Mladin and Peris Take Victories in First Half of Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader at Road America Ducati Team Takes Overall SunTrust Moto-GT Win; Mercado on SuperSport Pole ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 6, 2009) - In a cool and rainy day at ...
Mladin and Peris Take Victories in First Half of Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader at Road America
Ducati Team Takes Overall SunTrust Moto-GT Win; Mercado on SuperSport Pole
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 6, 2009) - In a cool and rainy day at Road America, Mat Mladin continued to roll in AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited with another victory and Chris Peris took his first AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victory in the first day of the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader.
Despite putting the No. 7 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 on pole Friday, Mladin had to overcome a few challenges to win today. First, he encountered a clutch problem that prevented him from participating in the 10-minute warm up just prior to the race. Because of that and the fact that track conditions were less than ideal, Mladin dropped back a few positions at the start.
He quickly worked his way back toward the front of the field and took the lead from Larry Pegram's No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R heading into Turn 3 on the second lap. Mladin would not be challenged from that point on and he went on to score his ninth win in 10 tries this season and the 81st of his career.
"We had a bit of a problem in the warm up so we didn't get to do any laps," Mladin said. "So the first lap, lap and a half, of the race I was trying to get the feel of the racetrack because I didn't know how it was going to be. It worked out good for us, though. After that first lap, I got a bit of a feel for it and the Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 felt good. I decided to have a go at it. I just kept trying to go."
Finishing an impressive second was Michael Laverty on the No. 8 Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000. The 2007 British Supersport champion was well suited for the tricky conditions and methodically charged from 11th on the grid to score his best American Superbike result to date. He also turned the fastest lap in the race at 2:30.803. It was Laverty's fourth start of the season.
"A lot of people in the American paddock don't know who I am yet," Laverty said. "That's the biggest result from this is people might realize I can ride a bit. I'm over the moon. We've got a new bike this weekend, and we've been getting it better in the dry every session. I think I've got the pace for, probably, top five in the dry. It was nice today in the wet with a bit of a leveler. I was able to just keep plugging away.
"If I hadn't gotten such a bad start, I probably could have raced Mat for the win, but I just had to come back through from 11th. By the time I got through to second, he already had quite a gap. It was a bit frustrating from that point of view, with the win being so close, but at the end of the day, Mat is one of the best Superbike riders in the world and I was pushing him pretty hard towards the end. I even pushed him into a bit of a mistake. It's been a good race, and hopefully if it rains tomorrow, I can repeat the performance or even go one better."
Completing the podium was Ben Bostrom with a third-place performance on the No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1. It was Bostrom's fourth podium result in his past five American Superbike starts. He also won the Daytona 200 by Honda Daytona SportBike race to open the year.
"The bike is fantastic, and this track's quite fun in the rain, as well," Bostrom said. "It's got a lot of different elements to it because there's some patches here and there in different corners. The boys just out rode us today. I'll look forward to tomorrow. We might get another shot at it in the wet, which will be great."
Pegram wound up fourth to secure his third straight top-five result and his fifth top five in 10 races. Blake Young, who hails from nearby Madison, Wis., rounded out the top five with a fifth-place run on the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000. Young returned to American Superbike competition this weekend after missing last month's doubleheader at Infineon Raceway due to injury.
The second American Superbike race of the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader at Road America goes off from a standing start at 3:00 p.m. local time tomorrow. Once again, the scheduled distance is 13 laps (50 miles).
Peris Breaks Through in Daytona SportBike
The AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL race closed out Saturday's on-track activities at the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader, and the 13-lap race was run under the most difficult weather conditions of the day with a persistent rain falling throughout.
The conditions contributed to several crashes and off-track excursions for many riders, but Canadian rider Peris rose to the occasion on the No. 10 Erion Honda CBR600RR. Peris took the lead from Taylor Knapp on the No. 54 Latus Motors Racing Buell 1125R in Turn 5 on the fourth lap of the race and pulled out to a healthy advantage before the race's second and final full-course caution period bunched the field on Lap 9.
