AMA Pro Flat Track rider Bryan Smith has announced that he was not able to reach an agreement with the Werner Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki team for the remainder of the 2011 season. Smith will be pursuing the 2011 Harley-Davidson Insurance AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship under his own racing program. Motocross hero and long-time supporter, Pat Moroney, along with American Harley-Davidson will be two of Smith's main sponsors in 2011.
Smith earned Kawasaki's first-ever victory in the Grand National Championship Expert Twins class at the 2010 Indy Mile. He proved vital to the development of 650cc twin, providing feedback to tuner Bill Werner and Jay Springsteen as they molded the Kawasaki into a competitive, race-winning machine. Smith quickly cemented Kawasaki's arrival into the AMA Pro Flat Track ranks by winning the, prestigious, Springfield Mile, and helping the Japanese factory earn its first AMA Pro Flat Track Manufacturers' Championship.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Werner Springsteen Team, Monster Energy and Kawasaki for giving me the opportunity to race with them," Smith said in a press release. "I have gained a tremendous amount from the experience, and I will always cherish putting Kawasaki in the record books. I think Kawasaki will be very successful in the Grand National Championship, and I wish the Werner Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki Team and rider, JR Schnabel, the best of luck."
Smith climbs back into the familiar saddle of the FastHog.com XR-750 for the Expert Twins rounds.
"I was consistently a threat to win the Championship on Moroney's Iron, and I look forward to picking up where we left off", said Smith. Bryan will, also, continue to ride the Kawasaki KXF 450 in the Expert Singles events.
Werner was reached for comment and said that the announcement was a complete surprise.
"We brought on JR [Schnabel] and I thought with Bryan and JR together we'd be able to develop the Kawasaki Twins bike a lot faster," Werner said. "Bryan helped us make this bike very competitive, especially on the Miles, but we're up against motorcycles that have years of development and we still have some way to go to make the Kawasaki a great package on every type of track.
"It's a shame that Bryan is not going to be with us to help us continue to make the bike better. I can't speak for him, but I think he wanted to be on a bike where he thought had the best possible chance to win a championship. I think we were getting there, but there is still a process we need to go through and maybe Bryan didn't think he had time for that."
Asked if the team would bring on another rider to replace Smith, Werner said he didn't know at this time.
"Right now we've got a great rider in JR," Werner said. "JR has ridden a variety of other motorcycles in Grand Nationals and he's a great development rider. I think for now we'll focus on giving JR the best motorcycle we can. I just haven't had enough time to gauge yet from our sponsors and so on, about the possibility of bringing in another rider. It's a possibility and we have a little time to figure that out, but we don't have anything planned at this point."
The first AMA Grand National Twins race isn't for another two months when the series moves to Springfield, Illinois over Memorial Day weekend.
Smith failed to qualify for the second night of racing at the Daytona Short Track and finished 12th on the first night.