PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 16, 2003) -- Jamie Hacking and Damon Buckmaster are both looking to win their first AMA Championship this weekend as the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship presented by Shoei concludes this Sunday, Sept. 21,...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 16, 2003) -- Jamie Hacking and Damon Buckmaster are both looking to win their first AMA Championship this weekend as the 2003 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship presented by Shoei concludes this Sunday, Sept. 21, at Barber Motorsports Park.
A mere 15 points separates the two Yamaha teammates coming into the final round. And while Hacking and Buckmaster happen to be teammates, there has been a fair amount of tension between the two this season. Each has criticized the other at times this year, perhaps owing in part to the pressures both racing veterans feel in their quest to earn their first titles. Regardless of the occasional ill feelings toward one another, Hacking and Buckmaster have been the class of AMA Supersport this year.
Hacking comes into the season finale with a series-leading four wins. The British-born South Carolinian needs to finish eighth or better to secure the championship. Hacking is in his seventh year of AMA Pro Racing and ever since he burst onto the scene by winning the pole and leading his very first AMA race -- the Pro Honda Supersport race in Phoenix in 1997 -- big things have been expected of him. A perennial frontrunner, Hacking has never been able to put together a complete season until this year. Who could blame him if he feels the pressure of being on the verge of winning his first championship?
"I've never been in this position so I really don't know what to expect," said Hacking who is tied with Doug Polen for fourth on the all-time AMA Supersport wins list. "I'm just going out there and do the best I can. I've put myself in a position to win this championship and I don't want to take any chances, but at the same time this field is so competitive that if you get too relaxed you'll find yourself finishing out of the top 10. It's pressure, no doubt, but I've just got to put that out of my head and ride like I have been all year."
Buckmaster has tallied an impressive five podium finishes in the series and broke through to win his first AMA Supersport race last month in Alton, Va. That win couldn't have come at a better time for Buckmaster. The championship was slipping away and his first victory suddenly put him back in the thick of the title chase. The 30-year-old Australian knows that every point is precious this weekend. Look for him to make a hard push to try to earn the pole point and attempt to take the early lead in the final in an attempt to earn the lap-leader point as well. Buckmaster is also in contention for the Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series title.
"Yamaha is guaranteed one and two in the championship either way," said Buckmaster. "I would love to end the season on a winning note."
With either Hacking or Buckmaster, Yamaha will claim back the U.S. Supersport title it last owned in 1994 with Jamie James. The Supersport championship has traditionally been the closest competition in AMA Pro road racing.
Other riders hope to end the season with a victory even if the championship is out of reach. Suzuki's Ben Spies has been called the future of American road racing by many in the motorcycle racing press. Spies, is third in the Supersport standings on a bike that is already considered outdated in the fast-moving world of Supersport racing -- even though it was the same machine that carried Aaron Yates to the championship last year. Spies would like to put an exclamation point with a win at Barber. Others to watch for at Barber include the Kawasaki duo of Tommy Hayden and Tony Meiring and Honda aces Jake Zemke and Miguel Duhamel.
For additional information on this weekend's doubleheader contact Barber Motorsports Park at (205) 967-4745 or visit www.barbermotorsports.com. The Supersport finale at Barber will be taped and shown in primetime on Speed Channel on Tuesday night, Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. Eastern.
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.