DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 28, 2012) - The Indy GP weekend was a chance for the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series to shine on a big stage. With a massive crowd from all over the globe keenly watching, one of the most historic venues in the world hosting, a $50,000 weekend purse on the line, and the $60,000 XR Showdown finally underway, there was no way there wasn't going to be fireworks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the doubleheader.
But even with the excitement, money, significance, and talent (with a number of proven road racing stars joining the regulars to get a piece of the action) all ratcheted up, few expected this.
Saturday's opening leg ended in dramatic fashion.
Skillful youngster P.J. Jacobsen, a former class race winner and AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike podium finisher now racing in Europe, made a one-off Vance & Hines XR1200 Series return at Indy riding for the MOB Racing/K Tech/Orient Express/Moroney's outfit. He immediately made headlines by leaving the class' established top-three usual suspects in his dust in qualifying, grabbing the pole with a second-and-a-half to spare.
Jacobsen appeared poised to school the field in the race as well, pulling clear to a four-second advantage after one of the winners of last year's Indy races Tyler O'Hara (JCR/Srubblade/Bartel's Harley-Davidson) fell off the chase -- literally -- crashing out of what had developed into a two-man scrap for the lead in the early going.
However, Jacobsen then unexpectedly fell himself. His fall was followed by several others, as soon the track was a scene of mechanical carnage and red flags, with fallen XRs crashing into previously fallen XRs.
The race was stopped and ultimately called complete due to oil that had been laid down on the course, causing the multi-rider accident in the first place.
Jacobsen was initially tabbed the winner but an extensive review made evident the fact that Jacobsen's machine had caused the red flag and as a result, he was moved back to tail-end of the lead lap in the official results.
That meant that KLR Group/Spyke's Harley-Davidson/Vesrah Racing's Kyle Wyman was elevated from runner-up to race winner, giving him a huge early advantage in the XR Showdown over luckless rival O'Hara, who crashed twice in the race and finished a lowly 13th (he also fell in the pile-up and believes he crashed initially due to fluid from Jacobsen's machine as well).
Surburban Harley-Davidson's Benny Carlson and XP Motorsport's Michael Corbino rounded out the adjusted podium, while title contender Michael Barnes wound up fourth while making another team transition, racing as teammate to Wyman on the KLR Group/Spyke's Harley-Davidson/Vesrah Racing team.
Sunday was all about redemption. Jacobsen appeared to be in line for it, racing out to an early advantage, but his impressive corner speed and lean angles came with a risk. O'Hara was unwilling to take that same gamble and allowed his young rival to escape, which proved wise when the leader crashed out while holding a near-two second advantage as the race approached the halfway point.
O'Hara was all too happy to take the reins and he powered to a lopsided win of his own, which he wrapped in his trademark 'Superman' fashion at the checkered flag.
"It was really awesome," O'Hara said after his bounce-back win. "I felt like (Saturday) I got a little bit unlucky that we were able to restart the race after the red flag. I had some bad luck, and that's not a good way to start the chase. So now, my goal is to win every race here on out to stay in the hunt. It's going to be tough no matter what.
"P.J. was riding awesome, and Kyle and Benny were up there. P.J. tucked the front and crashed, and I just put my head down. I built up a nice gap and was just monitoring the gap through my pit board.
"It's just awesome. From yesterday and how it went, to rebound like that feels really good. This place is really special to me -- I got my first win here a year ago and, ever since, it's just sort of been a blur."
Despite not showing the outright pace of Jacobsen or O'Hara during the weekend, Wyman was the weekend's big winner. He edged out Carlson and ringer Bobby Fong, a one-time AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race winner, in the fight for second and boasted an immediate commanding lead over season-long rivals O'Hara and Barnes following the first two of five XR Showdown races.
Wyman has 1055 points, 15 up on O'Hara, who is ranked third, and 21 up on Barnes, who is fifth following his 4-5 weekend.
Commenting on Saturday's wild ride, Wyman said, "Tyler went down three or four laps in, and I was thinking I was in a pretty good position. P.J.'s not in the chase, and I had a gap back to third, so I figured we'd start settling in. But I looked up in Turn 10 and saw P.J. on the ground ahead of me and before I knew it, I was on the ground too. It's not the way you want to end the race, but I can't say enough about my KLR Group Harley -- it was working great. We've had a little bit of a struggle trying to find the chassis set-up with the tire change last weekend. We're making progress, and I'm glad to get a result."
While Jacobsen, Fong, and former AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike star Steve Crevier, who finished fifth and seventh, at Indy, were big name wild cards who made their presence felt over the course of the weekend, Carlson only felt like one.
The former AMA Supermoto Unlimited Champion quietly slipped into the XR Showdown by taking the tenth and final spot into the five-race shootout. But riding loose and confident at Indy, Carlson demonstrated that he must be considered a threat to win the title.
Taking full advantage of the title reset that put the ten Showdown finalists even at 1000 points prior to the IMS weekend, Carlson showed the ability to dice with the likes of Wyman and promised more to come following his breakthrough 2-3 weekend.
Carlson said, "(Saturday) was kind of a gift, but today I think we earned the podium position. I think we had the speed to get second place -- I just had a little trouble getting off the corners and getting down the straights. Kyle is a bit lighter than me, so he gets down the straightaways pretty good, so the only option I had was to go really deep on the straights, and I did that four or five times. We battled all race, and I had a lot of fun."
Corbino too worked his way into the mix with his Saturday podium, which he followed up with a Sunday sixth, putting him fourth and ahead of Barnes in the Showdown standings.
Harv's Harley-Davidson's Travis Wyman is sixth following Indy with a pair of eighths, followed by Ruthless Racing's David Estok who took tenth and eleventh place finishes on the weekend.
O'Hara's teammate, Josh Chisum, Kuryakyn/Racing for a Wish's Gerry Signorelli, and Ruthless Racing's Darren James all suffered through rocky starts to their XR Showdown bids.
Meanwhile, non-Showdown qualifiers Barrett Long (Longevity Racing) and Shane Narbonne (Teterboro Rams LLC) enjoyed relatively strong weekends, notching up 11-9 and 9-10 results, respectively.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series Extends Through 2014
AMA Pro Racing, Vance & Hines and the Harley-Davidson Motor Company announced on Saturday that the Harley-Davidson spec racing class will be extended for the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship.
Continuing with the Harley-Davidson XR1200 platform modified with a spec racing kit from Vance & Hines, from 2013 onward, the class will be renamed as the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series.
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing will bring the full show to New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ on September 7-9 for the American Red Cross Devils Showdown presented by Team ProMotion.