Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin won the weekend's first of two AMA Superbike races at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday afternoon, sealing his 52nd career win and his fourth at the Barber circuit.
Mladin's team mate and defending AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies finished in a very close second place, while new Yoshimura Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden brought home an impressive fifth-place finish.
"It's nice to get the win," said Mladin of the close victory. "Anytime you have a hard race like that, it's nice to come out on top. At the finish line there wasn't much of a gap so we'll go back tonight and see if we can make a few improvements to the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 for tomorrow and have another good race."
This morning's Superbike qualifying session saw the Yoshimura Suzuki team all gridded on the front row. Spies led the way after picking up his second pole position of the year, thanks to a track record-breaking 1:24.094 lap time. Mladin carded second position with a fastest lap of 1:24.509, while Hayden rounded out the front row in fourth position with a fastest lap of 1:25.070.
"The lap was good," said Spies of his notable qualifying time. "Right now we've got a good bike with the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and it's working really well on race tyres. We've got the bike pretty much where we want it."
Later in the day, the weekend's first Superbike race got off to an exciting start with Spies, Mladin and Hayden all at the front. Mladin quickly took over the lead and Spies was in second with Hayden in third. Mladin and Spies went on to battle for the lead for all 28 laps of the race.
"It was a good race," said six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mladin. "Ben was riding really good and all I had to do was go as quick as I could on my Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and keep it clean. I pushed it as hard as I could on the last lap and didn't make any mistakes. It was a good race today and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Added Spies, "I don't think we had anything left. Mat was strong where it counts and I did everything I could. It was good to follow him and see where I can make up time tomorrow. With the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, we have a bike that can run up front but we just couldn't quite get it done today. We gave it a little bit of a go with a few corners to go but that didn't really work. Hopefully we can come back stronger for tomorrow."
Hayden held onto third place for several laps before settling into fifth position. This marks Hayden's second AMA Superbike race aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000.
"It would have been nice to have finished on the podium but we're a lot closer than we were at Daytona," said Hayden, who finished eighth at the Florida series opener. "It's only my second race on the bike and I feel like we've made a lot of improvements. I'm becoming more comfortable on the Suzuki every time I ride it. I learned some stuff out there today that I think will help us get a little bit better for tomorrow."
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers:
- 1. Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 2. Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 3. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
- 4. Aaron Yates (Jordan Suzuki)
- 5. Tommy Hayden (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 6. Jake Zemke (Honda)
- 7. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
- 8. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha)
- 9. Jason Disalvo (Yamaha)
- 10. James Ellison (Honda)