Champion Hayes reigns supreme in FX contest Despite it being his second in succession, Josh Hayes' Formula Xtreme victory at VIRginia International Raceway on Saturday was something of a breakthrough for the class' reigning double ...
Champion Hayes reigns supreme in FX contest
Despite it being his second in succession, Josh Hayes' Formula Xtreme victory at VIRginia International Raceway on Saturday was something of a breakthrough for the class' reigning double champion.
After struggling with misfortune and confidence issues ever since his dominant win in the season-opening Daytona 200 was stripped following the post-race technical inspection, the Mississippian finally looked like his old self again today.
While his win at Mid-Ohio was huge, even Hayes admitted afterwards he it was something of a gift, as he was awarded the win after a red flag brought the race to an early conclusion, just after he had been passed by his Erion Honda teammate, Jake Zemke.
There was no such need for asterisks this weekend, however, as Hayes was fast right from the opening practice, secured the pole on Friday, and then ran to the checkered flag all alone in front during Saturday's final.
Zemke's chances were damaged early when he suffered a relatively poor start, having to pick his way up through a number of riders before zeroing in on Hayes. Still, once through, he had no luck chasing down #1-plated CBR600RR.
Hayes said, "I've been pretty fortunate that I showed up in the right frame of mind. The bike was working well and we pulled it right from the truck and I think we were close to the lap record pace when the thing came out on Thursday for promoter day.
"I'm really, really happy for my crew. I didn't relax very much because Jake was back there and he'd been the class of the field this year. You can never count him out so when I got to four laps to go and four seconds, I was still a little nervous. 'Can he take a second a lap out on me, I'm really not sure. I don't want to screw this up?'
"I just tried to ride smart and bring it home for the crew. They needed it. This year I've been a bit of a letdown for those boys I think so I really wanted to do well for them this weekend and hopefully we have another good race tomorrow."
"The start was horrible -- I definitely have no one to blame but myself," Zemke admitted. "I just wasn't ready when the light went green. It was a really quick light when it went from two to one and it almost instantly went green and I really wasn't expecting that. It's my own fault for not being ready.
"I started slipping the clutch pretty bad and realized it probably wasn't a good idea to burn up the clutch on the start so I just went ahead and let it fly and let the thing bog. I don't even know what place I was going into Turn 1, maybe sixth or so. I just had to work my way through a few guys and Josh probably already had at least a second at that point by the time I got into second. I put my head down for a few laps and tried to make a little dent into Josh's lead. I saw where I was making up a little bit of ground but at the same time I figured he was probably riding fairly comfortable up there. I pushed for a few laps and then started thinking better of it. I just needed to bring this thing home...
"Josh just rolled off the truck and was on fire this weekend. We rolled off the truck and struggled this weekend. To be able to do the times we did in the race is a testament to my crew. They've been racking our brains all weekend trying to figure this thing out so I can get some grip and go forward. Hats off to Josh. He rode and awesome race and has been riding great all weekend."
The final podium position was decided following a thrilling dogfight, featuring holeshot winner Larry Pegram on the LeoVince Foremost Insurance Ducati, Attack Kawasaki teammates Steve Rapp and Chaz Davies, Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas, and Rockwall Honda's Aaron Gobert.
Late in the race Rapp, Cardenas, and Gobert transformed it into a three-way fight for the spot, and the Colombian and Australian waged a final-lap battle with Cardenas getting the upper hand in the end, claiming his second straight FX podium result.
Cardenas said, "At the beginning I got a good start that I think I got third. I battled all the way in the race with two Attack Kawasakis and Aaron Gobert. I had a lot of passes with Steve Rapp going into turn 1. I passed him on the brakes and he passed me again.
"At the end Gobert came and he passed both of us. I tried to stay as close as possible to make a move on the last lap. We got behind some lappers and that helped me a little bit about two laps from the end. I got close enough and on the final lap I made the pass in turn one on the brakes. I tried to maintain that position for the whole lap and it worked out."
Gobert finished a close fourth with Rapp rounding out the top five. Davies claimed sixth, while Pegram was displaced to eighth by Bettencourts VIR master, Jeff Wood.
Ray C Extreme's Taylor Knapp and Moto Uno's Nicky Moore completed the top ten.
Zemke boasts a massive 45-point advantage over Rapp (267 vs. 222) and is primed to finally lock up his first AMA crown at Road Atlanta in two weeks' time.