The American Honda assault on the AMA Superbike Championship began last year when the decision was made to replicate the unparalleled success of the American Honda Formula Xtreme team. Since the start of the development season, the American Honda team has been hard at work to make the Honda CBR1000RR better than it was last year when it won more races than any other motorcycle in the AMA Superbike Championship and it carried every member of the Honda family to a race win.
The Honda CBR600RR's that were ridden to an unprecedented sweep of all 11 Formula Xtreme races, and a one-two championship finish, were built in-house by the technicians and engineers of American Honda. That same knowledge and expertise will be applied to the Honda CBR1000RR, now in its second year of service in the AMA Superbike wars.
In its first year, the CBR1000RR's nine wins added up to second through fourth place finishes for the American Honda and Erion Honda riders. The rider line up for 2005 is familiar, with one rider returning, a second promoted, and a third back from a season gaining experience in MotoGP.
The ageless veteran Miguel Duhamel returns for his 16th season of AMA racing and 12th with Honda where he's earned all 32 of his Superbike victories, a number which ties him for most on the all-time list. Add to that 40 600cc Supersport wins, eight Formula Xtreme wins, and a lone win in 750cc Superstock, and you have a career that no other rider can come close to matching.
The 2005 season kicks off on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway where the French-Canadian will be shooting for his fifth win in America's most prestigious road race, the Daytona 200. This year is the first that it will be contested by Formula Xtreme machinery, with Duhamel and the Honda CBR600RR a certainty to continue on their success from 2004 when the 36-year-old Las Vegas resident won eight of 11 races en route to the inaugural FX title, his eighth AMA crown.
The Formula Xtreme 200 is the premier race at Daytona for the first time. It will run after the Superbike race, which will be a support class at Daytona only.
Promoted to the American Honda team as Duhamel's teammate is Californian Jake Zemke. Zemke, 29, won his first Superbike race last year as a member of the Erion Honda team, then backed it up with a second win soon after. He finished third in his rookie Superbike season and second to Duhamel in Formula Xtreme. As a former dirt tracker and speedway racer, Zemke has an eclectic racing resume and range of experience that shows in his ability to handle the Superbike.
Back with the Erion Honda team after a one-year hiatus is Kurtis Roberts. In his previous six-year stint with Erion Honda, the youngest son of Kenny Roberts won three titles; two in Formula Xtreme and a 600cc Supersport crown. Last year Kurtis followed his brother Kenny to the MotoGP circus where he rode for his father's team. Injuries kept him out for much of the season, but he's completely healthy and ready to attack Daytona, a track where he's had some success. Roberts, 26, won the highly-competitive Daytona Supersport races in 2000 and again in 2003; that year he came third to Duhamel and Ben Bostrom in a Honda sweep of the Daytona 200 podium.
All in all, a strong lineup of successful motorcycles and riders that will continue to make Honda the dominant brand in the AMA Superbike Championship.