DAYTONA BEACH, FL – December 9, 2020 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – The 2021 Progressive American Flat Track season “officially unofficially” kicked off on Tuesday with the first of two days on track in Volusia, Florida, for the Dunlop Tire Test.
A number of the sport’s top stars circulated the half-mile dirt track throughout the day, just recently concluding the day’s activities under the lights at a chilly Volusia Speedway Park.
The primary purpose of the test is to put a number of newly developed Dunlop compounds through their paces with the stated goal to identify a new “medium” tire that can slot between the two tire options currently in use.
The 14 riders on site first established a baseline with the holdover rubber and then started the process of blind testing the newer compound candidates to assess their performance and durability — a process that will continue into Wednesday evening.
While tire testing is the underlying reason the teams, riders, and various officials have gathered in Florida this week, it also provides the Progressive AFT’s global fanbase a sneak peek into ‘21.
This week represents the first real opportunity to get a glimpse of several riders changing teams and/or motorcycles, offering up some initial clues on who may be riding what and where.
It’s still very much the silly season, and the vast majority of deals will not be announced until 2021 officially arrives. As a result, there’s a rather wide variety of circumstances surrounding the 14 riders in attendance.
Some have already agreed to new deals with teams but unable/unwilling to comment until a later date. Others are currently in negotiations but testing together with the expectation they will come to terms. Others still are very much uncertain and using the test as an opportunity to see if a pairing is worth pursuing. And in one case (read: Cory Texter and Wally Brown Racing), are merely working together in a mutually beneficial one-off, this-test-only capacity.
And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that a couple potential team/rider combos are still yet to determine what brand of bike on which they’ll be competing — or even in which class.
That said, if you read between the lines and squint just right at the scoring sheets, you can start to decipher what a decent chunk of the 2021 grid may look like.
Dunlop Tire Test Entry List:
- Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750)
- Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian FTR750)
- Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield Twins FT)
- Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JCS Racing/HCRR Indian FTR750)
- James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing/Fast Track Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R)
- Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Roof Systems/Ben Evans Racing Indian FTR750)
- Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Indian FTR750)
- Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X)
- JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT)
- Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F)
- Mikey Rush (No. 14 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F)
- Shayna Texter (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE)
- Cory Texter (No. 65 WBR/Suzuki of America RMZ450)
- Kody Kopp (No. 143 Latus Motors Racing/Fast Track Racing Honda CRF450R)
Dunlop and Progressive AFT personnel have stressed to teams and riders that this test is not intended to serve as a competition to see who can post the fastest outright time. That said, whenever you throw a group of world-class professional racers on track with timing and scoring equipment logging their pace, lap times will inevitably become an area of intense interest for competitors and fans alike.
With that disclaimer out the way, let’s briefly discuss results: As expected, last year’s AFT SuperTwins championship top three continued to be fast, with Briar Bauman, Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert topping the leaderboards to end a session or two throughout the day.
More interestingly, however, was the fact that Jarod Vanderkooi posted the fastest lap of Tuesday (20.267) on a JCS Racing/HCRR Indian FTR750.
Vanderkooi played it coy concerning his 2021 plans. And while nothing has been signed just yet, it seems like a safe bet that he’ll be riding for Jerry Stinchfield in 2021.
Vanderkooi has always been considered a major league talent; he could prove to be a major factor if he continues to mesh this well with the Indian after years of battling aboard a works Harley-Davidson XG750R.
About Progressive American Flat Track
Progressive American Flat Track is the world’s premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on Progressive American Flat Track, please visit http://www.americanflattrack.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check us out on Instagram, live stream the events with TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and catch all the Progressive American Flat Track racing action on NBCSN.
Source: American Flat Track