Many US race fans were both excited and puzzled by Roger Lee Hayden's announcement that he would be racing a Pedercini Kawasaki in World Superbikes. Excited, because Rog, as Nicky Hayden's younger brother is affectionately called, is highly rated in the States; puzzled because although Hayden is good on a Superbike, his great strength - and his biggest successes, including an AMA Supersport title - is in riding a 600, rather than a thousand. Why did Roger Lee not jump on a Moto2 bike, the fans asked. The answer was simple: money, or rather a lack of it for Hayden to race in Moto2.
Fortunately for Hayden, and for the US fans who are convinced of his abilities, the American is to ride in Moto2 after all. Hayden has been named as a wildcard rider for the Moto2 race at Indianapolis, at the end of August. Hayden will ride a Moriwaki MD600 fielded by the Erion Honda team, one of the strongest teams in the AMA paddock, and supported by American Honda.
But there is even better news for MotoGP fans outside of the US. The team is to be led by 500cc legend and former World Champion Kevin Schwantz. Schwantz has been linked with a team management role in the Grand Prix paddock for a couple of years now, and has clearly been looking for the right opportunity to come along. That has finally happened.
The biggest surprise will be to see Schwantz in a Honda shirt. The Texan is inextricably linked in the public imagination with Suzuki, and seeing Schwantz with the Honda wing on his shirt will be a very strange sight. But Schwantz has been using Honda CBR600RRs at his Schwantz racing school this year, and so the links to Suzuki have been weakening a little for a while.
Here's the official press release from American Honda:
American Honda Announces Additional Moto2 Team Details
Torrance, CA: Following an earlier release outlining American Honda's intention to participate in the Moto2 class at the 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, August 27 to 29, American Honda now announces that the team will be led by Kevin Schwantz.
Schwantz, the 1993 500cc Grand Prix World Champion, has a wealth of racing knowledge and currently runs the Schwantz School, where riders can learn from the best aboard Honda CBR600RR machines. "It's an honor for me to be chosen as team manager," said Schwantz. "We've been using CBR600RRs for some time now at our schools, and I've ridden a Moto2 bike and it's very good. I watched the first three Moto2 races and I expect the racing to be just as good at Indy."
Led by Schwantz, the team will field a Honda-powered Moriwaki MD600 ridden by wild card entry Roger Lee Hayden.
Roger Lee Hayden has a solid history with American Honda, and a string of 12 national road race victories on 600cc machines en route to a Supersport championship. Along with his siblings Nicky and Tommy, the Hayden brothers are American racing royalty, and the Indy GP will give American fans another opportunity to see Roger racing on American soil. At 27, Hayden also qualifies to race as a wild card entry: Moto2 rules require all wild card riders to be 28 years old or younger.
"This is a great opportunity for me to race in front of my home crowd at a MotoGP event," said Roger, who is currently competing in the World Superbike Championship. "The Moto2 class is really competitive and I'm looking forward to jumping in the middle of it."
The team will be staffed by Erion Racing technicians led by Kevin Erion. Erion Racing has been American Honda's premier support team for more than 15 years, winning 16 national championships—many of them with Honda's CBR600 in the process. "We're excited to partner with American Honda again and participate in our first World- Championship event," said Kevin Erion.
The American Honda Indy GP Moto2 team will also benefit the Ride for Kids® (RFK) program and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation® (PBTF) through special fund-raising activities. At Indy, for example, Schwantz will lead the Lap of Champions, where 300 participants will join him in a lap around the track in a special fund-raiser that benefits the PBTF by raising funds to promote childhood brain tumor research.