ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 2, 2012) – There were no ‘what ifs’ following the second half of the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader that closed out the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing weekend at Road America.
In contrast to Saturday’s opening-lap clash for the lead, the championship’s three major players — reigning National Guard SuperBike champ, Josh Hayes, pre-event title leader Josh Herrin, and the current points leader, Martin Cardenas — all got away relatively cleanly for the 12-lap contest and settled in for a straight fight to determine the day’s victor.
And in the end, Hayes once again proved his supremacy. However, unlike the script that played out so frequently during the 2012 season — including twice here at Road America — the win did not come easily.
The Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha superstar worked past Herrin on the opening lap and then hounded Cardenas until he finally found a way into the lead on lap 3. But, once in front, it proved no easy task to shake his determined challengers, and when he finally did — unlike his numerous ’12 blowouts — the race was still not completely decided.
Hayes pushed the gap up to 2.428 seconds by lap 7, however, Cardenas responded by finding his groove aboard the #36 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000. The Mississippian’s advantage decreased lap by lap from there on out until he finally took the checkered flag with the charging Colombian just 0.818 seconds behind and within a sniff of his #1 R1’s draft.
The victory marks Hayes’ fifth National Guard Superbike win in a row at Road America — the most of any rider. It also marked his second consecutive season of not only maximizing his points haul in Wisconsin but doing so while topping every single practice, qualifying session, and race.
Hayes now boasts 35 career SuperBike victories and lowered his title deficit by 14 points on the weekend. He currently has 71 points, 34 removed from Cardenas’ class-leading 105.
With his Daytona disaster now firmly behind him, Hayes said, “It was a great weekend. I’m really happy with the results. The racing was very hard for me. It was a really tough day.”
Commenting on Cardenas’ late-race rally, Hayes remarked, “I was trying really, really hard. I got really tight. I was definitely struggling even from the halfway flag on. It was just me hanging on and gripping the bars really tight. My right arm is pretty worked… I started to panic a little bit when he started closing that gap up, but I was just trying to stay relaxed. I never really looked back. I had a pretty bad moment in 8 and thought, ‘oh, you just threw away the race.’ I looked back and saw I had a little bit of room and just tried to ride the second half of the lap clean. I’m glad I was able to make it to the line.”
While he didn’t complete his charge for the win, Cardenas’ effort was most impressive and further signaled his arrival as a serious contender for the throne.
He said, “The race was good. I liked it a little bit better than yesterday. Especially at the end, I got in a very good rhythm. I got a good start and the first few laps I was kinda okay. And then he passed me and did some very fast laps and I couldn’t keep on with him. I was not so good in some corners, but then I calmed down and started to get into a very good rhythm. We finished second, which is a very good place and a little bit closer, which is the idea. We’re happier than yesterday, and the Suzuki is working good. We’re looking forward to Barber and seeing what we can do.”
Herrin hung tough on Cardenas’ rear wheel until the Suzuki man ratcheted up the pace. Once he lost the tow, Herrin faded dramatically, finishing more than eight seconds off the win. However, the career-long Yamaha pilot had built up a large safety margin behind him and cruised to a safe podium finish.
“I thought it was really good,” Herrin said, who is now second in the points with 92. “Towards the end of the race I faded, obviously. I have no excuses for that — I was making little mistakes. For some reason when Martin would run wide, I’d think in my head, ‘here’s my chance to catch up or to pass him’ but I’d follow him every time. He’d run wide, I’d run wide. He’d have a bobble, I’d have a bobble. That was really hurting me.
“Towards the end, he really dropped the hammer and started reeling in Josh. I was hoping I’d stay with him but I just wasn’t able to.”
National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden scored a lonely fourth after flashing a front-running pace on the race’s opening two laps. He was followed home by his Jordan Suzuki teammate, Danny Eslick, to put three Suzukis in the top five.
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Yamaha’s Larry Pegram took sixth with several seconds of padding in either direction.
Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing’s David Anthony beat KTM/HMC Racing’s Chris Fillmore for seventh. Team AMSOIL/Hero’s Aaron Yates was elevated to top EBR 1190RS pilot when his Team Hero teammate, Geoff May, crashed out of seventh on lap 3. The big Georgian finished ninth.
Team RSRacecraft EBR’s Cory West just held on to beat Farrell Performance Kawasaki’s Jason Farrell and M4 Broaster Chicken Honda’s Chris Ulrich for the final spot inside the top ten.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Sunday’s AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race was a classic, a battle between Jake Gagne and Cameron Beaubier that saw each rider take a turn at the front and one that saw both riders nearly lose control at other times on the 4.05-mile Road America circuit. RoadRace Factory/Red Bull’s Gagne took his second AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike win with a great ride that saw him pressure Beaubier into a mistake with three laps to go. Jake Lewis earned third via a photo finish with J.D. Beach.
