AMA Pro Flat Track will make its debut at the world-class Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas for Round 3 of the 2016 season, racing alongside the stars of MotoGP and MotoAmerica as part of the Grand Prix of the Americas weekend.
The event scheduled for Saturday, April 9, will be the first time in 2016 that the powerful two-cylinder motorcycles will be used in Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines competition. Tickets for the half-mile event are going fast and are limited to the first 4,000 fans on a first-come, first-served basis. To purchase your tickets: http://www.texasflattrack.com/tickets/.
The event will take place at the same location as last year’s Summer X Games, but the layout of the track has been reengineered by seven-time champion and current AMA Pro Flat Track color commentator, Chris Carr.
In Daytona last month, it was Sammy Halbert who got the jump on the Grand National Championship chase when he took the Round 1 checkered flag and finished third in Round 2. Halbert left the Sunshine State with a three-point lead in the GNC1 point standings and he’ll look to carry that momentum into Texas aboard the No. 69 Harley-Davidson.
Defending Grand National Champion, Jared Mees, recorded fourth and ninth-place finishes at Daytona and he currently sits sixth in the GNC1 point standings. The three-time champ has proven to be one of the fiercest riders in the history of the sport, and arguably the best rider of this decade. He locked up his third GNC1 championship in the last four years at the season finale in Las Vegas last fall and is considered the odds-on favorite to win it all again in 2016. Mees will ride the No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson this weekend at COTA.
Mees’ biggest on-track rival over the years has been Bryan Smith. The two are notorious for duking it out on the front and backstretches seemingly almost every weekend, often finishing one-two, and within milliseconds of each other at the finish line.
The rivalry between Mees and Smith has intensified over the years, and 2016 will surely be another spectacle of good old-fashioned racing between two masters of their craft. Smith will pilot the powerful No. 42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki this weekend in Austin.
One of the more compelling storylines heading into Round 3 is the resurgence of Jake Johnson. The two-time Grand National Champion removed himself from the sport entirely at the beginning of last season, and many questioned if he’d ever return to racing again.
It wasn’t until Brad Baker was injured at the Black Hills Half-Mile last August, when Johnson was called on to replace him on the Factory Harley-Davidson team. Johnson put up solid numbers to finish out the 2015 season, and after two strong Daytona efforts last month, he finds himself second in the GNC1 point standings.
GNC1 young gun Davis Fisher made headlines last offseason when he announced his plans to join forces with Brad Baker and ride for the Harley-Davidson Factory Team in 2016. The tandem will compete in all GNC1 Twins races, beginning with this weekend at COTA, and this will be the first season since 2006 that the Factory Harley-Davidson Team has fielded two riders.
After many seasons competing aboard a Triumph manufactured motorcycle, Brandon Robinsonmade the switch to Harley-Davidson last offseason and the Oxford, Pa., native will ride the No. 44 Kennedy Racing Harley-Davidson this weekend at COTA.
As he usually does, Robinson got off to a fast start at the season-opening rounds in Daytona, finishing second and sixth, and he’ll enter Round 3 sitting third in the GNC1 point standings.
One of the most consistent riders in AMA Pro Flat Track history is undeniably Kenny Coolbeth Jr. The three-time champ and well-liked veteran of the sport recorded ninth and second-place finishes at Daytona and he’ll pilot the No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson this weekend in Austin.
Briar Bauman put together his best season yet in 2015 and the young rider entered this season with high expectations. However, two finishes outside the top-ten at Daytona last month revealed that his raw skill-set still needs a bit of fine tuning in order to assert himself into the championship conversation. The No. 14 Weirbach Racing Kawasaki pilot will look to get back on the saddle this weekend in Austin and put together an impressive Round 3 finish.
Fisher’s graduation to GNC1 leaves the door wide open for young and hungry GNC2 competitors eager to make a name for themselves.
One rider who stands out among the rest is Dalton Gauthier. Gauthier is a supreme talent who got off to a fantastic start to the 2016 GNC2 season at Daytona last month by recording first and third-place finishes at the season-opening doubleheader.
Gauthier left Florida with the lead in the GNC2 point standings and he’ll ride the No. 14A DGR Motorsports Yamaha YZ-450F at COTA this weekend.
Another rider with a world of talent that fans need to look out for this weekend is Justin Jones. The third-year rider recorded consecutive runner-up finishes at Daytona and he currently sits second in the GNC2 point standings.
Competitors like Dylan Morin, Ryan Wells, Jamison Minor, Kolby Carlile and several others all have a chance to make headlines this season and compete for a championship. It’s going to be a great show this weekend at COTA when the future “stars of tomorrow” take to the track.