AMA Pro Racing Laguna Seca Preview 2012

July 24, 2012
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

AMA Pro Road Racers will share the track with MotoGP this weekend at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Round 8 for AMA Pro Racing will feature a shortened program, with only three classes racing – with XR1200 catching back up with a doubleheader in the mid-August round at Indianapolis Speedway. SuperBike, SportBike and SuperSport will contest one race apiece at Laguna, trimmed down from the customary dual-race format.

Josh Hayes  1  opening up the gap on his teammate Josh Herrin  2  at Mid-Ohio in SuperBike Race 1.
Josh Hayes (1) opening up the gap on his teammate Josh Herrin (2) at Mid-Ohio in SuperBike Race 1.

National Guard SuperBike

All eyes will be on Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes as he looks to tie Ben Spies’ SuperBike career win tally of 28, a mark which would also tie him for third in all-time wins with the former AMA champion. Hayes would also surpass the all-time single season record for consecutive victories with a win at Laguna Seca. The Mississippi native currently has seven straight wins to his credit, tying him with Spies and Mat Mladin.

In the previous round at Mid-Ohio, Hayes’ dominion out front was challenged in both contests. Race 1 opened with Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young pushing hard early and momentarily taking the lead. Hayes quickly recovered and stretched further from the pack with teammate Josh Herrin keeping pace right behind. The two R1 riders kept close until mid-race when Herrin crashed in the Carousel. Young and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden immediately moved up to second and third respectively once the rookie SuperBike rider went down, but Hayes had gotten too far ahead and couldn’t be caught.

In Race 2, things heated up even more as Herrin shot out early and held the lead for a number of laps with Hayes and Hayden holding to his rear tire. Herrin couldn’t maintain though and Hayes slipped past, the two riders bumping slightly when the points leader made his move. Hayden got past Herrin shortly after and logged his best race of the season so far, ferociously challenging Hayes right up to the checkers.

Last year at Laguna Seca it was Hayden’s brother Tommy, now contesting the Daytona SportBike class, who came away the victor with Hayes in second and Young in third. Hayes is looking for his first SuperBike career win at Laguna and he’s been successful in eliminating winless tracks from his list all season; Daytona, Miller, Barber and Road Atlanta had all eluded the Yamaha rider until 2012. If he’s able to continue his streak at the top of the timesheet, he’ll have won at least once at every track on schedule up to this point.

Blake Young  79  and Roger Hayden  54  battling in SuperBike Race 1.
Blake Young (79) and Roger Hayden (54) battling in SuperBike Race 1 at Mid-Ohio. Both riders will be pressuring Hayes out front for the lead at Laguna Seca.

Young, second in overall points, will be just one rider on the grid with the will and ability to frustrate Hayes’ assault on the record books. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider posted his worst finish of the season in Race 2 at Mid-Ohio after crashing and taking 13th for the contest. Young has been doggedly consistent though, and the incident at Mid-Ohio marked the first time all season that he missed finishing on the podium.

Herrin lags behind Young by 91 points in third. The rookie has finished outside the top four just three times and may yet score a win before the end of the season. Last year Herrin posted his worst result of the season at Laguna Seca; after challenging for the lead for much of the race his engine failed and he was forced to retire.

Hayden’s recent success at Mid-Ohio put him 21 points behind Herrin. The Suzuki rider had a difficult mid-season string of crashes and mechanical issues which kept him out of the top ten at times, so he’ll be looking to continue with the positive momentum he generated during the previous round. His Race 2 performance in Lexington showed that he has a very real chance of besting Hayes at some point this season. Jordan Suzuki teammate Ben Bostrom sits ninth overall and is coming off a 7-15 result at Mid-Ohio, but is the only rider currently active in the class that has won at Laguna, his home track. Bostrom has yet to earn a podium this year, though his strength and experience at the circuit may help to propel him to a top-three finish.

