A month ago it looked as if Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies
was headed comfortably toward his second consecutive AMA Superbike
championship. Two double podiums by teammate Mat Mladin
later, Spies' lead has dwindled to six points and Mladin looks determined to take the title home. Mladin grabbed the lead from Roger Hayden before Turn 4 of lap 1 Sunday at VIR and left the field behind in a wire-to-wire victory in Race 2. It seems that the new clutch in his GSX-R1000 is doing the job of getting the Aussie off the line faster. The double podium lifts Mladin's AMA
Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin owns VIR. He doubled up this weekend after Sunday's wire-to-wire victory, making it the third consecutive double podium for Mladin at VIR. Since solving his problems coming off the starting line, Number 66 has looked unstoppable.
Superbike win total to 61 career victories. It was a perfect weekend for Mladin, with the Yoshimura ace scoring points for pole, laps led, and capturing first place points in both races.
"I'm enjoying this season more than any I've had so far because it's such a good challenge to race Ben and to get the measure of him. To be honest with you, I hope we can win the next couple in Atlanta because I really want to be able to go to Laguna Seca and have it winner take all because that would just be the ultimate. Laguna's never been one of my strongest tracks, but to me it's a challenge. I'd really enjoy to be able to have to go there and put it on the line at Laguna Seca and win one," said Mladin.
Spies got off to a slow start, dropping to sixth place early in the race. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider made his way through the pack with a sweet move to pass both Roger Hayden and Jason Disalvo and jump into 4th place. By lap 5 he was able to move past Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates
, but by this time, Mladin had opened up a 2-second advantage. On lap 6, Spies passed Jaime Hacking with a deep push into Turn 1 and set about the task of trying to reel Mladin in. At this point, Mladin was 3 seconds ahead and controlled the pace, never making the mistake Spies needed to get back into the race.
"Obviously second isn't getting it done. But I'm not upset because I rode it 100% both races. We obviously just, like I've said all weekend, if it's me or the bike, we didn't have something right and that's all it took. But when it came down to riding the motorcycle I rode as hard as I could both races, so I'm not upset with myself," said Spies.
Jordan Suzuki's Yates captured the final podium spot. He passed Hacking on Turn 4 of lap 10 and was never seriously challenged for third place after that. Yates scored the holeshot and rode a confident race, mixing it up with Spies and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Hacking for second and third early in the race. Yates announced earlier in the day that he would be returning next year to race for the Jordan Suzuki team in its quest for the AMA Superbike title.
The Hayden brothers, Tommy and Roger Lee, duked it out for sixth place while trying to close in on Eric Bostrom, who was running in fifth. On lap 26, Roger missed a corner and left the course. A few turns later, E-Boz pulled out, too, allowing Tommy to jump up two spots to fifth, a place he held onto when the checkers dropped.
American Honda's Jake Zemke finished in sixth place, just ahead of the Fast by Ferracci duo of Luca Scassa and Matt Lynn aboard the MV Agusta F4-1000Rs, who crossed the line 7th and 8th respectively.
Jordan Suzuki's Jake Holden ran off the track on lap 19 after the rear end of his GSX-R1000 broke away. Holden was able to stand the bike up and avoid a nasty spill, reentering the race and salvaging a 9th place finish. Roger Hayden likewise was able to return to the race after his mishap on lap 25 and finished out the top ten list at VIR Sunday.
The next race will be in two weeks at Road Atlanta. If 60,000 people showed up this weekend at VIR to watch the drama unfold in the epic battle between Spies and Mladin, you can bet that Road Atlanta will be standing-room only.
