Factory Teams Break Out The Big Guns For Daytona's AMA Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Opener PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- If you could attend just one round of the 2002 AMA Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship, Daytona would definitely be the...
Factory Teams Break Out The Big Guns For Daytona's AMA Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Opener
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- If you could attend just one round of the 2002 AMA Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship, Daytona would definitely be the one to circle on your calendar. With no fewer than 25 factory or factory-supported riders slated to race in the series opener at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, March 8, it is easy to see that winning the Daytona Supersport race is a major goal of all the factories. It's well known that the manufacturer that manages to win the AMA Supersport race at Daytona is almost assured major success on the showroom floors of America in the following weeks and months.
For Daytona the factories often field several of the top AMA Superbike riders for a full assault on the AMA Supersport race. This year is no different. Honda will load up with Superbike aces Nicky Hayden, Miguel Duhamel and Kurtis Roberts, while Kawasaki will match the challenge by putting defending series champion, Eric Bostrom back on its ZX6 for an encore. Duhamel is the six-time defending winner of the event. After Daytona these riders will go back to focusing on the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, but for one illustrious race it will be the best of the best racing against one another.
At Daytona the aforementioned Superbike riders will face a slew of talented Supersport series regulars. If pre-season testing is any indication, it is going to be tough to look past Yamaha's lead rider Anthony Gobert. The "Go Show" finished second in the championship last year despite racing much of the second half of the summer injured after a crash in New Hampshire in June. It was his first season racing Supersport, so with a year under his belt the talented Gobert should be even more daunting for his competitors.
Aaron and Alex Gobert will join big brother Anthony in the championships. Aaron came to the U.S. last year and had good success and will be once again riding for Graves Motorsports Yamaha. Already a seasoned veteran in his native Australia, Aaron is racing the AMA U.S. series for the first time on the strong Bruce Transportation Honda team alongside Jake Zemke. In an interesting race within a race, it will be exciting to see how the three Hayden brothers, Tommy, Nicky and Roger Lee, do against their Australian counterparts. Tommy and Nicky are established winners in Supersport racing, and youngest brother Roger Lee has shown great potential in other classes, and was able to crack the top-10 twice in Supersport last year. Nicky and Roger Lee will ride Hondas, while elder brother Tommy returns to the factory Kawasaki team this year. Team Blimpie Suzuki teammates Aaron Yates and Jamie Hacking are expected to challenge for the AMA Supersport Championship this year. Both have finished on the podium in the Supersport race at Daytona. In what many see as the biggest surprise of the off season was the announcement that three-time AMA MBNA 250 Grand Prix champ Jimmy Filice is vacating his number one plate in the 250GP class to race in Supersport. The 39-year-old veteran from Modesto, Calif., will be racing a Team Corbin Kawasaki. It will mark his first foray into Supersport racing.
Another intriguing twist to this year's championship is the imminent development of two former AMA Horizon Award winners Ben Spies and Tony Meiring. The Horizon Award is given to the AMA's top amateur riders. Spies won the award in 2000 and promptly began his pro racing career. This year Spies joins the Attack Suzuki team with veteran Jason Pridmore. Meiring was a Horizon winner in 1999 and got his big break this winter when it was announced he would be joining the factory Kawasaki team. Spies and Meiring represent the future of the sport, but both have the potential to make an immediate impact on the sport.
Picking a winner of the Daytona Supersport final would drive even the most knowledgeable racing fan nuts. If you go strictly based on history then Duhamel is the unquestionable favorite. But Bostrom looked unbeatable at times last year in the series and then there's Anthony Gobert, who was the fastest rider in pre-season testing. Kurtis Roberts came out on top at Daytona two years ago and is eager to make a return appearance. Realistically any one of a dozen or more riders has a real shot at winning the Daytona Supersport final. This is what makes this race so special.
If you're not going to be in Daytona for the race, be sure to get off work early enough on Friday to watch the race live on Speed Channel at 4 p.m. Eastern.
Be sure to watch the pages of amaproracing.com starting Wednesday, March 6 through the Daytona 200 on Sunday, March 11 for complete racing coverage from all of the AMA Pro Racing action from Bike Week. Coverage will include news, interviews, photos, official results and points, and exclusive lap-by-lap results as they happen!
Tickets for the Daytona round of the AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport U.S. Championship can be purchased by calling Daytona's ticket office at (386) 253-7223 or via the Internet at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for professional motorcycle sport in the United States. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.