THREE RIDERS, ONE TITLE IN AMA FORMULA XTREME PICKERINGTON, Ohio (September 25, 2006) -- This year's Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series has been one of the most competitive in the history of the class. Coming into the season finale...
THREE RIDERS, ONE TITLE IN AMA FORMULA XTREME
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (September 25, 2006) -- This year's Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series has been one of the most competitive in the history of the class. Coming into the season finale this Saturday, Sept. 30, there are three riders very much in contention for the No. 1 plate. Either Erion Honda's Josh Hayes or Yamaha's Eric Bostrom or Jason DiSalvo will emerge as the 2006 Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series Champion.
Yamaha made a major push in Formula Xtreme this year with Bostrom and DiSalvo. The team looked unbeatable on paper; especially considering Honda's main factory squad departed the series after winning at Daytona, leaving its main support squad, Erion Racing Honda, to uphold company honors. And Erion has done a remarkable job staying in the hunt all season and emerging as the top team coming into the last race.
Hayes quietly kept early leader DiSalvo in sight, but it was Yamaha riders winning four-straight rounds after Daytona. Hayes finally broke through with a victory in June at the new Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Hayes' win served notice that Honda wasn't about to step aside and let Yamaha ride unchallenged to the championship.
Hayes now finds himself the lone rider standing between Yamaha's quest to win all three AMA road race support class titles this season.
"For sure there's a lot of pressure," Hayes admitted. "But I like it. I think that when the pressure's on is when true champions show what they can do. I look at Miguel last year, when he had to - the fight for the championship was so close that it was whoever led the most laps, on top of winning the race. I think it's exciting. I think that this is when I'll do my best work. I really try hard. I enjoy the pressure. I enjoy the challenge of racing, so I'm having fun with this."
The story of the second half of the season has been Bostrom's incredible charge. After beginning the year with a fourth and 22nd-place finish, the youngest of the racing Bostrom brothers won six of the next seven rounds putting him back in the title chase. Bostrom enters Mid-Ohio in second, but just three points behind Hayes.
"I think that no matter what happens, the season has been a success," Bostrom said after Road Atlanta. "I'm optimistic going into the last race. It's been a really good series, and it's kind of cool that it's come down to the last one."
Bostrom won the Mid-Ohio Formula Xtreme race in August.
For DiSalvo, who is eight points behind Hayes, the equation is simple. "There's nothing left now except for to win my last race of the year-- that's it," he said.
While the Formula Xtreme championship is on the line at Mid-Ohio, the Repsol Lubricants Superstock Series was decided at the last race where Graves Yamaha's Jamie Hacking clinched the championship. Hacking became the first rider in 18 years to win the AMA Supersport and Superstock titles in the same season.
With the title already decided, the Mid-Ohio Superstock race will be pure unadulterated racing. Everyone wants to go out with a win. Hacking can ride freely and go for his seventh win of the year. That would be the most wins in the class since Jason Pridmore tallied eight victories in 1997.
Suzuki's Aaron Yates would also love to go out a winner in his final weekend with the Yoshimura Suzuki squad. It hasn't been announced where Yates will ride next year, but if he hasn't signed for 2007, a victory at Mid-Ohio would certainly increase his value to any team.
Hacking's Yamaha teammates Jason DiSalvo and Eric Bostrom both would like to set a tone for 2007. It's rumored that the pair will compete in AMA Superbike with Yamaha next season and these Superstock machines are as close as it gets to the premier class in terms of horsepower.
Then there are the support team riders who could take advantage of factory riders laying low in preparation for next season and sneak in a podium finish. Riders such as Steve Rapp with Jordan Suzuki, Geoff May with M4 EMGO Suzuki and Josh Hayes with Erion Honda may surprise fans at this weekend's race.
The Mid-Ohio Formula Xtreme race will air on SPEED on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
Tickets for the race are available by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or 419-884-4000 or visit www.midohio.com.