While the AMA's Superstock class has been dominated in recent years by Suzuki and (to a lesser extent) Yamaha, Honda has been shut out of victories and championships in the class since its inception. That all changed earlier this year when Jake Holden-after a dismal start to the season at Daytona-finished on the podium in round two at Barber Motorsports Park and went on to post Honda's first Superstock victory at Auto Club Speedway. Another win followed at Infineon Raceway, and as we went to press Holden sat second in points with a definite shot at the title with five rounds remaining in the series.
Holden's CBR1000RR is fielded by the Corona Extra team, which itself is no stranger to winning races and championships in AMA competition. After years of fielding Suzukis, the team switched to Hondas in 2007 with Brit James Ellison entering the Superbike class, and this year the team contests Superbike with Matt Lynn as well as Superstock with Holden. With Yamaha absent from the class this season, Holden is usually the only non-Suzuki rider and faces an armada of GSX-R1000s in each race. The team's almost immediate success this year is even more impressive when you consider that no prior setup data is available for any of the tracks, and there are no other riders or teams on the same equipment that can be consulted for help. We snagged a ride on Holden's CBR1000RR the day after he finished on the podium at the Miller Motorsports Park round in Utah in an effort to find out how that quick success came about.
Marty Ashmore is Holden's crew chief at the track and builds the team's Superbike and Superstock engines at its Torrance headquarters. Originally from Australia, Ashmore came to the U.S. to work for the Corona team when it was stationed in Alabama and followed that with a stint at Attack Racing before returning to Corona Extra this year to work with Holden and the CBR1000RR. "Jake had won the last race [in 2007] and I thought he had a lot of potential. The bike was very unknown. We had no information on the bike, and they came in late-we had them three weeks before Daytona. We actually rode the stock bikes at Fontana for the first time; they still had the lights and standard tailsection and seat and everything. [Jake] put his head down and was quite good; the bike was quite good."
Ashmore insists there are no tricks inside the Corona bike's engine, and modifications are limited to a milled head to increase compression ratio, cam timing and careful assembly. "There's nothing special; it's a stock engine. It's got an excellent slipper clutch that Jake seems to find really good. It's a really good engine to work on; I enjoy working on it and it makes my life easy." Likewise, the rest of the bike boasts few trick parts, and Ashmore has high praise for the stock Honda chassis. Interestingly, the bike retains the tall stock clip-ons, and the seat is nothing more than a fiberglass plate resting on the frame rails; these extreme measures are necessary to suit Holden's stature. "Just trying to get [Jake] comfortable has been [important]. Everything we do to the seat, we get another second out of him."
The acclimation period for the team to gel with the new bike was rocky but short. "It was really difficult for me to adapt to the Honda because I've been riding Suzukis my whole career since 2000," says Holden. "And that's the only bike I've ever ridden other than an RS125. So it was a big change for me, but it only took me a couple of sessions to get used to it; it was such an easy bike to get around the corners and make corner speed." From Ashmore's point of view the transition was similarly challenging: "The Honda's a totally different bike [from the Suzuki], and not getting a lot of track time was a big obstacle coming into Birmingham. But we have been working well with Jake, and for him to get used to the bike now is just making our job a lot easier."
An Ohlins TTX shock helps...
An Ohlins TTX shock helps put the CBR's power to the ground smoothly. The Vortex adjustable rearsets are positioned quite high, while the seat is a mere fiberglass and foam pad to lower the seat height as much as possible. The exhaust is an HRC header combined with an FMF canister.
A Power Commander on top of...
A Power Commander on top of an HRC ECU allows the team to easily tune the fuel injection on the dyno at each track. The HRC unit does offer traction control, but it's not activated on the Corona Extra bike.
As per Superstock rules, the...
As per Superstock rules, the Corona Extra Honda's front end is mostly stock, with changes limited to Performance Friction brake pads, aftermarket lines and Dunlop slicks.