Hayes, Herrin Split AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Wins at Mid-Ohio

NEWS July 17, 2013

Hayes, Herrin Split AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Wins at Mid-Ohio

Photo by Brian J Nelson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 17, 2013) - Despite the fact that the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season is entering the stretch run with just six races remaining to determine this season's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike champion, there are more races left (six) than points separating the top three title contenders (five).

This past weekend at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes finally reclaimed his position atop the '13 points order -- a spot he held for only a few hours in March when he led the field 1-0 by winning pole for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

The defending triple champion's quest to become the first man in AMA Pro Road Racing history to win four consecutive SuperBike titles was put in serious jeopardy from the start. Hayes' double retirement at Daytona left him will a massive challenge to conquer as an encore to the most dominant title campaign the class had ever seen.

Hayes made up the deficit in big chunks -- even with his chief rivals encountering no major problems and performing at a consistently high level -- and moved into first place following his Saturday triumph on the strength of five perfect races (taking every available point, including the bonus markers awarded for laps led and pole positions).

However, the legend-in-the-making saw his streak of perfection snapped the following day at the conclusion of an intense, albeit unconventional, nail-biter. For the second time in as many race weekends, Hayes was penalized for jumping the start. This time he couldn't race his way out of his five-second punishment, as his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, hung tough and finished 4.878 seconds behind Hayes -- good enough to claim his second-career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike victory by a scant 0.122 seconds at the checkered flag.

After routinely demonstrating outstanding pace when following in Hayes' wheel tracks but struggling to match that sort of speed while circulating on his own, the developing SuperBike pilot has made it his mission in recent weeks to put in the hard work required to become a more consistent, all-around threat. The steady improvements he's shown in that short time have already paid off in the form of a win as he continued to post solid lap times even after a charging Hayes shook him off his shadow.

Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing's Martin Cardenas salvaged a pair of third-place results from a somewhat frustrating weekend at a circuit he's never quite mastered. Despite losing two spots in the championship order, falling to third after entering Mid-Ohio with the lead, the stage is now set for an epic conclusion to the championship. Hayes currently leads with 191 points but Herrin and Cardenas are both close enough to make that up that gap with a single convincing outing, as they currently reside just four and five points back, respectively.

Even though Hayes saw his win streak come to an even despite taking the checkered flag first, he didn't seem overly disappointed. He explained, "At the end of the day, I'm proud of the way I rode. I feel good about my race. The result is the result -- that's what goes in the books...I tried really hard. All the way to the last corner on the last lap, I rode the best race I possible could and I'm happy with that... I felt like it was (Josh Herrin's) race to lose. I don't think I can be upset with myself because he did a good job today. All I do is offer him a big congrats today, I'm proud of the way he did it, and I'm glad it was my teammate and another Monster Energy Yamaha up front.

"And it should have tightened up the points and made things really interesting and a lot of fun. We've got what? Six races left. It should be a barnburner -- let's go get 'em."

Herrin later admitted that his strong push to the checkered flag came as a result of an effort to fend off third rather than hold onto first. He was unaware that Hayes had been penalized, but his recent efforts to up his game paid off all the same (even more handsomely in fact).

Herrin said, "I guess that was kind of a crazy race. I had no idea that I won the race until I was interviewed for television and I was kind of shocked for a second. I couldn't even say anything… Josh really rode a great race as he does every time he gets on the bike. He's proven over the past three years that he's a GP quality rider… I just have to thank him for all the help that he's given me. I really lucked out today. We'll take it -- a wins a win -- and we'll move onto Laguna with a lot of confidence, just in the way that we rode. I think we rode pretty well today even though Josh beat me by so much. I was proud of the way I was able to keep a consistent pace by myself and hopefully Laguna goes just as well."

Cardenas' double-third marked his fifth and sixth podium finishes in the seven races he's contested as a works Suzuki SuperBike pilot (his solitary result off the podium was a fourth).

"We'll have to wait for next weekend and see what we can do," Cardenas said about his response to being toppled from the prime spot the championship order. "I knew this weekend was going to be hard; not that I'm bad here, but it's not my best track. It turned out to be okay -- not what we were hoping for. We'll have to wait and see about next week and see where we're at."

