Mat delivers crushing performance at VIR Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin walked away at the front on Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway to claim his fifth consecutive AMA Superbike win in most convincing fashion. The ...
Mat delivers crushing performance at VIR
Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin walked away at the front on Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway to claim his fifth consecutive AMA Superbike win in most convincing fashion.
The victory was the 71st of the Australian's unrivaled AMA Superbike career as he took yet another step towards the record-breaking seven-race victory streak his teammate, Ben Spies, established earlier this season.
Mladin was a second-and-a-half behind the fast-starting Spies on the opening lap, but after dicing past Yamaha USA's Eric Bostrom and teammate Tommy Hayden early, he quickly made up the ground on the Texan.
On lap four Mladin dove up the inside of Spies to capture the lead. The reigning double champ's hopes for a counterattack were quickly spoiled when a he suffered a huge moment and was just fortunate to make the save.
The near-crash dropped him an immediate three seconds off the pace, but he quickly regrouped and relied heavily on the massive lead that the duo had already opened up on their pursuers to prevent him from getting swallowed up by the big pack of factory riders running in positions three through eight.
However, he was unable to fight his way back up towards Mladin, as the six-time champ continued to build upon his lead at a clip of about a half-second per lap, laying down some blistering laps while working his advantage up to over 11 seconds before easing back to a 8.382 second margin of victory.
"It was a good race for us," Mladin remarked. "We knew we had a good motorcycle today, capable of running some pretty good lap times if we needed to. It's funny, after qualifying I said to (crew chief) Pete (Doyle) I left a couple tenths out there and it looks like I found at least one of them today in the start of the race. So, it was a good race for us -- good to get another win and hopefully we can get another one tomorrow."
Spies commented, "I was just trying to latch on the back of Mat and go and kind of lost the rear a little bit and couldn't quite get back into a rhythm quick enough. I knew we were in trouble. I thought we had some decent pace and just when I saw the gap come down as quick as it did I knew we were kind of in trouble, and I was just going to try to see if we could hang onto him when he came by. I just had a bit of a moment and chilled out a little bit and got everything back together and got second. I could see that we had a pretty big gap on third so there wasn't a need to do anything silly, because I definitely didn't have the speed today to win."
Commenting on his scare, Spies explained, "I might have got on the gas a little bit sooner than usual. I hope it was on TV or someone got pictures because that was the best save I've ever had. I mean I just tried to ride it out. When it started to go, sometimes it's a real quick jolt but this one just came and kept going and going and going and I didn't know if it was going to spin out or what and just I was going to hold on until I was under the bike. Luckily I just kind of landed on top of it. It really wasn't me, it was just holding onto it."
Eric Bostrom and Tommy Hayden settled into a lengthy battle to sort out the final spot on the podium, as the pressure behind them was lifted significantly by a pair of crashes: American Honda's Neil Hodgson highsided spectacularly out of the race while contesting fifth-place with Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking in Turn 2, and just three laps later, Hacking crashed out of the event himself in the same spot, elevating American Honda's distant battle with Jason DiSalvo into a tussle for a top five.
Hayden pressured Bostrom for much of the race before finally making his move on lap 21 of 28 and eventually opening up some breathing space en route to the Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki podium sweep, claiming third some 35 seconds in arrears of Mladin.
"The race went well," Hayden said. "I got a great start and had the holeshot there for a minute. And then I tried to latch onto (Mladin and Spies) and that didn't work out so well; they were getting away pretty quick.
"Eric came past me and from there, really, he was the only one I saw. Me and him kind of had a battle until maybe ten laps to go and I got by and was able to start getting away from him a little bit and just trying to get through lappers clean and that was about it. It was a pretty uneventful race thankfully and it went all right. I'm glad to be back here on the podium."
Bostrom carried on for fourth while teammate DiSalvo got the better of DuHamel on the race's final lap, rounding out a promising effort for the struggling Yamaha squad.
Jordan Suzuki's Geoff May finished sixth, making up somewhat for the disappointment of his teammate, Aaron Yates, suffering a problem as soon as he left his front row starting position.
Second Kawasaki pilot Roger Hayden took eighth, with Team ESP's Chris Peris and Celtic Racing's Kenny Noyes rounding out the top ten.