Great news for AMA Pro Flat Track fans hit the airwaves last night when it was announced on Pit Pass Radio that Johnny Lewis, the former AMA Supermoto Champion and winner of the season-opening round of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track season at Daytona, would be returning to the track for the 2013 season alongside the returning AMA Grand National Championship-competing Latus Motors flat track team.
2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp was also announced as one of the heads of the new project (no doubt in part because of his long-time ties with the Latus organization located in the Northwest Territory of Oregon, not far from Kopp's home state of Washington), which will see Smokin' Joe return to the series where he almost won his second AMA Grand National Championship while riding for Latus and the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team before retiring from full-time competition at the end of the 2010 season.
The team will be fielding Triumphs run out of the Latus shop, with sponsorship from Latus Triumph, Castrol Oil and GE Capital, among others, in the Twins Series rounds of the now-rebranded 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles season, with Lewis slated to do the riding and Kopp looking to head up the team throughout the season.
Lewis, who ran the first six races of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season before walking away from the series after disagreements were raised with how the on-track incident with eventual '12 AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees at round 2 in Daytona ended up playing out last season. For those not familiar with the incident, the night after Lewis took his cherry-breaking win in the series at the start of his third season in The Rolling Thunder Show, he and Mees were involved in a 'questionable' incident on the last lap of the 25-lap National main at the short track inside Daytona International Speedway. Mees went on to finish in the runner-up spot behind the night's second new winner-in-a-row, Matt Weidman, while Lewis collected himself and eventually finished in the 8th-place spot.
Lewis announced last night on Pit Pass Radio and his new video on You Tube (see both below) that he had been testing the new Triumph at Oglethorpe Speedway outside Savannah, GA. yesterday and that he and the team were excited about their prospects for the season ahead. The new Latus Triumph flat track team is expected to debut their new efforts together in competition this Friday, March 8 at the official kick-off to Bike Week in the Steve Nace Racing All-Star Series event at Oglethorpe.
Check out the link below to hear JL10 make his big announcement and then see his video as he blasts the new Latus Triumph around the track in testing from the Peach Tree State yesterday. This is great news for AMA Pro Flat Track all around, for the fans, the team and the sponsors. Latus Motors in the past has brought a great deal to the greatest sport on two wheels in the world and with the addition of former AMA Grand National Champion Kopp to the team's mix, add in Johnny Lewis 'wild and crazy guy' attitude and killer riding skills and you have a match made in heaven for the coming year. Way to go guys and congrats!
In the shot above, Lewis is interviewed for the fans by AMA Pro Flat Track official announcer Barry Boone after taking the #10 Scott Powersports/Triple J Racing/Wallace Trucking/Arai-backed Kawasaki 650R-based mount to the heat race win in round 5 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track season at the Lima Half-Mile on June 30. After coming home in the 5th-place spot in the National main that night, Lewis competed in one other National at the Hagerstown Speedway the next week (with another strong 4th-place finish on the Scott Kawi) before taking his hiatus from the series for the rest of the season, while sitting in the 3rd-place spot in the championship. It's going to be great to have you back JL!
2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp talks with the fans during the fan walk at the Lima Half-Mile in June 2010 (with the #3 Latus Motors/LBM XR750 on display.) The return of Kopp to the track full-time (albeit in an advisory role) will bring big points with the fans as the Washington State resident is a fan favorite throughout the series and should bring a great mix of leadership, quality and class to the on- and off-track progression of the Latus Motors Triumph team. Welcome back Joe!
Check out Johnny Lewis' interview from last night with the great guys from Pit Pass Radio.
And here's the video of JL10 testing in Savannah yesterday that he uploaded last night on You Tube.
These are the sweet graphics JL10 will be rockin' in Daytona next week for the season-opening Singles Series rounds at Daytona, which include his sponsors Triple J Racing, Wallace Trucking and RIDE Academy. The action kicks off on Thursday, March 14 at Daytona with round 1 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles season and continues on March 15 with round 2. JL10 sponsor graphics photo courtesy of Johnny Lewis.