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Team USA hopefuls in AMA National Championship Round 1

Team USA bosses will be watching very closely as several team, squad and reserve contenders compete at Costa Mesa Speedway tomorrow night, May 21st, in Round 1 of the 4 Round AMA National Championship Series. An added incentive to the already prestigious event is gaining an upper hand in the race for places in the 2016 US World Cup team.

Faced with only three current Americans racing in Europe, it is likely that three US based riders will be traveling overseas for the competition that sees USA race World Champions Sweden, Australia and a qualifier on July 26th in Vastervik, Sweden. No less than 10 of the 16 rider field tomorrow have the attention of team management.

“It's fair to say we find ourselves in a unique position this year with the World Cup,” says Co Team boss Steve Evans, “We are still a country very much developing a long term strategy with a way to go, but we do find ourselves in a different situation to any other year since we relaunched the team in 2012.”

“Often by now, the team has almost chosen itself. This year, based off of demand and an improving rider base, we haven't made any final decisions. It is fair to say that Billy Janniro and Gino Manzares are the men to beat for those who want to be in the starting line up in Sweden. Both of these guys have huge experience in Europe and that, coupled with them always being the men to beat in the States, makes them have good odds to be included.”

“But our minds are not closed. Lance King and I talk regularly and its very much a case of places are there to be ridden for. The sudden reemergence of Austin Novratil, who has already won at four different venues this year, and the recent involvement in this competition of young brigade leaders Max Ruml and Broc Nicol, shows there are options for us. Austin has a lot of experience in Europe whilst Broc and Max have already showed desire and ability at this level. Aaron Fox meantime has become one of the most potent and professional riders on the US scene, has a season of UK experience under his belt and is desperate for a chance at this level. Then again, how can we ignore Luke Becker? 17 years old, a big track natural and the absolute class of the field in our winter races at Perris. Four wins in five meetings is something that cannot be ignored and he would be a worthy inclusion. Becker could literally ignite if given a World Cup place.”

“Given the fact we need to bring an Under 21 reserve rider, depending on how the cards fall, we can't rule out Dillon Ruml, Kurtis Hamill or Gage Geist for an invite or minimally a spot on the 10 rider final squad. Just being named in the 10 is a key step on the ladder to the highest levels of the sport, regardless of whether leads to actual rides this time around.”

Costa Mesa is a small venue, nothing like Europe, but given these guys are all riding the same event it will be the first time this year we can look at 10 riders on the same night and spend some time after comparing notes. I think this series, given the veteran stars and the chance to open the doors to a European career, has really become something of a new level. Throw in World Cup places being on the line and I think we will see this becoming even more vital.”

First race at Costa Mesa is 7:30pm tomorrow, with a race format that replicates the Grand Prix Series. Before the semi finals, every rider races each opponent just once.

Steve Graham


Team USA is on countdown for World Cup in action in just over three months, and despite still firmly being a tournament dark horse, team management are relishing the internal competition for team places.

Steve Evans, team coordinator stated, “It's a hugely exciting time for American Speedway. We are still very much an underdog but we are getting to the stage where the team no longer chooses itself. We are growing depth and options. The key is getting more points out of all team members in the tournament, Greg excluded of course, as his big scores of 19, 20 and 21 in the past few years are as good as it gets.”

“We have had flashes of brilliance from the others of course – Fisher was strong in Prague in 2013 and led off with a big heat win. Gino Manzares scored 9 at Kings Lynn in 2014 including defeating World Champion Tai Woffinden. Ricky's performances in the qualifiers years ago saw us into the big time again, Max Ruml has had flashes of brilliance in very tough competition.” But the real story now is a developing young rider base.

“I know that Billy Janniro expressing his desire to be on the team has shook the rafters a bit and rightly so. I truly believe he can score points for us in the competition and given how long its been since he raced in Europe he is hungry to do so. Equally, Gino Manzares is not intending to give up the place he has worked so hard for. He aims to be on the SWC team and wining the AMA National Championship Series so he can resume his European career in 2017. Aaron Fox, who won the non AMA US National Championship last year is also keen to impress and be considered.”

“We need an Under 21 reserve and that is where the competition is even hotter. Luke Becker has been a revelation in our winter series. The 17 year old from Northern California has one four occasions taken the close to 1,000 mile round trip to race at Perris, and three times out of four has won the meeting. Max Ruml equally doesn't want to give up his spot on the team and has displayed consistency as well as leadership for the new brigade, whilst his 17 year old brother Dillon just put in his best big track performance at our last Perris event. Broc Nicol raced his first meeting since a broken leg last August and he passed with three impressive wins and a second and looked fast. Kurtis Hamill has made quantum leaps over the winter – he has the ability, desire and good team around him – I predict he will go far and he has a plan to do so.”

“The more experienced Under 21s can be challenging for a starting position too – they are going to have to show in their performances they are able to do so.”

“Of course to really make a higher impact at this level all of these guys need to look at more European race action outside of SWC, concurrent with their USA race programs. The guys who race in Europe or have that experience naturally are safer team choices – that said their performances too as well as their desire to don the stars and stripes is the key and will be watched.”

“We have an AMA National Championship Round at Ventura on June 25th, another race there a week ahead and also one our new Santa Maria venue on July 3rd. These events, as they are all on UK sized tracks and literally, team and squad final choices could go down to these events. It is too close to call as of now.”

“It's good we have more depth – injuries can affect our plans at any time. I predict some sleepless nights for team management with some tough and brutal choices. On the track performances and the desire to be a part of this are going to be watched like a hawk.”

Make yourself at home. April 14, 2016

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