AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Recap: Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
NEWS August 1, 2012
Photo by Brian J Nelson
blog comments powered by Disqus
NEWS August 1, 2012
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 1, 2012) - The 2012 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season is quickly becoming a numbers game.
That is, the historic numbers two-time defending AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes continues to accumulate as he storms through the '12 campaign in unprecedented fashion.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha-backed superstar was untouchable once again as he continued to run roughshod over the competition at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the MotoGP World Championship paddock watching on shortly after contesting the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Hayes was quickly out front and on the escape, at which point his lead continued to pile up, just like the aforementioned numbers.
The checkered flag at the conclusion of the 23-lap runaway marked Hayes' fifth consecutive max points haul weekend. It also represented his eighth consecutive victory, a new single-season record which tied the absolute mark posted by Mat Mladin ('08-'09).
The win was Hayes' 28th in the premier class, moving him into a tie for third all-time with three-time series king Ben Spies, who watched Hayes work on Sunday afternoon.
It was also the 50th of his GEICO Motorcycles AMA Pro Road Racing career across all classes (fourth all-time) and the 11th of the season, just one short of Mladin's single-season record of '12 posted in 2007, with six races remaining on the season slate.
Hayes also continued his perfect run of pole positions this season, picking up his eighth of the season and tenth consecutive overall dating back to the end of his '11 title run.
The world class performance was appreciated by the visiting MotoGP contenders as the Tech3 squad, for which Hayes' subbed last year and registered a seventh-place performance in his GP debut, celebrated the Mississippian's blowout win on pit wall.
And if Hayes continues in this fashion much longer, the focus will shift to numbers required to clinch his third-consecutive AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike crown as he upped his advantage to 74.
"Good things are happening right now," Hayes said. "I'll ride the train as long as I can. If I get into a battle in a hard race, you're going to see me fighting for it for that individual race; it has nothing to do with streaks or race wins or anything like that. It's for that race win. I'm in a position where I can try for every single one of them. I don't have anything to worry about. I've got a points situation that I don't even think about at this point in the season. I'm just focused on winning every race that I can. If I toss one down the road -- or two down the road -- then I'll reevaluate how I'm going to approach it. But right now I just want to win everything.
"I'm still riding like I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I still remember last year very clearly. I remember if more clearly than I remember winning eight races in a row. It seems like things have happened pretty quickly and it doesn't feel like that to me. I'll just keep focusing, and trying hard, and pushing myself."
Even if another Hayes breakaway felt inevitable, the fight for the remainder of the podium kept the massive crowd on their toes.
Hayes' teammate, Josh Herrin, did an admirable job to cling onto his more experienced stablemate just long enough to get pulled free of the fight for third, but once off the chase of #1, he eventually fell back into the pack battling for third (and then second).
And the melee that absorbed #2 was intense. National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden headed it for a time before machinery issues dropped him well off the pace, but the fighting remained heated with the EBR 1190RSs of Team Amsoil/Hero's Geoff May and Team Hero's Danny Eslick both in the mix, Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom getting a sniff of a potential podium at a track where he's enjoyed his brightest moments as a professional, and Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young once again finding his form just in time for the green light.
As he's done so many times already in his relatively short National Guard SuperBike career, Young found a way to win the multi-rider battle with his rare instincts for racecraft. Young and Herrin went back and forth on the final lap multiple times but the Suzuki rider simply outfoxed the rookie and got a superior drive to the checkered flag, edging him by inches at the stripe.
"It was a pretty good race for us today. I was making it harder on ourselves by not having great qualifying. It seems like we've let it slip a little bit this year and I'm just finding myself getting it together at the beginning of the weekend but I guess the good thing is we definitely get it together by the end of the weekend in time for the race. I'm obviously happy with second but I want to get back up to the front and get racing with Josh where I feel we belong. "
Despite getting reeled in and beat for second, the race still represented another strong effort from Herrin, who now boasts nine podium results in his maiden SuperBike season.
"It was a great last lap -- it was fun," he said. "I wish I could have held him off but I just couldn't. He kind of outsmarted me there a little bit. We'll be back at the next race to try to beat him next time."
Eslick notched up an impressive fourth, beating both resident track master Bostrom and teammate May, who had gotten the better of the Oklahoman in their previous four outings.
Bostrom completed the top five after giving the podium runners fits with his determined effort to right what's been a difficult season at the circuit where he took his first-ever World Superbike victory and two of his three career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike wins.
"Of course I'm disappointed not to have given the Jordan Motorsports boys a top finish today," said Bostrom. "Now it's going to be a long six weeks until the next race, but I still believe we will win one of these last races. Thanks to my team as always for putting a great bike like the Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 under me."
May faded to sixth late but was still well clear of Riders Discount K&L Supply's Taylor Knapp in seventh.
After showing such promise last time out at Mid-Ohio and looking equally strong in the lead-up to the Laguna Seca showdown, Hayden was pushed all the way down eighth due to a technical issue.
Hayden, who might have had the pace to finish second once again, chose to look on the bright side, afterward, "I had a pretty good weekend at Laguna. All the way up until the race. We were fast in qualifying and the Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 was really working good. Unfortunately, in the race we had a little bit of a problem. It's unfortunate because we had such good speed all weekend."
KTM/HMC's Stefan Nebel registered his best AMA Pro performance to date. The German was once again the sole rider for the team as Chris Fillmore gave it a couple laps early in the weekend before deciding he would require further mending before returning to action.
Nebel battled with Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram, who put in a gritty effort despite cracking ribs a day earlier in a nasty fall during qualifying in an oil-related incident that caught a number of runners off guard.
German Nebel and his Austrian-made KTM RC8R ultimately overcame Ohioan Pegram on his German-made BMW S1000RR for ninth as the two completed the top ten.
Nebel said, "I enjoyed racing this track today; it was a very challenging course but very fun to ride. I have overcome my infection from the previous round and felt great all week. I am happy to walk away with my best finish and hope to improve upon that at the next race."
Yoshimura Suzuki's Chris Clark struggled to 15th after turning heads on Friday, when he ranked fifth fastest in free practice, outpacing the likes of Young and Herrin.
"Right off the bat, we were two seconds faster than I was here last year. I was feeling really confident with my pace for the race weekend and I got a pretty good start in the race but I struggled with grip. Now, I'm looking forward to the down time to try and put together a physio-training program to help build up my shoulder muscles to help me feel more comfortable on the bike."
The AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike contenders will take their summer break in August before picking up the first of the season's final three GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing doubleheaders at New Jersey Motorsports Park on September 7-9.
Point Standings (After Round 8)