HAYDEN IN ON RARE BACK-TO-BACK AMA SUPERSPORT TITLES PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 22, 2005) -- Tommy Hayden comes to Virginia International Raceway on the weekend of Aug. 26-28, closing in on a rare feat in AMA road racing. The oldest of the three...
HAYDEN IN ON RARE BACK-TO-BACK AMA SUPERSPORT TITLES
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 22, 2005) -- Tommy Hayden comes to Virginia International Raceway on the weekend of Aug. 26-28, closing in on a rare feat in AMA road racing. The oldest of the three racing Hayden brothers could wrap up his second straight Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei title. Winning back-to-back Supersport championships would be a major accomplishment that only two riders -- Doug Polen and Miguel Duhamel -- have been able to accomplish in the history of the series.
Hayden's path to the number one ranking in the series has been one of speed and gritty determination. The Owensboro, Ky., native won three of the first six rounds and when he wasn't winning he finished runner up. But then he suffered a crash in the Repsol Superstock race at Laguna Seca and broke his right hand. It looked doubtful that he would be able to race that weekend's Supersport round, but Hayden's crew fabricated a special throttle grip out of fiberglass and foam, with a palm rest so he wouldn't have to bend his wrist as much and he was able to manage a sixth-place finish.
The day after Laguna Seca, Hayden had surgery on the hand. He returned to Mid-Ohio last month and despite still riding with a modified throttle and racing glove, Hayden battled for the lead and ultimately finished second to his brother and Kawasaki teammate Roger Lee Hayden. On the winners' rostrum after the race Hayden's hand was shaking from the exertion. It was one of the gutsiest performances of the season and helped preserve his lead in the championship.
"I was fortunate to have a bike that was so good that I could run up front at Mid-Ohio even without being 100 percent," Hayden said. "Hopefully at VIR my hand will be healed enough that I can ride to my full potential. I'd still like to win another one of these things before the season is over."
Even though the top five in the series - the Haydens, Yamaha's Jason DiSalvo, Suzuki's Ben Spies and Aaron Gobert, also of Yamaha - all still have a mathematical chance to win the title, realistically it's down to the two Hayden brothers. Roger Lee is 36-points behind his older brother in the series. He knows his outlook for the title is not very good, but he would like to close out the season on a roll.
"I had some bad luck early in the year that cost me any real shot at the championship," Roger Lee said. "I'm happy I've been able to charge all the way back to second behind Tommy in the standings. Kawasaki is one-two, so that shows you what kind of bike they have. Even though it looks like Tommy's going to win the championship, if I could go out winning the last two rounds I'd still be pretty happy."
Jason DiSalvo became the fourth rider to win a Supersport race this year with his victory at Laguna Seca. The young Yamaha rider from New York State has nothing to lose from his distant third in the standings. He promises to go all out to win at VIR. "I won the race last year and it would be nice to win it again," he said.
Damon Buckmaster is another former winner in the lineup for VIR. The likable Australian never seemed to fully recover from a hard pre-season crash and comes into this year's race ranked 10th in the points. He's looking for a ride for next season, so watch for Buckmaster to lay it all on the line this race.
Jamie Hacking, the 2003 AMA Supersport champ from Denver, N.C., is expected to make his return to racing at VIR. Hacking, who rides for Yamaha, has been unable to race since May after a bicycling accident resulted in two dislocated elbows.
It's contract time and a lot of riders will be looking to impress at VIR. Attack Kawasaki's Ben Attard is coming on strong of late. The Australian scored his first Supersport podium at Mid-Ohio. Chris Peris and Robert Jensen are two other privateers hoping to move to a factory, or factory support squad next year and could sneak up with a podium finish at VIR.
The AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport Champioship presented by Shoei will be televised nationally on SPEED Channel, Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 12 p.m. Eastern. You can also follow the race via live timing and scoring on www.amasuperbike.com.
For additional information on the race call (434) 822-7700 or visit www.virclub.com.