Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies started the 2007 AMA Superbike year with a bang by winning the AMA Superbike race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida today.
This victory is the defending AMA Superbike Champion's 12th AMA Superbike career victory and Suzuki's 11th Daytona AMA Superbike win. Team mates Tommy Hayden and Mat Mladin both had troubles but made impressive recoveries to finish in eighth and 10th positions respectively.
"Winning at Daytona was a great way to start out the season," said Spies of his first-ever Daytona Superbike victory. "It's nice to show up with the number-one plate and get the pole position, lead the most laps and win the race."
The Texan picked up the pole position by posting a fastest lap time of 1:37.546. Overall, this is Spies' eighth career pole. Mladin was hot on his heels with a lap time of 1:37.581 while Hayden followed up with a 1:38.931.
In Saturday's 15-lap AMA Superbike race, Spies got a good start and was running up front with Mladin. The duo swapped spots a few times and then Spies took over the lead. The 22-year-old went on to create a gap and take the win.
"It was a good race," said Spies. "We got off to a pretty good start and the race played out as good as it could. Everybody knows that Daytona is a place where you can lose a lot of points quick and you can't win the championship here. We made good progress with the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 here. The team did great, the bike was awesome. I had to ride hard, but the bike's working good. We just did what we could and tried to stay consistent."
Hayden also got a good start but had an off-road excursion when riders in front of him crashed and forced him into the grass. But the two-time AMA Supersport Champion remounted, put his head down and reeled in as many competitors as possible for an eighth-place finish.
"I was on the outside when two riders tangled up and forced me off the track," said Hayden. "I got back on the track in about 23rd and it was an uphill battle from there. I tried to get as many spots as I could and salvage as many points as possible. It was a little frustrating but we got enough points to start the season out pretty good. The Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 felt good. I just need to work on qualifying a little better and get on the front row and away from that mess in the back."
Similarly, six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mladin got a good start on his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and had taken the lead when, unfortunately, he went down. In true championship-winning form, however, he recovered and finished in 10th position.
"We just didn't get it done today," said Mladin. "It's a little disappointing but this is only the first race and it's a long season. The Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 was working good and I just tried to pick up as many points as I could."
Yoshimura Suzuki will return for round two of the AMA Superbike Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on April 20 - 22.
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers:
- 1. Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 2. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
- 3. Jake Zemke (Honda)
- 4. Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki)
- 5. Geoff May (M4 EMGO Suzuki)
- 6. Jason Disalvo (Yamaha)
- 7. Jake Holden (Jordan Suzuki)
- 8. Tommy Hayden (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 9. James Ellison (Honda)
- 10. Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki)