Estenson Racing have been one of, if not the, best funded privateer teams in AFT for the past few seasons and they have raised the bar for 2019.
Last year they had former champions Kolby Carlile (on a single) and Jake Johnson (in twins), plus a handful of successful guest rides from JD Beach. They were, ostensibly, a Yamaha team. We featured Jakes Johnson's Yamaha twin in SB33, but the ink was barely dry on the magazine before Johnson had ditched the Yamaha for an Estenson-liveried Indian FTR750, and his results improved.
For 2019, the team is tied much more closely to Yamaha and there will be no swapping between brands. The team has also grown to five riders:
Jake Johnson - AFT Twins
JD Beach - AFT Twins (unless rounds clash with MotoAmerica road races)
Kolby Carlile - AFT Twins and AFT Production Twins
Ryan Wells - AFT Singles
Dallas Daniels - AFT Singles
Plus they've strengthened with a former US road race champion as their team manager in the shape of Tommy Hayden (Nicky's brother), and added other key personnel including Brad Baker's former mechanic, Brandan Bergen, joining from Yamaha to crew for Carlile.
The twin is new too and based on the Yamaha FZ-07 DT concept, presented in October 2015. The dimensions are different, says a Yamaha racing spokesperson, but it looks very similar. Also, the name has changed from FZ-07, the US name for the bike, to MT-07 - the rest of the world name for the Yamaha naked middleweight. Why is this important? It ties the race bike to the road bikes and hints at future as a road-going street tracker.
Also, is this the first use of a quickshifter on a flat tracker?
More details as we get them. The season kicks off Thursday at the Daytona TT. It's going to be exciting and the grid is so packed with potential racewinners that there are going to be some disappointed big names.