Michael Gilbert won’t have things easy this weekend as he has elected to give up his third-place spot in the 2020 MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Championship for the chance to ride a Superbike in the two remaining rounds of the series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. He will do so on a FLY Racing ADR Motorsports-backed Suzuki GSX-R1000, which means he will face the challenge of a track he’s never seen and a motorcycle he’s never ridden. And he relishes the opportunity.
“It came about pretty quickly, honestly,” Gilbert said from Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. “Dave (Anthony, the team owner and racer) texted me about a week ago and asked if I was willing to ride the Superbike for him. We are obviously third in the championship in Stock 1000 and that was a consideration but having the opportunity to get on a Superbike and really focus on a Superbike and make the most of the opportunity… at the end of the day, that’s what it came down to. We are putting Stock 1000 on the side for the rest of the year and we’re giving up third in the championship and really just focusing our efforts on the Superbike. The plan is to do it for Laguna as well.”
Gilbert has ridden just about every motorcycle made as the test editor for Cycle World Magazine, but this will still be a first for the youngster.
“I’ve never ridden a race-prepped GSX-R1000,” Gilbert said. “I’ve ridden Superbikes in the past through my job as a journalist, so I have some experience with the chassis, the brakes and the fork and electronics, but not that much. It’s going to be a bit of a steep learning curve but, in a way, time is on our side because we have three races on both weekends. In a way, that plays out for me.”
Like most of the MotoAmerica paddock, Gilbert didn’t race at The Brickyard the last time the MotoAmerica Series visited in 2015 so he also has that to learn.
“I’ve never ridden at Indy – so new bike, new track and we’ll figure it out.”