When the green flag dropped again with two laps remaining, Peris found himself in a dogfight for the lead with Roger Hayden on the No. 95 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. Hayden passed Peris to take the lead in Turn 5 on Lap 11 of the 13-lap race, but Peris fought back to regain the top spot in Turn 7. From there, Peris pulled away to score his first career victory in AMA Pro competition.
"I couldn't be happier, the team worked really hard and it was good to finally put it on top of the box for them," said Peris. "When the pace car came out at first, I was behind Knapp and I felt like I could get past him. I was kind of bummed to lose the two laps because we had a pretty decent gap on the people behind us so I was hoping to try to take off from there. I got by him once the car came back in, and it all seemed fairly easy and smooth. I just kept running a decent pace and I could see the gap getting bigger and bigger and was feeling pretty comfortable.
"When I saw the second pace car come out I was like 'Oh man, I just lost the 20 seconds that I had.' I knew it was going to be two laps once the pace car pulled on. It got really, really wet and slippery so it was going to be conditions that we hadn't ridden in yet. Part of it was pretty stressful, seeing what was going to happen. When Rog came by me, I was like 'Oh man, I've got to really put my head down now,' because after leading for that long, it would have been a shame to lose. I tried to get by him as early as I could and just pulled away and was able to pull it off."
Hayden came home second for his best result since a second-place run in the first race of the doubleheader at Road Atlanta in early April. He missed the first three races of the season due to injury.
"It was an interesting race for me because I didn't do very good in qualifying," said Hayden, who started from 17th. "I just was getting comfortable and catching people, trying to be smooth and pick them off one at a time. Then, the last pace car came out and I got to catch back up to fourth. I tried to pass Chris going into [Turn] 5, and I thought maybe since it was raining so hard, I might be able to stay there and get lucky at the end. But he came by and he was pretty fast so I tried to bring it home in second.
"I couldn't really see the last lap, and I knew somebody was catching me. Then Martin (Cardenas) almost passed me around the outside. Up the front straightaway, I was just trying to tuck in as tight as I could. It was fun and I'm glad to be back on the podium for the team. We've struggled the last couple of races. They're working hard so this is a little reward for them."
Colombia's Cardenas filled out the top three with a third-place run aboard the No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600. It was Cardenas' seventh podium result in his last nine Daytona SportBike starts, allowing him to extend his lead in the championship standings to 32 points, 224-192, over No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R rider Jamie Hacking, who finished eighth.
"Today's race was good for the championship," said Cardenas. "It was very tough to race in these conditions. In the warm up, I had two times where I almost crashed, so I was a little bit scared in the race. The track was very slippery. At the beginning, some guys came by me and I tried to stay with them. Some guys I could stay with, and some others went away like Peris. I tried to stay in that rhythm and not lose as many positions. After the second yellow flag, I tried to concentrate and do two laps as fast as I could to try to gain some positions. That worked and I ended up on the podium. I'm happy with that result."
Knapp, who charged from fifth on the starting grid to lead the first three laps of the race, came home fourth for his best result since a third-place run in Race 2 of the Road Atlanta doubleheader. Damian Cudlin completed the top five on the No. 51 Paradigm Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. It was Cudlin's best Daytona SportBike result to date.
The second Daytona SportBike race of the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader takes the green flag at 2:00 p.m. local time tomorrow. It is schedule for 13 laps (50 miles).
GT2 Class No. 77 Ducati Takes Overall SunTrust Moto-GT Victory
For the first time in AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT history, a GT2 class bike claimed the overall race victory, as co-riders Frank Shockley and Ryan Elleby combined to win the two-hour race at Road America on the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducshop Ducati PS1000LE.
Although a hard rain never fell during the event, off-and-on sprinkles and cool temperatures combined to make the race an adventure for all involved. In fact, Armando Ferrer crashed in Turn 8 while leading the race overall on the No. 69 TeamHurtByAccident.com Suzuki GSX-R600 and Jimmy Filice crashed the No. 64 TeamHurtByAccident.com Ducati PS1000LE in Turn 12 while leading the GT2 race inside of the last hour. Neither rider was seriously injured.
