This weekend the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Championship heads down south to Birmingham, Alabama for the fifth round of the series at Barber Motorsports Park. American SuperBike, Daytona SportBike and SuperSport have all seen close racing with a variety of race winners emerging this season. Monster Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, Josh Herrin and LTD Yamaha’s David Gaviria currently lead their respective classes, but with 10 races left in the season the titles are all wide open.
AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike
The last time Hayes visited Barber in 2010 was to wrap-up the championship. The Gulfport, Mississippi native comes to the Barber SuperBike Classic in the thick of it this year, however, as he remains just 10 points ahead of Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young. A double race winner at Daytona, Young has proven himself a strong rival for the defending champ and his quest for his second straight title. Young’s latest victory came in the first race at Road America where he piloted his Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 ahead of Hayes and Suzuki teammate, Tommy Hayden, during a tense 13-lap feud.
Suzuki’s Blake Young is just 10 points behind Hayes and has earned wins at Daytona and Road America this year.
Jake Holden has had a less than perfect start to his 2011 season. After crashing out of the second race at Infineon, Holden underwent surgery to repair his left pinky finger. He then returned at Miller, but poor weather hampered his results and he finished 20th. Even more bad luck was on hand for him at Road America as Wisconsin rider Jason Farrell clipped him from behind and he went down, breaking his thumb on the same hand he previously had surgery on. Barber will be an important round for Holden as he desperately tries to turn his season around.
Tommy Hayden is 13 points behind Young and has just one victory so far this season at Infineon. More importantly, however, the 32-year-old has managed podium finishes in every race so far this season, his consistency making him a prime contender in the series along with Hayes and Young.
During his debut season in the SuperBike series M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas has been doing quite well for himself. The Colombian has earned four top-five finishes this season, including a podium at Infineon. Currently fourth in the championship and 65 points behind Tommy Hayden, Cardenas has his work cut out for him if he wants to make it on the overall podium. Look for him inside the top-five though as he looks for his first win in the SuperBike class.
Following difficulties at Road America Jason DiSalvo is 17 points behind in the Daytona SportBike series.
Since cutting ties with Ducati to move to BMW, Larry Pegram has experienced a pair of podiums on the S1000RR so far this season. The veteran SuperBike competitor has regularly been inside the top-10. He’s fifth in the championship right now but is already more than 90 points behind the current leader with half the season left.
Latus Ducati Racing’s Jason DiSalvo seems to have hit a brick wall in the Daytona SportBike series. After winning the Daytona 200 and sweeping both races at Infineon, DiSalvo earned zero points in the last round at Road America after crashing out and having his engine blow. DiSalvo was leading the series by more than 30 points, but now he’s drifted 17 points behind Herrin after the Monster Yamaha rider snagged both races at Road America. Barber will be crucial for the native New Yorker as he contends for the first AMA Racing title in his professional career.
Herrin is still riding a wave of happiness after taking his third win of the year in Wisconsin. Prior to Road America the 20-year-old recorded his first win of the season at Miller just 0.161 seconds ahead of Celtic Racing’s PJ Jacobsen, giving him a 12-point lead over Vesrah Suzuki’s Corey West. While the championship is far from over, Herrin’s strong performances in the last two rounds have put him on the fast track to securing the Daytona SportBike title currently held by Cardenas.
Still searching for his first win of the year, Geico Suzuki’s Danny Eslick is currently fourth in the series. Though the 25-year-old and inaugural DSB champ has yet to win a race, he’s been on the podium or close to it in nearly every race this season. But his consistency may not be enough for the title this year if Herrin continues his strong pace at Barber. Currently 24 points down on Herrin, Eslick will need more than podiums in the final five rounds in order to clench the title, which was nearly his in 2010.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com AMA Pro SuperSport Championship has been a hotbed of competition this year with five different race winners so far in just four rounds. Leading the fight is Gaviria, who’s risen to the top of the ranks with five podium finishes, including wins at Daytona and Road America. Consistency has put Gaviria in the running for the title so far, and as competition heats up it will play a key role in determining the future title holder.
Benny Solis is more than 20 points behind Gaviria, but the Roadracingworld.com Honda rider showed what he was truly made of by winning both races at Infineon in May. As the only double race winner so far this season, Solis has proven he has the pace and potential to contend his first AMA title at just 16 years old.
But as the series heads east Gaviria’s LTD Yamaha teammate, Tomas Puerta, is perhaps the most favored at Barber after winning the first race of the season at Daytona and capturing second in Race 2. Puerta leads the Pro SuperSport East Championship by more than 20 points ahead of ANT Racing’s James Rispoli, who’s best finish came in third at Daytona. The east division is still incredibly young, however, and with the field as stacked as it is any number of new contenders may emerge.