By Andrea Wilson/Photography by Gold & Goose
A lot has transpired since Daytona. That tends to happen when there’s 10 weeks between AMA Superbike races. For Josh Hayes, it’s been a long time to stew over what was a miserable Daytona.
It’s long been said that you can’t win the championship at Daytona, but you can definitely lose it there. If Josh Hayes doesn’t make up the 48-point deficit he suffered with two non-finishes at Daytona, it will be that race that cost him the championship. But is anybody writing Josh Hayes? Hell no. Even with a shortened series schedule he is still the man in the championship with a big bull’s eye on the back of his leathers.
We had the chance to talk to the thee-time AMA Superbike Champion before he left for Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America for this weekend’s Superbike doubleheader.
With the long gap between Daytona and Road America and being that Daytona didn’t go so well for you, what were the positives and negatives for having such a long break between the two races?
I think the negative is you just want to rewrite the books from Daytona as quickly as possible and show and prove that it was just a fluke and you know that you still know what you are doing out there. The positives are that you’re super motivated to work hard. I’ve probably done more work in the last 10 weeks than I’ve ever done in my life on physical fitness and I feel amazing. I feel like I’ve been at home acting like a professional. I’m ready to go to a racetrack and show what I can do. Fortunately, I’m going to one of my favorite racetracks, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. And I did get to test the R1 a little bit and it seems to be running extremely well [the team tested in New Orleans]. I’m excited to go back to the track that was good for me last year and get back to work.
You tested at NOLA, but it rained quite a bit. Did you get anything out of it besides just riding around?
Well, you know it was a two-day test and the first day was dry. And so we got a good day of testing in dry conditions and then it rained all on the second day. At first the track holds so much water that it wasn’t possible to ride for quite a few hours while it was raining. It got a little slick during the day when the track was really wet with puddles, but it wasn’t still puddles that you still couldn’t ride anymore. We did go out and, heck, I was the first one on track. I was excited for an opportunity to go out and ride in the rain. We really don’t get to ride out in the rain that often, but it seems like every year when we get to Road America that at least one of our sessions is it. So I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to get out there and just kind of get my head up to speed in the wet and you know it’s always nerve wracking when get you go out in the wet a little bit. So it helps me get a little more experience and be a little bit more relaxed and spend some time with my Superbike in those conditions. So now I feel like I’m ready for anything for Road America.
So just how many miles did you put in on the bicycle between the two races?
[Laughs] You know it’s been… I probably put in a little over two thousand miles since Daytona. Maybe even a little more. Yeah it’s been a good bit. It would be hard for me to give you a definitive number, but I want to say it’s been somewhere around a 150 hours I’ve put on the bicycle. I definitely did my share of work and I still managed to play some tennis and ride a little motocross and all the other things that I liked to do to prep for motorcycle racing.
You know the cycling thing it’s more than just even putting in the miles and the fitness. It’s a little bit of therapy. It was quiet time out on the road. Sometimes it’s when things aren’t going well… sometimes you just want to feel pain. You know and inflicting a bit of pain on yourself in the hope that you’re going to turn that around and inflict pain on everyone else when you show up at the track. So it’s a bit therapeutic really.
You said that Road America is one of your favorite tracks. Is there one memory in particular that stands out that was special?
You know I’ve had so many there that I’m pretty proud of. I’ve had some off moments too, but it seems like I’ve always been pretty fast when we get to Road America. It’s just a track that I understand; it suits me and it’s just fun. I just have a lot of fun. You know there’s places in your life where you go ride you know… The Cahuilla motocross track is like that. Every time I go ride there I come home with a smile on my face. I just have a good time and it’s just fun to ride. Road America is that road-race track for me. I know it. Every time I go ride there I just have a good time.
I got my first Superbike podium there in 2004. I had a great race in 2006 there; also in 2004 in Superstock. I had been no where near the front up until that point in the season and then I ended up leading the Superstock race there, which was a good turn around for me. And then I got onto the Superbikes and some of my better performances have happened there. And then last year having the field kind of covered by more than a second a lap – that was pretty special too. So I’m looking forward to going back there and seeing if I can continue the trend there. And if I’m having a good time and I’m smiling and having fun riding the motorcycle, I feel good about it happening that way.
How will Road America be without Blake Young and the Blake Young Fan Club?
You know, I don’t really know. We’ll have to wait and see whenever we get there if he comes out and shows his face at the race and if his guys… you know we’ll find out if they were motorcycle-racing fans or if they were Blake fans. If they come out and enjoy the races or not. But, yeah, for a couple of years we had the Blake rivalry going on, but quite honestly I was pretty head down and focused on what I was doing so I didn’t really pay too much attention to what was going on around it. Its always good to have hard-core fans and it was good having Blake and his following coming around out there and hopefully they’ll come back out. Maybe since I’m not racing against Blake now, maybe they’ll cheer for me this year who knows.