Like last year, the opening round of the 2011 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship saw a single Suzuki rider sweep the double-header, but where current Daytona SportBike rider Jake Zemke filled that role in 2010, 2011 saw the re-emergence of Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s fully recovered, hard-charging Blake Young.
Young, who suffered serious back-injuries mid-season via a crash during testing, had made his return felt at 2010′s season-ending race at Barber Motorsports Park, where he won the last National Guard SuperBike race of the year. But at Daytona International Speedway, Young confirmed that he wants a piece of this year’s championship just as much as teammate (and 2010 runner-up) Tommy Hayden and defending champ, Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes.
Young’s rivals for the early lead both had solid opening weekends, Tommy going 2-3 and Hayes kicking off the event by taking pole position before finishing 3-2. And while Hayden was clearly less than satisfied with his result, Hayes could at least cheerfully compare it to his less-than-successful 2010 Daytona experience, which left the Graves team with serious work to do to put the Mississippian back on solid ground.
Jordan Motorsports’ all-new lineup used Daytona to indicate they’ll be regular frontrunners this season, with Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom turning in a pair of top-five finishes while National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden-back from a determined season in World Superbike-proved capable of the same, earning a fifth-place finish in his first AMA Pro race since 2009.
Contenders can also expect trouble from reigning 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Champion Martin Cardenas, whose SuperBike debut aboard M4 Suzuki machinery was good enough to remind watchers of the dangers of underestimating this quiet but fierce rider. Cardenas was at home on the GSX-R1000 in no time, latching on to race leaders and showing impressive speed right out of the gate, going 6-4 on the Daytona race weekend and leaving the speedway in fifth overall.
A pair of BMW S1000RRs also ran well at the season opener, with Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram—- who switched from Ducati to BMW machinery over the off-season—- looking comfortable inside the top ten and BMW of San Diego’s Jeremy Toye finishing as high as eighth.
The Cycle World/Attack Performance Kawasaki SuperBike effort had a tough Daytona weekend, as a second-row qualifying performance was negated by a DNF in Race 1, though rider Eric Bostrom was able to rebound for a respectable eighth-place finish in Race 2. No word yet on whether the project will be able to secure funding for future rounds, but should the Green Team show up at Infineon, trust that Bostrom will be looking for redemption.
Another team to keep an eye on at Infineon will be Amsoil EBR. A best-finish of twelfth fell far short of what it takes to make Erik Buell Racing pilot Geoff May happy, and having spent the down-time hard at work, the team will be ready to show at Round 2.
In the National Guard’s third year of title sponsorship of the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike series, the class is more wide-open than ever-and as ever, the sport is proud to carry the flag for the many men and women who represent the United States throughout the world.
To be a part of next round’s National Guard SuperBike action at Infineon Raceway’s exciting West Coast Moto Jam, click here.
[Press Release Courtesy of AMA Pro Racing]