AMA PRO RACING:
Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1), Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) and Yamaha doubled up to close out the 2009 AMA Pro Road Racing season with a pair of repeat race wins Sunday in the AMA Pro Superbike Championships on Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP).
Hayes won his fourth straight and seventh overall AMA Pro American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited race of the year while Herrin also went four for four with AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victories. Both riders moved to second in their respective series’ championships after winning the Saturday finals and then locked the runner-up positions down in Sunday’s season-ending races.
For the second-straight day, Hayes had a classic battle with recently crowned 2009 American Superbike Champion Mat Mladin (No. 1 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000). This time Mladin’s teammate Tommy Hayden(No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) was also in the mix with each rider taking turns up front before Hayes took the lead for good on Lap 15. The race saw seven official at-the-line lead changes between the three riders with the total more than doubling when multiple lead swaps within a lap were taken into account.
“It was one of those deals where I just tried to keep myself close to the front,” Hayes said. “I rode as hard as I could the whole race. I had to keep putting together good laps to see if I could keep the pressure on. The Yamaha was great. It was a great bike to ride this weekend. I’m really proud of how the end of the season has come around. Congratulations to Mat on his career. Like I said on the podium, I only hope that I can achieve half of what he’s done in his career.”
Mladin was making his final American Superbike start in a record-setting career and raced true to form before gearbox issues emerged in the later part of the race. Mladin is retiring with an unmatched total of seven AMA Pro American Superbike championships and a record 82 career victories.
“Today was a really good race,” Mladin said. “I felt pretty good for most of it. I really didn’t want to be in second place and I was trying to lead and was doing as much as I could from the front. We put it in as much as we could. About 10 laps to go, I couldn’t get the thing in fifth gear. I had to go straight through to sixth and in the end we just couldn’t keep up.”
Hayes crossed the finish line 2.254 seconds ahead Mladin while Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) was third for the second straight day. Mladin passed Yates on the last lap to take second.
“It feels really good to be up here and finish the year out with a few decent finishes,” said Yates, who posted his sixth podium finish of the season. “Racing with Josh and Mat, it feels good to be up here and running with them. Mat definitely wasn’t joking about it not getting into fifth gear back there. It was twice running up through the bridge there that we got pretty close. I thought I was going to run right over him or into him. I got by Mat on the front straight and he came by me on that last lap, came up beside me, got on the brakes and I thought he was done, then he just slipped off to the inside.”
Three-time 2009 race winner Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) finished fourth to improve on Saturday’s fifth place showing while Neil Hodgson (No. 100 Corona Extra Honda CBR1000RR) had his best result since finishing second in the Daytona opener to round out the top five.
Pegram jumped to fourth in the final American Superbike standings with 347 points, one spot behind Hayden, who locked down third with 373 points. Hayden stepped up to challenge Hayes in the closing laps of the race but was uninjured when he lowsided after just taking the lead a little under three laps from the finish.
“I really wanted to win a race before the year was over and I wanted to try and get second in the championship, and I knew that one would take care of the other,” Hayden said. “I just made a little mistake, went in a corner a little too hot and lost the front. It’s a shame. On the one hand, I’m bummed and on the other hand, I left it all out there and that was one thing I wanted to make sure and do today. We learned a lot and we’re looking forward to next year.”
Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) was also uninjured when he lowsided two laps into the race, but he still finished fifth in the final American Superbike championship standings with 333 points.
Sunday’s American Superbike final and other action from the New Jersey AMA Pro Superbike Championships can be seen in late-night coverage tonight on SPEED tonight at 12:30 a.m. ET (9:30 p.m. PT).
Herrin Helps Yamaha to Manufacturer Title
Like Hayes, Herrin swept both this weekend’s AMA Pro Superbike Championships as well as the Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) three weeks ago to end the season as the hottest rider in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL.
His victories in the final four races vaulted him to second in the final championship standings, just five points behind 2009 Daytona SportBike Champion Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R). Eslick finished seventh Sunday and ended his successful championship run with 387 points to Herrin’s 382. Eslick’s No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell team also won the Daytona SportBike Team Championship with the same 387-point total.
Herrin’s late charge helped Yamaha win the Daytona SportBike Manufacturer Championship. Yamaha’s total of 441 points edged Suzuki and Buell who ended up tied with 416 points.
Herrin and most of the other front runners survived an opening lap dust up in Turn 1 that shuffled the running order and ended with four riders going down or off course. Herrin was in sixth place at the end of Lap 1 but was up to fourth and mixing it up with the leaders two laps later. He was challenging Saturday runner-up Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R) for the lead on Lap 11 when the Aprilia rider slid off course. Davies was uninjured but his weekend was over.
“Turn 1 was definitely really scary,” Herrin said. “I thought we were done for, but luckily we got out of there. I think we were in seventh going into Turn 3 and it was definitely harder than I wanted it to be. A little more stress on us, but we made it happen. My Graves Yamaha crew has been working really, really hard all year. We came up five points shy but it’s the best that we’ve done since I’ve been in AMA Pro so hat’s off to them.”