The results were remarkably consistent over the two days down the field at Mid-Ohio. If not for the penalty-related reversal of first and second on Sunday, the top eight finishers would have been exactly the same on both days.

Jordan Suzuki's Danny Eslick ran 4-4 at Mid-O. The Oklahoman factored near the top of the charts in practice and qualifying, proving that he can run the lead pace on a SuperBike when given a tow. He's still looking to find that bit of race pace required to join the week-in, week-out podium contenders on a consistent basis, but he's well on his way to establishing himself as the next man up.

"The weekend started pretty good," said Eslick. "The Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 was fast right out of the box and helped me get the weekend off on the right foot. Both my races were pretty much the same. I got good starts and was able to hang with the lead guys. It was tough to keep up with them but I was doing it, and then I made a few mistakes and lost some time. But this was the best weekend I’ve had as far as feeling comfortable with the bike and getting my confidence up. So now, we’ll head for Laguna Seca and hopefully talk about winning next weekend."

On both days, the series' leading twin-cylinder machines locked up for a pair of three-way scraps for fifth. And on both occasions, it was Team Hero EBR's Geoff May who secured the spot with some good defense, outlasting teammate Aaron Yates on the Team AMSOIL/Hero EBR 1190RS and KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore.

May said, "With this long straightway here, leaving with two top fives makes me pretty happy. The next track favors our bike a lot more. This EBR loves it when it's cool and runs a lot faster. I'm excited about getting up there and racing with those front-runners and surprise them."

"Aaron could run faster than me. He was running a better pace than me, but I was hitting all my marks and using the whole track. If anybody wanted to get by me, they really had to make a nasty pass. Fillmore got by me once or twice, then he'd screw up and I'd get around him. I used my experience and rode smart, which put me in fifth today even though some of the guys behind me were a little quicker."

Yates confirmed May's assessment, explaining, "I just couldn't get by Geoff. I didn't want to put some kind of crazy move on him to make the pass. I was struggling to get stopped at the end of the straightaway after half way. I really couldn't make a move on the brakes anywhere."

He added, "We've got the bike feeling really good to me. It's really getting through the corners well. I could make a mistake and lose some ground to Geoff but make it all back up in a couple of turns. It's fun to ride. If we get a little more power, we'll be in the show and in contention for a podium."

Fillmore may have had to lap times in him to do even better than his 7-7 result shows, but tire issues slowed him on Saturday and he suffered a massive fall in Sunday's warm-up that left him feeling more than a little beat up in Race 2.

However, Fillmore's weekend still went better than those of two other riders who entered Mid-Ohio with big expectations.

Based on his performance at Barber Motorsports Park last time out, along with his glittering past record at Mid-Ohio, National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden was a popular pick to contend for race wins this past weekend. Unfortunately, tire issues also slowed him on Saturday and he ran off track while fighting for the lead a third of the way into Sunday's final. In the end, Hayden could only manage a pair of eighths.

"It was a tough weekend," Hayden said. "We struggled a bit at first but the team worked hard and gave me a good bike with the Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000. I was able to run with the leaders in Saturday’s race until we had some tire problems midway through. So we switched tires on Sunday and I was able to keep up with the frontrunners until I made a mistake with a false neutral. I feel bad for my guys because they worked hard and made my bike really good after we struggled on the first day. Now I’m glad we only have a few days off before we get another chance at it. Laguna Seca has always been a good track for me and I’m looking forward to that race."

Things went even worse for Ohio native Larry Pegram on the Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing YZF-R1. Pegram also struggled with his rubber on Saturday en route to ninth and then crashed on the sighting lap ahead of Sunday's race. He hustled to get back to the grid but subsequently suffered another spill in the race before ultimately retiring.

Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing's David Anthony (18-9), Fillmore's KTM/HMC Racing teammate, Taylor Knapp (12-10), and Motosport.com/EBR II's Cory West (10-11) walked away with the remaining results in the top ten over the Mid-Ohio weekend.

AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike

The AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike round at Mid-Ohio saw Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier take two more wins despite some serious pressure along the way. The Californian was able to bust out two more victories to add to his impressive record in 2013. Beaubier’s six wins out of seven races is an impressive mark and the way he’s done it has enhanced his reputation as one of the top racers in America.