AMA Superbike VIR Race 2 Results:
1. Mat Mladin Suzuki
2. Ben Spies Suzuki +5.591
3. Aaron Yates Suzuki +13.899
4. Jamie Hacking Kawasaki +21.925
5. Tommy Hayden Suzuki +35.101
6. Jake Zemke Honda +58.370
7. Luca Scassa MV Agusta --
8. Matt Lynn MV Agusta --
9. Jake Holden Suzuki --
10. Roger Hayden Kawasaki --
11. Scott Jensen Suzuki --
12. Ben Thompson Suzuki --
AMA Superbike Championship Points:
1. Ben Spies 550
2. Mat Mladin 544
3. Jake Zemke 390
4. Tommy Hayden 384
5. Aaron Yates 382
Erion Honda's Josh Hayes scored a double podium finish of his own, winning Sunday's Supersport contest to go along with his Formula Xtreme triumph on Saturday. The win was Hayes' third Supersport victory of the season, more than any other rider in the class, and leaves the Erion Honda racer third in the championship race, 18 points behind leader Roger Hayden with only two races left.
"To get another double this year is really big for me. Heck, that race felt like a double with the red flag in the middle. I knew my motorcycle was really good and I knew I could do race distance as fast as what I thought anybody could do. But I know Jamie and Roger are going to hang it out there and I never knew who was exactly behind me," Hayes said.
It was a tale of two races. In the opening half, Hayes got all he could handle from 17-year-old Josh Herrin on the Graves Yamaha YZF R6. Herrin held the lead for a brief stint but lost his right knee puck along the way. On lap 8 it would cost him as his knee grabbed asphalt as he came onto the start/finish straight causing him to crash. Herrin was pinned underneath his bike, bringing out the red flag. He got up and managed to make it back in time for the restart but ended up in 21st place.
"The lap before I went by Hayes I lost my knee puck on one of the rumble strips. I went to tip it in at the right at the bottom of the hill and lost the front end a little bit and I had to put my knee down to try to save it. As soon I touched my knee to the ground it just grabbed and kind of pulled me up and I laid it down. My leg ended up getting stuck under the bike and I got a little burn. I wasn't trying to cause a red flag, it was just burning up my leg and I had to get someone out there," Herrin said.
The tale of the second race saw Hayes once again motor into the lead, dispatching the fast-starting Martin Cardenas and Blake Young. However, former Spanish Supersport champion Cardenas refused to go away, keeping the pressure on Hayes and finishing 1.449 seconds off the winning pace. It was the best finish ever for the Team M4 EMGO Suzuki rider.
The two leaders in the championship race, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Roger Hayden (1st) and Jaime Hacking (2nd), did all they could to secure valuable points at VIR. The two battled it out with Geoff May for the 3rd through 5th positions, ultimately passing May with a few laps to go. Hacking held off Hayden by a mere 0.054 seconds at the finish line for third place. May crossed the line on his Suzuki right behind the pair of ZX-6R riders, earning a hard-fought fifth place finish.
Hayes and Hacking both crept closer to championship points leader Hayden. The title is still Hayden's to lose, but a botched turn and a DNF in any of the remaining races could change the outcome dramatically. Road Atlanta will be the host for the next exciting round of Supersport action in two weeks.
VIR Supersport Results:
1. Josh Hayes Honda
2. Martin Cardenas Suzuki +1.449
3. Jamie Hacking Kawasaki +2.177
4. Roger Hayden Kawasaki +2.231
5. Geoff May Suzuki +3.840
6. Chaz Davies Yamaha +4.703
7. Steve Rapp Kawasaki +7.426
8. Chris Peris Yamaha +9.426
9. Jeff Wood Yamaha +11.796
10. Nicky Moore Kawasaki +13.753
AMA Supersport Championship Points:
1. Roger Hayden 241
2. Jaime Hacking 230
3. Josh Hayes 223
4. Steve Rapp 202
5. Geoff May 176
AMA Superstock VIR Results:
1. Ben Spies Suzuki
2. Aaron Yates Suzuki +3.012
3. Jake Holden Suzuki +14.439
4. Ben Bostrom Yamaha +17.842
5. Blake Young Suzuki +29.669
6. Danny Eslick Suzuki +29.676
7. Chris Ulrich Suzuki +36.198
8. Ben Thompson Suzuki +42.276
9. Scott Jensen Suzuki +53.558
10. Gary Mason Suzuki --
AMA Superstock Championship Points:
1. B. Spies 254
2. B. Bostrom 203
3. A. Yates 202
4. D. Eslick 175
5. G. May 174