So, the AFT FTR750 influx is having an impact on the privateers of American Flat Track in more ways than one. So far, we know Jeffrey Carver, Chad Cose and Jay Maloney (who DTRA riders might remember from him guesting at the Peterborough round in 2017) have confirmed they're racing Indians in 2018. On top of that are the three existing 'wrecking crew' riders: Mees, Smith, Baker.
Two-time Grand national champ, Jake Johnson is no longer with the H-D factory team, and has joined the top Yamaha privateers, Estenson Racing. Robinson is staying with the H-D team and will be joined by at least one more rider.
This will put a major squeeze on the other privateers. Corey Texter (long-time Twins/Pro class rider and big brother of Shayna) has taken drastic action and has decided to spend 2018 contesting the Singles title.
In the past this would have seemed a very obvious backward step, going from the premier class to the support class, but now the boundaries are blurred, because the classes are so distinct AND, unlike support classes in, say, MotoGP, the singles title is open to all manufacturers with a suitable 450 machine. If C-Tex chose to race a Husqvarna, he could make good money purely from their contingency, if they match what they were offering in 2017 (which they didn't pay out a single dollar of, to our knowledge).
Texter told AFT's website: 'A primary one is financial. It’s honestly very hard for privateers to compete in the Twins class right now against some of the larger teams. I don't want to steer riders away from racing Twins; it all depends on what opportunities you have and what your goals are. For me, I just don't have the financial backing to make it happen on my own. I am also not going to race motorcycles to be a field filler or fight tooth and nail for 11th place every weekend. I want to win races. All the bikes in the Twins class are custom-built and money can buy performance. There are six factory riders in the Twins class and a handful more with million-dollar budgets. Singles are quite a bit less expensive to campaign. In addition, the bikes are all essentially equal, and good performances are more often than not left up to the rider. I like that; it’s intriguing to me. I know that some will have a problem with my decision, but I have to do what’s best for myself and my family. I’m a racer, and I want to keep racing motorcycles, keep growing this sport. People can't say I couldn't hack it in the Twins class because I have been on the podium multiple times against the million-dollar teams while pitting out of a borrowed van. It's just about being smart and making the right decisions. I think riding a single will be a fun transition.'
It'll be a shame to not see the twins of Texter in the mains, but it's made the 2018 Singles class so much more exciting from my point of view. I've seen Corey race a few short tracks and he's an animal. With the right bike he's got to be 2018 Singles favourite.
Read Corey Texter's How To Make the Most of a Back Row Start in Sideburn 31.