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Friday, July 8, 2011

Hayes leads tight race to Mid-Ohio

From AMA Pro Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - When AMA Pro Road Racing returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 8-10, the series will not only stage yet another action-packed Honda Super Cycle Weekend, it'll also kick-off Mid-Ohio's Bike Month, celebrating 50 years of racing at the classic venue. A proud part of the celebrations, the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship's own history at the 15-turn, 2.4-mile racetrack stretches back nearly 30 years.

The Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire will once again see the best in American motorcycle road racing take to the track, led by the stars of AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike. The overall points race in the class has never been closer, with reigning champion Josh Hayes (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha) arriving in town only two points ahead of Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Blake Young.

Hayes -- who's earned two 2011 victories thus far (and six additional podium finishes) -- has been consistently forced to do battle not just with Young but with Young's teammate, Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Tommy Hayden. He also faces an ever-increasing threat from M4 Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas, who earned his first class victory at last round's Barber Motorsports Park event, as well as last year's Mid-Ohio Race 2 winner Hayden, who will be looking to repeat this weekend.

Ohio's Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing) is on new machinery this year, having transitioned to BMW over the off-season, and he intends to shine here at his home track. Team Iron Horse ESP BMW rider Chris Peris of Calgary, however, will be looking to give Pegram some brand-on-brand competition, and he's far from alone among rising challengers. Chris Fillmore, current points leader in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class, will be joining the National Guard SuperBike field at Mid-Ohio, heading up the first official KTM SuperBike effort run in conjunction with HMC Racing -- an exciting debut for fans of the brand, class, and OEM diversity.

The famously hard-fought AMA Pro Daytona SportBike series continues to be a hotbed of nonstop action, having seen five different points leaders already this season. Momentum seems to currently favor Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin, who suffered a slow start to the season before beginning to roll out victory after victory (his current total is now at four). It's GEICO Powersports/RMR Suzuki's Danny Eslick, however, who holds the overall points lead by a slim, four-point margin.

With Team Latus Motors Racing's Jason DiSalvo, Vesrah Suzuki's Cory West, JHR/RidersDiscount.com's Cameron Beaubier, M4 Suzuki's Dane Westby, and Celtic Racing's PJ Jacobsen all having turned in podium finishes this season, competition in the Daytona SportBike class will again redefine "daunting." Riders like Tommy Aquino (Y.E.S./Pat Clark/Graves Motorsports), Taylor Knapp (Vesrah Suzuki), Tyler O'Hara (GP Bike Parts Racing), and more are likewise ready to make their mark, promising Mid-Ohio race fans some of the most eye-popping, freight-train action in the world.

The AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport class has also been wide-open this year, with a total of six different riders having won races in the championship, for which a $25,000 year-end points fund has been posted by Motorcycle-Superstore.com. Mid-Ohio is an East Division SuperSport event, and James Rispoli (ANT-Racing.com/STAR School) will be looking to build on his big weekend at Barber, where he took second on Saturday, then returned Sunday to win his first race of the season. Rispoli will have his hands full with the likes of LTD Racing Y.E.S. Yamaha teammates Tomas Puerta and David Gaviria, however, as well as Corey Alexander (Vesrah Suzuki), Travis Wyman (Harv's Harley-Davidson Yamaha), and Roadracingworld.com's West Coast Division contender, Benny Solis.

Rounding out the weekend's AMA Pro Road Racing contests is the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 series. Only in its first full season, the big Harley-David class has already come of age, packed with handlebar-to-handlebar action from some of the toughest riders in the country. Led by the RMR Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing team -- which boasts Fillmore, Kyle Wyman, and Michael Corbino --the class is currently ruled by Fillmore, who holds a small points-lead over Parts Unlimited rider Steve Rapp.

In celebration of its 50th year of racing, Mid-Ohio is going all-out for the upcoming weekend, hosting a long list of special activities highlighted by a Team FMX Stunt Show presented by Gorman-Rupp, a fireworks display on Saturday night, the 21st Annual Mid-Ohio Dealer Ride, and the AMA Pro Grid Walk and Autograph Sessions, held both Saturday and Sunday.

To check the TV viewing schedule for AMA Pro action at Mid-Ohio, visit www.speedtv.com.

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