News 10 Aug 2010

AMA SBK: Hayes leads championship charge into Virginia

The close fought AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship battle will be rejoined at the classic Virginia International Raceway in Virginia this weekend, where championship contenders Josh Hayes, Tommy Hayden, Jake Zemke and Larry Pegram will take to the track for the doubleheader race weekend.

Leading the charge will be four time 2010 race winner Hayes on his Team Graves Yamaha. Hayes won both ends of the doubleheader at VIR in 2009 and is coming off a close second place finish at the recent Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round.

Hayes has notched up wins at Infineon Raceway, Road America and Mid-Ohio and he is excited about returning to the track where he ran so well last year.

“I like my chances at VIR,” he said. “I won there last year and with the way my Yamaha is running this year, I feel pretty good about the upcoming weekend.”

Right on Hayes’ tail is Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Hayden. Hayden took his first ever AMA Pro SuperBike win earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway and he added two more wins to his growing career total, one at Road America and another at Mid-Ohio.

In the case of the last two wins, Haydenwas able to match Hayes’ victories at Road America and Mid-Ohio, preventing Hayes from extending his slim points lead. Right now, the difference is only nine points, 311 for Hayes and 302 for Hayden.

After winning the first two races of the 2010 season, Zemke has consistently added to his points total with a series of strong results.

Zemke took second place at Auto Club Speedway and added a pair of third place finishes, three fourth place finishes, a fifth and four sixth place finishes to keep his National Guard Jordan Suzuki in the thick of the championship fight.

Zemke started on the front row and finished fourth at VIR last year when he ran in the Daytona SportBike class. Now he is a force to be reckoned with every time the SuperBikes take to the track.

Another rider with a victory this year is Foremost Insurance Ducati rider Pegram, who took a popular win at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year. And Pegram was leading in the second race when he suffered an unfortunate fall while headed for what could have been a weekend sweep of the Auto Club Speedway races.

After a couple of results that didn’t meet his expectations, Pegram got back on track when he returned to California with two strong third place finishes at Infineon Raceway and then he took a couple of fourth place finishes at Road America followed by a fourth and a third place finish at his home track in Ohio.

At the most recent race, Pegram rode another typically solid race to fourth place at Laguna Seca. Pegram’s longtime sponsor Foremost Insurance is the presenting sponsor at this weekend’s VIR event and you can count on Pegram racing in his usual determined manner with his unique and popular Foremost Insurance Ducati.

Due to his steady improving form which culminated with a win at the most recent race at Laguna Seca, Ben Bostrom and the new Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha team have put themselves into the championship frame.

Bostrom, the 2009 Daytona 200 race winner, will be ready to resume his steady march to the front after strong showings at Infineon (two seconds), a second and a fourth at Mid-Ohio and his win at Laguna. Ben had surgery on his left thumb after Laguna but he doesn’t anticipate any problems this weekend.

Two riders making welcome returns to the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike series this weekend at VIR will be M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider John Hopkins. Hopkins underwent surgery earlier this year and is back for his first race since Road Atlanta in April. Hopkins has been ably represented by Jake Holden who posted a number of good results while substituting for the popular Hopkins.

The other rider making his return after a fall suffered while testing at VIR is Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Blake Young. Young took his first two SuperBike wins this year at Road Atlanta. That was a special weekend for Young as he took pole position and won both races on the demanding Georgia track. Young was at the recent race at Laguna and was raring to get back on his lightning fast Suzuki.