AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike offers plenty of potential winners and podium contenders and this weekend’s doubleheader will represent a completely new challenge from the high banks of the DAYTONA 200 and the wide-open natural road course of Road America. Barber Motorsports Park is a challenging, technical track that rewards precise riding and flowing properly from one section to another.
The two-day weekend will also be a challenge for the teams. The new format packs all the action into a pair of days, so the emphasis will be on getting up to speed quickly. Adding to the complexity is this year’s one-bike rule for AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike. Racers will need to find the pace quickly without mistakes, adding to the tension and making for high drama in Alabama.
Jake Gagne on the No. 32 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 leads the points after two weekends of racing in 2014. The Californian was on fire at Road America, his favorite track, and his pace was just out of the reach of his rivals. Gagne managed to best everyone in Elkhart Lake despite red flags and the weather.
Gagne would like nothing better than a repeat performance this weekend.
He currently leads the championship hunt with a 22-point margin over Danny Eslick, and his No. 69 Riders Discount Racing Triumph Daytona 675R. With Barber marking the midpoint in the season, another strong showing from last year’s runner-up in Alabama would put him in a good position to carry his momentum into the championship’s stretch run.
Eslick had some ups and downs in Wisconsin but still maintains second place in the points. The Oklahoman showed what he can do in his dramatic DAYTONA 200 win in March, but had a rare crash in Saturday’s race at Road America. He rallied to take fourth on Sunday, salvaging the weekend.
Eslick, a two-time class champion, is one of the more experienced riders in the class. He knows how to find speed in short order – something that will be important this weekend.
The Triumph pilot won at Barber in 2011.
Jake Lewis on the No. 85 MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha YZF-R6 is a young rider looking for his first class win, one that seems almost inevitable. The hard-charging Princeton, Ky., resident is currently third in points after four races. Lewis, a winner in AMA Pro SuperSport in Alabama in 2012, has impressed with his pace over the last calendar year and is looking for that one race where he puts it all together. It could come this weekend.
Garrett Gerloff aboard the No. 8 Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6, is just one point behind Lewis in the standings. Gerloff took second in the first Elkhart Lake race, but suffered a rough tumble early on Sunday. The Texan, has been a frequent visitor to the podium since joining the class in 2013 but is looking for his first victory in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike.
The Factory Yamaha pilot was considered a top preseason contender and has been one of the strongest runners in the field in 2014. However, he has seen some tough luck thus far and is itching to get another shot at victory.
Gerloff’s teammate, JD Beach on the No. 6 Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6, has finishes of second and third in three races so far. The Kentucky resident has momentum after his double podium weekend in Wisconsin, and he won in Alabama in the AMA Pro SuperSport class in 2010. So the signs are pointing toward a good weekend for Beach.
Kyle Wyman, pilot of the No. 25 Kyle Wyman Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, sits sixth in points. The New Yorker and AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series standout has been Mr. Consistent in 2014. With an eighth place finish and a pair of sixths, Wyman has been firmly inside the top ten each time out this year.
Tomas Puerta, riding the No. 12 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6, has been the top class rookie and holds the seventh spot in points. The Colombian was especially racy in Wisconsin, harvesting a seventh place showing on Saturday, then earning his first top five on Sunday. The reigning AMA Pro SuperSport champion has quickly gotten up to speed in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike.
Veteran Jake Zemke and his No. 98 GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR600RR are next in the points. Zemke and his team continue to develop the Honda in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SuperSport, and with three wins on Hondas at Barber in the old Formula Xtreme class, Zemke, knows what it takes to get around the Alabama circuit on a middleweight machine.
Dane Westby on the No. 00 Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 might be sitting ninth in points, but the Oklahoman has been a force at times this year. He ran up front at Daytona before crashing, then looked like a podium finisher at Road America on Saturday before a mechanical left him by the side of the track on the last lap. On Sunday, he managed to earn that elusive podium.
Westby’s championship standing might not be indicative of his form this year, but a couple good races could move him up the chart quickly.
Young racer Benny Solis on the No. 35 Team H35 Yamaha YZF-R6 leads three veterans heading into Alabama. Triumph pilots Jason DiSalvo aboard the No. 40 Castrol/Triumph/Sportbike Track Time Triumph Racing Daytona 675 and Bobby Fong, pilot of the No. 50 Latus Motors/Castrol/Triumph Racing Daytona 675, head into Alabama to try their luck at a track that has a history of seeing Triumph success. DiSalvo earned the podium at Barber last year.
SuperBike race winner Blake Young, on his No. 79 GN Gonzales Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, is another one of the 24 riders pre-entered in this weekend’s races.
The Barber event begins with two qualifying sessions on Saturday morning, followed by the 19-lap race at 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET and noon PT). On Sunday, another 19-lap race at 2 p.m. (3 p.m. ET and noon PT) will cap off the weekend for AMA Pro’s exciting middleweight class.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA’s development and single-make series, and NASCAR’s touring and weekly series.
About AMA Pro Road Racing:
AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.