Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin backed up his double podium at Mid-Ohio with his third consecutive victory Saturday in Race 1 at Virginia International Raceway. The checkered flag was Mladin’s 60th career AMA Superbike win, his ninth win of the season, and sixth at VIR. Yoshimura teammate Ben Spies saw Mladin shave off a little more of his championship points lead, trimming it down to 11. If Spies wants to hold off the Aussie’s attacks on the championship title, he’s going to have to win at least one of the remaining five races.
Jamie Hacking got off to a fast start and snuck past Aaron Yates on Turn 7 of the final lap for his second straight podium finish.
Mladin got off to decent start and tracked down holeshot winner Jamie Hacking and early leader Aaron Yates before lap 2 was over. Spies tried to hang around in Mladin’s wake, but ran off the track in Turn 1 on Lap 16. The mishap allowed Mladin to open up a 13-second gap until he eased up near the end of the race and still won by a commanding 10.359-second advantage.
“Obviously it wouldn’t have been that much if Ben didn’t make a mistake. But we put the pressure up front and just tried to eke it out a couple tenths a lap. As I always say, qualifying is one thing and racing is another and we knew that it wasn’t going to be as easy as what it looked in qualifying, and as it turned out it wasn’t. We just tried to pull a couple tenths per lap, and we got it out to just right on 2.0 and Ben made a mistake. It was definitely some slippery going out there today,” said Mladin.
Spies struggled with tires and setup during practice and qualifying. He nearly highsided during the early session at the same corner he crashed in last year where he broke his hand. Spies took to the track today on a set-up he didn’t test before racing and was able to stay with Mladin until his mishap in Turn 1.
“I just made a mistake and ran off the track. I might have been able to stay on the track but it was going to put a lot of pressure on the front tire so we just stood up and got back on. The last ten laps we tried to still go pretty decent just to hopefully give the guys some data for tonight. Just worked on a few different things and hopefully we can turn it around tomorrow,” Spies said.
Jamie Hacking parlayed his holeshot into a podium finish, bringing his ZX-10R across the line in third. Hacking dueled a determined Aaron Yates as the two went back and forth for the final podium position numerous times during the last three laps. Hacking’s inside move on Turn 7 in the final lap allowed the Monster Energy Kawaski rider to podium for the second week in a row.
Roger Hayden finished fifth fastest, putting two Kawaski ZX-10Rs in the top five. Eric Bostrom was the first Yamaha rider to cross the finish line, finishing in sixth, .091 seconds ahead of teammate Jason Disalvo.
Jake Zemke claimed the highest finish for Honda in eighth place. American Honda was a regular fixture on the podium until this week when Miguel Duhamel crashed out during a Road Atlanta practice session and suffered serious internal injuries. Honda’s VIR results show how much his skills are missed by the team.
Race 2 will be live on Speed TV Sunday, Aug. 19, at 5 p.m. EST. Will Spies be able to work with the data his team collected today and have him ready Sunday to deny Mladin his third consecutive double podium at VIR? Check in tomorrow.
AMA Superbike Virginia International Raceway
Race 1 Results:
1. Mat Mladin Suzuki
2. Ben Spies Suzuki +10.359
3. Jamie Hacking Kawasaki +18.495
4. Aaron Yates Suzuki +18.593
5. Roger Hayden Kawasaki +29.669
6. Eric Bostrom Yamaha +33.750
7. Jason Disalvo Yamaha +37.841
8. Jake Zemke Honda +44.602
9. Tommy Hayden Suzuki +44.686
10. James Ellison Honda +44.779
11. Jake Holden Suzuki +57.646
12. Luca Scassa MV Agusta NA
Erion Honda’s Josh Hayes passed Leo Vince Ducati’s Larry Pegram on the second lap and rode off with the win Saturday at VIR. Hayes has won six of eight races this season and has a 63-point lead over the nearest contender. Hayes is poised to win his second straight Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme championship.
“It feels great. I was so disappointed last year. I felt like I had the race won and Eric (Bostrom) kind of swiped that one from me. We came back, we’ve been strong all weekend. I felt very, very confident on race rubber. Even then, we gambled a little bit. We raced on a tire we had not done many laps on,” said Hayes.
The Gulfport, Mississippi native can clinch the Formula Xtreme title with an 18th place finish or better at Road Atlanta with Laguna Seca remaining on the schedule after that.
Pegram did what he could to hang with Hayes’ Honda through the first ten laps, but couldn’t match his lap times down the stretch. Pegram was pressed on the final lap by another Ducati 749R pilot, Marty Cragill, who scrapped it out with Pegram for second place and lost by a scant 0.005 seconds. Polesitter Ben Attard finished in the top five aboard his Attack Kawasaki ZX-6R, grabbing fourth place. Team M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas was the top Suzuki rider finishing in fifth.
AMA Formula Xtreme VIR Results:
1. Josh Hayes Honda
2. Larry Pegram Ducati +3.800
3. Martin Cragill Ducati +3.805
4. Ben Attard Kawasaki +9.461
5. Martin Cardenas Suzuki +11.413
6. Chaz Davies Yamaha +12.904
7. Steve Rapp Kawasaki +15.313
8. Aaron Gobert Honda +16.984
9. Cory West Yamaha +23.771
10. Jeff Wood Yamaha +27.109