Royal Enfield are into their third season of American Flat Track, and after two years of development in the Production Twins class, AFT rule changes have forced the Twin FT into the SuperTwins category with the fastest dirt track bikes to ever race an oval. Plenty of people thought the air-cooled twin, based on the Interceptor 650cc road bike engine, would be out of its depth, but the Royal Enfield team have made them reconsider.
On night 1 of the Daytona double-header season opener, the MotoAnatomy x Royal Enfield team leader, Johnny Lewis, won his heat race competing against the likes of Briar Bauman (on his brand new KTM), Vanderkooi, on the Indian FTR, and Halbert.
'I love every bit of short track,' says Johnny Lewis. 'Because it's intense racing, but you're really trying to control the motorcycle. We're really try to push the bike in, get a direction change and you're coming almost to a dead stop and accelerating really hard... so it's really about trying to contain the power as much as you can, and keep the bike precise on the track. In Short Track, it's really hard to do.'
The heat win put him in the Mission Foods, four-lap Dash For Cash, where he came third behind Mees and Robinson, both on Indian FTRs, with Briar B in fourth. Lewis then took the holeshot in the SuperTwins main, before dropping to fifth where he tangled with another rider and eventually came in eighth, ahead of 11 riders including the FTRs of Fisher, Ben Lowe and Ross.
New Royal Enfield team rider Ryan Wells didn't make the main on night 1, but did on night 2. The pair came 10th and 14th.
Is that enough for Royal Enfield? Short track heat wins, and midfield battles? It's what I expected of the Production Twin in a class of FTR750s, Estenson Yamahas and KTM 890s. Lewis has proved himself to be one of the most talented riders of this generation, a podium threat on any track on his night, but has never been in a position where he puts everything together to mount a proper title challenge. Realistically, the Royal Enfield, in the era of the Indian FTR750, is not that bike either.
The team is back in short track action this weekend at AFT round 3, at Senoia, GA. More details at www.americanflattrack.com