Gagne won last year’s GoPro Daytona SportBike race at Miami in the rain, and today’s Road America win was his first DSB victory in the dry. Unlike yesterday’s contest, Gagne was able to stick with Beaubier in the early going.
“I think Cam had more pace than me early in the race,” Gagne said. “I didn’t want him to get away like yesterday. A few laps to go, he made a mistake, and I got a gap.”
The colder temperature conditions certainly changed things for the riders from Saturday’s race and both riders were near and sometimes beyond the limits of traction throughout the 13-lap contest. Beaubier even cracked his windscreen but managed to keep his Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 on two wheels to the finish, and he maintained the points lead.
“I made a lot of mistakes and felt like I had the pace to win. I almost ran into Jake but he rode awesome and got a good win,” said Beaubier, who now leads Gagne by 15 points in the championship.
Lewis and Beach had a similar race, but their battle only concluded with the checkered flag. Lewis, racing his Meen Motorsports Racing Yamaha, finished just 0.008 seconds in front of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull’s Beach, who had won the battle of Kentucky residents on Saturday.
Garrett Gerloff took fifth again for Y.E.S./Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha and is now third in the GoPro Daytona SportBike points behind Beaubier and Gagne. Oklahoman Dane Westby was sixth on the GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing machine. James Rispoli (National Guard/Celtic Racing) shadowed Westby to the line.
Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Triumph), Elena Myers (Castrol/Triumph/Apex Manufacturing), and Ben Young (Ben Young Racing) rounded out the top ten.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Corey Alexander won the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race at Road America on Sunday, besting a five-rider draft pack in the final run up the hill to make it a weekend sweep for the National Guard/Celtic Racing pilot. The rising star topped Stefano Mesa (Motosport.com RSRacecraft) and Tomas Puerta (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) for the win, with AMA Pro officials confirming the results with a photo finish.
“We changed positions so many times, it was tough to remember everything that happened,” Alexander said. “I could have been first, and I could have been fifth. I was glad to win it. First off, everyone in the top five had an awesome race. The bike was great all weekend, and we have some momentum going into Barber.”
Stefano Mesa took second-place again on Sunday. “It was a solid weekend with the new team. Two second places, it was a good fight. All five of us out there were riding strong. My hat is off to the others,” said Mesa.
Puerta looked to back up his Daytona victory with another triumph but lost out in the waning moments. The Colombian still took a fine third place. “We were battling very hard. With two laps to go, I got the lead and tried to pull away, but it did not work out,” said Tomas.
Officially, Mesa was 0.012 seconds behind Alexander, and Puerta was a scant .001 farther back.
Also in the lead pack were Harv’s H-D racer Travis Wyman and Baby Appleseed CM Motorsports’ Jeffrey Tigert. The top five finished the race within 0.425 seconds, making for a tightly contested victory.
Initially the first race on Sunday’s schedule, the race was red-flagged after a crash on a restart and postponed until the last event of the day.
Connor Blevins (Ajax Kawasaki) was fifth, ahead of Houston Superbikes’ Travis Ohge and Team 95’s Hayden Gillim.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series
Suburban Harley-Davidson’s Steve Rapp did the unthinkable in Sunday’s 6-lap AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series final — he managed to escape from the pack and win the race going away.
Each previous H-D dogfight at the circuit was decided by 0.157 seconds or less, but the veteran competitor somehow managed to break free of the draft and control the race from the front, ultimately taking the checkered flag with some four seconds in hand.
Adding to the level of difficulty was the fact that the airline pilot didn’t even show up at the track until Sunday morning; Rapp earned a slot on the front row of the grid in the class’ second qualifying session, which was held Sunday morning, and then flew to victory in the afternoon in what was his day off from work.
Rapp said, “I love this place — I do. I always look forward to coming here… I’m just happy to be here. It’s Suburban Harley-Davidson’s home race and I want to thank them — they put in a big effort.
“It was really just a great, great day for me.”
While Rapp’s dominance eliminated the expected drama for the win, a thrilling scrap took place behind him to decide second.
Rapp’s Suburban Harley-Davidson teammate, Ben Carlson, ultimately took a popular runner-up result in front of his home fans by an impossibly small 0.001-second margin over Rossmeyers Harley-Davidson’s reigning champ Michael Barnes.
Harv’s Harley-Davidson’s Travis Wyman was a further 0.063 back in fourth.
Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade/Bartels’ Tyler O’Hara was also part of a four-man pack fighting for the position for much of the race but was forced out with a mechanical issue moments after moving into second position.
ChiliPepperRacing.com’s Ricky Parker came out on top of a hard-fought four-rider brawl to complete the top five.
The racing at Road America included some of the closest competition and fiercest battles seen to date and the series looks to continue the momentum later this month at the Triumph SuperBike Classes presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union. The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season will return to the track on June 21-23 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala