It has taken three and a half seasons for the Harley-Davidson XG750R to win a National level flat track race. It finally happened last night, but not in the premier class. In only his second race on the Black Hills H-D (supported by Vance and Hines) liquid-cooled twin, Dalton Gauthier took the win at the Sacramento Mile in AFT's Production Twins category.
The bikes Gauthier and Rispoli are racing, under the Black Hills banner, are recent factory XG750s, with the single overhead cam architecture. The bikes of Halbert and Vanderkooi are now DOHC, therefore far more divorced the the Street Rod engine the XG race bike started life as.
Gauthier was second on his semi to series leader Cory Texter, but won the main with a 1.9 second lead. His best lap in the main was 39.076s on a track that Texter said 'sucked' and described as 'soaked and really slick for the main'. Vanderkooi and Halbert were 6th and 7th in the 25-lap 'Expert' Twins main. Vanderkooi had the fastest lap of the H-D pairing with 38.629.
Gauthier said, 'This bike was working so good tonight. I couldn’t believe it. Right from the first lap in the Main, I knew it was going to be a good one. I got off to a good start, just like I wanted. I passed Cory around the outside in Turn 3 and just set sail. I just did consistent laps and tried to do my own race. I looked back halfway through the race and nobody was there, so I was like, "sweet!"'
The Black Hills team is described as 'dealer fronted', but it's no doubt they are getting massive support from Vance and Hines, who have been running the factory team for H-D since the XG introduced in 2016. The well-funded Estenson Yamaha team have also been competing in Production Twins class with Kolby Carlile, though the big money teams have certainly not had it all their own way. Carlile is lying in third, with podiums but no wins. Rispoli is eighth in the standings, with Gauthier now fifth, having started the season on a Kawasaki.
The Production Twins class had the potential to become significant. Now Harley has a realistic chance of a title (next year if not this) this class will be a big deal in 2020. Harley need some flat track glory and the 'Expert' Twins race bike has rarely, if ever, looked like a racewinner, never mind a championship contender, so winning Production Twins on a bike Milwaukee can saw is road-bike based is very attractive.
Especially if H-D release a liquid-cooled street tracker at EICMA this year, as we expect them to.
Photos: Scott Hunter/ AFT