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Birmingham: Supersport preview

MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI TEAM TO BEAT IN AMA SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 16, 2007) -- After a dominating performance by Roger Lee Hayden and Jamie Hacking at Daytona, the Monster Energy Kawasaki team appears to be the ones...

MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI TEAM TO BEAT IN AMA SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 16, 2007) -- After a dominating performance by Roger Lee Hayden and Jamie Hacking at Daytona, the Monster Energy Kawasaki team appears to be the ones to beat in this year's Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei as the series comes to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on April 22. Round two of the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship is part of Barber's 5th annual Honda Superbike Classic Weekend on April 20-22.

Hayden and Hacking pulled steadily away from the rest of the field at Daytona on their factory ZX-6Rs, with the pair crossing the line over 12 seconds ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki's Tommy Hayden -- Roger Lee's older brother. The season is young, but it appears the title chase could be between Roger Lee, who has twice been runner up in the series, and Hacking, a two-time and defending champ of the class.

"I think as far as the championship goes, I have as good a shot as anybody," Roger Lee Hayden said after winning at Daytona. "I felt like I was in the wrong class our bike was so much faster than the other guys. So that's good. Hopefully we can carry this on for the rest of the year."

Roger Lee is a two-time Barber Supersport winner. He could become the first rider to win the class at Barber in back-to-back seasons. He could also move past Aaron Yates and tie Mike Smith for fourth on the all-time AMA Supersport wins list

Hacking, who won this race in 2005, said he made one little mistake on the final lap at Daytona that he thinks may have cost him the win. The North Carolinian is focusing on the big picture.

"Daytona was just one race of the 11 races we've got," Hacking said. "All of my guys have done an extraordinary job all winter long, just getting where we're at right now. We come in there fresh and new, new crew and everything like that, and everybody's doing a super great job. I'm really proud of my team right now, what we've accomplished in a short bit of time."

Tommy Hayden is another former Barber Supersport winner and comes into this year's race ranked third in the series. The eldest of the racing Hayden brothers, from Owensboro, Ky., is coming to terms with a new bike on a new team this year and he hopes to close the gap on the Kawasakis at a more technical circuit such as Barber. If he manages to pull off a victory it would mark the first time a Suzuki has won the Supersport race at Barber.

Veteran racer Michael Barnes is expected to be a leading contender at Barber aboard the Team M4 EMGO Suzuki in spite of the fact of being one of the oldest riders in AMA road racing at 38.

"It's easy to get fixated on rider ages, but in my book what a rider can do on the racetrack is what counts the most, not how old they are," said M4 EMGO Suzuki team owner John Ulrich. "Michael Barnes can still put it on the podium in AMA National races --not an easy thing to do -- and he's got the advantage of prior experience in just about every possible situation. Guys like Barnes, Rich Oliver, Tray Batey have all demonstrated that what's in your heart and in your head counts more than the date on your birth certificate. I see no reason why Michael Barnes can't be competitive for as long as he wants to race."

Barnes' teammate Geoff May is another top runner in the series this year.

Honda is back in Supersport this year with Formula Xtreme champ Josh Hayes, a native of Gulfport, Miss. Hayes, who won the Xtreme title last year for Erion Honda in the face of a major challenge from the factory Yamaha team, is hoping to bring Honda success once again in Supersport, a class the makers once dominated. Honda last won the Supersport title in 2000.

With all the Japanese manufacturers being represented in Supersport this year, the class is one of the deepest in history. Kawasaki's already tremendous effort in the series is bolstered even further by the Daytona 200 winning Attack Kawasaki squad with Steve Rapp and Ben Attard. Both riders are hoping to improve on their Daytona Supersport results. Attard was sixth and Rapp finished seventh.

AMA Supersport is historically one of the most closely contested classes in AMA road racing. The series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Tickets for the 5th annual Honda Superbike Classic at Barber Motorsports Park can be purchased via the website www.barbermotorsports.com or you can charge by phone at (205) 327-RACE or 1-800-240-2300.

The Barber Supersport race will be shown live on SPEED, Sunday, April 22 at 3:00 pm Eastern.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Steve Rapp , Tommy Hayden , Jamie Hacking , Geoff May , Aaron Yates , Roger Lee Hayden , Tray Batey , Michael Barnes , Ben Attard , Mike Smit