Army Of Darkness Wins: Overall Race, Heavyweight Race, Overall Championship, Heavyweight Championship at WERA/N2 National Endurance Race by Dunlop at Barber Motorsports Park.
Josh Hayes, Taylor Knapp, and Hunter Dunham piloted the Army of Darkness (AOD) 1000 “Gaijin” to a sixth consecutive class win and a fifth consecutive overall win to secure the 2023 Overall and Heavyweight Championships.
The team led the race from green to checkered. Although red flags kept erasing the leads the team built up, AOD was able to couple fast riding and well-timed pit stops to capitalize on a consecutive 90 minutes of racing to secure a red-flag-resistant one-lap lead. Other top-running teams suffered with mechanical issues, allowing AOD to stretch that lead to the end.
Over the season’s six races, AOD was able to successfully dodge the slings and arrows of misfortune and make appropriate sacrifices of time and treasure to the racing gods to emerge with an astonishing seventh consecutive Heavyweight championship and sixth consecutive Overall championship. Adding to their tally of endurance championships won over three decades of competition, AOD has now won an astonishing 21 national championships on three different brands of bikes with three different brands of tires.
Josh Hayes: “The season was everything I had anticipated. We started the season with some team building single track enduro riding, and I’m glad we’d built up that camaraderie so they didn’t kick me off the team when I lowsided the endurance bike at the first race. I’m glad they kept me on because I have so much fun riding with these guys. The whole AOD crew is volunteer, but they all know their stuff and are all expert riders in their own right. We came into Barber with a 35-point lead and our practice lap times were good enough to win, but they heard me talking about how the shock was a little lively so they pulled it off and asked Mike Fitzgerald of Thermosman Suspensions to re-valve it for us at the track. Melissa and Tim were re-installing it in the dark and going to dinner late just because they thought we might be more comfortable on the bike for the race. AOD crew just grinds it out! I’m just hoping they keep me on for next year!”
Crew Chief Tim Gooding: “One blown motor, one drowned motorcycle, one countershaft seal, two sets of bodywork, two crashes, three oil changes, three chains, six sets of brake pads, 28 rear tires, 12 front tires, 620 gallons of diesel, two clips-ons, an exhaust system, a clutch cover gasket, and a bunch of late nights wrenching or driving. For endurance racing, you really need to embrace the process of racing because there is a lot of it! Endurance racing you need to beat the competition but you also need to beat all the gremlins: the loosening countershaft nut, the chaffing wiring harness, the factory installed gasket with a fold in it. A lot of times Sam, Melissa, and I just stare at the bike to try to figure out what is going to get us! I gotta say though, having riders like Hunter Dunham, Cody Wyman, Josh Hayes, Chris Peris, Taylor Knapp and Ben Walters is both really motivating and rewarding. And the Dunlop tires this year were amazing. We could set the chassis and engine up to go as fast as we wanted and never had to worry about tire wear and tear.”
AOD is sponsored by: Army of Darkness, Dunlop, Yamaha Champions Riding School, Industry 13, Woodcraft, Hindle, Supersprox, Thermosman, N2, WERA, Roadracing World, Yamaha.