Reigning AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies headed a Yoshimura Suzuki one-two at the opening leg of the California Speedway double-header in Fontana, California today.
Spies took the lead and held it to the end of the 28-lapper to finish 6.7 seconds ahead of team-mate and six-time champion Mat Mladin.
New Yoshimura Suzuki team rider Tommy Hayden raced to fourth place, four seconds behind Yamaha's Ben Bostrom.
"It was a good race," said Spies of his 13th AMA Superbike career win. "I got my butt kicked last weekend and we had to go back and regroup for this race. At the start, Mat and I were going back and forth, ruffling each others feathers, but I've got to thank my Yoshimura Suzuki crew and thank Suzuki because the GSX-R1000 is working good and it was great to go one-two with Suzuki today."
Earlier on Saturday morning, Spies picked up his second pole position of the season with a qualifying lap of 1:23.117. Mladin was hot on his heels, posting a best time of 1:23.711. Rounding out the front row of the grid, Hayden qualified with a 1:24.475 lap time.
"It felt good," Spies said of nabbing the pole position and the extra point that accompanies it. "We went out on our race setup again and found some stuff overnight that definitely helped. We've got the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 working good on the hard Dunlop tyres and going at a decent pace. It's going to be a hard race - it's going to be hot and long. I don't think anybody is running away with it so I think it's what's going to be happening all year - a real good race and hopefully we can come out on top."
Spies and his crew did indeed come out on top but it was a hard-fought battle: At the start of the 28-lap race, Mladin got a great start and was in the lead immediately. By lap two, Spies was in second place behind him. The two diced early on before Spies took over the lead midway through the race.
"I was doing the best I could and riding as hard as I could," said defending AMA Superbike Champion Spies. "I got a decent start and we were mixing it up for the first few laps, but I got around Mat and got a decent gap and brought it on home. We ended up with the win today, but I know it won't be as easy tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Mladin was riding his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 for all he was worth. The Australian had made a few last-minute changes to his bike, however, and he wasn't pleased with the result.
"I knew about a half a lap into the race that I was in trouble," said Mladin. "Things just weren't clicking for me today. I really had to work hard for second place and now I'll try to get it together for tomorrow. Congratulations to Ben and his crew and thanks to my crew for doing such a great job."
Hayden, meanwhile, put in a particularly impressive ride, especially considering that less than an hour earlier he'd crashed during AMA Supersport qualifying. Even so, the Kentucky native brought home a strong fourth-place finish.
"I'll take fourth place, all things considered," said Hayden. "The crash I took before didn't help. I wasn't 100% and that held me back a little. Hopefully, tonight I can recover a little bit and do better tomorrow."
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers:
- 1 Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 2 Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 3 Eric Bostrom (Yamaha)
- 4 Tommy Hayden (Yoshimura Suzuki)
- 5 Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
- 6 Jake Zemke (Honda)
- 7 Aaron Yates (Jordan Suzuki)
- 8 Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
- 9 Jason Disalvo (Yamaha)
- 10 Matt Lynn (MV Agusta)