Yoshimura Suzuki dominated the first of two AMA Superbike races in the double-header weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Saturday.
Six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin won the 16-lap race and moved into the championship points lead while team mates Ben Spies and Tommy Hayden finished second and third, respectively. This victory is Mladin's sixth win of the year, his seventh Road America victory and his 57th career AMA Superbike win.
"I'd like to thank my Yoshimura Suzuki crew and Suzuki for delivering such a great motorbike in the GSX-R1000," said Mladin. "The bike allowed Yoshimura Suzuki to sweep the podium today and hopefully we'll come back and do it again tomorrow."
With intermittent rain in the morning, the day's earlier qualifying session was more reminiscent of Superbike practice. As a result, Mladin's provisional lap time of 2:11.541 from Friday remained the fastest time and he picked up his 51st career pole position. This is Mladin's first pole position of the 2007 season and his sixth pole at Road America. The 35-year-old Australian has more AMA Superbike pole positions than any other rider.
"It was certainly important to get something done (on Friday)," said Mladin. "We don't have special tyres for qualifying anymore, just race tyres. So we got a pretty decent lap on fresh race tyres... and if you can get the bike set-up right, you can break away."
Defending AMA Superbike Champion Spies was right behind Mladin in the second spot on the grid, thanks to a lap time of 2:12.330, while Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates rounded out the front row with a best time of 2:13.166. Yoshimura Suzuki rider Hayden qualified close behind on the second row with a fast 2:13.268 lap time.
With rainy weather threatening, Mladin started the race from the pole but didn't get the perfect start. Even so, he moved quickly into the lead and held on until the race's end.
"Wet or dry, you have to stay focused and be prepared," said Mladin of the potentially sketchy weather. "We had one bike set up for rain and one bike set up for dry. Fortunately, it was a dry race; the spectators want to see a good race and not a bunch of guys splashing around. Hopefully, we gave them a good show and they got their money's worth."
Spies, meanwhile, got a great start and holeshot the race in spite of having taken a nasty spill on the pre-race warm-up lap. Even with the get-off, the young Texan put his head down and rode a great race - leading the first few laps before bringing home second position.
"It wasn't our day to win today," said Spies. "I did everything I could but it just wasn't enough. We learned some things that we can use tomorrow but after the day I've had, I'm content with second place. (Because of the crash on the warm-up lap) my crew will have to rebuild a whole motorcycle tonight and this is two weekends in a row that I've done this to them. But it's great to get one-two-three for Yoshimura Suzuki, I'm really happy for Tommy to get on the podium and congratulations to Mat on a great race."
Two-time AMA Supersport Champion Hayden celebrated his second AMA Superbike podium -- and his first with the Yoshimura Suzuki team. Hayden got a decent start on his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and methodically picked off the competition to move into fourth place. With a few laps to go, he took over third position only to get passed on the penultimate lap. Undaunted, Hayden fought back and made the pass for the podium spot at the start-finish line.
"It feels good to finally get on the podium this year," said Hayden. "It's been a long season and I'd like to thank my Yoshimura Suzuki crew for being patient with me. I feel like we've been making good progress this season, though it's taken a little longer than I would have liked. At a few races, I felt like I was on the pace but I just didn't have what it took. This weekend, I felt good and I thought I had a good chance. It was a good race and the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 is obviously running good to make that pass on the straight-away."
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers:
- 1 Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 2 Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 3 Tommy Hayden (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 4 Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
- 5 Jake Zemke (Honda)
- 6 Eric Bostrom (Yamaha)
- 7 Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
- 8 Jason Disalvo (Yamaha)
- 9 Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
- 10 Jake Holden, (Jordan Suzuki)