Army Of Darkness Takes 5th Consecutive Overall N2/WERA National Endurance Championship with Second Place Finish at Barber Motorsports Park
Army Of Darkness persevered at the ultimate round of the N2/WERA National Endurance Series to take the team’s 18th and 19th national endurance championships aboard their Pirelli-shod Yamaha R1. The 2022 endurance season saw competitors field rides by Hayden Gillim, Josh Hayes, Rocco Landers, Taylor Knapp, Danilo Petrucci, and Mathew Scholtz. Against the deepest competition pool in years, AOD veteran riders Chris Peris and Ben Walters, joined by 2022 MotoAmerica Junior Cup Champion Cody Wyman and with guest appearances by Geoff May and Robertino Pietri, finished four races in second place with a single victory at Road Atlanta.
Those finishes proved to be the most consistent points earners and allowed AOD the luxury of entering the last race of the year with over a 15-point gap, meaning that any finish third or higher would secure the title.
“It’s always a strange situation where you are telling your riders to ride conservatively and not to push,” offered Team Captain Sam Fleming. “Basically the only thing that was going to cost us this 19th championship was a crash, so I had to pull in the reins on Geoff, Chris, Cody, and Ben to tell them, ‘Don’t try to go with Scholtz, don’t make sketchy passes, don’t burn up the tires, enjoy the weather, enjoy the bike, and finish in second.’
“Some of the pressure was removed as another top team unfortunately couldn’t make the final due to a crash the prior weekend so that gave us the breathing room to just focus on the finish and not have to sweat too much. Of course, Yamaha has been a stalwart supporter of the team’s efforts and we would not have been able to bring them their third national title of 2022 without that great collaboration.”
“It’s a double-edged sword when you come into the last race with a decent lead,” added Crew Chief Tim Gooding. “All or nothing really focuses the mind, but with a lead the focus shifts from ‘do the stop fast’ to ‘don’t be the one who makes a mistake and costs us everything.’ We’ve had the same pit crew of Melissa (Berkoff), YT (Lechner), Anthony (Consorte), and Chris (Manfrin) for the last five years so we’ve got a good rhythm with each other. Our first endurance race was pushing three decades ago in 1993 but one thing I love about this sport is still learning the mysteries of motorbikes at speed. Working with Chris and Ben is always fun but it was very interesting to add the feedback of Cody and Geoff to the mix to get to explore different ideas on everything from ECU programming to spring stiffness. Oscar Solis from Pirelli came out for a few races and really helped us learn about the dynamics of tire pressure and temperature and how the suspension set-up impacts tire life. It was a really tough season but it feels great that the work all paid off at the end with another championship.”
AOD is sponsored by: Army of Darkness, Pirelli, Yamaha Champions Riding School, Yamaha, Industry13, Chicken Hawk, Wood Craft, Hindle, Supersprox, Thermosman, N2, WERA, Roadracing World.