Hayden, Schwantz, Erion Moto2 at Indy

Henny Ray Abrams | June 15, 2010

American Honda confirmed that Roger Lee Hayden will race a Moriwaki Engineering Moto2 machine in a team run by Erion Honda and managed by 1993 500cc World Champion, and longtime Suzuki fixture, Kevin Schwantz in the third annual Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.In a press release issued Tuesday evening, American Honda confirmed what was first reported in this week’s Cycle News; that Hayden would race the Moriwaki machine during the five-week break in the World Superbike calendar. The series goes on hiatus following the August 1 round at Silverstone and doesn’t return until the week after Indy when they’ll reconvene at the Nurburgring, which will give Hayden plenty of time to test the Moto2 bike.The Moto2 project will be a welcome experience for Hayden, who will drive north from Owensboro to join his brother, Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden, at what is truly their home track. The youngest Hayden is currently struggling through his worst season as a professional racer on the underbudgeted Pedercini Kawasaki team. Through the first half of the season, Hayden has only two points, which he picked up with a 14th-place finish in the second race at Monza. The Moto2 race will give Hayden a chance to ride a machine equal to the best in the class. Moriwaki supplies four Moto2 teams, including the chassis for Moto2 championship leader , and two-time M2 winner,Toni Elias of Gresini Racing.Hayden, who last rode an Erion Honda in 2003, (see accompanying photo) thought he was close to a deal to race in this year’s inaugural Moto2 World Championship. His management team was deep in negotiations with the Belgian Marc VDS Racing Team, only to later discover that the team had signed another rider. When the news came, very late in the year, it left Hayden with very few options.In a recent interview at the Miller Motorsports Park round of the World Superbike Championship, Hayden expressed interest in the Moto2 class.”I like the formula,” he said. “I was always pretty fast on a 600 in America. My size is, I think, about right for a Moto2 bike. A hundred thirty-seven pounds is…a lot of those guys aren’t much lighter than that, if any of them, except for [Toni] Elias.”Hayden won the 2007 AMA Supersport title over teammate Jamie Hacking in his last year on a 600. Thirteen of his 14 AMA race wins came aboard the Kawasaki ZX-6R.Schwantz has been trying to get into team management for some time. He’s repeatedly expressed interest in running a MotoGP team and has been linked to both the factory Suzuki team and also a satellite team owned by Spaniard Jorge “Aspar” Martinez, the former World Champion who fields teams in every World Championship class. Unable to strike a deal with Suzuki, Martinez switched to Ducati this season for his first foray into MotoGP. His rider is fellow Spaniard  Hector Barbera. Schwantz’s move to Honda isn’t as surprising as it would have been two years ago, before he started using Honda CBR600RR’s alongside the Suzukis at the Schwantz School.Always willing to ride new machinery, Schwantz rode one of the earliest Moto2 machines, before it was fitted with the control Honda CBR600RR engine, at last year’s Red Bull Indy GP. After a few laps on the Blusens-BQR Honda, he came away underwhelmed.The bike had a rigid chassis, he said, which caused “a little bit of front end chatter. I’d have to assume a couple days testing or an afternoon of testing, maybe with some adjustments we could get rid of it.” He added that it was “a fun bike to ride,” and makes good power, more than a normal 600, but didn’t have the power surge of a 250 or the old 500, “where it really wants to hit and go, which I think will make it easier for more people to ride, which’d be good and I think good for the class.”

He also said that it was “a little bit racier and I’m sure by the time the class starts next year it’ll be right there headed in the right direction. I think the concept’s good. I’m still not convinced that a single engine is a way to go.”Schwantz will be doing at least triple duty at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to managing his team, he’ll no doubt find time to stick his head in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage for a word or two with former protege Ben Spies. And, for the second year in a row, he’ll host the Schwantz Schools on the same Grand Prix track that Hayden, Spies, Edwards, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, and Stoner will take to just a few days later. The first of two schools is on August 19-20 and the second on August 21-22. For more information, visit the school’s website, http://www.schwantzschool.com.

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.