SONOMA, Calif. (May 5, 2012) - Reigning champion Josh Hayes registered a conquering performance in Saturday's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike contest at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha ace was simply untouchable in the opening half of the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam doubleheader, delivering a ride reminiscent of AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike great Mat Mladin, who was in attendance.
Despite being saddled with a second-row grid position, title rival Blake Young immediately latched onto Hayes' rear wheel in the race's opening laps. However, Hayes' form was simply too great and he quickly broke the Yoshimura Racing Suzuki star's pursuit. Hayes stretched his advantage by around a second-per-lap, lapping well into the '36s while no other rider proved capable of cracking the '37.0 barrier. By lap three Hayes had nearly two seconds worth of padding and proceeded to build his advantage up to double digits before transitioning to maintenance mode in Mat-like fashion. He ultimately took the checkered flag with a 10.957-second margin-of-victory.
The win was Hayes' fifth premier class triumph at Infineon Raceway and the 20th National Guard SuperBike victory of his career, tying him with Flyin' Fred Merkel for fourth on the all-time list.
"Honestly, the race went to plan," Hayes said. "I was excited to get a good start -- I've been getting beaten up pretty bad on the starts it seems for the first couple of races. I got a pretty good run off the line and had some clear track and hoped I could string together a pretty good first lap and try to get myself a bit of cushion and see where I could go from there. I settled into a rhythm and kept plugging away... All-in-all, just a good day."
Josh Hayes #1 leads Blake Young #79, Danny Eslick #69 and Roger Lee Hayden #54 early in race one in the AMA Superbike Championship round at Infineon Raceway on Saturday, May 5. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
After losing touch with Hayes, Young seemed destined for a lonely ride home to second, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Team Hero Moto EBR's Danny Eslick put in what can only be described as a 'Hero' ride, first clashing with and dispatching his old SportBike rival, Josh Herrin, and then tracking down National Guard SuperBike star (and former support class teammate) Young. Eslick scratched his way up from several seconds back before finally arriving on Young's rear wheel on lap 10 of 22. He then made his move on lap 13, taking advantage of a minor miscue on the Suzuki rider's part to steal away second position on the upstart EBR 1190RS.
Young wouldn't go down, however, desperate to minimize the damage of Hayes' potentially perfect weekend. The Wisconsin native struck back in Turn 9 on lap 16 and turned his attention to fending off the feisty Eslick on the fast-developing EBR. Eslick made one final assault on the final lap but Young held strong, just edging the Oklahoman who celebrated his team's first National Guard SuperBike podium with a stand-up wheelie across the line that artificially inflated the gap from second to third (0.475 seconds).
Runner-up Young said, "I've been struggling all weekend long with my GSX-R, but the crew is working hard for me as always. Starting second row doesn't make things easy and racing with Danny doesn't either. I think we definitely learned a lot in today's race and we need to apply it. I think we learned more in today's race than we learned all weekend long.
I got off to a fairly good start and found myself behind Josh. I didn't know if I maybe needed to make a pass immediately but he's just had the pace all weekend long to run up front and do as he pleases. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race and being able to apply what we learned and shorten up the gap, if not race with Josh."
"That was pretty awesome," Eslick said of his maiden SuperBike podium. "As soon as we showed up on Friday we had a bike that was working pretty good. Overnight we made a few changes and it really got the Team Hero EBR 1190RS hooked up. It didn't even really concern me when I got bumped off the front row. The race definitely showed that we could do it pretty consistently. It's just awesome -- hats off to the team. To get a SuperBike podium is a dream come true, and I'm sitting up here with guys I've beat so I know I can win one of these."
Hayes' factory Yamaha teammate, Herrin, picked up a solitary fourth. The result was a fairly encouraging result for the class rookie considering his pre-race struggles around the physically demanding Infineon Raceway circuit. Herrin's regular sparring partner, National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden, didn't fare so well. The Kentuckian earlier warned that his second-place effort in qualifying was something of an illusion and he faded down from an early fourth to a disappointing tenth aboard an unruly machine.
Front-row qualifier Geoff May backed up teammate Eslick's success with a top-five ride of his own on the Team Amsoil/Hero EBR 1190RS. May sputtered off the line in ninth and suffered a second mishap, which dropped him outside the top ten. However, the Georgian made a steady climb forward, moving into sixth behind KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore late in the race. And under the heavy pressure of May, Fillmore lost the front and crashed out of the position with just a handful of laps remaining.
Attack Performance's Steve Rapp overcame Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom for sixth, while Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing Suzuki pilot David Anthony and Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW's Larry Pegram came home in eighth and ninth, finishing ahead of the aforementioned Hayden.
Hayes will look to put the finishing touches on a perfect points haul weekend in Sunday's 22-lap AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike contest, scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. local time.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
GEICO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas won the Saturday AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race at Infineon Raceway after a race-long battle with Jason DiSalvo (Castrol Latus Motors Triumph) around the 2.32-mile circuit. Cardenas won his 20th career AMA Pro victory with a move in the Carousel to pass DiSalvo, and made it stick the last lap and a half. The Colombian said he wasn't planning to pass there, but he took full advantage of an opportunity. "Today was a tough race," said Cardenas. "I made a good start and made my way up. Jason and I exchanged positions quite a lot. I passed Jason and pushed and got a little gap, enough for a win."
DiSalvo and Cardenas were dicing so fiercely that they even appeared to touch on course at least once, but the New Yorker said he enjoyed the battles. "That race was like riding dirt bikes in your back yard with your buddy," said DiSalvo. "We knew the race was going to come down to the end."
Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha) ran well in his first race back since injury to take the last spot on the GoPro Daytona SportBike podium, leading the field through Turn 1 in both starts of the red-flagged race. "I fell off their pace a little bit and the last six laps, I was just trying to get to the checkered flag," he said.
Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki) showed fine form to get fourth, ahead of Tommy Hayden (Y.E.S Graves Yamaha).
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Castrol Triumph's Dustin Dominguez watched James Rispoli and Jake Lewis put on a show in front of him at Road Atlanta, but Dominguez was the man in race one at Infineon Raceway on Saturday. Dominguez won the 18-lap race by 0.170 seconds, but pulled away from his rivals in the last few laps. "I felt pretty good the whole race, and just maintained the lead," said Dominguez after his strong performance. "I knew James was back there and felt I had more left in case we started racing."
Rispoli (Orient Express Celtic Racing) and Lewis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) battled once again, with second in jeopardy until the checkered flag. Rispoli, the West points leader, took second and Lewis closed out the podium. Early race leader Tomas Puerta (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) earned fourth.
The race was red flagged in the opening laps due to a crash involving Hayden Gillim and Cameron Gish. Gillim was able to re-start and charge from last to 10th.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
Kyle Wyman won pole for the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series at Infineon Raceway. Wyman (KYL Group) beat some of the regular protagonists in the series for pole, including front-row starters Tyler O'Hara (Bartel's H-D), Michael Barnes (Bartel's H-D), and Kyle's brother Travis Wyman (Harv's H-D).
"I got a good feel for the circuit and could visualize the lap in my head," said Kyle. "I wanted to do one more and go even faster."
For more information on the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam or to purchase tickets, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit www.infineonraceway.com/ama. Specially-discounted advance pricing ends soon, so act fast!
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