In what could be considered a tangible example of the age-old phrase, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Supersport Championship points leader Richie Escalante won’t be the only Kawasaki ZX-6R rider competing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next weekend.
Escalante and his HONOS Kawasaki will be joined on the grid by three more 636cc green machines ridden by FSI Racing’s Patrick Coleman, and of particular note, Hayden Schultz Racing’s Hayden Schultz and MESA37 Racing’s Stefano Mesa.
This isn’t the first time that riders other than Escalante have entered Kawasaki ZX-6Rs in Supersport this season (Coleman has already competed in 6 of the 14 Supersport races so far this season), but it is the first time that a couple of frontrunners in other MotoAmerica race classes have dipped their toes in the middleweight class, not to mention aboard the controversial Kawasaki.
Why Schultz and Mesa, and why now?
We asked Schultz, who also races a Yamaha FZ-07/MT-07 in the Twins Cup Championship and is currently in third place in that race class’s Championship points.
“After having a pretty good year in Twins Cup and seeing how fast we were going on those bikes, I had wanted to have an opportunity to ride in Supersport and see how that worked,” Schultz said. “Indianapolis is also sort of a home race for me since I lived there previously and also have my team based out of there. I figured this round would be a good one to ride both classes since I know the track pretty well from my first couple of pro racing years competing in the XR1200 series. I had talked to Robert Blevins, who is (former MotoAmerica racer) Conner Blevins’ dad. He has the Kawasakis that Conner raced in Superstock 600 and also won a couple of races on a few years ago. Robert still has the bikes and was interested in going racing, so we decided to make it happen. It’s not the new-model Kawasaki, but they’re so similar, and the bikes Robert built are very good, so I think it’ll be fun!”
We also spoke with Mesa, who is well-known for his contingency-support-chasing motivation in Stock 1000 aboard his MESA37 Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R, where he is currently ranked fifth in the season points and just one championship point out of fourth despite sitting out round five at Ridge Motorsports Park and round six at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“My Supersport bike is a 2020 ZX-6R, and I got it to chase more contingency money,” commented Mesa. “I’ve also raced it in WERA, and I’m looking forward to racing my Kawasakis in two MotoAmerica race classes at Indy.”
It’s notable that virtually every MotoAmerica round has had riders other than Escalante aboard Kawasakis entered in Superport, but none of those other riders has had anywhere near the results that current championship leader Escalante has had in the class. But, given the success that Schultz and Mesa have had in the MotoAmerica Series—albeit in race classes other than Supersport—it will be interesting to see how the #43 and #37 Kawasakis do against the field and especially against Escalante and his #54 machine.
Escalante has been the bell Kaw in Supersport all season long, and with Schultz and Mesa entered in the class at The Brickyard, maybe we’ll finally get a clearer answer to this season’s burning question in the class: Is it the rider or the bike?
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