JAKE LEWIS AND TEAM HAMMER WIN AT ROAD AMERICA
Team Hammer tallied its fifth victory of the young 2017 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season on Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
That win was delivered in emphatic, wire-to-wire fashion by M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Jake Lewis. The rising star qualified fastest among all Superstock 1000 competitors and powered away cleanly from his position on the inside of Row 2 on the combined Superbike/STK1000 grid.
From there, the Kentuckian was never headed by any of his Superstock rivals. He controlled the contest from the front throughout while pushing the Superbike pilot ahead to take the checkered flag with the class win and a combined class top five.
The victory is Lewis' second of the season aboard the rapidly developing 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000. He is currently second in the STK1000 points race on the strength of six podiums in seven races and a worst result of fourth.
"It's an amazing feeling because it feels like I really earned this one," Lewis said. "I got a really good start, but that's because I qualified so well. I tried to hang with the Superbike guys and pull a little gap on the guys behind me. They were inching back late, but I knew where they were the whole time. I just played it smart and brought home a win for the team. When you work that hard and don't give up, that's what happens. I want to keep these wins coming. Thanks to my M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team.
"Honestly, the last week and a half have been so tough with everything going on back home. I'd like to dedicate this win to the Hayden family and especially Earl. I emailed him yesterday morning and told him I would try to get a couple wins for them this weekend. Nicky was like a brother to me. It's been tough. Halfway through the race I told myself I wasn't going to give up. Nicky pushed me to my best, so this one is for him."
Lewis' 600cc-mounted teammates had a more difficult Saturday as the elements and luck conspired against them.
The team took a hit early on Saturday when M4 medAge Suzuki's Nick McFadden crashed late in qualifying and fractured his right collarbone. Prior to the fall, McFadden led a session on Friday and looked capable of battling for yet another Superstock 600 win.
On and off rain showers then resulted in a once-stopped and shortened Supersport/Superstock 600 race that was held in tricky wet-to-dry conditions.
With the sun shining above and the track wet below, the team elected to gamble big and go with dry tires, hoping the conditions would come around to their set-ups. While they ultimately did, the rate of improvement was slower than hoped and the Team Hammer contingent simply ran out of laps to do maximum damage.
Despite clocking the second fastest lap of the race on the final lap, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Valentin Debise crossed the line in 14th overall (7th among Supersport-mounted riders).
Debise, who qualified second just 0.008 off pole and who won at Road America last season, is aiming to make amends in Sunday's Race 2.
It was a similar story for M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Brandon Cleland and M4 Rickdiculous Racing Suzuki's Daytona Anderson. STK600-mounted Cleland still managed to finish in the points in 15th, while Anderson came home 24th overall (ninth among Supersport-spec mounted competitors).
Team Hammer will be back in action on Sunday at Road America, with Lewis looking to turn the double and the middleweight men eager to make up for an unlucky Saturday.
About Team Hammer
The 2017 season marks Team Hammer's 37th consecutive year of operating as a professional road racing team. Racebikes built and fielded by Team Hammer have won 66 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National races, have finished on AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National podiums 165 times and have won five AMA Pro National Championships, as well as two FIM South American Championships. The team has also won 134 endurance races overall (including seven 24-hour races) and 13 Overall WERA National Endurance Championships with Suzuki motorcycles, and holds the U.S. record for mileage covered in a 24-hour race. The team also competed in the televised 1990s Formula USA National Championship, famously running "Methanol Monster" GSX-R1100 Superbikes fueled by methanol, and won four F-USA Championships.