GEICO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas won the Saturday AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race at Infineon Raceway after a race-long battle with Jason DiSalvo (photo courtesy: AMA Media)
Reigning champion Josh Hayes registered a conquering performance in Saturday's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike contest at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha ace was simply untouchable in the opening half of the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam doubleheader, delivering a ride reminiscent of AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike great Mat Mladin, who was in attendance.
Despite being saddled with a second-row grid position, title rival Blake Young immediately latched onto Hayes' rear wheel in the race's opening laps. However, Hayes' form was simply too great and he quickly broke the Yoshimura Racing Suzuki star's pursuit. Hayes stretched his advantage by around a second-per-lap, lapping well into the '36s while no other rider proved capable of cracking the '37.0 barrier.
By lap three Hayes had nearly two seconds worth of padding and proceeded to build his advantage up to double digits before transitioning to maintenance mode in Mat-like fashion. He ultimately took the checkered flag with a 10.957-second margin-of-victory.
The win was Hayes' fifth premier class triumph at Infineon Raceway and the 20th National Guard SuperBike victory of his career, tying him with Flyin' Fred Merkel for fourth on the all-time list.
"Honestly, the race went to plan," Hayes said. "I was excited to get a good start -- I've been getting beaten up pretty bad on the starts it seems for the first couple of races. I got a pretty good run off the line and had some clear track and hoped I could string together a pretty good first lap and try to get myself a bit of cushion and see where I could go from there. I settled into a rhythm and kept plugging away... All-in-all, just a good day."
After losing touch with Hayes, Young seemed destined for a lonely ride home to second, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Team Hero Moto EBR's Danny Eslick put in what can only be described as a 'Hero' ride, first clashing with and dispatching his old SportBike rival, Josh Herrin, and then tracking down National Guard SuperBike star (and former support class teammate) Young.
Eslick scratched his way up from several seconds back before finally arriving on Young's rear wheel on lap 10 of 22. He then made his move on lap 13, taking advantage of a minor miscue on the Suzuki rider's part to steal away second position on the upstart EBR 1190RS.
Young wouldn't go down, however, desperate to minimize the damage of Hayes' potentially perfect weekend. The Wisconsin native struck back in Turn 9 on lap 16 and turned his attention to fending off the feisty Eslick on the fast-developing EBR.
Eslick made one final assault on the final lap but Young held strong, just edging the Oklahoman who celebrated his team's first National Guard SuperBike podium with a stand-up wheelie across the line that artificially inflated the gap from second to third (0.475 seconds).
Runner-up Young said, "I've been struggling all weekend long with my GSX-R, but the crew is working hard for me as always. Starting second row doesn't make things easy and racing with Danny doesn't either. I think we definitely learned a lot in today's race and we need to apply it. I think we learned more in today's race than we learned all weekend long.
"I got off to a fairly good start and found myself behind Josh. I didn't know if I maybe needed to make a pass immediately but he's just had the pace all weekend long to run up front and do as he pleases. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race and being able to apply what we learned and shorten up the gap, if not race with Josh."
"That was pretty awesome," Eslick said of his maiden SuperBike podium. "As soon as we showed up on Friday we had a bike that was working pretty good. Overnight we made a few changes and it really got the Team Hero EBR 1190RS hooked up. It didn't even really concern me when I got bumped off the front row. The race definitely showed that we could do it pretty consistently.
"It's just awesome -- hats off to the team. To get a SuperBike podium is a dream come true, and I'm sitting up here with guys I've beat so I know I can win one of these."
Hayes' factory Yamaha teammate, Herrin, picked up a solitary fourth. The result was a fairly encouraging result for the class rookie considering his pre-race struggles around the physically demanding Infineon Raceway circuit.
Herrin's regular sparring partner, National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden, didn't fare so well. The Kentuckian earlier warned that his second-place effort in qualifying was something of an illusion and he faded down from an early fourth to a disappointing tenth aboard an unruly machine.
Front-row qualifier Geoff May backed up teammate Eslick's success with a top-five ride of his own on the Team Amsoil/Hero EBR 1190RS. May sputtered off the line in ninth and suffered a second mishap, which dropped him outside the top ten. However, the Georgian made a steady climb forward, moving into sixth behind KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore late in the race. And under the heavy pressure of May, Fillmore lost the front and crashed out of the position with just a handful of laps remaining.
Attack Performance's Steve Rapp overcame Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom for sixth, while Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing Suzuki pilot David Anthony and Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW's Larry Pegram came home in eighth and ninth, finishing ahead of the aforementioned Hayden.
For tickets and information about the Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince, scheduled for September 21 - 23, 2012 at Homestead-Miami Speedway visit http://www.m1powersports.com/big-kahuna-miami/.
--courtesy of AMA Media--