Heading into round three of the 2018 MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Championship this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, it’s hard to believe that Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s always-likeable Roger Hayden is currently ranked 11th in the points standings. Two DNFs and a couple of so-so results in the other two races have put Hayden on his back foot in the early going of this season. But, with eight rounds and 16 races left to go, there is still time for the #95 to turn things around.
He needs to mount his comeback this weekend, and what better place to do so than at VIR? After all, he won Saturday’s Superbike race in Virginia last year.
Hayden has the chops to put together some wins, or at least some podium results, and a decent points haul this weekend would do wonders for his psyche, not to mention his position in the championship.
Roger Hayden’s Owensboro, Kentucky home-slice and fellow Suzuki Superbike rider Jake Lewis could also use an influx of championship points. He, too, has suffered a DNF in the early going of this season, but he’s also scored three solid, fifth-place finishes, which means that the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider is poised right on the cusp of a breakthrough result. They say that Virginia is for lovers, but could it also be for mullets? Jake the Snake has the ’do to do the do. Now, all he has to do… is do it.
Electrical gremlins have been the bane of a couple of riders’ existence thus far in 2018. We’ve already chronicled the issues that Mathew Scholtz has had, and central New Yorker Kyle Wyman has also faced similar challenges. Something went awry in Superbike race two at the Circuit of The Americas, which brought Wyman and his bike into the pits where they called it a day. The dreaded “DNF” is a championship points-killer, but a fourth-place result and two sixth-place finishes still have Wyman firmly in the chase. Like Hayden and Lewis, a couple of podium results this weekend in Virginia would give Kyle Wyman Racing a welcome boost.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a couple of other riders who will certainly be looking for better results in Virginia in order to turn their seasons around. WD40/Scheibe Racing’s Danny Eslick – a rider who has road-raced virtually every major make of motorcycle known to man – is now aboard a BMW S1000 RR Superbike for 2018. Eslick says, “the bike is a beast,” which in Eslick-speak means that he likes it. The Oklahoman is in the top-10 in points but he knows that he and the bike are capable of much more. The four-time Daytona 200 winner will be looking for that “much more” this weekend.
So will Bobby Fong. The rider, who had a remarkable year aboard a Kawasaki Superstock 1000 machine in 2017, is hoping for a return to form now that he is racing in Superbike and aboard a brand-new-for-him machine with backing from Quicksilver/LEXIN/Hudson Motorcycles.
Finally, we come to Cam Petersen, who got the news at Christmas that he would be joining one of the hardest-working race teams in all the land, and aboard the bike that launched Jake Gagne into the World Superbike ranks. Unfortunately for Petersen, it was the bike that launched him to the sky. A gnarly highside threw the gregarious South African on his head at Road Atlanta, which led to a DNF in Superbike race one and a DNS in Superbike race two due to the effects of the incident. Petersen was cleared to race in Texas, but Superbike race one resulted in yet another DNF. In race two, he finished 10th, which was an excellent result considering everything that had transpired in his first three Superbike races this season.
A couple of weeks’ rest should do wonders for Petersen, and he and his team are as determined as ever going into Virginia. A pair of race finishes devoid of drama would be a welcome departure for Danny Walker’s Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda squad.