At Mid-Ohio, Beaubier wasn’t able to shake the field like he did at Daytona to start the season. He was able to run complete, focused races aimed at getting to the finish line first. Beaubier’s patented late race push has been the key to his Daytona SportBike wins and after Mid-Ohio, Beaubier now stands third all-time on the wins list in the class.

Beaubier doesn’t always get flier starts but usually gains ground in the opening laps. On Saturday, Cameron was able to outpace his two most consistent rivals, Jake Gagne and JD Beach of the Roadrace Factory/Red Bull team over the 21 laps but saw himself down in the field on the first one.

“I got a pretty bad start,” said Cameron. “My jump wasn't too bad but I wasn't very aggressive going into the first corner. Then Dane (Westby) passed me in the corner going onto the back straight and I got shuffled back to like fifth or sixth or something like that. I slowly started making my way through. Jake and I had a good battle right to the end. I pushed it hard the last couple laps. I made a few mistakes today -- I pushed the front a couple times and almost highsided coming out of 1. But I really want to thank my team for giving me an awesome bike.”

On Sunday, Cameron had a similar start but his toughest challenge was Beach. Beaubier couldn’t shake the Kentucky resident but still managed a victory by just 0.655 seconds. “I was a little timid in the first couple of laps but my Y.E.S./Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha team gave me a great bike, and I was able to go to work reeling in the leaders in those first couple of laps,” he said. “I made a few passes, got to the front, and just concentrated on running clean, fast laps. I’m looking forward to heading back to California and racing at Laguna Seca, which is close to home for me.”

Beaubier now leads the championship by 45 points over Gagne at the halfway point, but the races are looking tougher.

“Jake and JD are right on me and I just need to stay consistent,” Cam said.

Gagne and Beach impressed as well. Beach’s Sunday race was his best yet in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike. Beach lead laps and actually closed ground on Beaubier late and set fast lap of the race. “I got a good start and tried to put my head down. I know that in these races, sometimes people get up front but don’t finish there so I wanted to break away. I was leading and it felt good. Cameron came past me and I made a mistake, but I put my head down and did a decent lap time and caught up. I was able to bring it home in second.”

For JD, the race was a breakthrough. He performed well as a teammate to Beaubier in AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com SuperSport and many felt he outperformed Beaubier a few seasons ago but the young rider has been chasing his former and current teammates in 2013. “From last year to this year, it’s been up and down. I’ve shown moments but I’m not always where I should be. But me and my crew, we’ve been working hard. I know I can be up there,” said Beach.

Gagne earned a second and third and remains second in points. With six podiums on the season, Jake has proven himself to be Beaubier’s most consistent challenger. He backed up Saturday’s second place (his fourth of the year) with a third on Sunday in what he considered a subpar race. “I had too many moments out there and decided to bring it home third,” said Gagne.

Y.E.S/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff was able to earn fourth and fifth place finishes, emerging on top of some tough battles just behind the leaders. Gerloff said, “I’m happy to be racing in the lead pack, but I’d like to be even closer to the front. My team and I are working hard to make that happen. I’m hungry for a podium finish like I got at Daytona, and we’ve got another race in less than a week, so I’m excited about that.”

Jake Lewis on the Meen Motorsports machine earned fourth on Saturday. The youngster battled with the likes of Gerloff and James Rispoli once again in what is shaping up to be a common fight in the 2013 races. In a learning year, Lewis already has three tou four finishes and five results of seventh or better.

James Rispoli and National Guard/Celtic Racing showed speed once again, with James eager to lead early. Fifth in points, Rispoli’s aggressive racing produced a seventh and a fifth at Mid-Ohio, but his early pace was even better.

Dane Westby (GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing) had won at the last two Mid-Ohio events and the Oklahoman would have been disappointed with anything less than another victory. But an injury and developing a new motorcycle have made 2013 a tougher challenge. Westby was sixth and seventh in Lexington on his Honda and has finished inside the top eight in every race since his Daytona injury.

His Team Hammer teammate Benny Solis finished in the top ten twice on the M4 Broaster Chicken Racing entry, earning eighth and tenth.

Other top ten finishers included Fernando Amantini (Team Amantini) and Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Racing.) DiSalvo got great starts and showed good speed, but he and his team are continuing to up their pace for the entire race.

