Supersport championship battle down to two. Yamaha teammates, Hacking and Buckmaster, among favorites at VIR. PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 25, 2003) -- After a long season of often intense and thrilling racing the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S.
Supersport championship battle down to two.
Yamaha teammates, Hacking and Buckmaster, among favorites at VIR.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 25, 2003) -- After a long season of often intense and thrilling racing the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship presented by Shoei comes down to two riders -- Yamaha teammates Jamie Hacking and Damon Buckmaster. Hacking leads the championship by 30 points coming into round 10 of the 11-race series Sunday, Aug. 31 at Virginia International Raceway. Hacking is in the catbird seat to win his first AMA National title, but he first has to get through VIR, a track where he's had nothing but rotten luck.
Hacking has won four Supersport races this year while none of the other five winners this season has managed to win more than one race. That kind of dominance has put Hacking on the verge of winning his first AMA Championship and you can hear the tenseness in his voice about coming to VIR.
"I'm not going to say it's one of my favorite tracks," says Hacking who has suffered bad crashes at the circuit on Supersport bikes in the previous two visits. "I've had some bad luck there. Before I was pushing too hard on equipment that wasn't up to the task, but this year is different. I have the best equipment out there and I've been able to have good results on several tracks this year where I had trouble before."
Hacking admits that having a 30-point lead with just two races remaining changes his strategy for VIR. "I don't have to go out there and prove anything," he said. "I don't have to run near the front, but I don't want to run too far back and get mixed up in any kind of mess. If I feel comfortable and can get an early gap on the rest of the field I might go for the win, otherwise I'll just lay back and see how the race plays out."
Buckmaster does not have the luxury of picking how he will approach the VIR race. The Aussie veteran simply must try his best to win, or at the very least finish in front of Hacking, so he'll have a better shot of catching his teammate in the final race in Birmingham, Ala., in September. Buckmaster finished fifth in the race last year.
Even though Hacking is in control of the championship, the series has been wide-open at times with six different winners on the year. That's the highest number of winners in Supersport since 1998. One of those winners is Tommy Hayden, last year's VIR Supersport victor. Hayden hopes to close out the season strong on his factory Kawasaki and defending his VIR win would help him do just that.
Veteran Honda rider Miguel Duhamel is another rider who has done well at VIR. In 2001 he finished runner-up in the Supersport race to Anthony Gobert. Duhamel is already the all-times wins leader in AMA Supersport history. He would love nothing better than to pad his incredible career win number that stands at 41, with a victory at VIR.
Virginia International Raceway is one of the most scenic road courses in America. It offers some spectacular vistas to view racing and is one of the favorites of many riders on the circuit. The race will be shown live on Speed Channel at 12 p.m. Eastern. For additional information on VIR's Suzuki Lightning Nationals contact (434) 822-7700 or visit www.virclub.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.