Reigning MotoAmerica Twins Cup and Junior Cup Champion Rocco Landers, age 15, made his 600cc racing debut in winning fashion during the CVMA (Chuckwalla Valley Motorcyclist Association) races December 5-6 at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, in Desert Center, California
Riding an MP13 Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 in a one-off deal made at the last-minute, Landers won four races and finished third in the CVMA Shootout (open-class) race after a battle with fellow MotoAmerica racer Michael Gilbert, who took second on a borrowed Yamaha YZF-R6. The Shootout race was won by David Anthony on his FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike.
Asked about how the deal came together, Landers’ father Stoney Landers said, “We’ve been trying to try out different brands – Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki – because a big part of Rocco’s racing is making sure he likes the machine.
“All riders are different. They all like different things. We don’t have any opinion at all. We had no opinion before he tried the Yamaha other than he needed to try it out. I also wanted to have him try a bike out that was pretty much setup that wasn’t some beater bike that had been thrashed around.
“I knew that Melissa [Paris] had her Yamaha that Josh [Hayes] has raced and done well on, so it seemed like a pretty good idea to see if we could get him to throw a leg over that machine. So, I texted Melissa and said, ‘Hey, super-last-minute idea,’ because it was the Monday before the races at Chuck, ‘what do you think about Rocco racing your 600 this weekend at Chuck?’ We worked it out in just a few texts and she allowed him to go down and race it.”
And what did Rocco Landers think of Paris’ Yamaha?
“Dude, I loved it!” said Rocco Landers. “It was so fun. It was awesome. The best way I can describe it is it handled similar to the twin [Suzuki SV650 MotoAmerica Twins Cup racebike] almost, but it hooked up better and felt more like a racebike. And it had way better power and was faster. It felt great.”
Although Rocco Landers made very few changes to the MP13 Racing Yamaha, it was still an educational experience for the teenager.
“What I figured out at the end,” said Rocco Landers, “was how to go fast on an old tire. The new surface [at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway] is pretty hard on tires. During the Shootout race with Michael, it was so sketchy. We were sliding all the way coming out of corners, and I was figuring out how to go faster and faster every lap with it like that.”
Rocco Landers ended up with a fastest lap time of 1:46.746 in the counter-clockwise direction.
So, what comes next for young Landers?
“We haven’t gotten that far,” said Stoney Landers. “Right now, we don’t have any plans. I know he really does like the Yamaha. It’s one of the fastest times I’ve ever seen him get up to speed, and we hardly changed the bike all weekend. We experimented with different tire pressures and we made one small change to the front, but other than that he just kept riding the bike and didn’t have a lot of complaints. That was a good sign.”