Team Amsoil/Hero’s Geoff May has put together a strong season aboard his American-made EBR 1190RS and sits fifth overall, just 14 points behind Hayden. He and fellow 1190RS rider Danny Eslick of Team Hero have taken one third-place finish apiece this season. Eslick came out of Mid-Ohio with the MotoBatt “Hard Charger Award” for improving a cumulative nine positions over the two races. He is currently eighth overall, one point ahead of Bostrom. Foremost Insurance’s Larry Pegram trails May in sixth overall and has been a regular finisher within the top ten all season.

Attack Performance/’s Steve Rapp posted his best weekend all season at Mid-Ohio, going 4-4. On top of contesting the SuperBike class, Rapp is also a wildcard rider in the MotoGP race and will ride aboard an Attack Performance CRT machine designed and built by AP owner Richard Stanboli. Rapp’s CRT will have an enhanced version of the ZX-10R engine he runs in SuperBike, but the chassis is a one-of-a-kind Stanboli creation. The Kawasaki rider is seventh overall in AMA SuperBike points and he placed seventh at Laguna in the class last year.

Daytona SportBike Race 2 start.
The Daytona SportBike field in Race 2 at Mid-Ohio.

Daytona SportBike

Geico Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas continues to hold out on top of the points list in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, but has faltered a bit over the past two rounds, missing the podium twice in four races. The Colombian rider has six wins to his credit so far this year and is the only SportBike rider currently active with a career win at Laguna Seca. He’s been feeling the pressure lately from a number of riders whose performances have improved as the season develops.

M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby lags in second overall by 40 points, but has placed himself in the top two over the past four races and ahead of Cardenas in every instance. Yamaha Extended Services’ Tommy Hayden, winner of the SuperBike contest at Laguna in 2011, has yet to earn a SportBike victory this season but sits third overall due to his consistent presence in the top five at the checkers.

Hayden’s teammate Cameron Beaubier is the second most successful rider on the grid behind Cardenas, despite sitting fourth overall in points. The Yamaha rider has three wins to his credit this season and his 204 points come after missing the entire round at Road Atlanta due to injury.

Team Latus Motors Racing’s Jason DiSalvo was derailed at Mid-Ohio by bike issues in Race 2 and a crash in Race 1. He suffered a similar outcome at Road Atlanta, but outside those two rounds he’s been a regular fixture atop the podium. The Triumph rider will be looking for a change in momentum at Laguna Seca to help propel him back up the points list as he currently sits fifth, just 10 off Beaubier.

RoadRace Factory’s JD Beach and Ducshop Racing’s Jake Zemke are mathematically tied in sixth at 166. Of the two riders, Beach is the only one to have made a podium yet this year, taking third in Race 2 at Road America. Zemke has a number of fourth, fifth and sixth place finishes to his credit and has only fallen outside the top ten once. Meen Motorsports’ Bobby Fong sits in eighth overall and earned his first rostrum since 2010 in Race 2 at Mid-Ohio.

Dominguez  68  and Rispoli  1  battled it out for a second time in SuperSport Race 2.
Dominguez (68) and Rispoli (1) fighting for the front in SuperSport Race 2 at Mid-Ohio. Dominguez went on to win in the first SuperSport doubleheader sweep all season. SuperSport

Points earned at Laguna Seca count toward SuperSport West riders only, meaning the stakes are high for Celtic Racing’s James Rispoli. The Suzuki rider took second in both races at Mid-Ohio, unable to catch Castrol Triumph’s Dustin Dominguez. Dominguez posted the first weekend sweep in SuperSport this season, but as an East division rider, he won’t earn any championship points at Laguna.

RoadRace Factory’s Hayden Gillim trails Rispoli in points by 59. Apart from a mechanical failure in Race 1 at Barber, Gillim has finished regularly within the top ten in races counting toward his division. At Miller Gillim took the win and is the only West division rider besides Suzuki’s Elena Myers to have earned a victory that counts toward points besides Rispoli.

East division riders like Dominguez,’s Stefano Mesa, Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and RoadRace Factory’s Tomas Puerta will all be on hand as well to contest the race, and though none will advance in points, they all have it within them to challenge for the victory. Lewis has two wins to his credit in East division races, Mesa took his first at Road America (which counted toward the West), and while Puerta remains winless in his division, he is a consistent member of the lead pack.

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