BRASELTON, GA, AUG 30: In his 12th year of professional road racing, Jake Zemke finally grabbed the brass ring. The Erion Honda rider came to Road Atlanta a virtual certainty to clinch the Formula Xtreme title. He needed to finish only 24th or better, if teammate Josh Hayes maxed out his points take, to take his first professional title. Hayes and Zemke fought to the line, the race being decided on the final lap when Hayes beat him to the line by a mere .043 secs. The second place finish gives Zemke an insurmountable 299-254 lead and the first number one plate for the 32-year-old from Paso Robles. “On the last lap, I just wanted to keep Josh (Hayes)honest, make sure he didn’t think he was going to run away today,” Zemke said. “I came down the back straightaway and was like, ‘hmm, should I do this or not? I should probably just stay here and be safe.’ I was having a full conversation coming down the hill. It all happened in about two-tenths of a second, but I decided, ‘oh, well nah, oh, well maybe, oh, well, I’d better just let off the brake because I’m already this far in.’ “I put it in there a little deep, and Josh was able to get back under me coming under the bridge, but mainly I was just happy to bring it home for the crew and the whole team. It’s not just my guys, but it’s Josh’s guys as well. Everybody over there works so hard, and everybody does work as a team. You see a lot of teams that it’s us versus them, but it doesn’t really work that way over there. Everybody’s kind of committed to the same goal, and that’s to get both of us up front. Like I said on the podium, Josh has been a great teammate. We’ve been friends for a long time, and we’ve never I don’t think actually been on the same team at the same time. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate the whole year. I know he’s had a tough year, but he’s also turned it around here at the end of the season, so congratulations to him and to our team as well, for getting back up on the podium again.” Zemke had come close before, most notably here at Road Atlanta in 2005 when he fell in the first turn on the final lap to hand the Formula Xtreme title to teammate Miguel Duhamel. Zemke had also finished second in 2000, 2002, and 2004. He was second in 750 Supersport in 1999. Hayes and Zemke were well clear of the battle for third that was decided on the final lap. Team M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas passed Attack Kawasaki’s Steve Rapp on the penultimate lap, losing the spot to Rapp on the final lap, before taking it back for the final podium spot. Rapp’s teammate Chaz Davies finished fifth. Formula Xtreme: 1. Josh Hayes (Honda) 2. Jake Zemke (Honda) 3. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 4. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) 5. Chaz Davies (Kawasaki) 6. Larry Pegram (Ducati) 7. Aaron Gobert (Honda) 8. Michael Beck (Yamaha) 9. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha) 10. Dane Westby(Triumph)
Zemke Wins FX Title
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.