AMA Pro Racing press release:
Mat Mladin and the Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki team scored a record 50th consecutive victory in AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited competition Saturday at Road Atlanta in the first race of this weekend’s AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Showdown.
Mladin’s victory gave him a perfect sweep of 2009’s opening races in what was his most dominating performance of the season. The win also gave the Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki team an unmatched streak of 50 consecutive victories by Mladin and former teammate Ben Spies that began with a win by Spies at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on July 22, 2006.
“The team is unbelievable,” said Mladin, who is four-for-four in 2009 American Superbike races. “Obviously, the last few years, Ben (Spies) and I have been at the front of all of the races. This team is amazing. The team this year is really gelling well together. What can you say? Fifty in a row and nine championships in the last decade, it’s a pretty good effort.”
Starting from the pole on his No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, Mladin briefly trailed teammate Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) at the start but was well in front of the field by the end of Lap 1. He would go on to lead all 20 laps of the race and crossed the finish line a full 15.717 seconds ahead of his other teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000). Local Georgia rider Geoff May (No. 54 National Guard/Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) finished third and Young finished fourth, duplicating the finishing order of American Superbike Race 1 at Auto Club Speedway last month.
“It was a good race for us, obviously,” said Mladin, who also set the fastest lap (1:25.714) of the race on Lap 16. “I just got a reasonable start and got to the lead in Turn 1 and then just put our heads down. We’ve got the bike to a point now where we’re starting to be able to push it like I did the Superbike last year. We had a little bit of a problem with the fork yesterday and we fixed it today, but it actually didn’t work as well, so I need to go back to having a problem with the fork. We’ll sort something out there for tomorrow so I can start getting into the turns a little bit quicker and a little bit deeper and see if we can’t keep pushing tomorrow and get going.”
Hayden finished second to his teammate for the third straight race but had to charge from seventh on the grid to do it after one of his trademark quick starts.
“I definitely knew it was going to be a little tougher today coming from the second row, but fortunately I was able to get a good start and I was up there pretty good on the first lap,” said Hayden, who jumped from fourth to second on Lap 10. “It kind of took me a little while to work through the guys. I had to push to the end, but it feels good to stay up here and stay on the podium. I feel pretty good. After battling for the lead a little bit at Fontana, it’s a little disappointing to run a distant second, but we’ll try to learn something and be a little stronger tomorrow.”
Third-place went to No. 54 National Guard/Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Geoff May who raced from sixth at the race’s halfway point to capture the final podium spot. May hails from nearby Gainesville, Ga.
“I just stayed motivated,” said May, who raced in front of a large contingent of local family and friends. “I’ve ridden with these other guys and, honestly, I don’t think a lot of them are very fit. They fall off the pace really quick towards the end, especially since we’re all on the same tires and the tires go off a little bit and they have to fight the bike. They just go backwards. I just stayed patient and every time somebody made a mistake, I just picked them off.”
Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) rounded out the top five after recovering from a spill in the morning warm-up. Both his race finish and yesterday’s second-place Superpole qualifying effort were season-best showings for Hayes.
Mladin has an early-season lock on the American Superbike championship standings with 126 points. Hayden is second with 97 points and May has moved to third with 71 points.
Road Atlanta Race 2 for AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited is Sunday at 4 p.m. local time.
Cardenas wins AMA SuperSport in Atlanta
Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) won his first major race in AMA Pro Road Racing competition at Road Atlanta Saturday after recovering from an accident and dislocated left shoulder in Friday’s Superpole qualifying to give the established Team M4 Suzuki its first win in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL competition.
Cardenas reported post race that he suffered no lingering pain from Friday’s spill and proved it in the race. Forced to start 10th and last of the Superpole qualifiers, Cardenas was in sixth place by Lap 3 and cracked the top five on Lap 10. The quick Colombian then consecutively picked off a rider a lap until taking the lead on Lap 15, but he was under heavy pressure by the returning Roger Hayden (No. 95 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R).
“As soon as I got to the front, I broke up a little bit and I had a little bit of time, but I was looking back every lap and he was right there,” said Cardenas about the youngest Hayden brother. “He was closing a little bit, especially on the back part of the track. I was feeling the pressure.”
The pressure was short lived, however, as a red flag for dual incidents on track brought the race to an early close. Andres Londono (No. 204 Destiny Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) and Dylon Husband (No. 73 Team Pur Sang Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) were each transferred to the Road Atlanta medical center where they were examined and released after separate incidents. Husband went off course at full racing speed at Turn 12 but the Air Fence placed at that high-impact location prevented a serious incident.
With the red flag displayed, Cardenas scored his maiden victory, Hayden finished second in his first start of the year and Danny Eslick (No. 9 Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing/RMR Buell 1125R) coupled a third place showing with his sweep of both Auto Club races last month.
“If the race wasn’t stopped, I think the last lap would have been very interesting with passes and everything,” Cardenas said. “The race was very tough, because I started from 10th and to pass here is very difficult. It worked out okay and the bike was working very good. I want to thank the team. The Suzuki was very good and M4, everybody, thank you very much.”
Hayden made a strong return with Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki after sitting out the year’s first two events and was competitive from the drop of the green flag. He started seventh but joined the top five by Lap 3 and was in contention the entire race. He passed race lap leader Jake Zemke (No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) for third on Lap 15, slipped by Eslick for second in Lap 16 and was closing on Cardenas when the red flag came out.
“I was a little bummed just because I was close enough,” Hayden said. “I felt like, maybe my bike was a little faster than his, but I don’t know. Nothing is guaranteed, but it was a good race for me, my first ride back. I’m pretty excited. That was a fun race. My guys worked really hard for me this weekend and really made me feel comfortable in my first week back. I’m excited.”
Eslick led three laps and was on the podium for the third straight race. He passed Zemke on a Lap 10 restart after the race’s only safety car period and the two riders swapped the lead several times before Cardenas took control.
“Before the pace car came out, Jake (Zemke) was gone,” Eslick said. “I don’t think anybody had anything for Jake that first little bit. The safety car came out and sucked him back in right there, so that was kind of nice for me. I got a big draft down the back straightaway and got by, and we went back and forth for a few laps. It’s just good to be on the podium. I’ll definitely take it, because the guys that are ahead of me in the points were behind me (in the race), so I’ll take it.”
The top six finishers represented six different manufacturers with the Suzuki, Kawasaki, Buell and Honda in the top four being joined the No. 57 Factory Aprilia Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R of Chaz Davies in fifth and Josh Herrin in sixth on the No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6.
Seventh place finisher Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) continues to lead the Daytona SportBike championship standings with 83 points but Cardenas has closed to within two points and Eslick is third with 78 points.
Zemke led nine laps, Eslick was up front for three and Cardenas led only the final two laps. The only other leader was pole-sitter Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) who led the first two laps before going down in Turn 7. DiSalvo was uninjured and recovered to finish 19th.
The race was run under sunny conditions and more sunshine and even warmer temperatures are expected Sunday when AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Race 2 kicks off the day’s racing a 1:30 p.m. local time.