Jake Lewis joins Roger Hayden on Suzuki GSX-R1000 AMA Superbikes
Yoshimura Suzuki has announced its AMA Superbike rider lineup for 2015. Joining veteran Roger Hayden on the squad this season is young up-and-coming road racer Jake Lewis. Hayden and Lewis will be on the legendary Suzuki GSX-R1000 as a new horizon dawns in the 39-year history of AMA Superbike racing, now being run under the auspices of MotoAmerica.
The team is now set for the next couple of seasons with Hayden and Lewis both signing two-year contracts with Suzuki.
Don Sakakura, the highly-respected Senior Vice President of Yoshimura R&D of America, said he’s happy to have Hayden and Lewis on board with the team for 2015 and beyond.
“We know about Roger’s abilities,” Sakakura said. “Those are proven and he’ll be the anchor of the team. We’re also excited to have a rider like Jake Lewis, who has shown so much promise and ability at such a young age. With Roger and Jake being good friends we think they’ll be able to freely share information and feedback with one another and that should help us develop the new bike more quickly. We’re also excited about the new regulations, which allow us to do more with the bikes.”
On the subject of the six-foot, three-inch Lewis Sakakura joked. “We just hope he’s done growing – he said he grew eight inches in one year. I think with his height and leverage he has the potential to do even better on a Superbike than he did on a 600 were he might have felt a little cramped.”
Historically speaking, Yoshimura has some experience nurturing young, lanky road racers. One Kevin Schwantz comes to mind.
Hayden, the youngest of the famous trio of racing brothers from Owensboro, Kentucky, says he is reinvigorated with the new direction of AMA Superbike and the possibility of reaching his goal of winning America’s most prestigious road racing series.
“I’m excited about our new program,” said Hayden, a former AMA Supersport Champion. “It feels good that a team like Yoshimura has enough faith in me to give me a long-term deal. We want to contend for the title, that’s our goal. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to work hard as a team to try to achieve that goal. I want to be a contender every weekend.”
Hayden said he also looks forward to learning the new-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000s, which will now be nearly identical in technical specifications to World Superbike.
“With the new Superbike regulations the bikes are going to have a little more speed,” he explained. “That should help us. So I’m excited about getting to know the new 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and for the new direction the series is going under MotoAmerica. It’s a great time to be a part of the road racing in America.”
Hayden concluded by saying he was eager to kick off the season and happy with this summer’s schedule.
“It’s great we’ll be racing alongside both of the MotoGP events here in America,” Hayden said of the Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis events. “My family will be able to watch me and my brother (Nicky) racing on the same weekend. I’m also really happy we’re going back to tracks like Road Atlanta and VIR, places that have a lot of tradition and are just really nice tracks.”
Lewis comes to Yoshimura Suzuki with an impressive résumé. The 19-year-old from Princeton, Kentucky, is a former Supersport Champion, finished runner up in Daytona SportBike last season and was Rookie of the Year in 2013 as well as winner of the prestigious AMA Horizon Award in 2011.
He said getting his first factory Superbike ride is a dream come true.
“Ever since I was four-year-old this is what me and my parents worked for,” Lewis said. “To get to the top level of racing here in the U.S. and having a factory ride, it’s the payoff for all of those years of hard work. And to be on a team like Yoshimura Suzuki, it’s a huge opportunity for me.”
Lewis has already had a taste of the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike in testing and said it felt like a whole new world compared to the 600cc bikes he’s used to racing.
“”I fit really well on the Superbike, but it’s amazing how much power the bike has,” Lewis explained. “There’s a lot for me to learn. It’s the first time on a bike of this level with all the electronics and my first time on a 1000. It’s a lot to get used to, but I’m feeling more and more comfortable every time on the bike.
“Having a two-year deal puts a lot less pressure on me, and gives me some time to learn, but I still expect a lot out of myself and want to be able to prove I can run up front even in my first season in Superbike. Roger and I are good friends and he’s been a mentor and training partner, so I think learning from him will help me along this year. While we’re buds off the track, we’re both competitive and I know we’ll have some fun battles out there.”
Yoshimura Suzuki has a long and rich tradition in AMA Superbike and is the winningest team in the history of the series with 13 championships dating back to 1979.
The 2015 AMA Superbike season kicks off April 10-12, at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.