Alabama Shakes: Hayes and Yamaha outlast rivals in brutal contest at Barber Motorsports Park
NEWS June 21, 2014
Photo by Brian J Nelson
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 21, 2014) - In the opening stages of Saturday's AMA Pro SuperBike showdown at Barber Motorsports Park, the race for victory appeared to be shaping into a rematch of the epic clashes featured at last year's Triumph SuperBike Classic. However, the brutally hot conditions ultimately delivered a result more reminiscent of the race of attrition endured last time out at Road America, albeit due to heat instead of precipitation.
And as was the case in Wisconsin, it was the experience and rock solid riding of three-time AMA Pro SuperBike champion Josh Hayes that won out in the end. The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha rider held strong at the front all afternoon despite the extremely trying circumstances while all of his major rivals faltered.
As a result, the early advantage Hayes spotted his competition with his Daytona DNF back in March has effectively been erased. The 39-year-old now owns the inside line to a fourth-career SuperBike crown with a commanding 17-point advantage as the season approaches its halfway point.
2011 Barber Motorsports Park SuperBike race winner Martin Cardenas was the first to see his chances end with a crash, falling out of the race on its opening lap. The Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing star was joined a handful of laps later when Hayes' Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Cameron Beaubier, fell in the same area of the racetrack.
That spill marked the conclusion of a long day for the rookie standout. Beaubier started from the second row of the grid after crashing in Qualifying 3. He then ran off track while running a close third on lap five and tumbled out of the race a lap later.
"I had a really good lap going in qualifying and for whatever reason I tucked the front," Beaubier said. "I got in a little hot. Same thing this afternoon - I just felt like I had no grip compared to earlier and I made a mistake. And then I was trying to catch back up and I just washed front in the last right-hander. I don't know - I'm pretty disappointed at this point. I'm sick of crashing."
GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda's Chris Ulrich crashed in Turn 1 on the next lap, bringing out a red flag. At the restart, Hayes and title hopeful Roger Hayden immediately resumed the intense fight for first they waged prior to the stoppage.
Hayden, who twice pushed Hayes to the checkered flag at Barber Motorsports Park last season only to come up fractions of a second short of victory, battled hard to overcome him this time around. However, perhaps the Yoshimura ace battled just a bit too hard, crashing away a potential win while running in Hayes' shadow on lap 16 of 21.
The mounting mistakes ultimately left Hayes all alone out front with ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing's David Anthony and HMC/KTM Racing's Chris Fillmore embroiled in a scrap for second and third position.
Unfortunately for Fillmore, his hopes for a debut podium for KTM evaporated in heartbreak, as his race ended with him sitting aboard an expired RC8R in the gravel. Fillmore's loss was Chris Clark's gain, as the third Yoshimura pilot readily accepted a first-career AMA Pro SuperBike podium of his own.
"To me, the race was very reminiscent of last year," said Hayes after claiming AMA Pro SuperBike victory No. 43. "It was hot, greasy and very easy to make mistakes. ... Fortunately, once the pressure was off, I was able to back things down a little bit and I felt pretty safe and sound the last few laps.
"But up until that point, I had a pretty good race going. I started off a little relaxed and maybe a little too complacent. I didn't dig deep for fast laps because I knew the second half of the race was going to change things - and it still was hard for some, even at the beginning of the race. After the red flag, my start was okay and I was just kind of so-so on the first couple of laps. And then I thought, 'OK, let's see if (Hayden) has really got some speed here' in the second half and I started trying a few things. I made a few mistakes but after that I calmed down I started clicking off better and better laps. I was hoping I could put some pressure on, and if he wasn't ready for it, just get him half a second off and I knew making that ground back up would be really difficult to do.
"I don't know what happened behind me with him. I hate that he went down - I hate that all the guys went down. But hey, it was a hard race and I'm glad I was able to wrestle that R1 around and not fall off of her and get her to the finish line and do a good job for my team."
For Australian Anthony, today's finish marked his second career AMA Pro Road Racing podium, coming directly on the heels of his Road America breakthrough.
Anthony's stellar season actually sees him ranked second in the points chase following five races.
"I think everyone will say the same - it was a matter of attrition out there," said Anthony. "I was just trying to keep it on two wheels - it was pretty slippery out there. That was my goal - just bring it to the end. I knew some people would go down and a few of them did."
