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May 23, 2014

What A Difference A Year Can Make: Fong Hoping To Win Dynojet Pro Sportbike Championship

Bobby Fong (50) on his Latus Motors Racing Triumph Daytona 675R. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

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 Park.

“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 round.

“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 done now.”