It was a weekend of double Yamaha winners at the Suzuki Big Kahuna National at Virginia International Raceway with Yamaha’s Josh Hayes putting in a duplicate performance, decimating the rest of the American Superbike field by a margin of nearly 7-seconds. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin also wrapped up an unprecedented seventh AMA Superbike championship courtesy of his ninth place finish.
“It’s nice to get the championship done and all wrapped up,” said Mladin. “My Rockstar Makita Suzuki guys are fantastic and it’s been a pretty amazing run. We’ve won a lot of championships as a team and over the last 10 years it’s been pretty amazing from the first one I won in 1999 all the way through to this year. What with Ben [Spies] winning three over the last few years, it’s hard to believe that there will be that many championships won in a 10-year span again by one manufacturer. It’s been nice to be a part of it and it’s been fun building it.”
Just like yesterday, at the start of the race Hayes jumped out to the front. Behind him were Mladin, the other Rockstar Suzuki’s of Tommy Hayden and Blake Young, as well as Foremost Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram. By the sixth time the boys went around the track, Hayes had already established a 3-second and growing gap over second place. A few turns later, Hayden moved past Mladin and into second position. Meanwhile both Young and Pegram were right on Mladin’s tail with Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom about a second behind them.
Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom sliced and diced his way through the field, running as high as second place before Hayden retook the position. He would go on to finish third.
Young would be the next rider to move past Mladin who was backing off slightly with his record seventh Superbike championship only minutes away. A few laps later Young would make a mistake allowing both Pegram and Bostrom by him and slotting him back to fifth place, one position ahead of Mladin.
Up front, Hayes continued to pull away from the field by lapping VIR’s 2.25-mile North Course in the 1’25 range, nearly a full second faster than Hayden, Bostrom and Pegram who were all racing for second place. With 8 laps to go, Bostrom would find the opportunity he was looking for, sliding his YZF-R1 past Hayden. The Kentucky rider wasn’t about to concede defeat however and would repass him a few laps later. Hayden would hold on to the spot eventually finishing almost 3-seconds ahead of Bostrom who took the last podium spot over Pegram.
“Definitely today was a lot better for me,” said Hayden after the race. “I got a lot better start on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 and I put myself in a lot better position. Also, my crew did a great job overnight and that’s when the
biggest improvement we made all year happened, from Saturday to Sunday. So my hat’s off to them. They definitely gave me a bike that I was a lot more comfortable on today and I could push and ride it the way I wanted to. Also, congratulations to Mat. He’s had an awesome career and he’s been a great teammate, I’ve learned a lot. I have big shoes to fill now with him gone but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, I can keep up the standards that he’s set over the last few years.”
Hard charging Jordan Suzuki rider, Aaron Yates finished just behind followed by Taylor Knapp, Young and Corona Honda’s Neil Hodgson.
Rockstar Suzuki’s Mat Mladin won his seventh AMA Superbike Championship with a 9th place finish in Sunday’s American Superbike Race.
American Superbike Race 2 Results from VIR:
1. Josh Hayes, Yamaha YZF-R1
2. Tommy Hayden, Suzuki GSX-R1000
3. Ben Bostrom, Yamaha YZF-R1
4. Larry Pegram, Ducati 1098R
5. Aaron Yates, Suzuki GSX-R1000
6. Taylor Knapp, Suzuki GSX-R1000
7. Blake Young, Suzuki GSX-R1000
8. Neil Hodgson, Honda CBR1000RR
9. Mat Mladin, Suzuki GSX-R1000
10. Jake Holden, Honda CBR1000RR
11. Jeff Wood, Suzuki GSX-R1000
12. Chris Ulrich, Suzuki GSX-R1000
13. Scott Charlton, Suzuki GSX-R1000
14. Mark Crozier, Suzuki GSX-R1000
15. Ricky Corey, Yamaha YZF-R1