Long-time AMA Superbike contender Larry Pegram will substitute for the injured Chris Ulrich on the M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000 fielded by Team Hammer at the upcoming New Jersey Motorsports Park round of the 2016 MotoAmerica championship.
While Pegram will take over Superbike duties in New Jersey, Ulrich will continue to serve in his managerial capacity and keep a close watch over a team that has already scored four podium results during the young ’16 season.
Ulrich was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s races at Road Atlanta as a result of a shoulder injury suffered at Circuit Of The Americas and aggravated at Road Atlanta.
“After pulling the plug on Atlanta, we decided it was best to get checked out and healed up properly,” Ulrich explained. “I’ll take a back seat and see where I am at physically. I’ve dealt with injuries before and it doesn’t do the team or me any good to go out there when I can’t ride race distance at 100%. You have to be able to push hard and not make mistakes or you will put yourself in bad situations. I still have a lot of responsibilities with the team and the organization so I’ll concentrate on those. I’ll be around helping the young riders on the team. I am also curious to see how Larry does on our bike. I want to see how the path with development we took is working and see what someone else can do on it.”
Pegram is well poised to do exactly that. The Ohioan is both an accomplished and experienced Superbike pilot. He boasts five career AMA Superbike race wins spanning three different decades (1990s, 2000s, and 2010s). Last season he competed in World Superbike as a rider/manager until the factory team that fielded him was forced to withdraw from competition midway through the season.
Pegram said, “I’m really excited. I’ve been really itching to ride. I’ve been trying to put a deal together for this year with my own team and just never found the funding. When Team Hammer reached out to see if I was available to fill in for Chris at New Jersey, I was ecstatic. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced a real Suzuki Superbike — back in ’97 and ’98. It’s been that long. I’m looking forward to getting back on a GSX-R.
“I haven’t ridden a road race bike since Assen last year, but I’ve been doing a little bit of dirt tracking and a ton of bicycling to stay in shape, so I’m excited to get the opportunity to race next weekend. Let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a couple years now. I haven’t forgotten how to ride and I expect to get back up to speed in a hurry.”
Round 3 of the AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship will take place on April 29-May 1 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
This year marks Team Hammer’s 36th consecutive season of operating as a professional road racing team. During that time, racebikes built and fielded by Team Hammer have won 59 AMA Pro National races, have finished on AMA Pro National podiums 142 times and have won five AMA Pro National Championships, (the most recent in 2012), as well as two FIM South American championships. The team has also won 133 endurance races overall (including seven 24-hour races) and won 13 Overall WERA National Endurance Championships with Suzuki motorcycles, and holds the U.S. record for mileage covered in a 24-hour race. The team also competed in the televised 1990s Formula USA National Championship, famously running “Methanol Monster” GSX-R1100 Superbikes fueled by methanol, and won the F-USA Championship four times.