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Supersport Fontana preview

Picture for the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship Presented by Shoei Helmets will become clearer after Fontana. PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Daytona is done and the contest for the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship...

Picture for the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship Presented by Shoei Helmets will become clearer after Fontana.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Daytona is done and the contest for the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets continues on Sunday, April 6 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The Daytona Supersport race is almost a single-race championship unto itself, with the factories putting many of their Superbike riders on Supersport bikes to increase chances of a victory at the prestigious race. Now attention turns in earnest to the chase for the AMA Supersport title and Fontana should bring that picture much more into focus. Fontana is round two of the 11-race championship.

Honda's Kurtis Roberts leads the series coming into Fontana after winning earlier this month in Daytona, but the 2000 series champ is not expected to contest the entire championship. That leaves Yamaha's new man Jamie Hacking as the de facto series leader coming into California. "Hacker" is a proven entity in Supersport racing. The 33-year-old resident of Greer, S.C., is ranked fifth on the all-time AMA Supersport wins list. The only thing missing in Hacking's impressive resume is an AMA championship and that's something he aims to change this year.

"I'm so ready to win a championship," Hacking said. "It seems like every year I'm in the hunt and something happens. I feel good about the team and the position I'm in this year, so hopefully we'll keep it under control this season, win some races along the way and bring it home number one."

Third in the series standings is "Da Man" of AMA Supersport racing -- Miguel Duhamel. Duhamel is to Supersport racing as Michael Jordan is to NBA basketball. Duhamel has nearly four times as many career wins in the class as the next rider on the list and has been brought back into the class after a year's absence to fetch the title back for Honda.

Erion Honda Racing's Jake Zemke comes into Fontana ranked fourth in the series. This will be Zemke's fifth year in the series and he's looking to improve on his highest ranking in the championship, which was sixth in 2001. Yamaha's Jason DiSalvo is the youngest of the top runners coming into Fontana. The 19-year-old former AMA Horizon Award winner is ranked fifth and is one of the pleasant surprises in the early part of the season.

Defending AMA Supersport champ Aaron Yates had a disappointing outing at Daytona and comes to Fontana ranked 14th. Yates is the defending Fontana Supersport race winner but will be concentrating on the Superbike class for the remainder of the season. As it stands Ben Spies, like DiSalvo a past AMA Horizon Award winner, comes to Fontana as the top ranked Suzuki Supersport rider. Spies is ninth in the standings.

Kawasaki's first outing with its newly redesigned ZX-6RR was not what the factory had hoped. Tommy Hayden, who won two races and finished second in the standings last year, was pegged to be a surefire contender. He finished 13th at Daytona. On the bright side Hayden was 45th in last year's Daytona Supersport race after getting caught up in an early-race crash, yet was able to climb back to second by series end. If Kawasaki can work out early kinks with the new bike look for Hayden to make a similar charge in the championship this year.

Privateers made some noise at Daytona in a field thick with factory and factory-backed entries. Libasci Racing's Jamie Stauffer finished a very solid seventh at Daytona and was less than a second behind winner Roberts at the finish. Stauffer, who rides a Yamaha, is the latest is the seemingly endless string of talented Australians racing in America. He'll be hoping to prove this weekend that his Daytona finish was no fluke. Matt Wait made a strong return to AMA Supersport racing at Daytona, where he finished 12th. Wait is riding a privately entered Yamaha backed by Kneedraggers.com.

The race will be televised on Speed Channel at 3 p.m. (EST) April 6, 10:20 p.m. (EST) and 3:20 a.m. (EST) April 8.

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.

About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S Superbike Championship, the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship and the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.

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Series AMA
Drivers Kurtis Roberts , Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Jamie Hacking , Aaron Yates , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Jamie Stauffer