AMA PRO RACING:
Josh Hayes started from pole and swept the Honda Super Cycle Weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, earning his third career AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited victory in Sunday’s race.
Hayes has an accomplished history at the 2.4-mile course and this weekend proved to be a continuation for the two-time Formula Xtreme champion. After claiming Superpole on Friday, Hayes held off a hard-charging pack of riders led by Aaron Yates’ No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in Saturday’s American Superbike race for the win. Sunday saw a compelling performance by Hayes, as he held off teammate Ben Bostrom’s No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1 to mark the first time in 15 years that a Yamaha rider has earned three wins in an American Superbike season. The last rider to complete the milestone was two-time World Superbike champion and MotoGP star Colin Edwards in 1994.
“This is what Superbike racing is supposed to be,” said Hayes, who earned his first American Superbike victory at Infineon Raceway earlier this year. “One lap I had a full second gap, and the rest of the time I had these guys breathing down my neck. This is what you feel good about; when you go home you know that you put it all out there, that these guys were having a good day too and you came out on top. It doesn’t matter how much you win by, it’s the difference between racing and just going fast around a race track.”
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden won the hole shot on the No. 22 Suzuki to start the 21-lap sprint race, but gave up the point to Hayes in Turn 6 on the first lap. Hayes lost the lead only briefly, falling behind Bostrom in Turn 6 on Laps 8 and 11 only to retake control of the field in the next corner. Bostrom held off the remainder of the lead pack to finish .987 seconds behind Hayes.
“We had a very good bike today,” said Bostrom. “It seems like when you brake on the inside, you never seem to make the corner, and Josh is real smart, very savvy. He just kind of high-lowed me back up there, so I tried to get on the gas pretty hard the second time and came pretty far out of the saddle. I thought I was going to jump on his bike. I just settled down and tried to follow him and figured I’d just make a run on him in the end. I felt like my bike was incredible.”
Hayden looked to the inside of Bostrom in Turn 6 several times during the second half of the race in an attempt to take second, but was never able to get the No. 22 Suzuki into a position to complete the pass. The Kentucky native scored his seventh podium of the season on Sunday.
“I couldn’t get around those guys,” said Hayden. “They were pushing really hard. Towards the middle of the race I kind of felt like I needed to get by and then if I could, I thought maybe I could up the pace a little bit. The last five laps it was getting pretty difficult just to hold on. We each had our part of the race where our bikes were working a little bit better. In the end I had to follow those guys home.”
Blake Young was the final rider in the lead pack, finishing in fourth place aboard the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000. Columbus, Ohio native Larry Pegram’s No. 72 Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R rounded out the top five after trading fifth position with Michael Laverty’s No. 8 Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 four times in the final 10 laps.
Championship leader Mat Mladin finished seventh on the No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and leads Hayden by 126 points in the American Superbike championship standings.
Sunday’s American Superbike race can be seen later this evening at 1 a.m. ET (10 p.m. PT). Next up for AMA Pro American Superbike is a doubleheader at the Tornado Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka on the weekend of July 31-August 2.
Danny Eslick’s No. 9 GEICO Powersports RMR Buell 1125R came out victorious in a battle that went down to the wire with the eventual second-place No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R of Jamie Hacking in the second of two AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Six official lead changes came between the riders that claimed the top two spots over the course of the 21-lap sprint race that opened Sunday’s races at the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tires.
The excitement began on the sighting lap, with Jake Zemke’s No. 1X Erion Honda CBR600RR losing power in Turn 4. Last season’s Formula Xtreme champion was forced to run back to the pits and start from the rear of the grid on his backup bike. A clean start followed and Eslick led the field through the first set of turns before being passed by Hacking in Turn 6. Eslick regained the top spot in Turn 1 on the following lap. That set of passes would set the tone for the two riders, occurring in the same fashion on Laps 14 and 15. Hacking recaptured the lead in Turn 6 on Lap 16 and was able to hold off a rushing Eslick for four more laps.
On the final lap, Eslick took a page from the Kawasaki rider’s book and looked to the inside in Turn 6, but was unable to complete the pass. This set him up for an inside line through the Esses and the pair leaned on each other as they made their way through. The No. 9 Buell emerged as the leader and led the field to the finish.
“Jamie was real strong out of the keyhole,” said Eslick. “He was strong out of it and strong into it, and I was good through the middle. We went back and forth a couple times. (The last lap pass) was the cleanest pass I could definitely make. There was some contact, but it was good. Jamie would have stuck it in there just as hard as I would have.”
Josh Herrin’s No. 8 Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 also presented a challenge, passing Hacking on Lap 3 and taking the lead from Eslick on Lap 7. Herrin officially led two laps, although he and Eslick traded the lead twice on Lap 8 before Eslick was able to take the lead from the Yamaha for the final time on Lap 9. Herrin finished 12th after an off-course excursion on Lap 13 allowed Hacking to challenge Eslick for the final portion of the race. In all, Hacking led for seven laps and earned his sixth podium and fifth second-place finish of the Daytona SportBike season.
“The race today was great,” said Hacking. “We were pushing hard the entire race. I was stronger on this side of the race track and Danny was stronger back there in the back and it just made out for a really good race, close racing. I put everything I had into the last couple laps there and I thought I had the door closed enough. He muscled his way in there and made a clean pass. I had made that pass before and there were no hard feelings. He rode a great race, and we pulled away from everybody else this weekend.”
Martin Cardenas recovered from a crash in Saturday’s Daytona SportBike race to run clean and consistent, claiming the final spot on the podium aboard the No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600. The Colombian now leads the Daytona SportBike standings by 10 points over Eslick, 285-275. Hacking is close behind in third with 241 points.
“It was a hard race for me because my confidence wasn’t very good after two races, two crashes,” said Cardenas. “So today that was the best I could do. These guys were a little bit faster than me, and I tried to stay with them, but five laps from the end I made a mistake and almost crashed and so I decided that third place was good enough for today.”
Fourth place went to the No. 54 Latus Motors Racing Buell 1125R of Taylor Knapp, who pulled double-duty this weekend racing, where he also earned a top-10 finish on the No. 44 Taylor Knapp Racing Buell 1125RR in the final American Superbike race of the weekend. Roger Hayden encountered electrical problems in Saturday’s race, but had a strong showing Sunday to complete the top five on the No. 95 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. Zemke climbed 11 positions on the first lap and powered through the field to salvage a 10th place finish.
Sunday’s Daytona SportBike race can be seen later this evening at midnight ET (9 p.m. PT). Next up for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike is a doubleheader at the Tornado Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka on the weekend of July 31-August 2.