April 22, 2008, Torrance, CA: This past weekend started on a high note when Jake Zemke, racing a CBR600RR for the Erion Honda Team, posted his first win of the season in the AMA Formula Xtreme race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Mere hours later, 17-year-old Torco Racing Fuels Honda rider Trey Canard won the AMA East Lites Supercross race and the class championship in St. Louis. Then it was Canard¹s teammate Kevin Windham¹s turn; he grabbed the St. Louis Supercross lead early and never looked back.
St. Louis Supercross
Honda racers had an epic night at the St. Louis Supercross: Canard won a hard-fought 15-lap final‹his fourth win in this his rookie season to wrap up the East Lites title on his CRF250R, and Windham claimed his third Supercross-class win of the year on his CRF450R to tighten the points chase for the championship with two rounds remaining.
In only his first season as a pro, teenage sensation and Oklahoma native Canard entered the St. Louis season finale separated by just three points from his championship rival. Canard rounded the first turn in second with his teammate Josh Grant in third. Canard took the lead on lap six while his rival went down, and that was the end of the championship: Canard was never headed, winning by over two seconds at the line, while Grant also finished on the podium in third.
"I've wanted this championship since I was three years old," said Canard. "I trained hard all season long and I can't thank my team enough for getting this championship."
In the Supercross class final, Kevin Windham moved his Torco Racing Fuels Honda CRF450R into the lead on the third lap and never looked back. He won by seven seconds. Honda Red Bull racers Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps had mixed results: Millsaps, last week¹s winner in Detroit, crashed on the opening lap and rejoined the field in 18th position. He would fight back to finish an impressive sixth. Short, meanwhile got off to a great start and rode a flawless race to finish third, matching his best finish of the season.
Windham's victory moved him to within just 13 points of the championship lead.
"I feel good about the ride I put in tonight. I'm giving it all I can and that alone feels good," said Windham.
Barber Motorsports Park
Though early forecasts had rain moving through the area, the weather was picture perfect for a weekend of racing at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park just outside of Birmingham, Alabama.
Saturday hosted two main events featuring the Honda Red Riders; the AMA Superbike race followed by the Formula Xtreme event. For the Superbike race, Honda racers and Miguel Duhamel qualified well on their CBR1000RR machines, despite the fact the team is still very much in the development phase with the all-new CBR1000RR. Hodgson qualified in sixth position while Duhamel struggled with set-up difficulties and a crash in the morning practice session.
In the first of the double-header Superbike events, both riders suffered less than ideal starts, but Duhamel forced his way to the front, running fourth in the early laps before dropping back. Hodgson moved forward from a poor start, finishing in fifth position, one spot ahead of Duhamel.
Next on the schedule was Formula Xtreme. Defending champ Josh Hayes put his Erion Honda CBR600RR on pole with a new track record, and his teammate Jake Zemke wasn¹t far behind. When the flag dropped for the start, Zemke jumped into the lead, and there commenced an epic battle between Zemke and Hayes for the lead that included some of the closest passing and side-by-side riding of the weekend. Unfortunately the tightest race of the weekend ended when Hayes crashed out of race-winning contention. He would rejoin the race to finish in seventh position for 25 valuable championship points, but their early race battle had carried them clear of the field, leaving Zemke alone in front. He crossed the line with a huge win margin.
On Sunday, Zemke again proved to be the top Honda rider, finishing the 600 Supersport race in third on his CBR600RR. Hayes, who injured his hand in his Xtreme class, finished sixth in the Supersport contest. In the Superbike race, Duhamel and Hodgson once again did not get the start drives they were hoping for, and Duhamel suffered a few big moments in the race. Ultimately Hodgson finished a solid fifth again, with Duhamel in eighth. In SuperStock competition, Jake Holden, riding a CBR1000RR for the Corona Honda team, qualified on pole and led much of the race, ultimately finishing a close second.
Next pavement round for the Honda Red Riders takes place at California Speedway in Fontana, California while the Supercross championship and final Supercross West Lites event heads northwest to the Seattle Dome in Washington. For more information on Honda racing, go to www.hondaredriders.com