Several MotoAmerica teams arrived at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), in Austin, Texas, Monday to prepare for the official Dunlop/MotoAmerica pre-season test March 30-31.
Among the 41 riders entered across MotoAmerica’s five different classes – HONOS Superbike, Supersport, Stock 1000, Twins Cup, and SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup – there are foreign faces, new riders in new places, and some fresh machinery.
The big news over the winter is the addition of MotoGP and World Superbike veteran Loris Baz joining the HONOS Superbike class on a Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati Ducati Panigale V4 R. Baz has two bikes at his disposal at COTA, both built to a specification similar to what the factory Ducati Superbike team runs with the exception of the rear swingarm, shock, and shock linkages.
Those parts have been developed by Ducati to work with MotoAmerica’s Dunlop control tires, according to Team Principal Bobby Shek. Ducati Corse has assigned two factory technicians to work for Baz under the leadership of Crew Chief Scott Jensen.
Over at Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha, former AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Herrin returns to the Richard Stanboli-led squad to replace five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, who has moved on to the FIM Moto2 World Championship.
Herrin joins 2020 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship runner-up Jake Gagne, who has a new Crew Chief, Jon Cornwell, and a new systems analyst, Darin Marshall, who is stuck in Canada and unable to attend the test due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
According to Stanboli, they plan to do some endurance testing on their engines and development work on their chassis during what will be their fourth test of the off-season.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki is back with Bobby Fong, a three-time Superbike race winner in 2020, and his new teammate Cam Petersen, the 2020 MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Champion. According to Team Manager Chris Ulrich, bad weather around the team’s base in Alabama has led to this being the first test for his Superbike riders in 2021. Ulrich said his team is hoping to pick up where they left off at the end of 2020 and do development work on new chassis parts.
Westby Racing Yamaha rider Matthew Scholtz says he is fully recovered from the serious leg injuries he suffered at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2020 and, after training for two weeks with four-time AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Hayes in Southern California, is fully fit. This test will be Scholtz’s third time on his improved Superbike so far in 2021.
KWR Ducati Superbike rider/team owner Kyle Wyman has opted to skip the test because as of post time MotoAmerica does not have a race scheduled at COTA in 2021.
Although he said he had options to take several different rides in America and Europe for 2021, Richie Escalante said he chose to return to MotoAmerica Supersport and defend the title he won in 2020. While his HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R will be wearing his number plate at the test, Escalante said it will be in 2020 trim, meaning it will not be carrying the 8.8 pounds of additional weight mandated for the 636cc machine in 2021. Escalante said he is due to test his 2021 machine with the additional weight in two weeks.
Escalante’s 2020 title rival Sean Dylan Kelly arrives in Texas two weeks after coming just 0.03 second short of winning the 79th Daytona 200. According to his team, Kelly’s M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600 has been improved since 2020. Kelly has a new teammate for 2021 in 18-year-old South African Sam Lochoff, who is moving up from the MotoAmerica Junior Cup class.
Also moving up from Junior Cup to Supersport in 2021 is two-time MotoAmerica Junior Cup Champion and reigning MotoAmerica Twins Cup Champion Rocco Landers. Like Kelly, 16-year-old Landers comes to Texas fresh from a successful debut run in the Daytona 200.
The interesting news in the Stock 1000 category is Ashton Yates has finally received his Jones Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and it sounds like it was worth the wait. According to his team, Yates’ new bike in 100% stock form put out roughly the equivalent amount of horsepower as the developed Honda CBR1000RR SP2 he raced in 2020. Yates, however, has not had his new machine on a racetrack yet and will have to take on class competitors Jake Lewis on the Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000R and Wyatt Farris on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R, among others.
The seven Stock 1000 riders signed up for the test will be split between the Superbike group and the Supersport group.
Surprisingly, the test entry list for the MotoAmerica Twins Cup did not include any riders on the highly touted new Aprilia RS 660.
Many riders spent most of Monday doing hours of photos, videos, and interviews for MotoAmerica promotional materials.
Testing runs from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. local time with each group getting four sessions on each of the two days.
The weather forecast for the test looks very good with mild temperatures and little chance for precipitation.
Stay tuned to www.roadracingworld.com for news and results from the two-day test and all season long in 2021.
Update: Scheibe Racing is at COTA with its BMW S1000RR Superbike but may not be active at the test. Scheibe Racing had planned on testing with former MotoGP rider Hector Barbera, but Barbera was unable to travel to America due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. When asked about the situation, team owner Steve Scheibe declined to comment.