Herrin’s final battle for the lead was with Jake Zemke(No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR), who joined his teammate Chris Peris (No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) in having one of Honda’s best races of the season. Zemke passed Herrin for the lead on Lap 21 only to have the Yamaha rider draft past two laps later in the fast run down the front straight to start the last lap.
“On the white flag lap we went down into Turn 1 and I thought ‘There’s no way he’s going to make the corner, I’m just going turn right back underneath him,'” Zemke said. “As soon as I took the thing in, I lost the rear and it skidded away. It gave Josh a nice little gap. I was able to close back up a little bit there at the end but it was just not enough. So, congratulations to Josh and congratulations to Danny on his first championship, that’s great to see. It’s been a long year for us. It would have been nice to finish it off with a win but we’ll take the second place. It’s going to be a long winter but we’ll come out swinging next year.”
The young Yamaha standout crossed the line just .063 of a second ahead of Zemke for the win while Herrin’s teammate Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) finished third.
“I got a really clean start and apparently I was the only one,” said Aquino, who led the first lap. “I was out in the lead for a little bit. I got passed a couple of times and I just settled in. Once I thought I was settled in, somebody else would kind of stuff me, but I was trying to ride my race. Eventually some people either moved out of the way by themselves or I moved them out of the way. It went pretty good and I’m happy with this.”
Peris finished fourth after running as high as second while Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) rounded out the top five.
Hacking’s teammate Roger Hayden (No. 95 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) edged Eslick for sixth place at the line, but the 2009 Daytona SportBike Champion raced to the end while wrapping up the title.
“Going back all the way to three weeks before Daytona, I didn’t have a ride,” Eslick said. “The season has been amazing and with just the first couple of wins, we would have been happy with that. We’ve kept on going and won a couple more races, had some off weekends and made the best of what we have. My guys have worked so hard. The GEICO Powersports/Bruce Rossmeyer/RMR Buell team has just worked so hard all year long and never given up. It’s been a long, hard fight the whole way and this weekend is no different. We’ve had some tough times a month ago, but we made it through. Who would have thought I’d have any wins coming into the season, and to leave with the championship, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Superpole winner Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) had another challenging race and finished eighth. Saturday’s third place finisher Steve Rapp (No. 48 Bazzaz/Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R6) was also uninjured in a lowside incident in Sunday’s race.
Of the riders involved in the opening lap incident, only Aaron Gobert (No. 97 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R) required medical attention, but he was examined and released.
Sunday’s Daytona SportBike final and other action from the New Jersey AMA Pro Superbike Championships can be seen in late-night coverage tonight on SPEED tonight at 12:30 a.m. ET (9:30 p.m. PT).
SuperSport Double Day
The AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei National Championship Shootout will not be run until next month at Daytona, but apparently nobody told 2009 SuperSport Champions Josh Day(No. 4 Team E.S.P. Yamaha YZF-R6) and Ricky Parker (No. 96 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6). The two riders waged a thrilling SuperSport shootout of their own Sunday at NJMP with SuperSport East Champ Day ultimately winning the race by .460 of a second over SuperSport West Champ Parker.
“Ricky really made me work hard for it today and I just want to say hats off to him for riding it smooth and not doing anything dirty out there today,” said Day, who won his fourth straight SuperSport race. “It was definitely a tough race for us all. It was all close racing; we were just out there having fun. It was just awesome to come out on top though. We’ve still got Daytona at the end of the year. I’m sure Ricky’s going to be right with me there and it’s going to be a tough race there too.”
Like Josh Hayes and Josh Herrin, Day doubled up on race wins at the AMA Pro Superbike Championships. Day and Scott Charleton rode the No. 27 Four Feathers Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 to the overall and GT1 class win in yesterday’s AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT race.
In SuperSport, Day clinched the East title one race ago in Virginia but officially ended his 2009 campaign with 189 points after today’s victory. He was credited with leading 16 of the SuperSport race’s 19 laps in New Jersey but the number of unofficial lead changes within laps was almost impossible to follow.
“It came down to who made the most mistakes on each lap,” Parker said. “I think we had about the same pace. Once I caught back up to him I would just out-brake him one time, then he’d out-brake me, that’s part of it. Our plans are definitely to go down there and try to get in front of Josh next time in Daytona.”
J.D. Beach (No. 73 Rockwall Performance/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6) finished third for his third straight podium finish. He also moved to second in the final SuperSport East standings with 107 points.
“It was a good race today,” Beach said. “I saw the race between Ricky and Josh the whole time. I had a front row seat there, so it was really cool to see that. I just couldn’t do it today. I got kind of close but just couldn’t reel them in. We really pulled it together from Mid-Ohio on. We got on the podium at the last three races. I really wanted to win this race but just couldn’t do it. I am looking forward to next year.”
Next up on the SuperSport schedule is the National Championship Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, October 16 – 18. The lucrative non-points race is open to any rider that has run at least one SuperSport race this season, with the winner earning the title of SuperSport National Champion.