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Birmingham: Supersport preview

GREAT BATTLE SHAPING UP IN AMA SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 18, 2006) -- Kawasaki has it and wants to keep it, while Yamaha and Suzuki both want it back. The prize these manufacturers all covet is the AMA Pro Honda Oils ...

GREAT BATTLE SHAPING UP IN AMA SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 18, 2006) -- Kawasaki has it and wants to keep it, while Yamaha and Suzuki both want it back. The prize these manufacturers all covet is the AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei. One of the most hotly contested series in the history of AMA road racing, the Supersport series is once again shaping up to be another barnburner in 2006. Kawasaki's Roger Lee Hayden brings a four-point lead over Yamaha's Jamie Hacking coming into round two of the 11-race series at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, April 23.

Hayden feels like it is his time to win the Supersport title. The youngest of the three racing Hayden brothers from Owensboro, Ky., has been runner-up in the series to his oldest brother Tommy for the last two years. This season Tommy is going to concentrate solely on the Superbike class leaving baby brother alone to fight off the horde of Yamaha and Suzuki riders trying to win back the championship. If Roger manages to win the series it would mean that all three Haydens brothers have won the title. Middle brother Nicky is racing for the factory Honda team in the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship.

After winning at Daytona last month Roger Lee said he feels like he's up to the task of finally earning his first AMA road racing title. He sees 2003 champ Jamie Hacking as his primary competition.

"I'm pretty happy that I came through Daytona with a good result," said Hayden, who is beginning his eighth year as a pro. "It's going to be a long year. This class is competitive. I know there's always some other guy that's going to be strong all year. I know Jamie [Hacking] is fast. He has been the last few years. He just got hurt a few times. I know he's capable of being up front every race."

Hacking's primary goal for 2006 is to stay healthy so he'll have the chance to win back the championship he won three years ago.

"It's going to be a tough battle all year," Hacking said of the Supersport championship. "We've been in this situation before, and hopefully we can have a trouble-free season. The last couple years for us have been pretty bad. So hopefully we can have a clean season and work on our bike some more in testing this next month, and get the thing dialed in just a little bit better. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a good season."

Hacking and Hayden are both former Barber Supersport winners.

While the focus is primarily on the battle between Hayden and Hacking, Suzuki has a secret weapon in the class in the form of Ben Spies. Most have considered the young Texan to be a Supersport overachiever on the Suzuki, which has been just a slight click off the Kawasaki and Yamaha Supersport bikes in the last couple of seasons. This year however the new GSX-R600 seems to be closer if not equal to the other factory rigs and Spies hopes to do some damage in the class this season.

Suzuki also has depth in the class. In addition to factory rider Spies there are a host of support riders who could contend for podiums throughout the season. Chief among them is former flat tracker Danny Eslick, who is coming on strong on the Matsushima Performance Suzuki, and M4 EMGO Suzuki's Geoff May. Eslick is fifth in the standings coming into Barber, May seventh, by virtue of their Daytona finishes.

Suzuki is looking for its first victory in the Barber Supersport event.

Another team to watch for at Barber is Attack Performance Kawasaki with the Aussie pair of Damon Buckmaster and Ben Attard. Both are capable of winning on any given weekend.

Honda has no factory entry in Supersport this year, but is represented in the class by California speedster Jeffrey Tigert on his Pro Honda Oils backed team. Tigert is 12th in the standings coming into Barber.

The Pro Honda Oils Supersport race is part of Barber Motorsports Park's Honda Superbike Classic that runs from April 21-23. The Barber Supersport final will be televised nationally on SPEED at 3 p.m. EST Tuesday, April 25.

To obtain tickets for the Honda Superbike Classic call 800-240-2300 or visit the website www.barbermotorsports.com.

-ama-

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Series AMA
Drivers Jamie Hacking , Geoff May , Damon Buckmaster , Roger Lee Hayden , Ben Spies , Jeffrey Tigert , Ben Attard