Twins Cup: They’re Going Faster

Kaleb De Keyrel did a 2:27.355 on the eighth and final lap of the Twins Cup race at Road America to set a new class record at “America’s National Park of Speed.” Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

During the five-and-a-half-year history of MotoAmerica, the phrase “they’re going faster” has been uttered many times, at most of the tracks, and in all five of the Series’ race classes. Just two rounds into the 2020 season, four-time and defending HONOS Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier broke and re-broke the outright lap record at Road America virtually every time he was aboard his Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha YZF-R1.

Twins Cup is only in its third year as a MotoAmerica race class, but the riders have lowered the lap times by huge chunks of seconds in a very short time.

Take Road America, for example. In 2018, the Twins Cup class’s inaugural season in MotoAmerica, the fastest lap recorded in Twins Cup Qualifying Practice 2 at Road America was a 2:36.152 by Dustin Dominguez aboard a Suzuki SV650. But, in the race, Jason Madama obliterated that lap time with a 2:34.060 and took the checkered flag aboard his Yamaha FZ-07/MT-07. Second-place finisher (and that season’s class champion) Chris Parrish was a couple of tenths off Madama’s fastest lap with a 2:34.378. Also of note, there was a total of 10 Twins Cup bikes on the starting grid for that race.

Now, let’s take a look at the Twins Cup lap times for the recently completed Road America 2 round. In Twins Cup Qualifying Practice 2, class rookie Rocco Landers did a 2:27.452 to earn the pole position. But, once again in the actual race, that fastest lap was lowered. Landers won the race, but second-place finisher Kaleb De Keyrel did a 2:27.355 on the eighth and final lap to set another new Twins Cup class record at “America’s National Park of Speed.” Twenty bikes were on the entry list for Twins Cup at Road America, twice as many as there were in 2018.

So, 2:34.060 in 2018 compared with 2:27.355 in 2020. In just two years, that’s nearly five-and-a-half seconds faster. Faster, indeed.

What’s caused such a huge drop in lap times? For the answer, we talked to Parrish who, along with Madama, are the only two riders from 2018 who were on the Twins Cup grid at Road America again in 2020.

Chris Parrish goes up the inside aboard his
AP MotoArts/Barnes Bros./Ghetto Customs Yamaha at Road America. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

“There are several factors,” Parrish said. “We used to build these bikes for club racing, and one of the goals was to make them fast but still be able to race a full season on them without them breaking. Well, this is MotoAmerica, and everybody is fast. We’ve got to build these bikes to go as fast as possible and who cares if they break because most of us have a backup engine or two. Obviously, we want them to last an entire race, but it’s tradeoff. We can get a lot of power out of them, but the key is to make them hold together just for one race. This year, we’re getting anywhere from five to 10 extra horsepower out of these Twins Cup bikes, and that’s a lot considering the actual displacement of these motorcycles.

“Not only that, but we’re all just stepping up our game so much each year. We’re getting a lot more riders in the class. The riders are younger and they’re faster, so I’ve got to train harder, go testing, and do everything I can to keep the pace. It’s just like with the Superbike riders. Everybody’s testing, everybody’s riding, everybody’s training. We’re doing the same thing in Twins Cup.”

Parrish, along with the rest of the Twins Cup riders, take their racing seriously. “I had been racing my SV650, and I was constantly working on it, trying to make it go faster. Last year, I joined forces with Andy Palmer (owner of AP MotoArts), who’s been doing development work on the Yamaha FZ-07 ever since the motorcycle came out back in 2015. He’s helped me move my program forward a lot.”

Along with building the bikes for utmost speed (if not longevity), training harder, and testing more, Parrish has also upped his sponsorship game, too. He’s got Barnes Bros. Yamaha, a Pittsburgh-based motorcycle dealership, backing him this year, too.

The class has not only gotten a lot faster, but they’ve also gotten a lot more professional in just two short years. Team Hammer joined the class last year with Alex Dumas and won the championship. This year, the team is fielding one of America’s best and brightest talents, Rocco Landers, in the class aboard the #97 Roadracing World Young Guns/Sportbiketracktime.com Suzuki SV650.

The Twins Cup class will be back in action at round three of the MotoAmerica season, which is scheduled to take place at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on July 31 to August 2. Be sure to check it out because…they’re going faster.

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