Four-time AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Hayes is going to race in the season-opening event of the 2020 mi-bike Australian Superbike (ASBK) Championship February 27-March 1 at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, in Victoria, Australia.
“Being there for the last two International Island Classic events is how it kicked off,” Hayes told Roadracingworld.com Tuesday. “We were having fun and talking to quite a few people who happened to be around, like Peter Doyle [Motorcycling Australia’s CEO], Mark Bracks [a freelance journalist and racing commentator in Australia], and Dave Bennett [the General Manager of Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit]. We were talking about how much fun it would be to do a round of the Australian Superbike series.
“Mark really took it to heart and said, ‘I think we can make this happen.’ He made a big push to see if he could make it happen. He asked what my requirements would be. I said I would have to be on Yamaha equipment, and he started reaching out on his end to see what he could do to make it happen.
“I also made a few phone calls on my end. Dunlop U.S. sorted things out with Dunlop in Australia for me. Dave Crussell [owner of the Mojo Yamaha race team Hayes rides for in the International Island Classic] helped me out with some travel. Jon Cornwall [from Öhlins USA] agreed to come along with me. This team in Australia, Addicted to The Track, offered up the use of one of their Yamaha YZF-R1 racebikes.
“So, we’re going to go out there and see what we can do and try to have a little bit of fun. On top of that, it’s going to be fun to be at Garrett Gerloff’s first World Superbike race. After helping him last year, it’ll be fun to be there and see how it goes for him.”
Although he is no longer a full-time racer, 44-year-old Hayes says it’s difficult not to feel pressure heading into the one-off event.
“This is going to be a huge event, just like when we support the World Championship races here. They’re big events,” said Hayes. “I know a handful of guys over in that series, and I know that they are going fast.
“I know the racetrack, which is nice. The Dunlops they run there are a little different than the ones we have [in MotoAmerica]. So, there will be a little learning curve there. But other than that, it’s pretty simple Superstock rules.
“With all those fast guys and all these people coming together to help me and then when I read the official press release calling me an ‘American racing legend,’ I said, ‘Oh, boy! There’s going to be a lot of expectations.’
“So yeah, I’m feeling a little bit of pressure. I want to do good for the people who are behind me and support me. I’d like to get up in the mix and be in the show when I get there.”
As soon as Hayes returns to America he will head to the official MotoAmerica test March 10-11 at Barber Motorsports Park, where he will shakedown his MP13 Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 prior to heading to the Daytona 200, March 13-14 at Daytona International Speedway.
More, from a press release issued by Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit:
American motorcycle ace, Josh Hayes, to race in Australian Superbike opener
American road racing legend Josh Hayes returns to Victoria’s Phillip Island next week, awarded a wild card to race Australia’s best riders in the opening round of the 2020 mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship from February 28 until March 1.
The event, to be held in conjunction with the Yamaha Finance round to launch the 2020 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, will see the four-time AMA Superbike champion aboard a Yamaha YZF-R1 in the three 12-lap races against local superstars such as Mike Jones, Troy Herfoss, Wayne Maxwell, Josh Waters, Cru Halliday, Bryan Staring and Aiden Wagner.
Hayes, 44, built an instant rapport with the sweeping bends of the magnificent 4.445km Phillip Island circuit at the 2019 Island Classic. Riding for Team USA, he finished third overall in the individual standings of the showpiece International Challenge.
With his passion for racing rekindled, Hayes then competed in selected rounds of the 2019 American Supersport season – with a brace of second place finishes the highlight – before returning for the 2020 Island Classic where he won two of the four races after fierce battles against locals Alex Phillis and Jed Metcher.
At the 2020 Island Classic, Hayes who lives in California with his racing wife Melissa and two-year-old son Hawk, also expressed a desire to take part in the opening round of the Australian Superbike title.
Australian motorcycle racing commentator, Mark Bracks, took up the challenge for Josh and, with further assistance from Motorcycling Australia, the Phillip Island circuit and Dave Crussell, the owner of the Mojo Yamaha team which he rode for in the Island Classic, the late inclusion of Hayes has added a huge dollop of spice to the three Australian Superbike Championship races.
Hayes will race under the Queensland-based ‘Addicted to Track Team’ banner, with two YZF-R1s at his disposal.
“It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting for a racetrack than Phillip Island,” said Hayes. “I have always liked fast racetracks, and Phillip Island definitely fits that bill. Though it’s not extremely technical, it’s a busy layout that is fun to ride.”
Hayes has no illusions he’s in for a tough time at Phillip Island.
“The Australian Superbike field has an immense amount of talent, and I’m not surprised as many gifted Australians have come to race in America, with great success,” Hayes continued. “Several of the current Superbike riders are familiar to me. Josh Waters came to America and was very impressive in a debut test a few years ago.
“I also chatted to Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss at the Island Classic, as well as meeting Aiden Wagner. I definitely remember seeing the Phillip Island Superbike races last year, and I enjoyed Wagner’s last-lap battle with Maxwell!”
The Phillip Island circuit is delighted to be welcoming Hayes back for the second time this year.
“We’re thrilled to have Josh back for our next big event, World Superbikes. At January’s Island Classic he was as tough as nails on the track, and off-track, enthusiastic and great fun in the paddock,” said David Bennett, general manager of the Phillip Island circuit.
“Josh is a true racer. We love his appreciation of our little piece of 4.445km island bitumen. The winners are the fans. Josh brings world-class talent to the grid and the result will be spectacular Australian Superbike racing to thrill everyone trackside.”
Although Hayes has been racing sporadically over the last few years, his love for racing has never diminished.
“Life has definitely changed, and being a husband, father, and coach, has taken the driver’s seat,” said Hayes. “Fortunately, having learned my craft well and still having a strong desire to compete have kept me relatively competitive, and I’m hoping to do all the people proud who are getting behind me for this adventure.”
Hayes won his four AMA superbike titles from 2010-12 and then again in 2014, and he finished seventh in the 2011 season-ending MotoGP round at Valencia deputising for injured countryman Colin Edwards.
With 61 AMA Superbike wins to his credit, Hayes is second on the all-time winners’ list behind Australian Mat Mladin.
Practice for the mi-bike Insurance Australian Superbike Championship will commence on Thursday, February 27 with qualifying and racing from Friday to Sunday. The packed agenda of 15 races includes the headline categories of World Superbike and World Supersport and from the national ranks, Australian Supersport, Supersport 300 and the Oceania Junior Cup.
Book tickets and on-circuit camping via Ticketek today for a weekend getaway at Phillip Island’s World Superbikes from February 28-March 1 at https://tickets