The rain picked up as the wet 16-lap Superbike race got underway. Ben Spies managed to snag the holeshot as Mladin, once again, got off to a bad start in spite of holding the pole position. Spies turned Lap 1 in first, followed by Honda’s Miguel Duhamel and Yoshimura’s third rider, Tommy Hayden. Mladin was stuck back in seventh.
Ben Spies broke Mat Mladin’s impressive string of victories by taking the win in Sunday’s Superbike race at Road America.
With a lap and a half finished, however, the red flag came out as concerns over lightning forced a delay.
When the racing got underway again, Spies found the pace in the rainy conditions, taking the win and retaking the championship lead. Jamie Hacking muscled his way onto the podium, overtaking Mladin for second.
Aaron Yates rode a strong race to finish fourth, with Corona Honda’s James Ellison getting his best finish in the AMA with a fifth-place result. Notable DNFs in the poor conditions of Sunday’s race include usual podium contender Miguel Duhamel, as well as the Hayden brothers, with both Tommy and Roger taking early exits.
The win by Spies, in which he led all 16 laps, gives the defending champion the points lead once again.
“In the first start, I got a pretty good holeshot but I was still feeling it out and not going all out,” said Spies. “Then we had the red flag and in the second start I followed Mat and then got around him. I just tried to put some decent laps together and get as big a gap as I could. Then, I just put it on cruise control. I’ve been riding hard all year and trying to not make mistakes. We know we have to win races to win the championship. Now, we just need to take it to a new level and not ride so conservatively.”
Spies now owns a slim two-point advantage over his rival Mladin, with the six-time champ forfeiting his points lead when he surrendered second-place to Hacking. Mladin wasn’t willing to risk a DNF to finish second, knowing that in the dry he can earn those lost points back.
“I didn’t get a good start in the first start,” said Mladin. “There was so much water that I couldn’t see where I was going. I’d already made the decision to not do anything crazy. The conditions in the second start were more sane. It was slippery, but visibility was ok. (As for Jamie and Ben), they just rode better than me. In the race, I saw some things I could improve on. I am lacking in the rain in some areas. But some of the things that hurt me in the rain help me in the dry. And fortunately, most races are on sunny days.”
For Hacker, it the best Superbike finish to date for his new Kawasaki employers. Another best-ever AMA finish came from Ellsion aboard his Corona Honda is fifth.
“The conditions were very slippery,” said Ellsion on his Sunday result. “There were a couple of corners, turns 2 and 5, where I didn’t know if I would make it – every lap! Everywhere else it was OK and I just rode as fast as I could. The crew did a great job getting the bike set up for the conditions so it was a fun race!”
Road America Sunday Superbike Results:
1. Ben Spies – Suzuki
2. Jamie Hacking – Kawasaki
3. Mat Mladin – Suzuki
4. Aaron Yates – Suzuki
5. James Ellison – Honda
6. Jake Zemke – Honda
7. Jake Holden – Suzuki
8. John Haner – Suzuki
9. Eric Bostrom – Yamaha
10. Dominic Jones – Honda
Superbike Championship Points:
1. Spies – 307
2. Mladin – 305
3. Zemke – 232
4. Hayden – 225
5. Duhamel – 224