The Rookie and the Veteran: Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis Interview

Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis talk to us about their 2015 MotoAmerica seasons and more

Superbike rookie Jake Lewis (85) and veteran racer Roger Hayden (95) are not only teammates, but also roommates pushing each other day in and day out to better themselves on and off the track.

For 2015, the Yoshimura Suzuki team's story is of opposites. At one end of the team's rig sits Roger Hayden, a Kentucky native that’s now considered a veteran in the Superbike class. And on the other side Jake Lewis, a former AMA Supersport Champion and Daytona Sportbike runner-up, who only this year made the jump from 600s to 1000s. Take height, age, and personality into account, and you start to wonder if there are any two riders more different than each other.

Despite their disparities, Hayden and Lewis seem to have clicked from the word go. Now, not only are they teammates, but also roommates who work day in and day out to close the gap between themselves, Josh Hayes, and Cameron Beaubier (and to good effect lately, we might add).

This week, we were able to catch up with Hayden and Lewis to ask them how their Superbike season has gone so far, about their hopes for the 2016 season, and what the other person does at home that makes them tick.

How does the rookie’s opinion differ from the veteran’s opinion? Scroll down to read the riders' answers to an identical set of questions and find out.

Finish the sentence: This season, for me, has been__________

Roger Hayden- Up and down. Well, at least the beginning of the season was pretty rocky, especially with Atlanta, where I crashed out of both races. You know, I think it just took me a couple races to get back into my groove. Going into Salt Lake City, I knew it could be a turning point for me; I really like that track. We had an issue the first race but the second race I felt really good. Me and Josh were battling it out but then you know I dropped a cylinder with six laps to go. So yeah, the beginning of the year was rocky but finishing up the year has been good. I could even make an argument that this might be the best I've ridden in my career starting with Laguna and then this weekend at Indy. So I'm excited with the way we are finishing up here.

Jake Lewis- A big learning year. It's been a little bit up and down with some good weekends and some bad weekends. I was just getting used to the power on the superbike, because I had never rode a 1000 before this year, so that was a lot to learn but it's been fun and we've made steady progress leading into next year.

Watching the R1 on the track, where do you feel like that bike excels over the GSX-R?

Hayden- Change in directions is definitely where I think [Beaubier's and Hayes'] bike excels a little more than ours. I think that bike is a little smaller and a little more nimble. Compared to those guys, when I'm behind them, where I feel like I have to work a little harder is going from left to right and especially if there is a couple real quick change of directions. I feel like their bike does it a little bit better than ours.

Lewis- We are losing a little bit in change of directions. The R1 just flicks back and forth really fast. Tracks like VIR and even at Indy, in the last section when you turn the bike from side to side, it looks like their bikes are a little bit easier to turn. Just in the middle of the turn they are able to get back to the gas a little bit faster than us. It seems like their bike turns just a little bit better. Saving tires, you know that's what I feel like Yamaha does really well too. They are good at saving their tires a little bit better than we are. We have those two little areas we need to work on but overall our bikes are pretty close.

Both Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis agree that the GSX-R doesn't change directions as easily as Yamaha's R1, but are working to solve the issue.

How much are you relying on the electronics?

Hayden- Electronics play a pretty big role, but honestly I don't use a whole lot. I think some people like to use the electronics as an excuse, or they get too involved with them. For me, I might throw in a little traction control or take the power away in certain places, but really I don't do too much because I think some people try to work so hard on their electronics that they go backwards. I think they play a big part, but more because you can really hurt yourself if you do it too much and if you have too sophisticated of a system. Sure, it's still the way things are going now. I mean I probably still talk to my data guy maybe more than my crew chief. But that's because a lot of times if you don't have grip sometimes you can take power away to find the grip and you can leave the chassis the same. At the same time, when I first got to Yosh I felt like we were taking too much power away and we were really down on acceleration last year and this year. I bet I don't use half the electronics as I did last year.

Lewis- At the beginning of the year I was using the electronics a whole lot but now we've backed it down a lot. Growing up as a flat tracker, I kinda like the bike sliding around and backing in a little bit more so we started to take that away the past couple rounds and I feel like that's helping me get a little closer to the front, especially at Indy. I've worked hard with my crew chief and my electronics guy to find a solution that helps me run up front. I wouldn't say I'm really dependent on electronics too much. This is the first year, for me, where that's what the bike is all about, but we are kinda limiting it now and it seems to be working better.

Lewis admits to backing down the electronic rider aids since the beginning of the season, something that he feels has pushed him further to the front in the last few races of the 2015 season.

Expectations versus reality: How has the season gone versus how you thought it might go?

Hayden- I don't know, I feel like I've made a lot of strides this year. Like being quick in the wet and being quick in the half wet, half dry races where Josh used to be better. So minus those two races in Atlanta, I think my season has been going good. We've had a lot of bad luck with different little things. Having an issues in both races in Salt Lake City, a front tire that spun on the rim in the second race in Austin, those things were a disappointment. I wasn't really expecting all these curve balls thrown at me, but besides that I expect myself to be at the front every race no matter what. So it's starting to end the way I expected it to be. I expected to be better the first couple races but we just had some problems.

Lewis- It's been a little bit more tough than I thought it was going to be. But a few rounds I've been right up front and been able to run the pace. My consistency this year hasn't been too great and I haven't really been too pleased with that. A few tracks I've been really far behind. In reality, I'm 19 years old racing against Josh, Cameron, and Roger, who definitely have more experience on superbikes. You know not riding a 1000 until this year I really didn't know what to expect. It's been up and down but a big learning year for me. I feel like I'm finally figuring out how to ride a 1000 and starting to ride like myself. I feel like I can end the season on a high note, work hard over the winter and come out strong next year.

Jake Lewis says that the 2015 season has been more difficult than he was expecting, but this is the Daytona SportBike runner-ups first year on a 1000, and a learning year for him.

If you had one wish that would be granted by MotoAmerica for next season, what would that be?

Hayden- Live TV.

Lewis- More tracks. The season seems a little bit short and the breaks in between races are a little bit too long. Just more races. Nine races isn't too many compared to MotoGP and WSBK. I'd like to have at least 10 races. A live TV package for the fans, too.

What's the most annoying thing or pet peeve about living with Jake Lewis?

Hayden- Let's see. The most annoying pet peeve is he has one job... One job at the whole house and he doesn't pay rent. He has to sweep the floor and I've gotta ride him to no end to get the floor swept. I'd say that's the most annoying pet peeve. Maybe leaving his dishes in the sink. I'd say we both got pet peeves for each other but that's part of living with somebody.

And Jake, what's the most annoying thing or pet peeve about living with Roger?
I mean I wouldn’t say there are too many annoying things or pet peeves. Everything we do is like a big competition. You know with bicycling, basketball, golf, it all turns into a big competition, which I kinda like. But we get along pretty well and I don’t have to do too many things around the house so I have it pretty nice.

Lewis, who now lives with Hayden, says that no matter what the two of them are doing, they are competing.