Will Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Mat Mladin do the unthinkable and win every American Superbike race this year? If anyone can depose him, it is his teammate Tommy Hayden, seen here hot on Mladin's trail.
AMA Pro Road Racing returns to Infineon Raceway for this weekend’s Kawasaki Superbike Showdown with a full slate of action on tap, highlighted by two AMA American Superbike races and two Daytona SportBike races. As the AMA Pro Racing paddock heads to California’s Sonoma Valley for the league’s fifth round of motorcycle racing, American Superbike points’ leader Mat Mladin will have a chance to make history by winning the most consecutive AMA Superbike races, while four points is all that separates the top three riders in the hotly contested Daytona SportBike class.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin has won the first seven American Superbike races of the season, with a double podium finish at Barber Motorsports his most recent achievement. The Suzuki rider has tied the AMA Superbike record for consecutive single-season victories (7) and can set a new standard with a win in Race 1 at Infineon. Mladin also has 79 career wins, a stat that is growing at a rapid rate. And though he would surely downplay it, the question now is will Mladin do the unprecedented and run the table in the American Superbike class?
The person that has come closest to putting a blemish on Mladin’s otherwise perfect season is Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Tommy Hayden. Hayden has finished second three times on his GSX-R1000 and is one of the few riders that have led a race later than the first lap besides Mladin. Hayden almost won Race 1 at Fontana until Mladin reeled him in on Lap 18 to win by 0.068 seconds. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki pilot is enjoying a stellar season so far and is second in championship points with 143.
Ben Bostrom returns to familiar stomping grounds at Infineon and put up the fastest time there in last month's two-day test.
Two other likely contenders for Barber’s podium will be the Yamaha factory team of Ben Bostrom and Josh Hayes. The Yamahas looked strong during last month’s AMA Pro Racing test at Infineon, with B-Boz putting up the fastest time of the two day test. His teammate, Hayes, finished fourth-quickest aboard his R1 and has placed in the top five in the last four races as he acclimates to his new team after riding Hondas in Formula Xtreme last year.
“We’re coming to Sonoma to win. We don’t want to race for second place,” Bostrom said.
Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson is expected to race in Sonoma after missing Barber and could have an immediate impact. Hodgson busted up his ribs, dislocated a shoulder and collapsed a lung after a training crash on a motocross bike two months ago. The Honda rider had a promising start, finishing second in the season opener at Daytona, and hasn’t raced since but has the skill set to grab a podium position.
The Jordan Suzuki tandem of Geoff May and Aaron Yates should also be running near the front of the pack at Barber. May sits third in the American Superbike championship point race with three third-place finishes to his credit. Yates finished second in Race 2 at Barber and is always a threat to podium come race day.
Former World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson will return to the track for the Corona Extra Honda team at Infineon and should be an immediate podium threat.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young has ridden strong this season before busting up his left pinkie and ring finger in a spill during Race 2 at Barber. The Suzuki rider had not finished out of the top ten until his accident and has two second place finishes to his credit, earning him fourth place in championship points with 114.
Twenty-eight riders are signed up to compete in this weekend’s 22-lap race. Race 1 will be held Saturday at 3 p.m., with Race 2 scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m. Earlier last week, the 10 motorcycles that qualified for Barber’s Superpole session were dyno tested to register the bikes’ power-to-weight ratios. AMA Pro Daytona SportBike officials will use the data along with other variables like aerodynamics, ram air, rider size and lap times to determine if any additional performance modifications are needed to ensure parity within the class. If they want parity, though, maybe they should have Mladin tie one-hand behind his back.
Daytona SportBike Infineon Preview
Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking sits atop the leaderboard in the Daytona SportBike class after a podium finish in Race 2 at Barber helped him overtake Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing’s Danny Eslick in the
Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking sits atop the Daytona SportBike point standings despite not winning a race yet this season. We'll see if he can grab that elusive top spot this weekend at Infineon.
standings. Hacking has yet to win a race this year aboard the Ninja-ZX-6R but has earned the top spot with consistency, finishing second three times and placing no lower than seventh. Hacking has had success at Infineon in the past, with three career wins at the Northern California raceway.
“It’s great to leave here (Barber) with the points lead. That is our main goal and I think it’s important to remember every last point, especially when things come down to the wire at the end of the season,” Hacking said.
Eslick and the Buell 1125R trail Hacking by a scant three points in the Daytona SportBike championship point race and have three victories to their credit this season, including winning a double at Auto Club. But Team M4 Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas may have the most momentum heading to Sonoma after sweeping his own doubleheader at Barber. The Colombian rider also has three victories to his credit and is a contender for the overall championship point lead, trailing Eslick by one point and Hacking by four.
Cardenas’ M4 Suzuki teammate, Jason DiSalvo, is another rider with podium potential this weekend. The GSX-R600
M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas carries momentum into Infineon after doing the double at Barber.
rider posted his best results of the season at Barber with a second place finish in Race 1 to back up his impressive third in the Daytona 200. DiSalvo currently sits fourth in the points’ standings, just ahead of Yamaha’s Josh Herrin.
Team Graves Yamaha’s Herrin started the season on a roll, finishing second in Daytona and in Race 2 at Road Atlanta. A 30th place at Barber broke his streak of top ten finishes, but the YZF-R6 rider is still in the thick of the points’ race in fifth place.
Factory Aprilia rider Chaz Davies has flashed moments of promise aboard the RSV1000R and put up his best results to date with a fourth-place finish in Race 2 at Barber. The more time the British rider spends in the saddle of the RSV, the more competitive he is becoming, and a place on the podium this weekend is an attainable goal.
Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki’s Roger Hayden made a much-anticipated return to the track at Atlanta and promptly posted a runner-up finish to Cardenas. Since then, Hayden has struggled to flash the race-winning form of last year,
The race action will be hot-and-heavy in the Datyona SportBike class, with only four points separating the top three riders.
and after missing a couple of races for personal reasons, is not a factor in the championship point standings.
Others to watch for this weekend are Erion Racing Honda’s Jake Zemke, who led the most race laps on Saturday at Barber, and Bazzaz/Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha’s Steve Rapp. Neither rider has demonstrated the skills that we know they possess so far this season, but both had solid outings at Barber and are due for a break-out race.
It will be a huge weekend at Infineon for two-wheeled action. Besides the AMA races, Supermoto USA, AMA Pro XTRM Supermoto Championships, SBFreaks Street Freestyle, Jason Britton Stunt Shows and more will also be on hand to compete and perform.