Before the start of this year’s AMA Superbike season, members of the press (including MD) told everyone to watch the Honda-mounted wonder boys, Nicky Hayden and Kurtis Roberts. Hayden seemed poised to battle Mat Mladin for the title, and possibly take that title this year. After all, Hayden won several races last year, and was Mladin’s closest pursuer during the RC51’s debut season. Surely, with one year of development under the new bike’s belt, Hayden would do even better.
Kurtis Roberts also showed tremendous promise. The multi-time AMA National champion (Formula Extreme and 600 Supersport) was frequently the fastest guy on a Honda Superbike, as well (during practice, at least). Roberts is an extremely aggressive, extremely talented rider. He hasn’t performed well this year, either. Blaming a mysterious arm pump, Roberts simply hasn’t risen to the top the way many observers expected.
Is the RC51 experiencing a “sophomore jinx”? At least, Miguel Duhamel seems to have come to terms with it, and is just as often the quickest of the three Honda Superbike riders. In any event, the highly touted Roberts and Hayden just aren’t performing as expected this year, but their talent is so great one would expect this to be a bit of a fluke, and to see both of them rise to the top sooner rather than later.