Remember we told you the most successful AFT Singles racer ever, Shayna Texter-Bauman has left the Red Bull KTM team to join her husband, Briar on the factory Indian team? Well, it started a domino effect... (photo: Lanesworld)
Kody Kopp to Red Bull KTM
The 2021 Rookie of the Year takes Shayna's seat, the 17-year-old moves out of the privateer ranks to one of the big Singles teams. He will race alongside 2021 Singles class runner-up Max Whale. Son of 2000 Grand National Champ, Joe Kopp, Kody finished seventh overall this season, with three podiums, but no wins.
Turner Turn Things Upside-Down
From the outside, the 2021 Turner Honda team looked like they had a good year, with riders on the up. Trevor Brunner was fifth overall with two wins, Cole Zabala ninth, just two points behind Shayna, though the ban, for failing a banned substance test, for Turner's most experienced rider, Henry Wiles, wasn't in the script. Perhaps I've been lulled into accepting good is good enough. Turner's recruitment shook that out of me and was a reminder of watching 500 road race GPs when I first got into motorcycle sport. Finish fifth in the championship back then, late-1980s onwards, and you either better have a good excuse, or you were replaced. It was ruthless. Perhaps Turner Honda is injecting some ruthlessness into AFT, because, before the 2021 season finished, it was clear Morgen Mischler (third in 2021 standings) was joining Turner Honda. Horizon Award winner, Chase Saathoff was announced to be joining, too. Something had to give. Then Turner announced Dalton Gauthier (top photo), the 2019 Singles champ, was moving back to the Singles class. This is another stark reminder of the lack of twins rides at the pro level.
New trio of Turner Honda riders, testing at the Sourthern Raceway, FL (photo: Lanesworld)
Finally, the Honda team signed Kenny Coolbeth as rider coach and 'race day technician'. It's not clear where that leaves Sammy Halbert and the NILA-Coolbeth team. It's also unclear what Zabala will race in 2022. We contacted Cole. He is on the cusp of a deal, but couldn't share info yet.
Brunner to Estenson
Dallas Daniels won back-to-back AFT Singles titles for the Estenson Yamaha team, and has now moved onto the team's MT-07 twins, partnering JD Beach in what will be the final season of SuperTwins before AFT combines the two Twins classes. That left room for Trevor Brunner to move onto the Estenson YZF450. Veteran racer Mikey Rush, who was Daniels team-mate in Singles, ended the season with a broken leg. We understand he's contracted to the Estenson team for 2022, but when the team announced the 2022 plans on 2 December, Rush's name wasn't mentioned.
We opened with the reminder that Shayna has been drafted into the Indian 'Wrecking Crew', which had been operating as a two-rider operation after letting Bronson Bauman go at the end of 2020. The younger of the Bauman brothers rode as an Indian-mounted privateer in '21, finishing a disappointing 10th overall. Now Bronson is going to be the latest of a long and talented list of riders to try get a tune out of the Harley XG750R. He joins the experienced Latus team, who James Rispoli rode for in 2021.
Rispoli went from a dominant champ of the 2020 AFT Production Twins class, on the Harley, to a busted flush in the SuperTwins class on a version of the liquid-cooled Milwaukee Twin. Rispoli was 12th of 12 regular riders in the class, with only one result better than tenth all season, the last round when he finished eighth (and that was last place, only eight riders finished). I don't think there's such a gulf in riding ability between the two twins classes, so how did a rider go from winning the support class to being, with all respect, absolutely nowhere in 2021? How off the pace is that Harley? Or was there something else? And are the raft of Indian-hobbling restrictions going to help the Harley at all? We'll get our first clues at AFT's opening round, Volusia on 10-11 March.
UPDATE: Cory Texter picked me up on my description of Rispoli dominating the 2020 Production Twins class. He points out the he was 21 points behind at the end of the season. In my defence, Rispoli one five race back-to-back mid-season then seemed to race more conservatively. Cory certainly made him honest. Rispoli one seven races, Texter won four (three of those after Rispoli's season-defining five on the trot).
Cory really did dominate the 2021 AFT Production Twins season, winning seven races (Dallas Daniels was second most successful with three wins from four starts). Texter won the 2021 title by a huge margin of 85pts.