"To earn a first (AMA Pro Road Racing) podium in the SuperBike class out of all of them is something pretty special," said Clark after his third-place finish. "It was definitely a race of attrition - if everybody would have stayed up, I probably wouldn't be up here, but that's how the race went.
"I've been putting in a lot of training in Florida. ... When I knew it was going to be a hot race, I thought we'd have a chance at doing something special. I can't speak for all the riders, but when you're in a race that long and hot, the brain starts to fade and mistakes can happen. I just put in a really solid race and I'm really thankful to be up here."
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram climbed his way up to fourth, while Team AMSOIL Hero's Cory West made it two EBR 1190RSs in the top five.
Vicious Cycle Racing's Sean Dwyer, Pilot Travel Centers Racing's Reese Wacker, Seven Sports' Trent Gibson, United America All Nation's Johnny Rock Page and Babuska Racing's Frankie Babuska made for an interesting top ten by placing sixth through tenth, respectively.
On Sunday, Hayden, Beaubier, Cardenas and company will have a shot at redemption while Hayes will look to continue his march to reclaim the No. 1 plate.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Yamalube/Westby Racing's Dane Westby won the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race on Saturday, snatching an epic victory after 19 laps of battling with Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha pilot JD Beach to win by 0.310 seconds in the Alabama heat.
The Oklahoman was under assault the entire event, with Beach and polesitter Jake Lewis in his shadow. Beach made a move to the lead with four to go, but Westby countered in the Museum Turn moments later.
"I saw one guy go flying past and I knew in the last couple of laps they were going to try to do something, so I just tried to attack back as quick as I could," said Westby of his third career DSB win and first since forming his own squad. "It's so ridiculously hot here today - the humidity. I was dying in the truck before this race, but we come out and you get going and there's no one in front of you ... that stuff just disappears."
Bobby Fong and his Latus Motors/Castrol/Triumph Racing entry went from the ground to the podium at Barber, with the team repairing crash damage during the red flag he brought out for a fall and the rider making moves to earn third place after restarting last.
Team H35's Benny Solis was fourth, ahead of veterans Danny Eslick on the Riders Discount Racing Triumph and Steve Rapp on his D&D Cycles/Castrol/Triumph.
Points leader Jake Gagne and his RoadRace Factory/Red Bull machine crashed with Garrett Gerloff just after the restart. Gerloff said after the race that he had fractured his radius bone in the incident and could miss time as he heals.
AMA Pro SuperSport
On Saturday, Hayden Gillim won his second AMA Pro SuperSport race in a row. The TOBC Racing team and Gillim managed to take the race by 5.987 seconds over Houston Superbike's Dustin Dominguez and De Keyrel Racing's Kaleb De Keyrel in the hottest event of the year.
"I've been able to get good starts this year," said Gillim. "We were able to get out front. I didn't believe my pitboard, so I kept my head down and pushed as much as I could. I was second in qualifying, so I didn't think I could get away like I did."
De Keyrel scored his first finish on the podium. The 17-year old fought with Dominguez until the checkered flag, getting by his more experienced counterpart before losing the position at the end.
"I figured instead of duking it out with two to go, I'd do a little studying," said Dominguez. "It was a pretty cool pass."
Miles Thornton was back in the top five as the D&D Cycles/Triumph/Castrol pilot earned fourth, ahead of a second TOBC Racing entry underneath Curtis Murray.
Points leader Corey Alexander crashed out of the race while in the top five.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series
Reigning AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series champ Steve Rapp is desperately looking to get his title defense on track this weekend in Alabama following a pair of disappointing results in the season's first two rounds. The Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson star is off to a good start toward those ends this weekend, securing the provisional pole with a scorching 1:35.497 lap.
"I hadn't crashed the bike in three years before Road America, so the boys took it apart and went through everything," said Rapp. "It was good and we'll see how things go tomorrow."
Rapp will be joined on the front row by his Suburban Motors teammate, Ben Carlson, and Road America winner Kyle Wyman on the KWR/Millennium XR1200.
Points leader Tyler O'Hara (Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels Harley-Davidson) will start from the middle of Row 2.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
About AMA Pro Road Racing
AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.
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