We have some new information about AMA road racing, including a bit of fine-tuning for our story yesterday about Mat Mladin, Tommy Hayden, and new guy Blake Young. The three riders will compete in the 1000 cc American Superbike class, leaving the 600 cc Daytona Superbike class to other manufacturers.
Current champion Ben Spies will not defend his title, as he’s jumped to World Superbikes with the Yamaha Motor Italia squad.
Although the poisoned atmosphere in the U.S. racing world generated by the manufacturers and Daytona Motorsports Group (new owners of the AMA racing series), seems to have settled down a bit, it looks like there’s still going to be a pretty fragmented racing season.
As reported in CMG yesterday, Suzuki (who had the biggest hissy-fit of all the factories over the news rules package) has finally decided that they will compete after all. Kawasaki has also finally overcome their reluctance to get in bed with DMG and has announced that they’ll be back — but only in the 600 cc Sportbike class, and in combination with the satellite team Attack Performance Racing (winner of the last two Daytona 200 races). Since Kawasaki is laying off considerable numbers of its race team, one might be excused for thinking the company wasn’t really going racing at all but rather laying off the job on Attack.
The announcement did say there’d be a two-rider team, although only Roger Lee Hayden, youngest of the three Hayden brothers, was mentioned. Jamie Hacking, who did wonders on the ZX-10 superbike last season, has apparently signed and returned a contract but hasn’t heard back from Kawasaki as to whether they’ll be confirming it or not.
It sounds similar to what Honda’s already announced, really. Big Red announced it wouldn’t be entering competition at all, then promptly confirmed support for the Erion and Corona teams. One of those is likely to take on Honda’s signed ace Neal Hodgson as well, although no announcement has been made.
Amusingly, both Suzuki and Kawasaki issued press releases claiming that they’d be competing only in the AMA’s "premier" class for 2009 — although they’ll be in different classes.
Yamaha is the only company to have issued early support for DMG and to have kept out of the political silliness that everyone else has been involved with. Riders Ben Bostrom and Josh Hayes have already been testing both their superbikes and 600s, so it would appear they may have an early leg up on the rest of the crowd.