Vance and Hines chose and otherwise quiet Thursday in December to announce some huge news, the line-up of their 2020 team. And it's exciting.
Jarod Vanderkooi is retained and joined by 2019 AFT Singles champ Dalton Gauthier and 2016 AMA Twins champ, Bryan Smith. Smith's long-time crew chief, Ricky Howerton joins Vance and Hines as crew chief.
Howerton is quoted as saying, 'I think the Harley-Davidson Factory Team has all the ingredients in place to field bikes that can win every weekend, and the resources are there. We’ll have everything and anything we need to move the program forward.'
If the XG750R's development is defined by one thing, it is the lack of an expert class win. Gauthier won two races in 2019 on the Production Twins version of the bike. Vanderkooi had a string of fourth place finishes in 2019, and was the highest of the non-FTR750 challengers in the title race, coming sixth*.
Terry Vance says, 'We don’t plan to make many significant changes to the race bikes for the coming season. We are focused on improving power delivery and grip, especially on slick track surfaces. Ricky Howerton and Bryan Smith bring years of set-up experience to the team that will be valuable in that regard.'
This means Sammy Halbert, who got the XG's only podium of 2019 but finished a lowly 10th in the standings, is out of the team. And we haven't seen an announcement of who is riding the semi-factory Black Hills Production Twins XG750R. We assume Rispoli and perhaps one other. Shayna would be fun to watch back on a twin, right?
Read our extensive coverage of the XG750R in the brand new Sideburn 39. We have beautiful shots of Vanderkooi's bike, and interview with Terry Vance and a track test by George Pickering on the only XG750R in the UK.
*Brandon Robinson was fifth in the standings, and though he finished the season back on a Harley he ran most of the season on an Indian.