Mat Mladin evened the Fontana Superbike score with a hard fought win over teammate Ben Spies on Sunday. During Saturday’s race Spies and Mladin had also fought hard over the lead before the younger Yoshimura made the pass and opened up a gap. Mladin mentioned he had made changes to his GSX-R1000 prior to the Saturday race which hurt him. On Sunday Mladin switched back to the original settings and felt confident that the results for Race 2 would change for the better.
In the drag-race for the holeshot it was Eric Bostrom up front, the Yamaha followed by Spies and Mladin. On Lap 2 Mladin managed to pass both Spies and Bostrom for the lead. With Bostrom as a barrier between Mladin and Spies, the six-time champ tried to check out. Spies wouldn’t lay down, however, and passed Bostrom one lap later and began tracking down the leader and his second advantage.
On Lap 5 a potential disaster from Mladin was averted when he managed to keep his Gixxer upright when his rear tire splashed off track and threw some dirt up. Having been roosted by the leader, Spies kept on trying to make up ground.
Behind the two Yosh riders, Bostrom maintained third. Jake Zemke and Miguel Duhamel fought over fourth, with Yosh’s third rider, Tommy Hayden, creeping up. Meanwhile, a fierce battle was developing between seventh-place rider Aaron Yates and the Monster Energy Kawasakis.
At the halfway mark, the leaders were already starting to encounter lapped riders, but Mladin was far enough ahead to keep Spies in his rear view mirror. The 22-year-old Texan was closing the gap, however, and had Mladin in his distant sites with 10 to go.
Spies saved his best for last and on Lap 20 he set his fastest lap of the race as he reeled in the leader. With each lap, Spies creeped ever closer to Mladin until he was on the back wheel with 6 to go. Spies and Mladin pulled off some crazy maneuvers as they encountered a pair of lappers down the straight with three laps remaining, but Mladin kept a slim lead.
Spies was persistent in his efforts to find a way around the leader with the laps falling, but the six-time champ kept closing the door. On the final lap Spies tried one last time to overtake on the long straight, but Mladin wouldn’t let it happen. On the drag-race to the finish, Spies was in a position to possibly blow by at the line, but Mladin held on with a 0.035-second advantage. Spies still owns a nine-point lead in the championship, but Mladin is breathing down his neck in second.
“It was great to come back today and get the win. I didn’t want Ben to get too far away in the points,” said Mladin after the win. “It was a great race. I couldn’t go any faster than that, I gave it everything I had. I got a couple lappers there and lost a second and a half and Ben got a sniff then and it was all on. It’s nice to get the win, nice to come back hard. It was good race and I’m looking forward to next time.”
“I would be happier if we could have gotten the win today,” said Spies on his second-place result. “But Mat set a blistering pace. The Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 was working great and I tried to get it done today but we fell a little short. We just need to see what we can do to come back strong for the race at Infineon next month.”
Following the Yoshimuras was Eric Bostrom, who earned his second consecutive podium on the Yamaha. Tommy Hayden moved up to fourth, just ahead of the factory Hondas and Kawasakis, who filled up the 5-8 positions. Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates was ninth, followed by the second Yamaha piloted by Jason DiSalvo. Just missing a top-10 finish was former champ Doug Chandler on his NFS Honda, who earned his best result of the season in 11th.
Fontana Superbike Race 2 Results:
1. Mathew Mladin Suzuki
2. Ben Spies Suzuki – +0.035
3. Eric Bostrom Yamaha – +21.315
4. Tommy Hayden Suzuki – +24.616
5. Jake Zemke Honda – +24.950
6. Miguel Duhamel Honda – +25.709
7. Roger Hayden Kawasaki – +34.550
8. Jamie Hacking Kawasaki – +34.650
9. Aaron Yates Suzuki – +34.862
10. Jason Disalvo Yamaha
11. Doug Chandler Honda
12. James Ellison Honda
13. Kurtis Roberts Honda
14. Scott Jensen Suzuki
15. Martin Cardenas Kawasaki
AMA Superbike Championship Points:
1. Spies – 173
2. Mladin – 164
3. Duhamel – 141
4. T. Hayden – 130
5. Zemke – 126
6. Yates – 119
7. Bostrom – 116
8. DiSalvo – 114
9. Hacking – 90
10. R. Hayden