AMA Superbike finale preview

Big changes in the works for next season

By Motorcycle.com Staff, Sep. 26, 2008
The 2008 AMA Superbike season winds up with a stop at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

Unlike the previous Laguna Seca stop in July where the AMA shared the stage with the MotoGP, the Sept. 27-28 Corona AMA Superbike Finale will feature a full complement of AMA Pro Racing classes.

With most of the AMA titles already sewn up, this year’s finale won’t have the drama of the 2007 event which saw Rockstar Suzuki’s Ben Spies win the title by a single point over teammate Mat Mladin.

Instead, the final event of the season might be a finale in many other ways. AMA Pro Racing has announced new rules and racing classes for 2009, while the Motorcycle Industry Council has announced its intentions to start up a competing series. Details for the MIC’s U.S. Superbike Series have been scarce so far, while the AMA has already reached agreements with the series’ traditional venues for 2009. AMA Pro Racing still needs to get all of the manufacturers on board, but the Laguna Seca finale may be the last chance for fans to see AMA racing as they know it.

Ben Spies is looking for a ride in MotoGP for 2009.

The Corona AMA Superbike Finale may also be the last opportunity for fans to see some of their favorite stars in AMA action. With his third straight AMA Superbike title wrapped up, Spies is looking for a MotoGP ride in 2009. The Longview, Tex. rider is coming off of an impressive sixth-place wildcard ride in the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Erion Honda’s Josh Hayes will also be leaving AMA racing, having signed with Parkalgar Honda’s World Supersport team. The Gulfport, Miss. native debuted with his new team at the Sept. 21 race in Vallelunga near Rome, Italy with a tenth-place finish. Hayes currently sits second in the AMA Formula Xtreme series and is within reach of the runner-up spot in the AMA Supersport series.

Hayes’ Erion Honda teammate Jake Zemke has already claimed the Formula Xtreme title while Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates has secured his third AMA Superstock title. Ben Bostrom holds a 24-point lead in the Supersport standings over Zemke. The Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider needs just a 17th place result at Laguna Seca to claim his first Supersport title, so he will likely run a conservative final race.

The real championship drama will have to be supplied by the Red Bull AMA Rookies. Benny Solis Jr. holds a 14-point lead over Hayden Gillim. Both teens were part of the AMA team competing in the Riders Cup against the MotoGP Rookies at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. The MotoGP side dominated the race, claiming the top seven finishes. If Solis and Gillim picked up any pointers from their MotoGP counterparts, they’ll have a chance to put them to use at Laguna Seca.