champion Ben Spies continued his winning ways on Saturday by winning the 15-lap incident filled AMA Superbike race over teammates Miguel Duhamel
and Jake Zemke
. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider took over the lead on lap 5 following a rare crash by then-leader Mat Mladin
, and never looked back.
Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies has started his title defense campaign with a win in the opening round of the 2007 AMA Superbike season.
"Winning at Daytona was a great way to start out the season," said Spies after claiming his first-ever Daytona Superbike win. "It's nice to show up with the number-one plate and get the pole position, lead the most laps and win the race. It was a good race. We got off to a pretty good start. and the race played out as good as it could. Everybody knows that Daytona is a place where you can lose a lot of points quick and you can't win the championship here. We made good progress with the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 here. The team did great, the bike was awesome. I had to ride hard, but the bike's working good. We just did what we could and tried to stay consistent."
Yamaha's Eric Bostrom had the lead early on and was running in the top three for the majority of the race. But things took a turn for the worse as the end of the race drew closer. With three laps to go E-Boz dropped off the radar after being forced to stop for a new tire, handing third place to American Honda's Jake Zemke.
Duhamel was shooting for a win, but will take second without complaint, the Honda rider confident that his team will improve as the season progresses.
"Obviously we're here to win, and we came up one short of it, but I'm really proud of the team. It just shows how hard these guys have been working and sweating. Big thanks to them. It was definitely a team effort," said Duhamel. "And I think we will get faster. This is just one of the ways that we evolve the bike, with the Öhlins suspension, and all the work that we're putting together. So I'm excited. We're not going to slower from here. We're going to be going faster. So I'm very pleased about that." Behind the AMA regulars, World Superbike veteran Akira Yanagawa worked his way through the pack from as far back as ninth place to ultimately finish fourth on the Factory Kawasaki ZX-10R. He wasn't the only rider forced to overcome a poor position off the start either.
Yoshimura Suzuki newcomer Tommy Hayden was lucky to avoid being taken out at the start when Aaron Yates and Jamie Hacking came together on the first lap. Hayden remounted and picked his way from second-to last and into eighth, just behind Jordan Suzuki's Jake Holden at the end. Jordan Suzuki's number one rider Aaron Yates managed to get going after the lap one melee and made his way to an 11th place finish.
Podium stalwart Mat Mladin finished in tenth place.
"We just didn't get it done today," said the six-time champion Mladin. "It's a little disappointing but this is only the first race and it's a long season. The Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 was working good and I just tried to pick up as many points as I could."
Notable non-finishers included Monster Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking and Roger Hayden, with Hacker going down in a first-turn incident. Hayden's crash occurred while the second-year Superbike rider was challenging for fourth-place.
"We really don't know what happened out there," said Hayden. "We can't figure out whether I got on the gas too hard, because everything looked the same as the lap before. Whenever you crash and don't know why, you want to figure out the mistake so it doesn't happen again and we will."
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
2. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
3. Jake Zemke (Honda)
4. Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki)
5. Geoff May (Suzuki)
6. Jason Disalvo (Yamaha)
7. Jake Holden (Suzuki)
8. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)
9. James Ellison (Honda)
10. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)