There may be no deeper end than the one that Aaron Yates will be thrown in at the Red Bull Indy Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, August 17-19.
Yates, who suffered a badly broken lower right leg/ankle when he crashed and was run over by another rrider during qualifying for the AMA Superbike doubleheader at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, on March of 2010, hadn’t thrown a leg over a race bike in anger in two years until taking part in a WERA National Endurance race at Road Atlanta a few weeks ago. Now he will race a BCL Motorsports GP Tech GP212 CRT bike in a MotoGP race. That, my friends, is the definition of deep end.
But in typical, laid-back Yates style, the Georgian just chuckles about it.
“That’s just how it goes, man,” Yates said with a laugh today from his home in Georgia. “The opportunity popped up and I was like, ‘Why not?’ I’ve been feeling good and trying to get in shape and I’ve been riding some Supermoto over at Josh Herrin’s place. They called me up and asked me about doing it and I was like, ‘Hell, why not?’ I don’t know what else to say.”
So with likely very little if any testing time, the team and Yates will show up at Indy ready to compete against the rest of the CRT pack – and on the same racetrack as the prototype MotoGP bikes racing for a World Championship. Yates has been working to get ready and says he’s leg is much improved. He thinks the days of it being a hindrance are over. It’s time to move on and moving on to Yates means getting back on a racetrack.
“It’s doing pretty good,” Yates said of the badly broken leg. “I’ve finally got some pretty good confidence in the bone and that’s what we’ve been kinda waiting on really. My ankle is a little weak, but I’ve been working on it and it’s getting better. I’m ready to go racing.”
Yates had his first taste of competitive road racing a few weeks ago on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 for the BEi Racing/Dunlop Development Team with Tim Bemisderfer, Chris “Opie” Caylor and Billy Ethridge with the team winning the six-hour event.
“I was as fast as Opie [Caylor]… we were about the same and I felt like was riding a lot faster than I was,” Yates said when asked about lap times. “What we were riding… we just had a stock motor and it had this big old gas tank, a seven-and-a-half-gallon tank, and it was all on the top of the thing. The setup was just… well, what it was. We got the thing a bit easier to ride. That was the first time I’d ridden… well, 170 mph in two years. It takes a little while to get used to that.”
Yates is hoping to get a test ride on the GP Tech bike prior to the Grand Prix and he’s also hopeful of a warm-up race at Mid-Ohio – in the Superbike class. The 38-year-old Yates is a four-time AMA Superbike National winner and Mid-Ohio has always been one of his favorites.
“The plan is to go ride it [the CRT bike] a week or two before, but parts of the frame aren’t even finished being machined yet,” Yates said. “They are shooting for the middle of July as far as having a chassis. There’s a possibility I might ride Mid-Ohio on a Vesrah Suzuki Superbike and if I do that I might just bring my motorhome and hang out and go up there and help build the damn motorcycle or something. “
Although Yates knows that riding an unproven CRT bike in a MotoGP after taking part in just one race (maybe two) in two years after an accident that basically destroyed his lower left leg is a big task, he says there’s no pressure and he’s quick to laugh it all off.
“Having some fun is what we’re after,” Yates said. “That’s really the only way to really look at it. I’ve been out for a couple of years and I have this opportunity. It’s not like anyone expects me to go out there and set the world on fire or something. It would be nice to have a lot more development on it with the electronics, but I think that will be pretty minimal on the thing. It will be interesting to see how it goes. It’s given me something to look forward to – get read to go racing. I haven’t done it in years and I’m excited.”
Yates has been at the racetrack, but only as a mechanic for his 13-year-old son Ashton, who has taking a liking to racing Supermoto.
“I’ve been busy keeping my kid’s bike up and doing all that,” Yates said. “He’s been riding the wheels off a Supermoto XR150R and I’ve got it all setup and have been taking care of his program and stuff.
“But I need to do something myself…”