Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden won a close one at New Jersey Motorsport Park, holding off the Monster/Graves Yamaha of four-time Champ Josh Hayes on the last lap to win the penultimate Superbike race of the 2016 MotoAmerica Championship Series.
These two battled throughout the 25 lap event, joined early by reigning Champ and Superbike points leader Cameron Beaubier on the second works Yamaha YZF-R1. Late in the race, Spanish ace Toni Elias caught up to the leading trio, and Beaubier eased off to guarantee a solid finish in fourth. Beaubier leads Hayes by 22 points with just one race, later this afternoon, left to run.
Elias didn’t have quiet enough time to join the fight for first, a tight battle that went right to the finish line.
“I did think a win was a possibility, I had the pace in Q but I crashed,” explained Hayden of his troubles on Saturday. “I’ve been workin’ hard and I’ve been trying to win those races that I am close in. I went out this morning on an old tire and felt I had the pace.”
“I tried to lead more, still wasn’t sure if I had the pace. On the last lap, I didn’t know if I would make turn one, I had things locked up! I’m rally happy for the team; we’ve been so close so many times. I’ve been racing Josh my whole career and he always get the best of me, so that was really good. I know Josh hates loosing, Toni too, so I expect it to be even harder in the next race.”
The title is a long shot for Hayes, but the second-in-points racer is still working for another Championship number one plate.
“I really hoped our good pace at the start would break things up a little bit, but we all stayed close,” explained Hayes of his early race lead over Hayden.
“Then Cam (Beaubier) got by and I let him try to see if he had the pace, but he didn’t. That let Roger get away, and I was mad at myself, thought maybe I could take advantage, but that didn’t work.”
At the start of the last lap Hayes “was getting a good run, gave it the best run that I can, made a few mistakes – I don’t think it woulda mattered, so I have to take second. I think I learned a lot and that will really help in race two. I have one goal today, and I’m not going to be very nice – I have one plan to try for the Championship.”
“They were running fast from the start and they were gone,” explained Elias. “Then I started to make up, and then at the end I arrive for the last few laps. I’m waiting for the second race, I’m feeling really good and we are recovered from yesterday.”
Fifth went to the Kawasaki of Bobby Fong, also first overall in the less-modified Superstock class. Jake Gagne placed sixth overall, in his Superbike class Yamaha, while seventh overall and second in Superstock belonged to South African Matthew Scholtz on his Westby Yamaha.