PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN J NELSON
One of the big announcements to come out of the AIMExpo last week in Florida was that EBR is going World Superbike racing in 2014. At the time of the announcement no riders were named for the two-man team, but rumor had it that one of those spots would go to the longtime EBR rider Geoff May. Those rumors were confirmed on Sunday.
“I’m super excited about it,” May said. “It’s something that Erik and I talked about going back a few years ago, even when I came on board early on in this program. That was something that he wanted to do down the road and with the sponsorship with Hero and with the new model coming out it’s something that’s now possible. I’m really excited about it.
“I’ve been racing AMA for over 10 years now; I guess this was my 10th full season. So I’m excited to go learn some new tracks. Because the ones we have here, for me it’s the same old, same old you know - week in and week out. I’m excited for a new challenge.”
Having to learn a whole host of new tracks is not easy, but May isn’t worried because he feels that learning tracks quickly is something he does well.
“I think that definitely two of my strong suits are developing bikes and also learning tracks quickly,” May said. “I’ve been able to go to multiple tracks in my career and break the track record there the first day at the track. I think I’ve shown consistency in the fact I can pick up tracks quickly that I’ve never been to. So I’m not too concerned with that. It looked like Ben Spies did a really good job of doing that as well when he went to Europe.”
The previous EBR1190RS model is not homologated for World Superbike because it doesn’t meet the minimum production requirement. But the recently announced 1190RX is slated to reach 1000 in the first production run – enough to get it homologated for World Superbike.
“The  RS isn’t homologated for World Superbike racing; I don’t think it meets their minimum production requirement since there was only 100 something bikes made,” May explained. “I think there up to 125 now, I think they did decide to make an extra 25 this year. So the RX… I think Erik’s [Buell] goal is to make one thousand of them, initially in the first production run. The idea behind the RX is having a bike that’s more affordable for the general public, that can compete in racing at a high level. So that’s the bike that it will be on.”
There are still a lot of details to be worked out – the location of the team (though it will be based in Europe) and the number-two rider, among them.
And although the second rider of the team has not been confirmed, it’s not a reach to see why May will make the move with the EBR team overseas as he has been with the program from the beginning and a part of the development. Is he happy to be able to continue the development of the new 1190RX?
“It’s super cool. It’s just another continuation of bringing the brand to another whole level,” said May. “That’s what racing is for a lot of people. It’s marketing, and we’re proving the product through racing. We’re proving that it’s a viable brand that can go out there and be competitive. American made motorcycles in the past haven’t fared so well in racing. So it’s really cool to be able to have EBR, the American made brand go to the world stage. And… I feel like we’re not going to set the world on fire by any means. I think we’ll definitely turn a bunch of heads that’s for sure.”
Now that May and his wife Jodi have a toddler, racing in Europe requires some decisions for the family. Would he commute or will they set up a temporary base in Europe?
“Probably won’t be commuting,” May answered. “Because Jodi’s been involved with my racing since we’ve met. So she’s been with me for over 11 seasons of racing, and she’s only missed two races. One was when she had our son, Riley, and so she couldn’t fly or travel and then she missed Laguna right after having Riley. So we’re a racing family and we do it together. I think it’s pretty much it has to be that we live somewhere central over in Europe so we can travel to all the races as a family. And not have to be worried about being completely worn out from travelling. It’s a long ways.
“From what it looks like, and from what I’ve been told, we can pretty much drive to all the races within one days travel. That’s definitely a lot more appealing than sitting on an airplane all the time.”
The 2013 World Superbike season just came to a close this past weekend with testing scheduled to begin in Jerez, Spain tomorrow. With the recent announcement of EBR racing in the championship next season, do they have testing plans made?
“Well, we’re pretty much under the gun here, because World Superbike has the testing-ban rule that starts December 1 through January 15,” May said. “And then, I believe if I read it correctly, that you’re only able to test at actual Dorna tests where everyone is invited. Kind of like AMA you have to go to the AMA [official] tests… And that includes, I inquired, I’m not allowed to ride anything on the racetrack apparently. Not even a different brand, not even just a streetbike apparently. So if were going to get anything done it has to be very quickly here.”