AMA Pro Racing lands at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio July 17-19 for Round 8 of the 2009 season. A couple of changes will confront the riders at the 2.4-mile road course, the first being the cessation of using a safety car during full-course yellow flag procedures, the other being the debut of the Buell 1125RR in the AMA Pro American Superbike competition. All four races will be televised in a pair of two-hour programs on SPEED on Sunday, July 19. Saturday’s races can be seen at Noon ET (9 a.m. PT) while the Sunday finals hit SPEED’s airwaves later that day at Midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).
Rockstar Makita Suzuki‘s Mat Mladin continues to dominate the American Superbike class, picking up his 82nd AMA Superbike victory during the last round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Australian is now on the verge of clinching a record-extending seventh AMA Pro American Superbike title after winning all but two of the 12 Superbike races this season and taking all seven pole-positions on the way. The No. 7 Suzuki rider sits on an insurmountable 127-point championship lead over his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate and nearest challenger Tommy Hayden. It would be an understatement to say that Mladin has good prospects for winning at Mid-Ohio, having taken the last five races at the Buckeye road course, for a total of 10 career wins at the circuit.
Hayden and fellow Yoshimura Suzuki Blake Young have been among the handful of riders in the paddock to challenge the American Superbike leader this year. A native of Kentucky, Hayden would like nothing more than to add a win at the nearby Mid-Ohio circuit to his resume of six podiums this season. The last round at Laguna Seca proved a confusing one for Hayden, who jumped the initial start and received a stop-and-go penalty despite that fact the flag never dropped for the start of the race. As a result the 31-year-old had to pull into the pits while he was running in second place, which dropped him to eighth after rejoining the fray.
Having overcome injuries sustained to his left pinkie and ring finger at Barber Motorsports Park, Young remains one of Mladin’s strongest challengers. The 21-year-old put in his best run of the year one race ago at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, where he led the most laps for the first time this season before finishing second to Mladin.
Yamaha‘s American Superbike rider Ben Bostrom took his fourth consecutive top-five finish at Laguna Seca. A restart helped Bostrom recover from an initial crash with Honda’s Neil Hodgson to take fifth behind his teammate Josh Hayes, retaining third in the championship standings with 203 points. Hayes, notable for breaking Suzuki’s multi-year lock on the American Superbike division and Mladin’s 2009 win streak with an incredible Race 1 win at Infineon Raceway, remains fifth in the championship with 182 points. Hayes’ fourth-place finish at Laguna was his seventh top-five result for the year. Bostrom and Hayes were winners in the SuperSport and Formula Xtreme classes last year at Mid-Ohio.
Ducati privateer Larry Pegram joins Mladin and Hayes as the only other American Superbike winner this season, besting the field two races ago at Road America for his first victory in 10 years. Pegram now separates the Yamaha duo in fourth with 191 points.
Aaron Yates and his Jordan Motorsports Suzuki teammate Geoff May each have 173 points and rank sixth and seventh, respectively. Yates and May each have three podium finishes this season, but Yates sole second-place finish in the Sunday final at Barber gives him the championship tiebreaker over May. Yates was the winner of the 2008 Superstock race at Mid-Ohio. Young sits eighth in the standings with 169 points, four points behind his teammate May.
Suzuki privateer David Anthony is ninth in points after racing to eight top-10 finishes. Taylor Knapp rounds out the top-ten anchored by seven finishes of ninth or better. Knapp has ridden a Suzuki GSX-R1000 up to this point but debuts the all-new Buell 1125RR this weekend.
Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson heads up the Honda effort after recovering from an early-season motocross training injury. With just six starts for the season Hodgson has scored two strong sixth-place finishes in the last two races to add to his second-place finish in the opening round in Daytona. Jake Holden, Hodgson’s former replacement rider, continues to fly the Corona colors under his own name. A strong seventh place at Laguna Seca leaves Holden just six points shy of the top-ten.
A total of 33 entries are set for the AMA Pro American Superbike class and the weekend’s first round starts at 3 p.m. local time on Saturday. Race 2 goes down at 4 p.m. on Sunday and closes the 2009 Honda Super Cycle Weekend. Both American Superbike races will be 21 laps for 50 miles.
The hunt for the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike title opened up a little after points and race-win leader Martin Cardenas crashed last round at Laguna Seca in his worst showing of the year. Cardenas went into Laguna with six wins under his belt and more than 50 points clear of nearest challenger Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki), but has since seen his points lead shrink to 39. Luckily for the Columbian the non-title contending Ben Bostrom took the race victory in his second Daytona SportBike cameo of the season aboard the No. 1 Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R6.
Hacking has yet to land a victory this season but is one of the most consistent riders in DSB paddock. Four second-place finishes and three other top-five showings have left Hacking in second with 216 points, just 4 points ahead of Buell’s Danny Eslick.
The year’s only other race winners are Eslick and Canadian rider Chris Peris (Honda). Eslick has three victories after sweeping the Auto Club weekend and winning the Sunday final at Road Atlanta. Peris currently is sixth overall after wining Race 1 in the rain at Road America and taking a third-place finish at Road Atlanta.
Jason DiSalvo, the quick Suzuki teammate of Cardenas, has five podium finishes and a series-leading four poles so far in 2009. DiSalvo remains fourth in the championship with 179 points despite crashing out of the last round in Laguna Seca.
Rounding out the top five in the championship with 173 points is Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, with a pair of second and third-place finishes this season
Chaz Davies is the main Aprilia RSV1000R contender and scored a season-high finish of second at Laguna Seca. The former Daytona 200 winner has fourth-place showings at Barber and Infineon that have helped keep him in the top-10 championship standings all season.
Peris teams with top California rider Jake Zemke, who bagged his first podium in the Sunday final at Road America and now sits eighth in the championship.
Steve Rapp (Yamaha) is another past Daytona 200 winner who is hitting his stride after taking his first podium of the year at Infineon and riding to a solid sixth at Laguna Seca.
Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) rounds out the top ten after crossing the finish line just behind his teammate Herrin at both Infineon and Laguna Seca for season-best fourth-place finishes.
A packed entry of 47 Daytona SportBikes is set for Mid-Ohio and the first race for the class will close Saturday’s schedule at 4 p.m. local time. The Sunday final is the first of three races that day and will start at 2 p.m. Both Daytona SportBike races are 21 laps for 50 miles.