Unstoppable Mat wins again Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin continued his incredible second-half form, securing his sixth straight AMA Superbike victory in a breakaway effort today at VIRginia International Raceway. The Australian...
Unstoppable Mat wins again
Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin continued his incredible second-half form, securing his sixth straight AMA Superbike victory in a breakaway effort today at VIRginia International Raceway. The Australian now carries his streak into what's perhaps his best circuit on the tour, Road Atlanta, and stands as a firm favorite to break Ben Spies' consecutive wins record of seven set earlier this year.
Third works Suzuki ace Tommy Hayden actually led the opening lap on Sunday after grabbing the holeshot. However, he had Spies and Mladin pressuring him heavily as they powered down the start/finish line straight to open lap 2.
Mladin then duplicated the maneuver he used to take the lead at VIR back in 2003, storming past Spies and Hayden in one fell swoop, just as he did with Miguel DuHamel and Giovanni Bussei (the second time Bussei's actions from that race were recalled today, following up on Geoff May's confused Superstock finish).
Once through, Mladin was simply untouchable, as he torched the competition and opened up yet another double-digit advantage over the course of the 28-lap final. A late cruise to the flag brought the final margin of victory to just under that, as the 36-year-old took the checkered flag 9.747-seconds up on Spies, and more than 31 ahead of Hayden (with around another ten seconds on top of that to the first-non Suzuki finisher).
Asked about the possibility of doubling at Road Atlanta and posting a new consecutive win streak record at eight, Mladin said, "Obviously that would be great. Right now winning races is my priority and my goal in my racing career, to stack up as many as I can. If we can win a couple in Atlanta that would be great. If we go eight in a row, obviously that would be fantastic.
"Realistically if someone gave me the opportunity right now to go into Laguna Seca with an unassailable points lead and to win the championship easy, or if they squared this out now and said go into Laguna same as last year, I'd square it out and go there. That would be one I'd like to win straight up and win the championship if I could. Ben goes good there and it'd be a fight I'd look forward to. It doesn't look like it's going to go that way, but that's the way it goes."
Spies said of the race, "It was long."
Prodded further, he explained, "Tommy got a good start like he's been doing. We tried to do what we did again and go in on the brakes in one and he ran it in there a little deeper than he did yesterday. He was riding really good the first lap and I couldn't get around. I went around on the outside on the straightaway and I guess I didn't get into turn one real good and Mat came by and that was pretty much it.
"I rode as hard as we could the whole race and didn't make any mistakes and had a quicker pace than yesterday, but so did he. So it was kind of the same story."
After completing the factory Suzuki team's fifth podium sweep of the year, Kentuckian Hayden remarked, "It started really well. My starts have been really dialed in the last two races. That makes things a bit easier. We were able to lead a lap and that's a first so that felt all right. After that I latched onto these guys and ran the first several laps in the mid to high '24s and that's a lot faster than I'd been going and I was able to pull out four or five seconds on anyone else pretty quick. The second half of the race, I basically just maintained that. From there I just tried to bring home third...
"Hopefully we can carry this momentum into Atlanta and finish the year off with this kind of momentum after the rough middle part.
Yamaha USA's Eric Bostrom picked up his second fourth-place result of the weekend, easily his strongest doubleheader of a difficult 2008 season for the talented Californian.
A number of factory riders took off-track excursions during the 28-lap race. Superstock winner Aaron Yates kicked it off by crashing his Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the dirt on lap 6. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking ran into the grass on lap 10, Bostrom's teammate, Jason DiSalvo, did the same on lap 21, and Neil Hodgson closed it out on the penultimate lap, driving off in Turn 1 moments after passing his American Honda teammate, Miguel DuHamel, for fifth.
DuHamel took advantage of the Briton's miscue to lock down the final spot in the top five, while Hacking clawed his way back up to sixth (with the assists of DiSalvo and Hodgson).
Former British and World Superbike champ Hodgson picked up seventh, followed by May, DiSalvo, and Corona Honda's Matt Lynn, who rounded out the top ten.
Despite Mladin's incredible success of late, Spies is still in control of the title race -- and he will remain so as long as he continues to finish in the top two -- as he carries a 541-523 advantage into Road Atlanta, which will take place on August 29-31.