AMA Road Racing has lost its luster in Europe, with one Dorna official allegedly telling a young AMA/DMG rider shopping around for World Championship rides last month at Indianapolis that the only ticket these days to Grand Prix racing is to compete in Europe because no one in the MotoGP paddock takes AMA/DMG competition seriously anymore.
But the starting grid of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for motorcycles this weekend proves the best American riders from AMA/DMG can still excel on the world stage.
AMA/DMG veteran and 2008 Formula Xtreme champion Jake Zemke was a member of BMW Motorrad France team that qualified fourth overall for the 24-hour FIM Endurance classic. Zemke, whose name was listed as "Jack Zemkee" on the results sheet, teamed with Sebastien Gimbert and Sylvain Barrier.
Three-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes was part of a three-rider team that qualified fifth overall on a Yamaha, along with former World Supersport title contender Broc Parkes and Igor Jerman.
Hayes has previous experience racing in Europe. He finished a hugely commendable sixth in the 2011 Valencia GP while subbing for Colin Edwards II, and raced World Supersport on a Honda just before signing with Yamaha.