Thursday, December 9, 2010

AMA Road Racing: Off-Season Ramblings & 'Partial' 2011 Schedule Released

Jake Zemke on the #98 Erion Racing/Parts Unlimited/PJ1-sponsored Honda CBR600RR leads Miguel Duhamel on the #17 American Honda/Shoei/Joe Rocket-sponsored Honda CBR600RR during the Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme final event, as part of the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire at Mid Ohio in July of 2004. Duhamel went on to win and lead the most laps in the process, while Zemke finished just inside the points on the day.
The future team mates would end up ruling the Formula Xtreme Series due to Honda going all out in the class to showcase it's 'mini superbike' in the 600 inline-based class. Duhamel also went on to win the Formula Xtreme Championship over Zemke enroute to winning eight events to Zemke's one win in the eleven race series in '04. Between the two of them they scored 18 podiums that season.
Duhamel has seen limited action in the AMA Road Racing series since the bottom fell out after the end of the '08 season, making an appearance at Daytona in 2009 on a Pascal Picotte-led run in the Daytona 200, and then appearing at Laguna Seca this year on a Ducati. The 5-Time Daytona 200 winner, '95 AMA Superbike Champion and multi-time AMA 600 Supersport and Formula Xtreme Champion was always one of the highlights at any AMA Road Racing event, and was always considered a threat on the track. Off the track, at least to this writer, he was one of the most congenial and approachable, let alone down right comical riders in the paddock.
Zemke, who went on to win the '08 AMA Formula Xtreme Championship, rode an Erion Racing Honda during the '09 season in the Daytona Sportbike Class, and then moved back to the premier AMA Superbike Championship Series in 2010 riding for the Michael Jordan Motorsports/National Guard Suzuki team. That seemed to work out pretty well for Jake in winning both opening rounds at Daytona in March, and despite not being able to duplicate his spot atop the box through the rest of the season, he still finished 3rd in the championship behind eventual champ Josh Hayes and Tommy Hayden.
With the Jordan team signing Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden for the 2011 season (and possibly still running a third bike for Aaron Yates as of this writing), Zemke was left out in the cold and is still looking for work. Of course, he isn't the only rider 'in waiting' or unsigned as of yet for the 2011 AMA Road Racing season. With the release yesterday of what is being termed a 'partial' schedule, and Dunlop testing tires at Daytona next week and in January, there should be a bunch of dominoes ready to drop in terms of who goes where. Stay tuned!
With AMA Pro Road Racing releasing what is being termed a 'partial' schedule for the 2011 AMA Road Racing Series yesterday, there are still plenty of questions to go around as to who is going where for the upcoming season. And with Dunlop doing some tire testing at Daytona next week (and then another follow-up test scheduled in January) the ball should start to drop pretty soon as to what the rest of the unsigned riders will be doing next season.

At this point in the AMA Superbike Championship for '11 we know Michael Jordan has signed Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden. There is still a possibility being mentioned that once Aaron Yates heals completely from his March Fontana crash that they may run a third bike for Double A-Ron. 2010 AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes re-signed with Graves Yamaha for a couple more years, Eric Bostrom is 'supposedly' coming back for the full season with the Cycle World/Attack Performance team (and seems to be returning with a Kawasaki from chatter being heard.) Larry Pegram parted ways with Ducati, and less then 10 days later said he would be competing on the BMW for the 2011 championship.

But from there, it gets real murky. 2010 runner-up Tommy Hayden is still unsigned, as is Blake Young. John Hopkins is healed from his wrist surgery, but no mention of him returning-or not-with the Monster Energy/Road Racing team. Chris Ulrich was giving 'two-up' charity rides on the west coast a few weeks ago, and in all probability should be returning with the ME/ team.

The next few weeks should get interesting, and we'll all just have to hang tight and wait and see what happens next. I've posted a couple of links written by Paul Carruthers, who is back at the helm of the newly-risen Cycle (which is great news in itself, as well!)

The first story is the release of the schedule yesterday by AMA Road Racing. Road Atlanta and Fontana are no where to be found, and as of this release, Barber is TBD (to be determined) and the VIR round is shown, but also TBD. Not since the '91 season in AMA Superbike have I seen a slimmer schedule for the U.S. series in what was once one of, if not, the premier superbike championship in the world. In the second story PC talks with Jake Zemke, who was left off the roster at Michael Jordan Motorsports in spite of his 3rd place in the championship this year to go along with his double win at Daytona in March, the first-ever for MJ in the premier series after seven seasons of competition.

Stay tuned, and keep your fingers crossed!
Here's the new schedule as laid out yesterday thanks to Paul Carruthers and Cycle
And last week, Paul also posted this interview with Jake Zemke over at Cycle

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