With little downtime before this weekend’s races at Laguna Seca, the field has little time to celebrate or contemplate the Mid-Ohio races.

AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com SuperSport

2013 has seen a varied number of winners in AMA Pro Motorcycle SuperStore.com SuperSport but it doesn’t stop there. The podium spots, perhaps even the top five, are up for grabs every week.

RoadRace Factory’s Tomas Puerta won his second race of the year on Saturday as the Colombian took care of business at the 2.4-mile circuit. Puerta, the West points leader, took his second win of the year in this East points race. Puerta pulled away to win by 3.213 seconds. "It was a tough race," said Puerta. "17 hard laps. Every time I looked at my board, the message was '+0.' They made me work hard. The last four or five laps, I was really going. I wasn't worried about crashing, I was trying to bring the race home, and they made me work really hard."

On Sunday, Puerta looked poised for another win. As soon as he took the lead at the end of Mid-Ohio’s straight, he had a machine issue that forced his retirement.

Team 95’s Hayden Gillim had a spectacular weekend, earning second on Saturday and improving to a victory on Sunday, his first of the year. Gillim topped Travis Wyman in a shootout that saw the riders trade the lead until the checkered flag.

"These guys were running a really good pace, too," said Gillim, who won by 0.184 of a second. "Travis got out in front. The last couple of laps, we were going at it. I was racing for the win. It was a really fun race."

“I was getting killed out of The Keyhole (on Saturday,)” said Gillim. “I tried to be more aggressive today.”

Gillim became the fifth rider to take victory in 2013 in AMA Pro Motorcycle SuperStore.com SuperSport.

Wyman’s performance in Sunday’s race was also spectacular. The Harv’s Harley Davidson-backed rider fought for his second career win and came up just short. “It was a good, hard-fought battle for the lead with Hayden. Towards the end, I thought I might be able to make a break. I tried to make a break and close any doors. We traded positions a couple of times at the end,” said Wyman. “I tried to make a move but he held his line and I am happy to be up in second. We’ve been working hard to get back on the podium all year.”

CTR Racing’s Miles Thornton also raced well at Mid-Ohio. The Georgian won pole and took two third place finishes to remain fourth in East points, leading Wyman by a single point. “I feel good and I wanted to win, but I’ll take (a podium) any day,” said Thornton. “It’s been a long time since I have been on the top. Barber was a great weekend too and I want to keep moving forward.”

Corey Alexander (National Guard Celtic Racing) took the East points lead with his seventh and fourth results. Alexander said, “It’s huge,” said Alexander.” I’m in the point lead now and every position is crucial.”

Stefano Mesa is third in points, but the MotoSport.com RSRacecraft pilot crashed on Saturday before rebounding to fifth on Sunday. With just New Jersey remaining on the East schedule, the trio of Slexander, Gillim, and Mesa will duke it out for the title at the season’s final round.

Other riders earning top tens in Ohio included Nick McFadden (TOBC Racing), Conner Blevins (Ajax Kawasaki), Devin McDonough (Motorcyclesuperstore.com) and Kaleb De Keyrel (CWS, Bleavley-Hayes). Erick Sanchez (EYK) and Brandon Cleland (MotoSport.com RSRacecraft) also posted their best finishes of the year.

After a couple of East events, the West points fight now takes center stage at Laguna Seca.

AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series

The story of the 2013 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series has been the various race weekend dramas of the otherwise easygoing Steve Rapp.

The accomplished AMA Pro Road Racing veteran hooked up with Suburban Harley-Davidson just prior to the season opener at Daytona but his race there lasted all of one lap after he'd qualified in second due to mechanical woes. At the subsequent two races, Rapp reestablished himself as a title favorite despite having to balance his racing career and his new life as a commercial airline pilot. With a hectic schedule that forced him to miss a full day of practice and qualifying at Road America and then the opening practice at Barber Motorsports Park, Rapp nonetheless came through to score dominant victories.

The Mid-Ohio weekend was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be easy.

Rapp took part in every session and was rewarded with his first pole position of the season. The Californian was a heavy favorite going into Sunday's race, but that drama returned once again.

