Rideless since putting the Project One Yamaha R6 on pole position for the Daytona 200 and then finishing third in the 200 back in March, Jake Zemke will return to racing in two weeks - though he has to go across the Atlantic to make that happen. Zemke will ride a WFR Honda in the Knockhill Racing round of the British Superbike Series in Scotland, June 18-19.
Zemke will ride the team's CBR1000RR in the EVO Series - a series within a series that sees the Superstock-based bikes competing in the same races as the British Superbikes but scored separately. The bikes run in Superbike chassis, but with a spec-ECU to limit things such as traction control.
Zemke will join Glen Richards and Graeme Gowland in the three-rider team.
"It's an Evo spec Superbike," Zemke said of his Honda. "You are scored overall in the Superbike class, but then you also get points and there's a separate championship for just the Evo bikes themselves. The spec of the bikes are a little bit lower than the full-blown Superbikes - they are probably on about the level of what we used to call Superstock."
Zemke last raced internationally in a two-race deal with Stiggy Honda that saw him compete at Monza and Miller Motorsports Park in the World Superbike Series in 2009. Other than the round at Monza in Italy, Zemke hasn't raced outside the U.S. and he's never raced in Great Britain. Zemke will leave on Friday to spectate at this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone before travelling to Scotland, where he will meet up with his wife, Rebecca, who will join him for at least the Knockhill round.
"It's a Honda, it's a lower-spec bike... usually the first Evo bike is about 10th in the Superbike field," Zemke said. "It's not like there's tons of pressure. I could be proven wrong, but my hope is that I should be leading the Evo class."
If all goes according to plan, Zemke will race in the remaining British Superbike events in 2011 with an eye toward perhaps joining the series in 2012.
"It's a lot better than sitting on the couch and I'll be racing a motorcycle," Zemke said. "They are taking care of me and, realistically, I went to the last couple of AMA races at Infineon and Miller and I was scared of where the series is headed. I'm not saying this because I'm leaving or because I don't have a ride here, but I'm a little worried about where our series is headed and where it will go in the next year or two.
"The British Series doesn't pay a ton of money or anything, but the series is pretty strong. They've got manufacturer involvement, they've got some decent outside the industry sponsors, they've got good crowds and if you look at World Superbike, there's a lot of riders there that all came from British Superbike - unless they dropped down from MotoGP. It could be a good stepping-stone or it might just be fine to stay there. I just want to see what it's like and see what it's all about."