Jake Zemke (54) looks to defend his points lead over Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden in the upcoming Road Atlanta race. The two remain separated by just 11 points in American SuperBike.
AMA Pro Road Racing heads back East this weekend for Round 3 of the 2010 season at Road Atlanta. Jake Zemke and company will battle it out in the American SuperBike class, with Josh Herrin defending his points lead in the Daytona SportBike series. The SuperSport class will also sport a doubleheader in a busy weekend of racing. Here’s what to expect:
The 2010 season has painted a completely different racing environment for the SuperBike class. With last year largely dominated by Mat Mladin, this year is wide open. Zemke has been the early surprise aboard the Jordan Suzuki, scoring the double at Daytona and following it up with a solid 2-4 result at Fontana. Leading the series by 11 points Zemke will look to extend his advantage.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden follows close behind Zemke. Despite being overtaken by Ducati’s Larry Pegram in Race 1 at the Auto Club Speedway, Hayden returned with a win over Graves Yamaha rider Josh Hayes and Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young during Race 2. With Hayden’s great performance all year long and his consistent finishes on the podium, Makita Suzuki seems poised for yet another successful season.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden (above) will look to close in on points leader Jake Zemke. Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates (below) is out due to a broken leg.
Hayes and Young are both currently tied with 67 points. Hayes outraced Young at both Fontana races. Hayes won seven races in 2009 and should be primed for his first in 2010. Young has been more consistent than Hayes this year, and snagged his first podium of the season at Fontana. Both are prime candidates for the steps this weekend.
Standing fifth in the points Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates is out indefinitely due to multiple injuries sustained to his right leg during a warm up crash in California. An interesting side note: Yates is the only active SuperBike rider with a victory at Road Atlanta. The young Canadian Brett McCormick will move from his Celtic Racing Suzuki to fill in aboard Yates’ Jordan Suzuki.
Monster Energy Suzuki’s John Hopkins will race Road Atlanta after recent surgery to his right wrist. Hopper went under the knife to repair years of scar tissue build-up. Hopkins will attempt to build off his top-five finish at Fontana. Teammate Chris Ulrich has been a consistent top-ten finisher and will look for more at RA.
Another rider looking to improve is Pat Clark Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom. The veteran AMA rider’s best finish this year is his third-place podium in Daytona’s Race 2. Bostrom dropped off the pace some at Fontana but is looking to get back on the rostrum during this weekend’s doubleheader.
Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin (8) holds a lead in the Daytona SportBike series, but faces steady challengers like Danny Eslick, Martin Cardenas and fellow R6 rider Dane Westby.
With three previous races delivering unpredictable and exciting results in the SportBike series, Road Atlanta is sure not to disappoint. Graves Yamaha rider Josh Herrin has placed himself ahead of the pack with his wins at Daytona and last month’s Auto Club Speedway race in California. However, reigning SportBike Champion Danny Eslick has been racing well this season with a fourth at Daytona and two hard-earned second-place finishes in California.
Sitting third in the overall points is Yamaha’s Dane Westby. The Project 1 Atlanta team rider’s first three races have proved him a formidable DSB competitor. With a second at Daytona and a third- and sixth-place finish at the Auto Club Speedway, Westby lurks closely behind frontrunners Herrin and Eslick.
Battling against this youthful pack is experienced Ducati rider Steve Rapp. Having finished third at Daytona and the second race at the Auto Club Speedway, his seventh-place finish in Race 1 in California has landed him fourth in the point total.
Winning his first Daytona SportBIke victory last year in Atlanta, Colombian rider Martin Cardenas (36) looks to close the two-point gap separating him from Cory West.
Suzuki privateer Cory West’s consistency and speed have netted him fifth in the championship. By finishing in the top ten every race so far this season, West has positioned himself in the middle of the competition.
West remains just two points ahead of M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas. The Colombian achieved his first Daytona SportBike victory at Atlanta last year and took one win last round at Fontana. Cardenas is still recovering from his Daytona disappointment and will need to make up some points this weekend. Another rider still looking to rebound from Daytona is Graves Yamaha’s Tommy Aquino, who scored a pair of sixth-place finishes at Fontana and is looking to improve.
Despite missing the California race, local favorite Geoff May will return along with Melissa Paris, who will race with specialized leathers and an original paint scheme on her Suzuki promoting the upcoming movie Iron Man 2.
Pascarella may be in the points lead, but faces stiff competition with plenty of rivals in the SuperSport class.
A fierce and dynamic race seems to be in development for the SuperSport series taking place April 16-18. While previous races have shown Joey Pascarella to be the favorite, Atlanta may be just the opportunity for some new up-and-comers to shine. Cameron Beaubier took the win at the Daytona opener, and leads a strong group of contenders including LTD Yamaha teammates Huntley Nash and Tomas Puerta. Another R6 rider with podium potential is Rockwall Yamaha’s J.D. Beach, who nearly scored a top-three at Daytona.
Elena Myers and her RMR Suzuki return, with the 16-year-old phenom entering this round with a solid fourth-place finish in Race 2 at the Auto Club Speedway. Myers will be looking for her first career podium during the SuperSport doubleheader.