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.
— From AMA Pro Road Racing