AMA Pro Racing awarded Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider Tommy Aquino with 2008 AMA Road Race Rookie of the Year honors.
AMA Pro Racing is proud to announce that Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider Tommy Aquino is the 2008 AMA Road Race Rookie of the Year. In his first full professional season, Aquino finished 14th overall in the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei.
AMA Road Race Rookie of the Year honors are awarded to the eligible rookie rider with the most points accumulated in one of the eligible AMA professional road-race classes, Superbike, Supersport, Formula Xtreme or Superstock.
"Tommy had an exceptional year in the AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship, and we're happy to recognize those efforts with the AMA Road Race Rookie of the Year Award," said AMA Pro Racing Special Projects Manager Bill Syfan. "This young man put in a number of solid rides against some of America's best road racers, and established himself as a possible front-runner for 2009. We would like to congratulate Tommy, the Aquino family and Graves Motorsports on a successful season."
Aquino's closest competitor for the honor was Seth Starnes, who was competing in the AMA Superstock Series presented by Dynojet. Going into the last round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, Starnes has accumulated 121 class points to Aquino's 111. Aquino, however, wrapped up his year with a 7th in the Supersport race, while Starnes carded a 19th in Superstock. The additional points gave Aquino the edge he needed to claim the award by 2 points, 135 to Starnes' 133.
"It's exciting to win this award," said Aquino, who's from Woodland Hills, California. "I only completed seven races (because he turned 16 in May) and got top 10 in most of them. I knew everybody would be a lot better than me at first, but it worked out and was fun."
Aquino added that a big difference between the amateur and pro ranks was the intensity.
"I learned that in the pros, everybody up front is really aggressive, and I had to be aggressive to do well," he said. "You also have more confidence, though, because you know you're racing around people who know what they're doing, so close riding and aggressive riding isn't as dangerous."
Aquino had a successful amateur career before he made the leap to the pro ranks this year. Aquino was the 2007 WERA National Champion in the 600 Supersport class and finished second in 600 Superbike Expert last year.
Aquino began riding dirt bikes at age 4 and has been road racing since he started on a YSR50 at age 9. Although he still rides motocross and occasionally races supermoto, Aquino says he's focused on road racing and being competitive racing 600cc motorcycles next year.