PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 27, 2003) -- Last season Jake Zemke tied champion Jason Pridmore in the final point standings of the 2002 Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series, but lost the title in a tiebreaker. Pridmore had won more races than Zemke.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 27, 2003) -- Last season Jake Zemke tied champion Jason Pridmore in the final point standings of the 2002 Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series, but lost the title in a tiebreaker. Pridmore had won more races than Zemke. Fast-forward to the middle of the 2003 season and Zemke once again finds himself atop the Formula Xtreme standings, but if he is to avoid a similar scenario to last year he knows he'll have to start winning races. The Californian dirt tracker turned road racer will be looking to do exactly that this Saturday, May 31, in round four of the 10-race Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.
Zemke has played second fiddle to other riders in the three rounds leading up to Pikes Peak, but Zemke's steady trio of second-place finishes on his Erion Racing Honda has paid off with the series lead. Pikes Peak has been good for Zemke. He's made the podium in Formula Xtreme each of the last three years at PPIR, the only rider to accomplish that feat. Yet he's still looking to earn his first win at the twisty, 1.3-mile circuit.
"We should be right there again," Zemke said. "The first race of the year we were pretty far behind, then at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway) we got a bit closer, you know we were able to hang with him (Spies) for about half the race and put a little pressure on him. Then at Atlanta I was actually able to pass him. We've definitely been getting closer and closer. Pikes is a good track for me. I've always done well there. I think it should turn out to be a good result."
The only former winner in the field Saturday will be Jason Pridmore, who is the defending two-time winner at Pikes Peak. Pridmore had a tough start to his season and finds himself way back in 15th in the series standings. While the championship may be slipping out of reach for Pridmore, look for the defending No. 1 rider of the series to turn in a good performance at Pikes Peak. He certainly wants to salvage some race wins on his Attack Suzuki before the season is over. Many feel it will happen for the affable Pridmore.
Young Yoshimura Suzuki rider Ben Spies looks to be the class of the Formula Xtreme field. The 18-year-old Texan won the first two rounds in dominating fashion, but a tip over at Road Atlanta cost him the series lead. He now trails Zemke by seven points. Spies finished eight in the Pikes Peak Formula Xtreme race last year, but despite that unspectacular finish he does know how to win at the circuit. He won the Superstock race there in 2001. It was his first AMA professional victory.
Attack Suzuki's second rider Josh Hayes is third in the standings and is hoping to close the gap on Zemke and Spies at Pikes Peak. Hayes was runner-up in the 1999 race to Nicky Hayden.
One other rider to watch for at PPIR will be Road Atlanta winner Jamie Hacking. Hacking is down in 12th in the point standings after crashing in the first round, but he could get on a roll and make a serious move up in the rankings. Hacking won the Supersport race at Pikes in 2000. Hacking's teammate, Damon Buckmaster sits fourth in the points and a strong finish at Pikes Peak will keep his championship hopes alive.
GENUINE SUZUKI ACCESSORIES SUPERSTOCK SERIES
A victory at Road Atlanta put Czech Republic native Vincent Haskovec atop the Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Series standings. The Hooters Suzuki rider has improved every year since first racing in the AMA series in 1999. The Road Atlanta win was his first AMA professional victory. Haskovec will now be looking to build on that win and series lead with a good result at Pikes Peak, but it may be tough to hold off Kawasaki's Tommy Hayden, who always is a leading contender at Pikes. The tight circuit should play right into the strength of Hayden's factory Kawasaki ZX636.
MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series
The amazing career of MBNA 250 Grand Prix rider Rich Oliver just keeps getting better. Oliver, who is the all-time AMA 250GP wins leader with an amazing 64-career victories, brings his four-racing winning streak into Pikes Peak where he's won the last three years. Already people are wondering if Oliver might be able to have another perfect season. It would be nothing new for the Northern California native. Oliver swept all races in both the 1996 and 1997 AMA 250 Grand Prix Series in one of the most amazing winning streaks in all of motorsports.
The Pikes Peak Formula Xtreme race, along with highlights of the Superstock and 250 Grand Prix races, will be taped and shown on Speed Channel on Tuesday, June 10 at 10 p.m. EST. For ticket information for the event call (888) 306-7223 or visit the website www.ppir.com.
For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto www.USSuperbike.com, the official website of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.