AMA PRO RACING: Rolling hd
Josh Hayes claimed the second AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited win of his career at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the first race of a doubleheader at the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tires.
Hayes started from pole position on his No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1 and lost the lead only once during the 21-lap sprint race on the 2.4-mile track, falling behind the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Blake Young in Turn 2 on the first lap. After several attempts at passing Young in Turn 6, Hayes changed his strategy and made the move stick in Turn 1 on Lap 6. The Mississippi native was pressured lap after lap for the remaining fifteen circuits, holding off the pack by just .183 seconds at the finish.
“It started off pretty crazy,” said Hayes, whose first American Superbike win came earlier this season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. “I started off pretty good through Turn 1 and just got trounced before I got to the keyhole, then Blake kind of got out there and took off and ran. It took me a little while to get my wits about me and get to him and get through there and then I just tried to ride smooth, and I just had a lot of fun. It was a good race. There was a lot of pressure the whole way, and the last lap was right up there with every other lap.”
Aaron Yates mounted a late-race charge on the No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000, overtaking Young in Turn 6 on Lap 15 and running nose-to-tail with Hayes before getting caught up by a lapped rider on Lap 17. Yates cleared the lapped traffic and turned the fastest lap of the race at 1:25.666 on Lap 20 but was unable to take the top spot, finishing in second.
“I felt pretty good about the end of the race, but it was tough getting by a couple guys,” said Yates. “We ran up on some lappers just kind of cruising along that wanted to race with the leaders and kind of gave a little gap to Josh there for a little while, but it was fun at the end being able to chase him down. I felt like if I had some clear track, I could have caught back up but I just ran out of laps.”
Six-time American Superbike champion Mat Mladin finished third on the No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000. Mladin struggled in qualifying and started from ninth before steadily working his way through the field, passing teammate Young on Lap 16 for the final spot on the podium.
“These guys were running a good pace,” said Mladin, who has claimed victory in 10 of the season’s 13 races. “It’s one thing to be able to get up there, but it’s another thing to get past. We couldn’t do it today and that was it. Obviously it would have made it easier to be a little bit closer on the start. That’s the way it goes, we just didn’t have the pace today.”
Hayes’ teammate Ben Bostrom finished fourth on the No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1 and local favorite and hometown rider Larry Pegram, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, finished fifth aboard the No. 22 Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R. Hayden finished sixth in the race and currently trails Mladin by 133 points in the American Superbike point standings, 376-243.
David Anthony (No. 25 Aussie Dave Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) was involved in an on-track incident during Saturday morning’s American Superbike Final Qualifying session. Anthony was evaluated by the track medical center before being transported to MedCentral in Mansfield, Ohio for further evaluation.
Johnny Rock Page has been suspended for the remainder of the Mid-Ohio event, in addition to the Heartland Park Topeka round, for failure to acknowledge the blue flag during the American Superbike race and subsequently impeding the progress of the race leaders.
Saturday’s AMA Pro American Superbike race can be seen on SPEED Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT). Sunday’s American Superbike race will close the weekend and will run at 4:00 p.m. local time.
Danny Eslick grabbed his fourth career AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victory on the No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R in Race One of the Honda Super Cycle Weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Eslick started the day strong by claiming the pole in Saturday morning’s final qualifying effort. The grid was set by that result as the weekend’s basic qualifying and Superpole sessions were canceled due to a Friday afternoon rain shower. By the end of the race’s first lap, Eslick had built up a .551 second lead over the No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R of Jamie Hacking, who steadily chipped away at the lead over the ensuing laps before taking the point in Turn 6 on Lap 7. Hacking held the lead for two laps until mechanical troubles sidelined him for the race on Lap 9.
“I got a good start, right off the bat and led a couple of laps,” said Eslick. “I didn’t see anybody coming through, which usually happens as everybody’s really aggressive the first few laps. I knew we had kind of pulled away and then Jamie came by. I think I was on the brakes the first time and he came up. He came by me and we battled back and forth for a lap or two and when he had his problem, I almost ran up his exhaust pipe. He did a good job getting his hand up and out of the way, so good job there. It could have been real ugly in that spot.”
Graves Yamaha teammates Josh Herrin and Tommy Aquino held an aggressive battle for position throughout the 21-lap sprint race. At the end of the first lap, Aquino’s No. 6 Yamaha YZF-R6 led Herrin’s No. 8 Yamaha YZF-R6 to the line, but the rookie couldn’t hold the position and was passed by Herrin on Lap 2. The Graves duo moved up the ranks as attrition hit riders Hacking and Martin Cardenas, who was running in third position aboard the No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600 before low siding at the exit of Turn 8 on Lap 5. Aquino was able to squeeze by Herrin again on Lap 9 before Herrin used a block pass on Lap 10 to get by both Aquino and Jake Zemke’s No. 1X Erion Honda CBR600RR to take second position.
“I think when (Tommy) passed me, he went to put a move on Jake going into (Turn) 5 on the brakes and I just decided I am going to get both these guys and just dove in there and made a move,” said Herrin. “It wasn’t purposefully a block pass, but it sort of ended up being a block pass. I just rode defensive from there and luckily we held on to second.”
Aquino was also able to get past Zemke, challenging Herrin for the remainder of the race and allowing Eslick to slip away to a 2.318 second lead by the end of the race. The third place finish was Aquino’s his first AMA Pro podium finish.
“It was really hard,” said Aquino. “I was going as hard as I could, my tires were spent and I was just trying as hard as I could to stay where I was at and try to take a position if I could. I am really happy with this podium. It is my first podium with AMA Pro Racing. I really just have to thank my team.”
Zemke turned the fastest lap of the race in Lap 6 at 1:28.160 and ran as high as second before finishing fourth. Chaz Davies rounded out the top five on the No. 57 Factory Aprilia Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R. Points leader Cardenas recovered to finish 12th and holds the championship lead over Eslick 264-244.
Saturday’s race can be seen on SPEED Sunday at 12:00 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT). Race Two for Daytona SportBike in this weekend’s Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tires goes off Sunday at 2:00 p.m. local time.