Jan 17, 2011
© 2013, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
by David Swarts
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Jake Zemke (right) talking to Project 1 Atlanta Team Manager Perry Melneciuc (left) in the garages at Daytona. Photo by David Swarts/Roadracingworld.com.
Former AMA Pro Formula Xtreme Champion and former Daytona 200 winner Jake Zemke will compete in the 2011 edition of the Daytona 200 on a Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha YZF-R6, but the rest of the season is still up in the air for the 35-year-old Californian.
"With the economy the way it is the rides just aren't out there anymore," said Zemke, who won both AMA Pro Superbike races last year at Daytona and finished third in the final 2010 AMA Pro Superbike Championship standings. "It doesn't matter what series you're looking at it's the same story: There's only a handful of guys getting paid in every series in the world. Moto2, World Superbike, World Supersport - only the top few guys are getting paid, and after that most of the guys are bringing money to the teams. Same thing around here. Most of the guys are riding for free or they are paying for their ride. There are a few guys who are getting paid, but those rides are few and far between.
"Perry [Melneciuc, Project 1 Atlanta Team Manager] called me last week and kind of laid it out on paper. He said, 'Here's the situation. I've got some bikes, and we want to go do the [Daytona] 200.'
"I've worked with Perry and Rick [Boyles] before when we were all at Honda together. I know the equipment's good, obviously. They ran really strong last year with Clinton [Seller] and Dane [Westby], being able to put both their guys up on the podium and they got second in the 200. Their pit stops are good. I took overnight to think about it. I said, 'Here's an opportunity. I can go win the 200 with these guys.' If I didn't think we were coming down here to win the thing I wouldn't have signed onto the deal."
What happens beyond the Daytona 200 will be determined by what sponsorship the team can pull together over the next few months, said Zemke.
"We've got to take it one step at a time," said Zemke. "Right now the steps are we're here to test. We are going to be at the Daytona 200. We are going to race that race. What happens between now and then and after that point will probably dictate what can and will happen after that point."