Michael Jordan Motorsports have entered both Roger Lee Hayden and Danny Eslick in this weekend’s World Superbike round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the pair set to ride their AMA-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000s against the world’s best superbike racers. The team, however, will not be doing the AMA Superbike event.
That much is true.
But the reasons for doing World Superbike and not AMA Superbike isn’t because the World Superbike races will be telecast on beIN Sport while AMA Pro Racing recently announced that there won’t be any television coverage of its season finale at Laguna, says Michael Jordan Motorsports’ vice president of corporate relations Kreig Robinson.
“That’s not accurate,” Robinson said in regard to reports that the team made the switch because of the TV package. “We looked at where we were in the standings. I believe we are fourth and fifth right now with Roger [Hayden] fourth and Danny [Eslick] fifth. And there are more than 30 points from sixth place to Danny and more than 30 points from Roger up to [Martin] Cardenas, I believe it is. [Hayden is 69 points behind Yoshimura Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas with Eslick 44 points ahead of Larry Pegram in the AMA Superbike Championship.] Regardless of if we participate [in the AMA race] or not, we’re still going to finish fourth and fifth on the year. That was more of a motivating factor for us as far as taking advantage of an opportunity to compete in World Superbike. Obviously, if we were in the championship hunt we wouldn’t be doing this so it’s really for us an opportunity for us to participate at this level and see where we stack up.”
Of more concern is the fact that the team won’t have enough time to convert its AMA-spec GSX-R1000s to World Superbike spec.
“Obviously between New Jersey and Laguna there’s not a whole lot of time to prepare complete World Superbike-spec motorcycles, so we will basically be using the motorcycles that we have,” Robinson said. “I know that our technical director Pete Mauhar has been in contact with the folks over at World Superbike to see what they will allow and won’t allow. But we’re basically going to be entering our AMA Superbikes into the World Superbike competition.”
The other unknown is the spec-tire Pirellis the team will use for the first time.
“Switching to Pirellis will also be a learning curve,” Robinson said. “Roger [Hayden] has been on them before, a couple of years back, so he knows somewhat what they are. But there will be a period of getting used to what they’ll do. We do have track knowledge and not many of the folks who are competing have the track knowledge that we do because the World Superbike guys haven’t competed here in a long time. I think there are a few…”
The bottom line on why the team is opting to do the World Superbike races is pretty simple.
“From a competition standpoint for us, in all honesty, it’s an opportunity for us to have some fun and see where we measure up in something like this,” Robinson said. “We’re doing this on AMA-spec Superbikes so there’s no expectations from us… we’re just going to go out and see where we stack up and it will be fun.
“From a competition standpoint, I think it’s a boost for our guys, both riders included, and certainly there is a boost for exposure for our sponsors. People are saying that we were driven to do this, but that’s not really true. We do have a responsibility to give our sponsors and partners the best potential exposure that we can. But TV alone just doesn’t justify taking on this type of a challenge. It’s got to be doable and we don’t want to be an embarrassment to ourselves and our sponsors in competition and we certainly don’t think that we will be. I just think this is a cool and fun way to go do this.”