Silly season on slow roll…
MotoGP might be making all the headlines about “Silly Season”, but AMA Pro Racing is starting to get going as well. With the 2012 season halfway over, it is time for teams, sponsors, riders and for the series to start looking at what 2013 has in store. I had a few brief conversations with some of the Superbike teams about next season, and this is what I have found out so far.
Monster Energy Graves Yamaha - They are continuing to field an AMA Pro Racing team for 2013. The rider line-up is not done just yet, but it is expected that Yamaha is keen to retain both Josh’s (Hayes & Herrin) for the 2013 season. Since Hayes is 37 years old now, we might see a multi year deal that would have Hayes wrap up his career with Yamaha. However, looking at World Superbike and the performances of both Max Biaggi (41) and Carlos Checa (39), we might see another 5-7 years on Hayes’ list of achievements.
Michael Jordan Motorsports - MJM has two riders with two different sponsors, Jordan Suzuki and National Guard Jordan Suzuki. After speaking with the powers that be on the MJM team, the intention is to run a two rider team once again for 2013. The rider line-up however, is still uncertain. There is no doubt that there is room for riders to impress the management at MJM, and that includes current riders Ben Bostrom and Roger Hayden.
Team Hammer - Team Hammer runs Robertino Pietri (Team Venezuela) in Superbike, Dane Westby (M4/Broaster Chicken/Suzuki) in Daytona Sportbike, and Elena Myers (sportbiketrackgear.com) in Supersport. Team Hammer also provides technical support to Martin Cardenas (Geico) in Daytona Sportbike, and Chris Ulrich (M4/Broaster Chicken/Suzuki) in Superbike. I was told by team principal John Ulrich that he is going racing again in 2013. The ideal situation is to put Martin Cardenas back on a Superbike next year. The choice to have Martin ride Daytona Sportbike for 2012 was purely based upon financial reasons. Martin wants to be back in the Superbike class and so does everyone else in the series. Dane Westby’s contract is up at the end of 2012, however, Team Hammer is keen to keep his services for next year.
Attack Performance - The only regular Kawasaki ZX-10R in the field is supported by motorcycle-superstore.com and Attack Performance. Richard Stanboli of Attack, commented that he wants to keep racing in the AMA Superbike class. If that will happen next year is still undecided as he needs to review his budget, sponsors, and decide if he is going to continue racing Kawasaki or move onto a manufacturer that can provide some support for his race program. With rider Steve Rapp continuing to work hard and get healthier, it seems that Stamboli is hoping to again keep Rapp in the Attack fold. More will be decided later in the season.
KTM/HMC Racing - This team is an interesting mix of personnel and destinies. KTM is an Austrian company with a U.S. Division. I am told that KTM USA is very happy with the program and exposure they are getting by racing in the AMA Pro series. However, the decision to keep racing is a joint one between Austria and the U.S.. German rider Stefan Nebel (#12) tells me that he is in constant communication with the folks in Austria about how things are progressing in the U.S., both good and bad. That direct communication is helping to influence the decision to continue racing here in the States. The conversation to keep racing may not be made until later this fall. I’ll keep a close eye on that for sure.
Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing - Larry Pegram is going racing in 2013! However, the reality of Pegram having better results has several factors attached to it. First, is the budget to hire another rider. Pegram is all alone developing the BMW S1000RR at this point. If Larry had a teammate to aide in the development of that bike it would make things a lot easier and efficient. In order to do that, BMW would need to step up and comes support AMA Pro Racing with some passion and a budget. In addition to the development of the motorcycle, adding a second rider will increase the level of exposure Foremost Insurance would garner. The family program Larry and is family are running now is an impressive, effective and a great model for smaller teams to emulate.
EBR - Eric Buell told me he intends to keep racing his race bred EBR 1190RS for next year. With this weekend at Mid-Ohio marking the one year anniversary of the introduction party of the EBR 1190RS, the improvement has been dramatic and there is still more to come. The rider line-up has not been decided, but since Geoff May has done such an amazing job with that motorcycle, and Danny Eslick has had moments of brilliance on it, things might not change much. But at this point in silly season anything can happen.
Aussie Dave Racing – Currently Aussie Dave Racing fields a pair of Superbikes, sometimes three, and a SuperSport machine. In speaking with team principal Dave Anthony the topic of 2013 was one of uncertainty. The uncertainty was not that he would or would not come racing, that, as Dave says, “always works itself out and we are going racing. How that is going to happen, at this point in the season, I’m not sure.” Currently the team runs Kneedraggers.com, Motul and FLY as the main sponsors. Dave rides and is capable of getting some good results. So much like Larry Pegram the question becomes, who can he get to ride his motorcycles and finish better than he can? Dave may keep racing next year, he may not. But one thing is for certain, Aussie Dave intends to stay racing in AMA Pro for the years ahead.
Yoshimura - After speaking with some folks from Yosh on the roadracing side of things, it would seem that Yoshimura is going racing next year. They are a racing company and will “always race to sell.” However, at this point, the question was not answered as to which racing series Yosh will compete in for 2013. In recent years, Yoshimura has shown they can win Motocross/Supercross. Yosh wants to win. They need to win. It drives their business. More on that as the weeks go by.
In two weeks, our series will be at Laguna Seca supporting MotoGP. Laguna Seca has been known as “Job Fair” weekend. Laguna is when things can really get cooking. Stay tuned for more about silly season later.