Rider Spotlight: Josh Herrin
Wild card entrant will pull double duty in World Superbike and MotoAmerica Superbike
Wild card entrant Josh Herrin will be on the World Superbike grid for the first time at this weekend’s MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round featuring MotoAmerica Championship of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The 28-year-old rider will be pulling duty in both World Superbike and MotoAmerica Superbike on the same Attack Performance/2 Wheel Legal Yamaha YZF-R1 with the No. 57 plate in World Superbike and No. 2 in MotoAmerica.
The 2013 AMA Superbike Champion is confident in the unorthodox plan since it is nothing out of the ordinary with team owner Richard Stanboli, with whom they built an entire bike in four weeks prior to coming to an agreement this offseason. Years earlier, Stanboli had built his own Grand Prix motorcycle and finished in the points with rider Steve Rapp in 2012. The World Championship and MotoAmerica bikes are quite similar with the exception of the tire.
Herrin grew up in Glendale, Calif., but now resides in Dublin, Ga., where he owns a Supermoto track with his family called Herrin Compound that develops young riders. Herrin won the 2004 USGPRU title at age 14 and the 2005 WERA 600 National Championship before turning Pro in 2006. In 2010, he won the historic Daytona 200 at 19 years old, becoming the youngest rider since 1955 to win the event. Herrin is the 2013 AMA Superbike Champion and 2016 MotoAmerica SuperStock 1000 Champion. He competed in Moto2 in 2014.
He is coming off a thrilling MotoAmerica event at Road America where he fought up front in both races and narrowly trailed double-winner Cameron Beaubier at each finish. The momentum of that event in combination with the prospect of finally racing on the World Championship stage at a home track has Herrin eager for this weekend’s event.
What do you anticipate coming into WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca?
It will be fun. I think our bike will be really competitive. We have a chance to fight in the top 10. We have a good bike right now. The bike is exactly what the World Superbike guys are running right now without the tires. It should be a good one.
Will you be riding the same bike in World Superbike and MotoAmerica Superbike competition?
We’ll be changing it back and forth. We have a great program that came together so last minute. All the stuff on this bike is custom – custom gas tanks, custom swing arms, custom triple clamps, custom link adjusters, everything. Richard Stanboli, who builds my bikes, is building the motor. He built his own MotoGP bike and scored in the points with it, so the guy definitely knows what he’s doing. I think it will be a good one.
What are the advantages and disadvantages with so much track time?
I don’t think we are planning on doing all of the practice sessions with MotoAmerica, so the main concern on Friday is learning the Pirelli tires in World Superbike. Obviously, I know the track from racing there every year since 2006. It is one of my favorite tracks. I’ve had a lot of good races there. I don’t think there will be many disadvantages other than having the MotoAmerica race right after the World Superbike race, and I want to do well in the MotoAmerica race. Our focus this weekend is to put on a good show in World Superbike. Other than running on different tires, racing in the MotoAmerica race will give us an advantage that the World Superbike guys don’t have. At the same time, it’s going to be pretty tiring and it won’t be easy going back-and-forth switching tires.
Are you confident in your fitness running in two categories on a challenging track?
I’m confident. Going into this race, I did kind of a training camp. I stayed at my trainer’s house and got up and worked every day whether it was doing an actual workout or going for a run or a bicycle ride. I’m working hard and eating good, trying to prepare that little bit extra. I think we’ll be good.
How did the Herrin Compound originate?
My family and I own a motorcycle track in Dublin, Ga. It’s basically a supermoto or go kart track, a paved half-mile road course that is a miniature version of a Superbike track. Every month, we have races out there for anyone from 5 years old to 60, 70 years old. We started it in 2008 as an investment. I do a lot of coaching with riders and kids coming up. We have a rider for our team in MotoAmerica’s Junior Cup class with the 300 bikes named Gavin Anthony who grew up racing at our track. It’s kind of cool. Our goal was to start a development program racing at the Herrin Compound and working their way through the ranks to possibly race on our team and hopefully getting up to bigger bikes and, one day, filling my spot. It is a cool deal we have going on. I am super proud to be a part of it.
What kind of momentum are you bringing after being in such a thrilling MotoAmerica contest at Road America?
I feel super good. That was the best weekend we could have had. We were just a bit down on power to the factory bikes for that track, but we finished less than two-tenths of a second from first combined in the two races. We got the race lap record on Saturday. I think the team is super pumped to be heading to the weekend at Laguna Seca. We’re riding a wave of confidence right now. Our bike continues to get better. We’ve only had one test the whole year. We’re going to have another one in about a week. We have no excuses when we show up to a race. We should be prepared and ready to fight.
What is your favorite turn at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca?
It’s one of those tracks that you find out more tricks the more laps you make there. My favorite section is Turn 1. A lot of people talk about the Corkscrew, which is obviously an awesome corner. I think Turn 1 is a magical corner. One time that I always talk about was being on a 600 in 2010 or 2011. I was coming over Turn 1 wide open at 130 or 140 mph. There are the little traffic cones on the inside corner. I was leaned over, dragging a knee, and the rear wheel had let go. It was sliding coming over the corner, and the front wheel lifted in the air because of the elevation as I was dragging my knee. I was hitting my elbow on the cones all at the same time. I remember it almost like time was paused, because there was so much going on in my mind during just a split second. You couldn’t even blink an eye in the time that I did it. It felt like an eternity sitting there thinking about how awesome that moment was and how few people get to experience that in their lives. That really stuck.
Laguna was where I got my first ever professional win in 2007. I got my first and second championship at Laguna. It’s been a special, special track for me. A lot of it also has to do with Nicky Hayden getting his first MotoGP win there. He was a hero of mine, and I was there to see it. The biggest advantage is just having so many laps there and having so many friends and family come to the race. Having the support of the entire MotoAmerica fan base is a really big deal, too. Knowing that all of them are in our corner is something a little bit different. Fans who are usually rooting for Toni Elias or Cameron Beaubier or Garrett Gerloff or anyone else in MotoAmerica will be rooting for all three of the Americans in World Superbike. That is something really special and motivating.
It’s cool to race against some of my buddies that I’ve raced with in the past. P.J. Jacobsen is a kid who I kind of grew up around and raced 600s with back in the day. I grew up racing with Jake Gagne. It’s a cool thing, and I hope we can make the best of it and put the bikes as close to the front as we can.
Will it be a new experience to represent the United States at a home race in an international series?
I raced at COTA and Indianapolis in Moto2, but I’d actually never raced at either one of those tracks when I went there. It’s not the same feeling. This is something totally special that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s the first time that I’ve gone into a weekend feeling confident as far as how we’re going to do while racing for the World Championship.
What would you consider a successful World Superbike debut?
It’s hard to say, because I’ve obviously never raced with World Superbike. I want to be fighting in the points, for sure, and I’d be real happy to be fighting in the top 10.
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