Blake Young to World Superbike

Henny Ray Abrams | June 22, 2009

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young will make his World Superbike debut at Donington Park this weekend, Cycle News has learned from multiple sources.Young will replace Fonsi Nieto on the Alstare Suzuki Brux machine at the track in the British Midlands that plays host to the ninth round of the World Superbike Championship. Nieto was riding in place of the injured German Max Neukirchner. The Alstare Suzuki Brux entry is currently listed as TBC (to be confirmed), according to a World Superbike spokesman who would neither deny nor confirm Young’s entry.The deal to put Young on the Suzuki was sealed at Misano Adriatico this past weekend, where Young attended the race along with his mentor Kevin Schwantz. Alstare Suzuki Brux team owner Francis Batta was looking for a young rider to replace Nieto. When Batta asked Schwantz if he knew a young rider to try out, Schwantz introduced him to Young.The final approval had to be made by American Suzuki, which today agreed to allow Young to race. Young may be racing with his familiar number 79, though that has yet to be confirmed. An official announcement from Suzuki on Young’s entry is expected on Tuesday.By lining up on the World Superbike grid, the 21-year-old Wisconsinite will increase the American contingent to four. He’ll join former teammate Ben Spies (Yam), Stiggy Racing Honda’s John Hopkins, and Jamie Hacking, the Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki rider who’s racing the factory Kawasaki in place of the injured Makoto Tamada for the second week in a row. The race also extends Young’s first ever trip to Europe by a week.Young’s first ever trip to Europe is ending better than it began.  It started with the airline losing his luggage when he and Schwantz landed in Barcelona about ten days ago for  the Catalunya Grand Prix north of Barcelona. From there the pair visited the Dainese factory in Italy before going traveling on to Misano. In Misano, Schwantz made a guest appearance in the television commentary booth for race one, World Superbike’s first ever flag-to-flag race. The race was won in a runaway by Spies.Very few riders have more insight than Schwantz into Donington Park, a circuit that flows well, but can have a tricky surface, especially in the wet. The 1993 World Champion’s successes and failures at the track are legendary, starting with his Match Race battles with Wayne Rainey through an illustrious GP career that ended with four wins, including three in a row starting in 1989. Schwantz was such a fan favorite that he had a corner named after him. Schwantz Curve is a fast left that feeds into the much slower McLeans right.But Schwantz won’t be able to offer advice in person, at least not for the first day of practice. He’ll be at Barber Motorsports Park for a two-day Schwantz School on June 25-26. Whether he plans to return to the UK for Saturday and Sunday isn’t known.From Donington Park Young heads to Monterey, California for the seventh round of the AMA Pro Road Race Championship in support of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Young currently sits eighth in the American Superbike point standings.

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.