The surprise move of the close season so far - Henry Wiles has signed for the Honda America-supported Richie Morris Racing team to contest a full season of AFT Singles. He takes the seat vacated by Mikey Rush, who has joined Estenson Yamaha, and joins Cole Zabala in the RMR team.
Wiles said, “Richie gave me a call and was talking about going and winning a 450 championship. It’s absolutely exciting to be associated with American Honda, and I’m walking on to a good team that already has some things sorted out. That’s going to be good for me… and I think it’s going to be bad for everybody else. Richie was very up front with me about what the goal is. They’ve got everything in place, and Richie has won championships before. He’s a team owner who knows how to put the right people in place to do just that.”
Let's put some meat on the bones of this move...
Wiles was 7th overall in 2019, but had scored three podiums until injury derailed his season (and his incredible Peoria run).
He was 2nd behind Mees in the 2018 championship.
He has 30 career GNC wins.
Perhaps his face doesn't fit in the new SuperTwins series, though we can't imagine why not. We fear that Carver may also be a square peg in a round hole, not wanting to commit to the demands of the series as a privateer, now that every factory ride seems to sewn up.
If that's the case, who is going to fill the 16 seats and on which teams? 3 x Indian factory, 3 x Harley factory, 2 x Yamaha. Dan Bromley is on a Roof Systems/HCRR FTR750. That's nine of the 16. Robinson, Halbert, Fisher, Johnson, Pearson, Price are all big names that I'd expect to be back. Coolbeth-Nila Racing are set to announce their rider soon. It could be PJ Jacobsen, who they worked with in 2019, but I don't know his road race commitments, ambitions. With Kennedy leaving the sport and most of the other riders working as small privateer efforts, it's going to be very interesting to view the landscape come Daytona in March.
So, Henry Wiles on a single...
He's won half the GNC races he started on a single (19 of 38).
Some might regard it as shooting fish in a barrel, but I thought the same when Cory Texter moved into the Singles class in 2018 and he struggled with the aggressive, risk-taking nature of the class. Henry isn't shy of mixing it though.
Is this a two-year deal with Wiles moving onto a Honda twin in 2021? Wouldn't that be great?
Did someone have the foresight to make him contractually obligated to do press-ups after ever win?
What odds would you get on Henry winning the Daytona TT first time out?
2020 is going to be interesting.
Photo: Todd Boone