The race finished under full-course caution with Elleby and Shockley taking overall and GT2 class honors. It was the second class victory of the season for the No. 77 Ducati team, which has also finished no worse than second in class through four races of nine races this season. Even more impressive was the fact that the No. 77 won after starting from last place.
"It feels really good to win overall," Shockley said. "That's pretty exciting. I didn't really believe it would, and it probably wouldn't have if it hadn't finished under caution, but that's the way it went. For the second time in a row now, we had to start out with these mixed conditions. You just never know what to do, rains or drys. We decided to go with the drys.
"At first, the tires weren't scuffed in and I was basically in last place for about three laps and got them scuffed and then was able to start making my way forward. I guess at about 10 laps or so, I was able to see the leaders, so I got pretty excited then and really put my head down and tried to make some laps. Ryan just kept it to the end. He's a really good rider. He's been doing really well for us. It was our job to put the bike in a good position for him and he was able to carry it on."
Finishing second overall and first in the GT1 class were co-riders Paul James and Jeff Johnson on the No. 70 James Gang/Hoban Bros. Racing Buell 1125R. It was the team's first victory in SunTrust Moto-GT competition.
"To win at home, the home of Buell and during the Buell Homecoming, our primary sponsor, H-D/Buell of Appleton nearby, and Hoban Bros. Cycles nearby, and to have friends and family here, it's very special," James said. "This win means a lot to me and to our team. We've worked really hard. It was really sketchy. You couldn't tell where it was dry and where it was wet. I lost the front a few times, almost high sided a few times, I saw a bike high side and then ghost ride in front of me, it was pretty crazy. It's pretty fun to win."
Finishing second in GT1 was the No. 4 Scooter Superstore Aprilia RSV1000R of Tim Hunt, Cory Rech and Elleby, who was pulling double duty. The No. 41 Liberty Waves Racing Buell 1125R of Eric Pinson and Eric Haugo finished third in GT1. Jay Springsteen and Nick Cummings combined to bring the No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki Ninja 650R home second in GT2 and Bob Fisher and John Linder completed the GT2 podium with a third-place ride on the No. 59 TeamHurtByAccident.com Ducati PS1000LE.
Next up for SunTrust Moto-GT is the fifth round of the nine-race championship at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, July 19.
Mercado Takes Second Consecutive SuperSport Pole
In a chilly AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei qualifying session on Saturday morning, Leandro Mercado took his second consecutive SuperSport pole on the No. 92 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.
The 17-year-old Argentine, who was also quickest in both of Friday's practice sessions, posted a best lap of 2:24.157 (101.090 mph) in the 20-minute qualifying session to secure the pole. Mercado also started from pole last month at Infineon Raceway. He is currently 13 points behind SuperSport East leader Joey Pascarella, who is not competing this weekend at Road America due to injury, and is looking for his second SuperSport win in Sunday's race.
"Qualifying was good," Mercado said. "I could make a good lap. The bike was working awesome with different settings from yesterday. Everything is okay. Tomorrow, I hope the weather is good. I want to finish this race for points in the championship. I'm second and I want to finish this race on the podium."
Starting second will be Josh Day on the No. 4 Team E.S.P. Yamaha YZF-R6 following a best qualifying lap at 2:26.227 (99.659 mph). Day has started from the front row in every SuperSport race in which he has competed this season, but is still looking for his first win.
"It should be a good race, but we've got a long way to go compared to what everybody's practice times were from yesterday," Day said. "I think we're a second-and-a-half or two seconds off, but I think we got it in there. The Evans Steele Performance guys are really working hard over there and just trying to do everything they can. We'll go out there tomorrow and hopefully get a good start and try and stay up front."
Ricky Parker, who won at Infineon Raceway, will start third on the No. 96 Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R6 at 2:26.289 (99.617 mph). Russ Wikle completes the front row on the No. 5 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki GSX-R600. Wikle's best qualifying lap was a 2:26.596 (99.408 mph).
The 10-lap (40-mile) SuperSport race concludes the race weekend at the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader. It goes off from a standing start at 4:00 p.m. local time on Sunday afternoon.