Hayes and Hayden Battle Atop AMA Supersport.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 14, 2007) – Josh Hayes is hoping to return Honda to prominence in the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei. So far, so good for the Gulfport, Mississippi rider. Hayes, of Erion Racing Honda, leads the series standings coming into round four at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma, Calif., on Sunday May 20. A few weeks ago Hayes was tied for the series lead with Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Roger Hayden, but after scoring a runner-up finish last month in Fontana, Calif., to Hayden’s third, Hayes has opened up a narrow four-point gap on his rival. Both riders are seeking their first Supersport win at Infineon.
After the opening round of the series at Daytona International Speedway in March, it looked as if the AMA Supersport class was going to be a Kawasaki benefit, after Hayden and teammate Jamie Hacking dominated the rest of the field. Hayes and Honda responded by running away with round two at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. It was two-time series champ Hacking then who roared back with authority at California Speedway to earn the victory, making it three winners in three rounds leading up to this Sunday’s race.
Hayes says it’s a major accomplishment to be leading a series with so much talent.“You’ve got Jamie [Hacking] who is a two-time champion of this class,” Hayes said. “And Roger Lee [Hayden] who’s won a ton of races in the last few years, not to mention his brother Tommy who’s won this thing twice as well. There’s so much depth in this field I have no doubt that it’s going to be a long a tough season. It sounds like PR, but Honda really has stepped up to the plate this year with its new bike and given me a really good weapon to go out and try to win this championship.”
Honda has more Infineon Supersport wins than any other manufacturer, but hasn’t won the title since 2000 when Kurtis Roberts took the honors.
Roger Hayden hopes to join his brothers Tommy and Nicky as former Infineon Supersport winners. “This track is a lot more physical and a lot tighter with more elevation changes than most other tracks,” Hayden said. “You have to be pretty aggressive to pass here and it’s not easy, so that can be pretty exciting.”
Jamie Hacking, who won this race in 2003, survived a spectacular crash at Barber Motorsports Park and is hoping to continue his momentum on this West Coast swing of the series.
“All I can do is go out there and win races at this point,” said Hacking, who comes into Infineon sixth in the standings – 26 points out of the lead. “The good thing is that we have a lot of racing left in this championship and a lot can happen. I’ve always really liked this track configuration and the lines here [at Infineon]. I’ve really come to like this track even more over the years and it’s become one of my favorites. I like a track with a lot of rolling hills, so this suits me.”
Steve Rapp, who learned to road race at Infineon as an AFM club racer, comes to his home track third in the standings. He scored a podium at Barber and is hoping to do the same Sunday. A local rider has won this race only once before – in 1988 when David Deveau from Sebastopol, scored the upset win. Rapp, originally from Lafayette, is hoping to become the second.
Tommy Hayden won the Supersport race at Infineon in 2005. He’s the top Suzuki rider in the class, ranked fourth. Floridian Michael Barnes is the veteran of the class, but even at 38 he’s still one of the best in the series. Barnes is fifth in the series on his M4 EMGO Suzuki and is aiming to earn his first podium of the year this weekend.
There will be a number of Bay Area riders competing in this weekend’s Supersport race including Chris Siglin, of Bay Point, riding for Arclight Suzuki; Bobby Fong, of Stockton, racing with Safety First Suzuki and Grant Riggs of Burlingame racing the Jelly Belly Suzuki to name a few.
The race will be shown on SPEED on Tuesday, May 22 at 1:00 pm Eastern.
The Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei race at Infineon is part of the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown presented by Supercuts, which runs May 18-20. Tickets for the event are still available. Visit www.InfineonRaceway.com for addition information.
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