Honda Returning to AMA Pro Racing with Team Hammer and Dane Westby
Days after the release of the reigning AMA Daytona Sportbike champion from his contract, the Geico Motorcycle race team announced it will field Dane Westby with the backing of Team Hammer on a Honda CBR600RR season.
Westby rode last season for Team Hammer on the M4 Suzuki GSX-R600 to finish second overall behind fellow Team Hammer rider Martin Cardenas who raced on a Geico-sponsored Suzuki GSX-R600. Last week, Team Hammer released Cardenas from his contract option for the 2013 season so he could pursue opportunities in the Superbike class. That opened up the Geico-backed ride for Westby for the coming season.
Along with that change comes the switch from the Suzuki to the Honda CBR600RR, marking the Japanese manufacturer’s return to AMA Pro Road Racing. American Honda pulled its support of AMA road racing in 2009 after first two turmultuous years of Daytona Motorsports Group running the series. It is unclear at this point how much support, if any, American Honda is providing Team Hammer.
“Honda is the elite of the motorcycle world and that is why we chose to race Honda’s CBR line of motorcycles, and why we’re proud to be bringing Honda motorcycles back into the paddock,” says Chris Ulrich of Team Hammer. “It’s great for our race team, increases the credibility of AMA Pro Racing and adds excitement for motorcycle road racing fans in the United States. This new adventure is going to be a big challenge, but I have confidence in Team Hammer’s ability to build fast and reliable racebikes.”
Westby had one race win and 10 podium finishes in the 2012 AMA Daytona Sportbike season to finish with 382 points, trailing only Cardenas and his 447 points. Switching to a different manufacturer and model presents a new challenge but Westby says he is very familiar with Honda motorcycles.
“I’m really honored to be riding the Geico Motorcycle-sponsored Honda CBR600RR in 2013,” says Westby. “My crew and I have been growing together and making things happen and now we’ve added to the mix with a new motorcycle brand. I have a garage full of Hondas and I learned to ride on a Honda. So I’m really proud to Ride Red and I’m really excited about the upcoming season.”