Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin picked up his 55th career AMA Superbike victory in the first race of the double-header AMA Superbike weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California on Saturday afternoon with his team mates Ben Spies and Tommy Hayden second and seventh.
"It was a good race for us," said six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mladin. "I'd like to thank my Yoshimura Suzuki crew who've worked really hard in the off-season and in testing to try and get the number-one plate back."
The previous day, defending AMA Superbike Champion Spies picked up his 11th career pole position, posting a track record-breaking lap time of 1:34.991. This accomplishment also marks Spies' fourth consecutive pole position of the season. Spies actually crashed after turning his fastest lap and went out on his back-up bike in Saturday's qualifying session to focus on race set-up.
"The Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 is working really good," said Spies of qualifying first. "I'm really happy with it. Today, we went out on race tyres and ran the same pace as yesterday. It was good to get my confidence up and work on race set-up after the crash yesterday. I couldn't tell a difference between the two bikes."
Today's race winner Mladin was second-fastest in qualifying with a lap time of 1:35.128, while Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates qualified third with a 1:35.875 lap time. Hayden rounded out the second row of the grid with a 1:36.860 lap time.
In the 28-lap Superbike race, Mladin got the holeshot and led from beginning to end. The result is that Mladin now trails Spies in the overall championship standings by only five points.
"It was a good race for us," reiterated Mladin. "We got a good start and we just put our head down and tried to go as quick as possible. I just tried to reel off some good laps and keep it as clean as possible… I lost a little bit of rhythm, but it seems like everybody else did too. It was a good day for us and hopefully we'll get another win tomorrow."
Spies tucked in right behind Mladin and pursued his team mate for all 28 laps. The young Texan rode as hard as possible and brought home an impressive second place, maintaining his championship lead.
"I got my butt kicked," laughed Spies. "I guess I forgot how to ride a motorcycle. But I rode as hard as I could and Mat rode a great race. I did everything I could and even ran off the track on the second lap. I just tried to get as many points as I could today. It's a long season and this is just one race. Hopefully, we'll come back strong for tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Hayden rode an impressive race after getting a bad start and finishing the first lap in 10th position. But the Kentucky native put his head down and worked his way through the pack to finish in seventh place.
"I got a terrible start," he said after the race. "I'm not sure what was going on. I almost stalled it and that pushed me back a little bit. I felt like I was just working my way up in the pack for the whole race. That start really killed me. Hopefully, tomorrow we can make a few improvements and get a better start and finish up a little closer to the podium."
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers:
- 1. Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 2. Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 3. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
- 4. Jason Disalvo (Yamaha)
- 5. Jake Zemke (Honda)
- 6. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
- 7. Tommy Hayden (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 8. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
- 9. James Ellison (Honda)
- 10. Matt Lynn (MV Agusta)