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MotoAmerica Heads To Barber Motorsports Park

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With temperatures expected to be in the 90s and with a dose of high humidity added to the mix, the athletes of the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship will be tested physically as the series visits the pristine Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama, this weekend for round five of the series - the Triumph AMA/FIM North America Superbike Challenge of Alabama.

High temperatures and intense humidity test riders every year at Barber and this year that will be turned up a notch for the Superbike riders. With MotoAmerica running both of its Superbike races on Sunday, ala World Superbike, the Superbikers will be in for a physically demanding day at the racetrack. The first of the two races will begin at 12:30 p.m. with race two scheduled for 4 p.m.

Four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes swept both of the two races last year at Barber, but those races were spread out over the course of two days. Not so for this year and Hayes knows it will present a challenge.

"I've known for quite a while that this would be one of the toughest tracks because it doesn't have any real straightaways," Hayes said. "It tends to be a difficult and physical track anyway. And when you add in the heat and humidity of the south, and coming here in June, it makes it really tough.

"I had a plan pretty early in the season and after Road America I came home to Mississippi to be in the heat and the humidity to try and acclimate myself and be prepared for a tough Sunday."

In addition to the heat and humidity, Hayes also faces the task of trying to claw back points on his Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha teammate Cameron Beaubier in the battle for the 2015 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship. Both men have won four races apiece coming into the Barber round, but Beaubier leads the title chase by 26 points over Hayes. While Hayes won both races at Barber last year, Beaubier struggled. He crashed out of race one and finished third in race two.

The two Yamaha men will also face the onslaught of the two Yoshimura Suzuki riders - Jake Lewis and Roger Hayden. Lewis, in his rookie Superbike season, sits third in the title chase with 116 points, 15 more than his teammate Hayden. Both had podium finishes two weeks ago at Road America and come to Barber with momentum.

Roadrace Factory's Jake Gagne continues to be the class of the field in the Superstock 1000 class. His sweep of both races at Road America on his Yamaha R1 gives him six wins on the season and he now leads TBOC Racing's Taylor Knapp by 30 points in the title chase. Tyler O'Hara is just a further nine points adrift on his Chisum Racing/Motul-backed Yamaha R1.

The Supersport class is still the most hotly contested of the five classes in the MotoAmerica series, and no where was that more evident than at Road America two weeks ago. In race two in Wisconsin, a photo finish went to Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha's JD Beach over his title rivals Josh Herrin and Garrett Gerloff with Herrin taking victory the day before in a wet race.

How's this for close? Beach and Herrin, with three wins apiece, are tied in the championship points chase with 140 - 16 more than Gerloff. Roadrace Factory's Tomas Puerta, meanwhile, moved into a tie with M4 Suzuki/Sportbikegear.com's David Anthony for fourth in the championship at Road America with his second- and fifth-place finishes.

Herrin's Wheels in Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports teammate Joe Roberts gained a bit of ground on his rival Richie Escalante in the Bazzaz Superstock 600 Championship at Road America. Roberts was second and first in the two races with Escalante third and second. Travis Wyman, meanwhile, continues to be a thorn in those two riders' sides with the Kyle Wyman Racing rider earning his first win of the season in the wet first race at Road America. Roberts leads Escalante by six points, 120-114, with Wyman third - just a point behind the youngster from Tizayuca, Mexico.

The KTM RC 390 Cup made its long-awaited debut at Road America and it didn't disappoint. Even though Gage McAllister won both races he had his hands full both times in the new class. On Saturday, McAllister topped Joe Barry and Brandon Altmeyer. On Sunday, he came back to beat Braeden Ortt and Barry. McAllister leads the championship by 14 points over Barry with Ortt and Altmeyer tied for third.

Flat tracker Jarod Vanderkooi will make his road racing debut on Saturday in the KTM RC 390 Cup race, the GNC2 Twins Champion from last year's AMA Grand National Championship fresh off two days with Keith Code's California Superbike School at the Streets of Willow Springs. The 17-year-old Vanderkooi, who calls Mt. Gilead, Ohio, home, is currently in his rookie season of racing in the GNC1 class where he rides a Don's Kawasaki flat tracker.

Barber Motorsports Park Notes...

Kurtis Roberts, the youngest son of three-time World Champion Kenny Roberts, and Aaron Yates, the father of current KTM RC 390 Cup racer Ashton Yates, won the first two Superbike races ever held at Barber Motorsports Park in 2003.

Of Josh Hayes' 52 AMA Superbike victories, six have come at Barber Motorsports Park, including a doubleheader sweep of the two races last year. Hayes has two other wins at Barber with both of those coming in 2007 when he won the now-defunct Formula Xtreme final and the Supersport final.

The winningest rider of all time at Barber is retired Australian Mat Mladin, who won there nine times between 2004 and 2009.

The winningest brand of motorcycle in the history of Barber Motorsports Park Superbike racing is Suzuki with 16 wins. Suzuki won 13 Superbike races in a row at Barber until Josh Hayes stopped that streak with his two wins in 2012.

Josh Hayes qualified on pole position last year at Barber with a best lap of 1:25.324.

The average age for the 28 KTM RC 390 Cup racers who pre-entered for the Barber round is 15 years, two months. The class is for riders aged 14 to 22.

All five classes will be streamed live and can be accessed through MotoAmerica Live.

Top Image: The MotoAmerica Supersport class has been red-hot so far and more heat is expected for round five at Barber Motorsports Park, June 12-14.

Credit: Brian J. Nelson.

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