-- AMA SBK 2013 - AMA SBK heads to Utah
Only five races remain to decide the 2013 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike championship and two of those crucial contests will be waged this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park as GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing travels to Tooele, Utah.
Defending triple champion Josh Hayes (No. 1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1) took an important step toward becoming the first man in series' history to claim four consecutive SuperBike titles last time out at Laguna Seca. The Mississippian collected maximum points and scored a dominating victory, powering away from the field right from the start to stretch his narrow points lead out to eleven.
The scary reality for his rivals is the fact that Hayes never seemed completely on his game in Monterey, openly admitting to be somewhat out of sorts on a track that doesn't rank among his best on the tour.
However, expect the champion to be laser focused this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park, which stands as among his favorite circuits and one that rewards his precise lines and consistent style.
Hayes, who took his first win at MMP in his first visit to the track in 2006 in the Formula Extreme class, proved untouchable in Utah last season, as he won in convincing fashion and scored yet another maximum points haul weekend. Last year, the damage he could inflict was limited by the fact that only a single race was contested as the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing competitors shared the bill with the FIM Superbike World Championship. However, this year's standalone event will see Hayes head into to Utah as the weekend favorite with a full doubleheader schedule awaiting him.
Hayes' chief title rivals, Josh Herrin (No. 2 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1) and Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) are no slouches at Miller Motorsports Park themselves.
Herrin, who currently ranks second with 212 points to his teammate's 223, earned his first-ever AMA Pro podium just weeks after turning 16 in 2006 with a third-place run in the Supersport race at Miller Motorsports Park. Herrin took his first MMP win two years ago by taking first in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike contest. And last year, Herrin impressed by outdueling two-time SuperBike runner-up Blake Young on the race's final lap to claim second place behind Hayes.
Cardenas too has an impressive track record at Miller Motorsports Park. The Colombian, who ranks third with 207 points, battled in the lead group in 2011 as a SuperBike class rookie before crashing out of contention. He bounced back last season to win the Daytona SportBike race at the venue en route to taking his second SportBike crown.
While the title race has realistically been whittled down to a three-man race, a number of SuperBike pilots retain serious spoiler potential. Chief among them is Roger Hayden (No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000), who has arguably been the series' second fastest rider and very nearly even on pace with Hayes during the middle part of the '13 season.
Hayden's Laguna Seca disappointment allowed his Michael Jordan Motorsport teammate, Danny Eslick (No. 23 Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000), to overtake him for fourth in the '13 standings. Eslick has racked up three consecutive fourth-place results as he continues to work hard to bridge the gap separating him from the series' regular podium contenders.
Geoff May (No. 99 Team Hero EBR 1190RS) and his Erik Buell Racing teammate, Aaron Yates (No. 20 Team AMSOIL/Hero EBR 1190RS), could be in position to turn some heads this weekend as well. While the track's long front straight and high overall average speed of Miller Motorsports Park might not seem to suit the twin-cylinder EBR 1190RSs at first blush, its flowing corners and high elevation (which works as something of a natural traction control system) actually play to its strengths.
Last season, May and then-EBR pilot Eslick secured two positions on the front row. May backed up his qualifying form with a competitive fourth-place result.
Chris Fillmore (No. 11 KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R) and Taylor Knapp (No. 44 KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R) may be able to capitalize as well and come in on a high after demonstrating their best combined form of the season two weeks ago at Laguna Seca.
Larry Pegram (No. 72 Pegram Racing Yamaha YZF-R1) is currently battling through something of a midseason slump, but remains within three points of a top-five ranking due to his strong season opening.
And Australian David Anthony (No. 25 Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) could once again give his factory-backed competition fits as the privateer has already notched up seven top-ten finishes this season.
-- Previously......AMA SBK 2013 - Round Five - Hayes wins Laguna AMA Superbike
Immediately following the conclusion of the MotoGP World Championship contest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the massive crowd in attendance at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix witnessed the performance another world class rider at the peak of his powers.
Three-time AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike king Josh Hayes registered a masterful ride to conclude this weekend's GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing activities en route to his 39th career premier-class triumph.
Hayes made an aggressive start off the line and put his head down over the race's opening laps to immediately crush any hope his rivals may have had of shadowing him for the entire 23-lap race.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha superstar made a clean break and, after logging a host of flawless laps, ultimately assembled a 7.829-second gap at the checkered flag that brought a merciful end to the reigning champion's one-sided victory.
After solidifying his hard-earned championship advantage, Hayes said, "It's not how I expected the race would play out but I'm glad. My idea of the race was it would be more similar to Ohio where the guys would be there for half the race and then the second half I would have a little more pace than them.
"The race actually came to me better than any session all weekend. Things clicked well, the laps times came pretty easily, and I didn't make any mistakes. It was a really smooth race for me, and I'm glad that it finally kind of came around for the race; I feel like I've been working hard all weekend and in the race things came a little more naturally."
While he seemingly needed little assistance on this day, the efforts of his teammate Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, helped to ease Hayes' escape. Herrin maneuvered in front of National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden at the start, and corralled the Kentuckian behind him for several crucial laps as Hayes stretched open his early gap.
Hayden had looked to be Hayes' primary concern this weekend, outpacing him on Friday and then pushing him throughout the remainder of the lead-up to the race. However, by the time Hayden found a way past Herrin on lap 8, Hayes had already built up more than five seconds worth of padding.
While Hayden managed to cut into Hayes' lead ever so slightly once he had some clear track in front of him, the former Supersport champion's recent string of poor luck struck yet again. Hayden was forced out of the race on lap 12 with a mechanical issue, making it three consecutive races in which he flashed the outright pace to race for the win but ultimately came away with a disappointing result.
