With Mat Mladin sitting out the Tornado Nationals the Saturday American Superbike race in Topeka, Kansas felt a bit muted as Larry Pegram rode to his second race victory of the season. The Ducati privateer took the lead from pole position and maintained it for the remainder of the 20 lap race, finishes over two seconds ahead of runner-up Factory Yamaha rider Ben Bostrom and third-placed Suzuki rider Blake Young.
The first two laps of the race saw Pegram out front with Young keeping Bostrom at bay in third, followed in procession by Aaron Yates, Jake Holden, Josh Hayes, Mike Laverty, Tommy Hayden, Geoff May, and Neil Hodgson.
By Lap 3 Pegram was over two seconds in front of Young when Hayes overtook Holden for fifth. The following lap Bostrom finally managed to slip past Young for second, but in the process Pegram widened the gap by another second as he clocked the best lap of the race with a time of 1’36.251.
Three laps later the Ducati rider was four seconds in front of the pack and began riding a defense race.
Mike Laverty crashed out of the race on Lap 7, while Hayden passed Holden to take sixth.
Hayden then overtook Hayes for fifth of Lap 13 and Yates three laps latter for fourth.
Bostrom managed to narrow Pegram’s lead by two seconds but could not reel in the Ohio native.
“For me, it’s just validation,” said Pegram. “Here we beat everybody again, and I proved to myself I can win at this level because I had lost a lot of confidence over the years riding bikes that weren’t capable of winning. You start to wonder if it might be you, but I always knew at the bottom of my heart that I could win races, especially if I got on a great motorcycle like this Ducati 1098R.”
Bostrom had some good things to say about the Topeka track after taking second in American Superbike Race 1.
“It’s a great track, and there are passing spots here believe it or not,” said Bostrom. “The bike was fantastic, and the R1 did a good job. The rider just kind of sat on it and rode, and I was hoping to obviously race for the win. I did think I could catch Larry. Blake and I had a bit of a battle going, and Larry jumped out there and put in really, really fantastic laps. We can’t let him do that for the next one, and tomorrow’s a new day. We will just start again tomorrow. I am pretty much over second place already.”
“We just ran out of time a little bit,” said Young. “I wish we would have got more time on the bike. I think we missed the set up a little bit, but today was a really good race. We jumped in behind Ben, learned what he was doing and made some improvements. I switched up my riding style a little bit and tried to help the bike out as much as I could. I am happy with the way the race went. We learned a lot today on our setup and what to do for tomorrow. So I am going to chalk this one up and go after it twice as hard tomorrow.”
American Superbike Topeka Race 1 Results
1. Larry Pegram (Ducati 1098)
2. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha YZF-R1)
3. Blake Young (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
4. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
5. Aaron Yates (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
6. Josh Hayes (Yamaha YZF-R1)
7. Jake Holden (Honda CBR1000RR)
8. Geoff May (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
9. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
10. Neil Hodgson (Honda CBR1000RR)
11. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
12. Scotty Charlton (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
13. Scott Jensen (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
14. Shawn Higbee (Buell 1125R)
15. David Jones (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
D.N.F. Mike Laverty (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
Daytona SportBike Race 1
Danny Eslick rode to his third consecutive Daytona SportBike win on Saturday.
Cardenas is one of the few riders that can contest the speed of Danny Eslick’s Buell1125R, but a slip-up by the Columbian gave the Oklahoma kid the hat trick on Saturday at Topeka.
The Daytona SportBike race was Red-Flagged after one lap and restarted. Aquino was helped by the restart as he jumped into the lead after running 10th prior to the restart, followed closely by the previous leader Jason DiSalvo. However, by the end of Lap 3 DiSalvo was back in front.
Meanwhile, Eslick was in the process of making one of his increasingly common sprints through the field. Starting in eighth the Buell rider overtook Jake Zemke on Lap 2, then one lap later powered past Bobby Fong and Chaz Davies for fifth, knocked off championship points leader Martin Cardenas next, followed by Tommy Aquino for third, and finally by Lap 6 forced Herrin to relinquish second. With that kind of speed there was nothing DiSalvo could do to stop Eslick’s rampage, with the Suzuki GSX-R600 ceding the lead on Lap 8.
DiSalvo then encountered a problem on Lap 10 and dropped from second to ninth. This allowed Cardenas, who had recouped fourth from Aquino on Lap 3, to pass Herrin for second on the same lap. The Columbian had no intention of letting Eslick take another win without a fight.
The quick Columbian began to hunt down Eslick as the two separated themselves from Herrin by over three seconds. On lap 17 the Suzuki rider was able to do the deed, but his success was fleeting. The following lap Cardenas rode off the course to reemerge in 18th. Eslick rode on to take the top-step of podium, followed by Factory Yamaha duo of Herrin and Aquino.
“I glanced back and Martin was all over me and that was pretty close to the end,” Eslick said. “I did a couple of really good motocross block passes, and I think I was going slow enough I could have put my foot down. It was 100% clean, he raced me clean and we never touched once. That’s the race I’ve been looking for all year, to be the points leader and all that. Martin’s a heck of a guy, a great rider and I wish it wouldn’t have ended that way because that would have been a heck of a battle to the checkered flag.”
“I thought I was going to be able to catch him,” Herrin said. “I found out a real strong point coming on to the front straightaway that I’ll be able to use tomorrow. At the end of the race I wasn’t riding defensive, I just rode my race. I’ve had a few races recently where I rode defensive and it didn’t pay off, so I just rode my line and took it to the finish line. We started reeling in Danny a little bit but it wasn’t enough for the end of the race. I have to congratulate Tommy, and the Buell guys for another win. We’ll come back strong tomorrow.”
“That was the first time I’ve led a race,” Aquino said. “Jason seemed to be going a little slow in the beginning so I made a pass really quick. It was just, like, riding by myself, which is really what I like to do – to go out there with nobody ahead of me and put down some laps. I just made a little mistake and let Jason by and after that a couple more people passed me. I settled in, got with the pace, passed who I needed to pass and it was good. I’m really enjoying where I’m at right now. I really have to thank all my guys.”
Daytona Sportbike Race 1 Results
1. Danny Eslick (Buell 1125R)
2. Josh Herrin (Yamaha YZF-R6)
3. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha YZF-R6)
4. Chaz Davies (Aprilia RSV1000R)
5. Bobby Fong (Yamaha YZF-R6)
6. Jason DiSalvo (Suzuki GSX-R600)
7. Jake Zemke (Honda CVR600)
8. Chris Fillmore (Yamaha YZF-R6)
9. Roger Hayden (Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6)
10. Chris Peris (Honda CBR600RR)
11. Dane Wesby (Yamaha YZF-R6)
12. Taylor Knapp (Buell 1125R)
13. Ricky Parker (Yamaha YZF-R6)
14. Aaron Gobert (Aprilia RSV1000R)
15. Josh Day (Yamaha YZF-R6)