Hayes and Cardenas Carry the Banner for Yamaha and Suzuki in Day One at Infineon Raceway Mercado Grabs Pole for AMA Pro SuperSport Final at Kawasaki Superbike Showdown SONOMA, Calif. (May 16, 2009) - Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA...
Hayes and Cardenas Carry the Banner for Yamaha and Suzuki in Day One at Infineon Raceway
Mercado Grabs Pole for AMA Pro SuperSport Final at Kawasaki Superbike Showdown
SONOMA, Calif. (May 16, 2009) - Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) claimed his first career win in AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited competition and Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) ran a flawless race in Saturday's Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL race to claim his fourth victory of the season. The co-feature events both saw three different manufacturers claim podium spots in each race and opened the doubleheaders in this weekend's Kawasaki Superbike Showdown presented by Supercuts at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
Front row pole-sitter Mat Mladin (No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-1000R) , Hayes, Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-1000R) and Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) started the race from the front row and took the green flag joined at the hip into Turn 1. Mladin led the first and second laps before a dramatic pass of Mladin by Bostrom going into Turn 1 on Lap 3 gave the Petaluma, California native the lead.
Hayes quickly followed Bostrom past Mladin and the Yamaha duo continued their third-lap drive through Turn 10 before Bostrom low sided at Turn 11 and handed the lead over to his teammate. Hayes led the remainder of the 22-lap race before finishing 6.135 seconds ahead of the field. Despite the wreck, Bostrom recovered to finish ninth.
"It was a pretty good day," said Hayes. "I think the pace was slower than any of us expected and the heat played a role. I was feeling things out (at first) and I saw Ben (Bostrom) being aggressive and then he had his miscue. Mat had some problems; it was not his race today. We all have bad races and Mat had his. I expect tomorrow that will not be an issue for Mat."
Hayes' win was the first for a non-Suzuki in AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike in 55 races, since Jake Zemke won on a Honda on June 18, 2006 in race two at Miller Motorsports Park, and was the first win for Yamaha at Infineon since 2001.
Second place finisher Tommy Hayden never lost sight of the front runners and after losing a position to eventual third place finisher Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) on Lap 11 in Turn 6. Hayden was able to pass Pegram in Turn 9A on Lap 18 and made the pass stick but could never close the gap on Hayes to less than six seconds by the end of the race.
"It went pretty well for me," said Hayden. "I got a good start behind Mat and I was happy with that. I thought I would sit there and let him try and pull me along for a while. That's usually a good plan. But it looked like he was fighting things hard today. Ben (Bostrom) came by quick and I knew he had a little bit more speed (than Mladin). As the race went on it got hot and greasy, but it didn't get a whole lot worse. I was able to do the same lap times and it looked like it got easier for me. I just got through it and wanted to bring it home second. Josh (Hayes) had a big lead and I didn't have anything for him today."
For Pegram, the result equaled his season best finish of third in race two at Fontana.
"The race went good, everybody was sliding around and greasy," said Pegram. "Everybody had to dial it down a notch. I passed Tommy (Hayden), and then had the best pass of my life when I passed Mat (Mladin) on the outside of Turn 6 in the carousel. After that, things got pretty slippery and I'm really happy to be up on the podium today."
Aaron Yates (No. 23 Jordan Suzuki GSXR-R1000) ran in the top five all day and finished fourth, his second highest finish of the season coming after his podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park. Mladin, the only winner in the American Superbike competition before this weekend, faded to fifth on Lap 12 and was able to maintain the position until the finish.
"Obviously, I've had better days," said Mladin. "That's racing. We just didn't hit on the set-up today. We've had seven wins in a row, and we can't complain. We've done a fantastic job. We'll try to keep it together and get back up there tomorrow. "
The green flag for Sunday's AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike race two will drop at 4:00 p.m. local time.
Daytona SportBike Stunner Part Two
Cardenas' fourth victory of the 2009 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL season didn't come easy, as the Colombian battled both his competitors and the Sonoma heat to the finish line of the 22-lap race.
After a first lap incident between four riders that brought out the safety car for four laps, Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) took off ahead of the field on the Lap 6 restart and looked to be in a class by himself until a lowside in Turn 11 on Lap 10 put eventual third place finisher Steve Rapp (No 15 Bazzaz Yamaha YZF-R6) into the lead. Cardenas ran a steady race behind the leaders and was able to out brake Rapp to take the lead for good on Lap 12 to finish 2.158 seconds ahead of the field.
