No, Kenny 'The King' Roberts isn't coming out of retirement to contest the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship season, but his former team and sponsor, Yamaha, has announced that they will be providing over $100K in rider contingencies for the upcoming season in The Rolling Thunder Show for riders competing in both the GNC1/Expert Twins and Singles Series, as well as in the GNC2/Pro Series aboard the company's FZ07 and YZ450F machines.
Rumors have been spreading rampantly since late last fall that several teams had acquired the newly released FZ07 engines to set up for the Twins Series events in order to compete at the top level against the long standing XR750 and the XR-killer Kawasaki EX650 that has taken the sport by storm since Bryan Smith's inaugural win aboard a Werner-Springsteen Racing Kawasaki at the Indy Mile in August 2010. Cory Texter showed up for Bike Week aboard a Babe Demay (one of Roberts' former tuners back in the day) built and Memphis Shades sponsored FZ07-inspired mount.
Shown in the shot above, The King distances himself from the field on the #2 Yamaha Factory Racing/Goodyear Tire/Bell Helmets-sponsored Yamaha XS650-based mount at the Terre Haute Action Track in route to his win in August 1976. Notice the rear wheel on Roberts' bike showing visible air underneath due to the rough conditions seen at Terre Haute that eventually led to the series leaving the track due to unsafe conditions after former '81 AMA Grand National Champion Mike Kidd's huge crash during the '77 event that led to Kidd breaking his wrist.
This is top line news for The Rolling Thunder Show as it opens up more chances for riders to pocket extra bucks while riding the marque's new FZ07, which as a parallel twin motor closely resembles the Kawi EX that has taken the sport by storm over the course of the last five seasons, and adds to the competition level in terms of more involvement for the sport and more choices for the teams and riders to work with in campaigning the course of the season. Bravo to Yamaha for stepping up to the plate in order to increase the monie$ available and choices available to go fast and turn left. Thanks goes to Yamaha for getting back into the action even deeper!
Check out the full release below from AMA Pro Racing to read all about the particulars in this great announcement from late last week.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 19, 2015) - AMA Pro Flat Track riders on Yamaha equipment will benefit from a dramatically increased contingency program by the manufacturer in 2015.
Yamaha has expanded its program to both the premier Harley-Davidson GNC1 class presented by Vance & Hines, and the GNC2 class, offering up to $1,500 for individual riders per race in the top class and $500 in GNC2. A total of $106,400 is up for grabs between both classes for eligible "bLU cRU" riders over the course of the season.
"We can't thank Yamaha enough for increasing their commitment to flat track racing," said Michael Gentry, Chief Operating Officer of AMA Pro Racing. "Strong involvement from the manufacturers is key to keeping our sport among the most competitive in the world. It will help drive future growth, and we are confident any relationship with manufacturers, such as Yamaha, truly is mutually beneficial."
The increased commitment coincides with the recent debut of Yamaha's FZ-07 motorcycle. A number of FZ-07 engines were made available for flat track teams and an FZ-07-powered machine could make its AMA Pro Flat Track debut May 24 at the historic Springfield Mile in Springfield, Ill.
JD Beach on the #95 Van's Yamaha YZ450F is shown in action during the season-opening rounds of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship season at the Daytona Short Track earlier this month. Yamaha has announced an increased contingency program for riders in both the GNC1 & GNC2 ranks, both in the Twins and Singles Series, for the season ahead. Photo courtesy of AMA Pro Racing.
"I think AMA Pro is making a big effort to improve flat track racing, get it out there and get public awareness," said Keith McCarty, Racing Division Manager for Yamaha. "Now we have an FZ-07 engine that's going to be able to do well and compete in the twins class. We legitimately have a chance to win a twins championship now, which we really didn't have in the past. At Yamaha, racing is in our DNA, all forms of racing, and certainly dirt track is tied in. We want to be a part of it and show competitors we want to be a part of it by offering increased contingency."
For more information on Yamaha's contingency program, please visit: http://www.yamahamotorsports.com/sport/pages/2015-yamaha-off-road-racing-contingency-program
Every round of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track season will be available live, in high definition and free of charge for fans to watch online at www.FansChoice.tv.
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.