Short post in the run-up to Daytona, the US motorcycle racing season opener. AMA Superbike action will be back in full swing, and I am sad to say I almost don’t care. Sure, it’s going to be nice to have Yamaha back in the superbike fold, but with the Yoshimura Suzuki boys running rampant, it’s hard to know how anyone will compete. Yates put on quite a show with the Jordan Suzuki last year, but it’s the Mladin/Speis show. It’s possible that Ben will take his eye off the ball, with his move to MotoGP next year all but a done deal, and Mladin, with nothing to race for but soul crushing championship domination, will win out. It should be fun to watch.
Side note – I raced against Spies once. Spies started last on the grid (a split start grid no less) at Road Atlanta, in the rain, and carved his way to third in several laps, ultimately crashing out of that position. I fared slightly better, crashing out of 10th place, ultimately remounting and finishing in the top 20. He was crazy fast then, and it’s nice to see he didn’t rush off to the world level like Hopkins. He’s a good kid, with a bright future.
The support classes are slightly less exciting, and I am sad to say that I can barely tell you who won what class last year. I don’t know what it is, but I care a lot less about domestic racing. I shouldn’t, but I do. I’d really like to see 600 supersport be a class for non-factory riders, with formula extreme being the training ground for future superbike riders. I just don’t get the superstock class at all. In stock form, these bikes are barely slower than the factory superbikes, which begs the questions: what is all the money being spent on, and why is there so little difference. Rider to watch this year for me? Two – Josh Herrin and Roger Lee Hayden.
Surprising to perhaps only a blind man living in a hole, Troy Bayliss has opened the World Superbike season on board the new 1098 Ducati, and is showing how it’s done. Last season was fun to watch for the close racing, but the super sized Ducati engine puts them in the drivers seat once again. New engines mean teething problems, but somehow I think this is going to be a nice, easy season for Baylistic.
MotoGP, on the other hand, is a bit of an unknown. I think that there is little doubt that Stoner is the man to beat this year. If he manages to keep his “win it or bin it” mentality in check, and keeps the rubber side down, I don’t know how anyone beats him. What’s so amazing about Stoner is that he’s the only fast Ducati in the field. Others have tried and failed, and he seems to be the only one to get the Bologna bullet round the race track.
With the new rookies in MotoGP, there are ten former world champions in the field. Who says that it’s not the best field in racing? Spec tire rules be damned! If Rossi can’t win on the Bridestones, he owes a *huge* apology to Stoner and the rest of the world for even insinuating the Ducati had an unfair advantage last year.
I’ve missed racing in the off season and am looking forward to it getting back in full swing.