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Curated by Vicki Smith for Ducati.net
Former AMA champion Jake Zemke makes a welcome return to the AMA grid running the Ducshop 848 in Daytona SportBike.
As AMA Pro Racing kicks off the 2012 season at Daytona, one of the most welcomed additions to the paddock is Jake Zemke. The 2006 Daytona 200 winner and 2008 Formula Xtreme champion returns to contest the 2012 Daytona SportBike series for Ducshop Racing. The 36-year old returns to AMA Pro Racing series after being unable to secure a full-time gig for the 2011 AMA season, despite placing third in the 2010 SuperBike series. Instead, after a one-off Daytona 200 ride for Project 1 Yamaha (where he claimed pole position and a third-place podium), Zemke kicked around until landing across the Atlantic in British Superbike. The American raced four rounds in BSB, campaigning a Honda in the EVO class to impressive results.
Jake Zemke claimed a third-place podium in the 2011 Daytona 200, but was unable to secure a full-time gig, forcing the Californian to cross the pond for BSB
Now that he’s back, Motorcycle USA caught up with Zemke to ask about his return to the AMA, racing across the pond, and his expectations this week at Daytona and for the season beyond.
Tell us a little about how the Ducshop Racing deal came about?
It sounded like a pretty good program. They wanted to go racing, and a lot of their goals and ambitions met with mine. For me to go out there and race, at this point in my career, it’s not worth it unless I got a team behind me that can go out there and win. And they’re definitely willing to put in the effort and dedication it’s going to take, so at that point it was a pretty mutual feeling to go out there and try and win some races....more
This Saturday marks the 71st running of the Daytona 200.
The Daytona 200 once again features the Daytona SportBike class. The D200 always makes for a robust starting grid, and 47 riders are on the provisional entry list. Unique on the AMA schedule as an endurance race, the 200-mile affair requires mental resilience, savvy pit strategy, and good luck. In recent years, controversy at the D200 has overshadowed the racing action. Last year’s race featured multiple red flags and long delays. The latter was from faulty tires, with track officials shortening the race and forcing all teams to pit for a mandatory tire change. There was also a terrifying crash at the finish line... Here’s to hoping the 2012 Daytona runs incident free.
This year’s DSB roster features an interesting mix of seasoned vets and rising stars. While perennial DSB title-contender Josh Herrin and two-time champ Danny Eslick (2009, 2011) graduated to the SuperBike ranks, the talent pool is arguably deeper for 2012. Martin Cardenas returns to DSB aboard the GEICO-sponsored Suzuki, while 2008 Formula Xtreme champ, Jake Zemke, marks his return to full-time AMA racing aboard the Ducshop Ducati...more