Yoshimura Suzuki's Martin Cardenas followed Hayden past Herrin but made a mistake running through the Corkscrew on lap 11, allowing Herrin back past. From that point on, Herrin held strong, successfully fending Cardenas to the stripe.
Runner-up Herrin remarked, "My plan from the beginning was to stick behind Josh from lap 1 but it didn't work out so well. I know why -- on the warm-up lap he always goes from the line like it's the start of the race and gets the pace going and gets used to it. I just wasn't ready when the flagged dropped. I got a good start but he was gone the first couple of laps.
"The battle with Rog and Martin was good. I'm not sure what happened to Roger -- bummer that he wasn't there. All the work I've been putting in... the last two laps when I decided I needed to put it down so (Cardenas) didn't pass me somewhere, I was able to do so easily. I think if we could have kept up with Josh at the beginning like we normally do, it would have been a tight race, but I just wasn't able to keep up with him."
Cardenas came home third, his eighth podium finish in nine races since joining the Yoshimura squad.
The Colombian said, "It was a very tough race. I gave everything I had on all the laps. I got a little help to get on the podium because Roger had a mechanical and he was faster than me today. But I gave everything that I had. I had not the grip I wanted on the rear and was sliding all the race. I was hoping to get second position at the end but I didn't quite have a good enough last lap and wasn't close enough to make an attack on Herrin. I had to settle for third place. A podium is a good position but it's not the result we are chasing. It's a good result, and I'm happy. We'll keep trying at Miller and the next few races and hopefully it will come."
Several battles for position from fourth through tenth materialized and evaporated as the race took shape. A big train consisting of Jordan Suzuki's Danny Eslick, KTM/HMC Racing teammates Chris Fillmore and Taylor Knapp, Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram, and Erik Buell Racing teammates, Geoff May and Aaron Yates eventually broke down into multiple two and three-rider scraps.
Knapp showed his best form of the season, slicing past Pegram and Fillmore and closing down on Eslick, before his race came to an early end with a crash on lap 16.
Eventual fifth-place finisher Fillmore too challenged Eslick before the Oklahoman stretched out a bit of distance late to lock down fourth.
Team Hero EBR's May slashed his way up from tenth to claim sixth, just holding off Team AMSOIL/Hero teammate Yates on the final lap, while Pegram faded to eighth.
The misfortune of Hayden and Knapp meant that the dogfight waged by Motosport.com/EBR II's Cory West and Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing's David Anthony was elevated to a top-ten tussle. West out-dueled Anthony in the end to claim ninth.
Defending champion Hayes will carry an 11-point advantage over second-ranked Herrin (223-212) into Miller Motorsports Park, in Tooele, UT when the series arrives on August 2-4 for Round 6 of the 2013 AMA Pro National Guard season.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Cameron Beaubier won his seventh AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race of the year on Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, taking the win over teammate Garrett Gerloff and RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Jake Gagne in a red-flagged race shortened to 14 laps.
Beaubier took the win by 2.955 seconds, having led before the red flag flew as the race approached halfway. On the restart, he was able to get out in front and avoid the entertaining battle behind him to lock up yet another race. Beaubier matched his 2012 total of seven GoPro Daytona SportBike contests with the spectacular victory.
"I kind of slacked on the first start and I went back to fifth," said Beaubier of the opening laps. "I was on the outside of (Jason) DiSalvo, and he ran a little wide. I finally made my way up to the front, put my head down, and pulled a little gap and then I saw the red flag. I thought, 'Oh man, it's going to be a bummer if we have to restart.' So, I just made sure I got a really good start on the restart and just put my head down. I knew Jake and Garrett were going to be right there. I have to give it up to my whole Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha crew. They've been working so hard and giving us awesome bikes."
Gerloff returned to the podium for the first time since his second-place finish at Daytona. His race saw him dicing with Latus Motors Racing's Jason DiSalvo for second, with Gagne just behind. With three to go, Gerloff made his move into second and was able to hold it to the flag to culminate arguably his best weekend yet on the GoPro Daytona SportBike.
Gagne led much of the race before the red flag but had to scramble to finish third after a poor restart. Gagne was in the second half of the top ten but made some smart moves, culminating with a pass of DiSalvo entering the Corkscrew, to earn his seventh podium result of the year.
DiSalvo's fourth was his best result since Barber Motorsports Park. The Triumph pilot was especially aggressive in the early laps once again.
RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's JD Beach backed up his Mid-Ohio podiums with fifth at one of his least favorite circuits, so it was a favorable result for the Kentucky resident. He topped Jake Lewis of Meen Motorsports by 2.172 seconds.
Dane Westby of GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing took seventh on his Honda.
James Rispoli (National Guard/Celtic Racing), Bobby Fong (D&D Cycles/Castrol/Triumph), and Joey Pascarella (Riders Discount Racing Triumph) rounded out the top ten.
- AMA Superbike Championship 2013 -
RND 1 - BEAUBIER WINS DAYTONA 200
RND 2 - HAYES TAKES ROAD AMERICA
RND 3 - HAYES WINS BARBER
- AMA Superbike Championship 2012 -
RND 1 - DAYTONA
RND 2 - ATLANTA
RND 3 - INFINEON
RND 4 - MILLER
RND 5 - ROAD AMERICA
RND 6 - BARBER
RND 7 - LAGUNA SECA
RND 8 - NEW JERSEY
RND 9 - MIAMI
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