Rapp was almost forced to miss the race due to a 'wardrobe malfunction' with his race leathers. He explained, "It's so embarrassing... It's never happened ever in all the years I've raced. The zipper got stuck and I couldn't get it up or down. Then we were really getting on it and the whole zipper broke off, so I had no suit. Luckily the guys from Suburban ran back and got me (teammate) Brice Cooper's suit. I put it on last second. I missed the warm-up lap and jumped over the wall just as they were taking the grid, but I was able to go from my grid spot."

Rapp started from his spot at the front of the grid but lost a few spots as he built up heat in his tires. While that was happening, an on-form Travis Wyman (Harv's Harley-Davidson) took control of the race at the front. Rapp ultimately diced through the field and tracked him down. After that the two went back and forth as they battled to the checkered flag, with the veteran overcoming the up-and-comer by a slim 0.173-second margin.

"It was more exciting, that's for sure," Rapp said of the unexpected shape of the race due to the pre-race zipper incident. "It took me a couple laps to get the tires up to temperature and everyone was riding fast so I had to really work hard. I think I burnt my tires up quite a bit just catching up and passing a couple of the guys.

"Once Travis and I were together I couldn't ride as hard as I wanted to. I felt like it was a little greasier than it had been in the morning or something. I was a little tentative in some of the corners. All-in-all, I knew it was just going to come down to me and him at that point and whoever was in the right place at the right time and had the best last lap. Fortunately, it worked out."

Wyman, who also earned a runner-up result in the SuperSport contest, said, "I feel good; I'm happy to come away with two second-place finishes today. Off the start I had the lead for a little bit and thought I could make a break. I saw I had about a second there early on and figured it was Rapp who was closing on me when I saw '+0'. Within a lap or two he got by me but I was able to hang onto his tail there and keep up the pace.

"I got around him -- we were going back and forth a little bit. And then on the last lap we were side-by-side going into Turn 6 and he had the better line and made it work. I tried to get back around him in the last section but couldn't make anything work. I'm really happy to earn this podium and prove that I can run upfront in this class. I'm glad to have my Harv's Harley-Davidson XR1200 on the podium."

After Rapp and Wyman cleared off, Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade's Tyler O'Hara settled into a hard-fought tussle for the final spot on the podium with championship hopeful Ben Carlson (Suburban Harley-Davidson) and defending class king Michael Barnes (Spyke's Harley-Davidson), which O'Hara ultimately won.

"When I passed Rapp I saw 'Cooper' on his back and thought, 'wow, he got a really good start," O'Hara said with a laugh. "And then he passed me back and I figured it was Rapp.

"It was a lot of fun. Travis and Rapp set the bar all weekend and we were kind of playing catch-up. We had little issues with our front tire this weekend and didn't really have much side bite on the right, but we really had a turnaround from where we were at. I've really got to thank my whole team - Eco Fuel Saver, Scrubblade, and Bartel's Harley-Davidson and Josh Chisum for supporting us.

"And hats off to (Rapp and Wyman). Every time I ride with Steve I learn a lot. Hopefully, one of these times the student will prevail."

Eric Stump (Fernet Insurance), Nicholas Hansen (H&S Distributors), Josh Chisum (Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade), Hayden Schultz (Happy Trails MC Connnection), and Shane Narbonne (Mob Racing) scored important finishes in the top ten at Mid-Ohio as well with just one race remaining to get into the championship top ten and qualify for the $60,000 XR Challenge.

Speaking of drama, there's sure to be plenty of it to go around when the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series returns to action at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT, after sitting out the upcoming Laguna Seca weekend, with riders ranked as deep as 18th still within eight points of a qualifying position.

Next Up

The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season will pick right back up this weekend (July 19-21) in Monterey, California as the series shares the spotlight with the global superstars of the MotoGP World Championship for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This season's GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing action is being broadcast on CBS Sports Network as part of the CBS Sports Spectacular. Fans can find CBS Sports Network on their TV by using the channel finder at http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder.

In addition to the live broadcasts on CBS Sports Network, AMA Pro Live will be live streaming multiple channels of behind-the-scenes video of the weekend's activities alongside Live Timing & Scoring. AMA Pro Live puts fans in the director's chair, allowing them to choose from a variety of viewpoints including track cameras, paddock cameras and a press conference channel at http://www.amaprolive.com.

Stay connected with GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing on social media at http://twitter.com/AMAProSBK and http://www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing.

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