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Aug 14, 2018

Who Will Get Roger Hayden’s Yoshimura Suzuki Superbike Ride In MotoAmerica?

Roger Hayden at Sonoma Raceway last weekend. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Copyright 2018, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

FIRST PERSON/OPINION:

By David Swarts

Roger Hayden has announced that after 20 years of road racing as a professional he will retire at the end of the 2018 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.

While this was sad news for fans, the announcement sent a charge of excitement through the MotoAmerica paddock because one of the coveted few factory Superbike rides was now up for grabs. So the big question on everyone’s mind during this past weekend’s MotoAmerica event at Sonoma Raceway was, who will replace Hayden at Yoshimura Suzuki?

With a limited number of paid professional rides available around the world and the Yoshimura Suzuki ride coming with significant compensation and a machine capable of winning races, Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (SMAI) and Yoshimura Suzuki can likely have their pick from a long list of candidates.

Several MotoGP riders have expressed interest in the ride, but SMAI and Yoshimura Suzuki are considering hiring from within the paddock, and the short list of MotoAmerica riders is believed to include JD Beach, Valentin Debise, Jake Lewis, and Mathew Scholtz.

Asked about the situation, SMAI’s Race Support Manager Pat Alexander told Roadracingworld.com that the company had hoped to have finalized a deal to replace Hayden prior to coming to Sonoma Raceway, but that didn’t happen. Now, Alexander said he is hoping Yoshimura Suzuki’s new rider is hired prior to the MotoAmerica round scheduled for August 24-26 at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

The only riders seemingly not on the list of candidates for the Yoshimura Suzuki ride are Garrett Gerloff, because he is in the first year of a two-year deal with Yamaha, and MotoAmerica Superbike Championship leader Cameron Beaubier.

Beaubier is a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but he is very keen to stay with Yamaha in MotoAmerica unless a deal for a competitive ride in World Superbike comes together. And it appears that such a deal is a possibility. Yamaha Motor Europe officials have said they want to move one of their teams in the Supersport World Championship, GRT Yamaha, into the Superbike World Championship and equip the team with factory bikes and support. While the deal is still in its infancy, Beaubier is believed to be on the short list for the GRT Yamaha World Superbike ride.