Despite inclement weather, Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies won his first-ever Road America AMA Superbike race in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.
This victory is Spies' third win of the season and moves the defending AMA Superbike Champion into the lead in the AMA Superbike Championship points chase. Team mate Mat Mladin finished an impressive third in the wet race, while Tommy Hayden, unfortunately, crashed and was unable to finish.
"I have to thank my Yoshimura Suzuki team for doing such a great job, staying up until 1:00 in the morning to rebuild the bike I crashed in practice yesterday," said Spies. "My Suzuki GSX-R1000 was so good in the rain today. I was afraid the track was going to dry out. We needed this win, for sure."
The 16-lap race went off as scheduled in spite of the rain and Spies got the holeshot. By lap two, Hayden was running in third and Mladin was in seventh. As the storm grew worse, however, the race was red flagged because of conditions. When the storm subsided into merely rain, the complete restart saw Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates get the holeshot but he was overtaken by Mladin and Spies on the first lap. Mladin, who started from pole position, led briefly before being passed by Spies. Spies took over the lead and created a gap and took the win.
"In the first start, I got a pretty good holeshot but I was still feeling it out and not going all out," said Spies. "Then we had the red flag and in the second start I followed Mat and then got around him. I just tried to put some decent laps together and get as big a gap as I could. Then, I just put it on cruise control… I've been riding hard all year and trying to not make mistakes. We know we have to win races to win the championship. Now, we just need to take it to a new level and not ride so conservatively."
Mladin, meanwhile, settled into second position before being passed midway through the race. The six-time AMA Superbike Champion played it safe, however, and rode his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 to the third podium spot.
"I didn't get a good start in the first start," said Mladin. "There was so much water that I couldn't see where I was going. I'd already made the decision to not do anything crazy. The conditions in the second start were more sane. It was slippery, but visibility was ok. (As for Jamie and Ben), they just rode better than me. In the race, I saw some things I could improve on. I am lacking in the rain in some areas. But some of the things that hurt me in the rain help me in the dry. And fortunately, most races are on sunny days."
Former AMA Supersport Champion Hayden got off the line and was in third place in the first start. In the second start, he'd moved into position to battle for a podium spot when he went down and was unable to finish.
"I made a mistake in Turn One," said Hayden, who wasn't injured in the get-off. "Up until then, the race was going good and I felt really comfortable on the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000. I'd caught the battle for second place and then I locked up the front brake. I was down on the ground before I could do anything about it."
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers:
- 1. Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 2. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
- 3. Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 4. Aaron Yates (Jordan Suzuki)
- 5. James Ellison (Honda)
- 6. Jake Zemke, Honda
- 7. Jake Holden (Jordan Suzuki)
- 8. John Haner (Suzuki)
- 9. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha)
- 10. Dominic Jones (Honda)