© 2017, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
by David Swarts
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This time last year Bobby Fong was scrambling just to stay
in professional racing when his team folded following the season-opener at
Daytona International Speedway. Now, one year later, the 23-year-old Californian
is tied for the Dynojet Pro Sportbike point lead going into the GEICO
Motorcycle Superbike Shootout Presented by Yamaha finale at Miller Motorsports
Park and poised to potentially win his first professional racing Championship.
Fong rode a Yamaha YZF-R6 to third in the 2013 Daytona 200
AMA Pro Daytona SportBike race, but before his team made it to second round of
the series it shut down operations, leaving Fong without a ride. However, Fong
and his loyal Crew Chief Robert Ward came to Round Two at Road America anyway
and started piecing together the rest of their season on a D & D
Cycles-backed Triumph Daytona 675R.
“I remember showing up to Road America last year with just
me and Bobby,” said Ward. “We borrowed a bike, we borrowed tools, we borrowed
tire warmers and a generator and just went to work.”
Starting over from zero with a motorcycle that was not only
new to them but new to everyone in the paddock was a daunting task for the
talented pair, and they experienced lots of struggles while working the bugs
out of their new machinery. In fact, Fong said the experienced tested his mettle.
“Last year was definitely a learning year, for sure,” said
Fong. “There were times when I questioned my riding, a lot. Maybe I wasn’t
describing what the bike was doing properly to the guys. Maybe I’m washed up.
All racers doubt themselves at one time or another.”
Those doubts were brought on by technical problems and
mediocre race results in a talent-laden field, but when Ward found some time
toward the end of the season to do some development work on their new Triumph Fong
put the British bike on the Daytona SportBike podium at New Jersey Motorsports
“I kept telling myself to stay positive and just block out
the negative stuff that happened to me on the track, the working the bugs out,”
said Fong. “We knew we were lacking in power and lacking in a lot of things,
but when we got onto the podium at the end of the year it was a big confidence
booster. We finished last season pretty strong, and we brought that momentum
into this team.”
During the off-season Fong and Ward joined George Latus’
Latus Motors Racing team and got the time to do some real development work on
their Triumph. They got the slipper clutch dialed in for Fong’s tastes, they
got a handle on the engine electronics thanks to some help from Dynojet, and
they unleashed more horsepower from the 675cc inline three-cylinder engine.
All of that led to Fong finishing fourth in the Daytona 200,
taking a dominant race victory at the opening round of the Dynojet Pro
Sportbike series at Auto Club Speedway and finishing a close second at Sonoma
Raceway, placing Fong into a tie with Yamaha factory rider Garrett Gerloff for
the Dynojet Pro Sportbike Championship lead coming into this weekend’s final
“It would definitely be a big accomplishment [to win the
Dynojet Pro Sportbike Championship], because we’re racing against the top factory
guys,” said Fong. “It’s definitely been a rough road, but we’re getting the job