Jeff Ward : 2004 AMA Supermoto champion


Jeff Ward completed a triumphant return to motorcycle racing by winning the 2004 AMA Supermoto Championship Saturday in Las Vegas. He needed only a fourth-place or better finish to wrap up the title at the AMA Red Bull Supermoto A-Go-Go, but the 43-year racing veteran from Newport Beach, Calif., threw caution to the wind and passed rival Jurgen Kunzel with two laps to go to take his third victory of the season.

“My strategy coming into the race was just like it’s been all season,” Ward said. “That was to try to run up front and not make any mistakes. The goal was to be on the podium and once I got up front with Kunzel we gapped the field and he made a bit of mistake and I was able to get by him. I passed him in the dirt section because there was really nowhere to do it on the pavement. When I was close enough going into the dirt section I made my move, he probably heard my bike and got a little sideways to help me.”

Ward won the title by putting his Troy Lee Designs Honda CRF450R on the podium at all seven rounds, including taking wins at Copper Mountain, Colo., Nashville and the double points paying Las Vegas finale. Ward tallied 186 points while Kunzel scored 157 points. Ward’s teammate Doug Henry, who won four rounds, finished third in the final standings with 148 points.

Ward’s roots in supermoto racing are deep. He finished third in the very first ABC’s Wide World of Sports Superbikers competition at Carlsbad (Calif.) Raceway in 1979 that launched what later become known as supermoto.

His AMA Supermoto title marked his eighth AMA Pro Racing championship and his first since winning the now defunct AMA 500 Motocross Series in 1990. Ward is already a member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He left motorcycle racing in the 1990s to pursue open-wheel car racing. He was named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1997 and went on to have a successful stint in the Indy Racing League. In addition to winning one race and finishing as high as sixth in the final season standings, Ward had finishes of second (1999), third (1997) and fourth (2000) in the Indianapolis 500.

His return to motorcycle competition was something that Ward never anticipated.  “I never thought I’d get another AMA championship,” Ward admitted. “It’s cool to have another championship under my belt, especially considering how competitive the series is.”

Ward said he plans on continuing to race supermoto until he is no longer competitive or until he’s not having fun. Based on how he rode this year that may be quite some time down the road.

In addition to winning the individual title with Ward, Troy Lee Designs Honda dominated the AMA Supermoto Team Championship. Ward, Doug Henry and Chris Fillmore scored 306 points while Red Bull KTM’s Boris Chambon, Kurt Nicoll and Jurgen Kunzel took second with 231 points. HMC Racing’s David Baffeleuf, Ben Carlson and Larry Pegram finished third.

Info Ama – Photo copyright TFS


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