The number of contracted riders for 2011 has slightly increased with the news that Yamaha Motor Corporation and Graves Motorsports have re-signed Josh Herrin through 2012.The 2011 season is clearly a buyer’s market, with the manufacturers contining to suffer weak sales and looking for ways to economize. Only two other riders are known to be signed for next year and both are championship winners. Recently crowned American SuperBike champion Josh Hayes will stay with Yamaha for two years and Daytona SportBike champion Martin Cardenas is staying with M4 Monster Energy Suzuki. Speculation at the final round at Barber Motorsports Park was that Cardenas may move to the Superbike class.When Herrin might move up to Superbike isn’t known. Herrin will try to win the Daytona SportBike championship in 2011, but which class he’ll contest in 2012 wasn’t announced. Herrin, 20, who just completed his fourth year with the team, finished third in this year’s hard-fought Daytona SportBike championship. Herrin began the season by winning the Daytona 200, Yamaha’s second in a row and 20th since their first victory with Don Emde in 1972, and he added four more wins to capture a career high five for the season. Herrin was one of three riders still in the title hunt going into the final round. He went into the Barber season finale second in points to Danny Eslick, 356 to 345, with Martin Cardenas third at 344. Cardenas won Saturday’s race with Herrin third and Eslick fourth. That dropped Herrin to third in points with Cardenas now in the lead by three points over Eslick. Cardenas romped to victory in the final race, while Eslick and Herrin had a pair of run-ins. The first came on the turn four entry on the sixth lap, when Eslick got in hot, ran wide, and ran Herrin off the track, dropping him to eighth. Herrin recovered to sixth when the race was stopped by a red flag. The second incident came in the same corner on the 19th lap and landed Herrin in the gravel trap. He remounted, raced to 11th, then chased Eslick on the cooldown lap to share some angry words. The real words came later, with each tossing barbs at the other.”We’ve never been friends by any means,” Eslick said. Yeah, it started this weekend in qualifying when he was looking behind and coming up the front straightaway and never got out of the way and seen me coming, obviously, unless he’s blind. And he wouldn’t get off the line and I stuck it in there and ended up crashing and tearing up a good bike. That was me being a little bit of an idiot on that one and being frustrated. We’ve never been buddies and we’re never going to be buddies and it’s going to continue on for as long as our careers go.””It doesn’t every surprise me when he does something stupid. It surprised me that he actually did it and looked back to see, oh, what did it do?,” Herrin said. “There’s nothing we can do but come back next year and I guess just give him what he deserves. If he wants to ride like that we’ll just ride like that with him.”The championship wasn’t lost for Herrin at Barber, it was lost during a three race stretch late in the season. Herrin won the first race at Mid-Ohio, then crashed in the second. He followed that with a sixth at Laguna Seca, then another crash in the first race at Virginia International Raceway. From leading the championship by 29 points following his race one win at Mid-Ohio, Herrin went into the second race at VIR trailing Eslick by 43 points.Herrin won the second race at VIR, then finished second in both races at New Jersey Motorsports Park, setting up the showdown at Barber.Who Herrin will teammate wasn’t announced. Tommy Aquino, this year’s teammate, finished a distant seventh in the championship this season.
Josh Herrin Back With Yamaha
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.