Mladin was the fastest man at the New Jersey Motorsports Park during the AMA team test.

The general consensus is that the track is a “fun” layout, though a bit small for Superbikes. Also, there are a few points in which walls are on the close side according to most of the riders we spoke to, but the track is very receptive to change.

NJMP’s Communications Director Reece White took a group of riders around the track following the first day of the test to listen and note their comments, which he and several riders said seemed to be very productive.

“The ride-around went well,” said White. “There are a few spots, like the final corner and Turn 1 where we need to address how close the walls are. We are very interested to hear what the riders have to say and now we will go back and see what is possible to be done before the race in September and for the future further down the road.”

“Of course a lot of it is a cost issue, like anything else,” he continued. “I know a lot of riders want gravel traps put in and I think they think it’s a quick and easy way to fix some of the issues but I also think most people don’t realize just how expensive it is to put a gravel trap in. Still, though, I would like to see the suggestions they are talking of happen and now we will sit down and plan what can be done and how quickly.”

As for the final thoughts of some of the riders, Monster Attack Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden commented: “It’s a fun track on a 600, I like it. There a couple spots that need a little work but on a small bike it’s a lot of fun.” When asked how he ended the test, which didn’t have official timing and scoring, Roger Lee Hayden said he “was in the 1:24s, which is right about where everyone else is. (Tommy) Aquino did a 1:23.6 some were saying, which looks to be the best time of the test, so we’re not far off.”

Former World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson enjoyed the New Jersey circuit.
Neil Hodgson had nothing but good to say about NJMP.

Superbike riders ended with fairly mixed opinions, though most liked the layout. The biggest advocate for the track was without a doubt Corona Honda’s Neil Hodgson.

“I really like this place a lot,” said the likable Britt. “It’s got a good flow to it. There’s none of those typical American features where just as you get in a groove there’s a first-gear chicane to slow you down and mess your rhythm all up. The track all runs together well.”

When asked about the safety, Hodgson added: “it’s a lot more safe than most of the tracks we go to. Look at places like Infineon or Daytona. This place is great. There are a couple spots that might need a little work but the guys here seem very open to improving it and I’m excited to come here in September and race.”

Hodgson ended the test in the mid-1:22-range, which put him as one of the quicker riders but about a second off the fastest lap of the test. Also right in there was Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young, who completed a race-distance tests in which he easily remained in the 1:22s the entire time and  was one of the quickest full-distance runs of the two-day event.

“We were in the 22s the entire time,” he said of the run. “I think 1:22.3 was my best and 1:22.7 was my worst over 21 laps, so our race-pace is right there.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki s Jamie Hacking.  Energy Attack Kawasaki rider Jamie Hacking was the second
fastest rider is DSB behind Yamaha’s Tommy Aquino.

Unofficially, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin ended the test quickest at a 1:21.3, which he did at the end of Day 2, followed by Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates with a 1:22.1. Several other riders were in the 22s and close to Yates, though most agreed those two were quickest of the test.

A surprise was the Buell Superbike, which was also right on pace, with Taylor Knapp clocked in the 1:22-range on several laps as he and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Geoff May hooked up during a race-distance test in which both ran in the 1:22s most of the test.

In the Daytona Sportbike ranks, Yamaha‘s Tommy Aquino was said to have led the charge with a 1:23.6 followed by Jamie Hacking on the Monster Attack Kawasaki with a 1:24-flat. Roger Lee Hayden was in the mid-24s, as was Yamaha’s Josh Herrin.

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