"Things went really good and the bike worked very good since the beginning," said Cardenas. "The heat was very tough this race for me because physically it wears you out a lot. I started seventh and had to work my way up; as soon as I got to second behind Steve (Rapp) I tried to stay a little behind him, but then I decided to pass him. I tried to put a gap on him because I know he's really strong here. I tried my best and put a gap of one second and tried to maintain that the whole race."
During the restart, Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki ZX-6R) was unable to safely maneuver Turn 1 and ended up falling several positions after an off-course excursion. After fighting his way back through the field, the Daytona SportBike points leader seemed destined for a third place finish on the last lap but was able to slip past the then second-place Rapp in the braking zone of Turn 9a to secure second place.
"It is a little frustrating for me," said Hacking, referring to his four second-place efforts this season. "I definitely would have liked to have won a lot more races, but (Daytona SportBike) is a good class for me. With the equal playing field now it's just a little harder. I just need to step up my game and quit making the mistakes I'm making. I can't get too antsy about winning. Without winning a race we're doing well."
Rapp, the third place finisher in the 2008 Formula Xtreme Championship and 2007 Daytona 200 winner, earned his highest finish this season and matched his last podium finish in the Formula Xtreme race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2008.
"It was a hard race," said Rapp. "It's always hard here when the weather is hot, so I'm really happy to be up here (on the podium). Can't say I was surprised, but I knew it would be a tough race. The qualifying was tight between 10-12 guys."
Chaz Davies (No 57 Factory Aprilla Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV100R) ran third most of the day but settled for fourth at the end of the race. Danny Eslick (No 9 Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing/RMR Buell 1125R) charged from row six to round out the top five finishers.
The final race for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike will begin Sunday at 2:00 p.m. local time.
SuperSport Qualifying Follows Practice Session Script
Final Qualifying for AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei followed the script set by the three previous practice sessions as Leandro Mercado (No. 92 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) grabbed the pole with a lap time of 1:41.374 (82.388 mph). The 17-year old Argentinean was followed by Ricky Parker (No. 96 Graves Motorsports/Hattiesburg Cycles Yamaha YZF-R6) at 1:42.364 (81.591 mph) and Russ Wikle (No. 5 RoadracingWorld.com Suzuki GSX-R600) at 1:42.605 (81.399 mph).
"I'm happy," said Mercado. "This is my first pole of the season. The last couple of laps I, could do good laps and work a bit on the bike. The bike worked awesome and I like the track. I like the elevation changes. We're happy and I want to say thanks to my team for all the work, and (teammate) Jamie Hacking for the help."
Mercado was the quickest in the field all weekend as Parker and Wikle swapped the next two spots over the course of the weekend's three practice sessions.
"We started off yesterday trying to learn the track," said Parker. "We got a few sessions of practice in. We've had a few issues with the bike to figure out the setup. We've gotten it closer today. Yesterday we got down to a 1:43.5 and today we got down to a 1:42.3. We still have one rider ahead of us, Leandro Mercado, and he's a real fast kid. I'm sure I've got a lot to learn from him also. I'm going to try to stay clear of him and hopefully in the race I'll get a lot better."
"It was pretty hot today, and if it's going to get hotter, it's definitely going to affect us," said Wikle. "The wind will also take five to seven miles per hour off us if it's a headwind, but if it's a tailwind, we can go a bit faster."
Tyler Odom (No.46 Erion Honda/Honda Pro Oils & Chemicals CBR600RR) steadily improved throughout practice and was rewarded with a front row start and fourth place on the grid after posting a time of 1:43.148 (80.971 mph). Odom had an off track slide in Turn 11, but picked the bike up and rolled off without the need for assistance.
"I was here for the AMA test (in April), which was my first time on the track and I absolutely love it," said Odom. "This is probably one of the finest tracks in the United States with all the elevation changes. The session was going great until the end when I had a little too much trail braking going into the last corner and took the front. The bike is fine, maybe some engine problems from the tip over, but we'll find out."
Tomorrow's 18-lap AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei final will begin Sunday at 3:00 p.m. local time.