Sep 15, 2013
© 2013, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
by David Swarts
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Three-time AMA Pro National Guard Superbike Champion Josh Hayes (1). Photo by Brian J. Nelson/AMA Pro Racing.
Three-time and defending AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Hayes will race with Monster Energy Yamaha YART in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship, September 21-22, in France.
Last week, Yamaha Motor Europe announced that Hayes would ride with Monster Energy Yamaha YART even though the event was sandwiched in between the final two rounds of the 2013 AMA Pro National Guard Superbike Championship. But Hayes downplayed that announcement, telling Roadracingworld.com on September 9, “There is a discussion with them [Monster Energy Yamaha YART]. They have announced a few things, but I think that they were a little ambitious in their announcement.
“They called me and said, ‘Do you think you could come and help us try to win a World Championship?’ I said I would love to, but we had an understanding, an agreement that I cannot make a decision until Sunday [September 15], of course with the OK of Yamaha.
“We’re going to see what happens on the weekend [at New Jersey Motorsports Park]. Then me and the crew, because I have a lot of respect for those guys, we’re going to sit down and have a discussion and as a team we’re going to make a decision.”
Hayes had a relatively disappointing weekend in New Jersey. He fought back to a fourth, after AMA Pro officials ruled he jumped the start of Race One and assessed Hayes with a five-second penalty, and he won Race Two. But in the process Hayes lost ground in the Championship standings, falling from 16 to 22 points behind his teammate and Championship leader Josh Herrin (who got a win and runner-up finish in New Jersey) with just one race remaining.
After winning on Sunday, Hayes was asked if he was going to France to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I don’t know,” said Hayes. “I’m going to do what’s best for the team, but I would like to go. I would like to go do something fun right now…really bad. (laughs) So I can go home and ride my motocross bike or race the 24-hour. Which one’s safer? I don’t know.”
Hours later, Hayes confirmed via text message to Roadracingworld.com, “I’m going to France.”