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Yoshimura Team Sets Record in AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Showdown Opener at Road Atlanta.
Mat Mladin and the Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki team scored a record 50th consecutive victory in AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited competition Saturday at Road Atlanta in the first race of this weekend’s AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Showdown.
Mladin’s victory gave him a perfect sweep of 2009’s opening races in what was his most dominating performance of the season. The win also gave the Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki team an unmatched streak of 50 consecutive victories by Mladin and former teammate Ben Spies that began with a win by Spies at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on July 22, 2006.
"The team is unbelievable," said Mladin, who is four-for-four in 2009 American Superbike races. "Obviously, the last few years, Ben (Spies) and I have been at the front of all of the races. This team is amazing. The team this year is really gelling well together. What can you say? Fifty in a row and nine championships in the last decade, it’s a pretty good effort."
Starting from the pole on his No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, Mladin briefly trailed teammate Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) at the start but was well in front of the field by the end of Lap 1. He would go on to lead all 20 laps of the race and crossed the finish line a full 15.717 seconds ahead of his other teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000). Local Georgia rider Geoff May (No. 54 National Guard/Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) finished third and Young finished fourth, duplicating the finishing order of American Superbike Race 1 at Auto Club Speedway last month.
"It was a good race for us, obviously," said Mladin, who also set the fastest lap (1:25.714) of the race on Lap 16. "I just got a reasonable start and got to the lead in Turn 1 and then just put our heads down. We’ve got the bike to a point now where we’re starting to be able to push it like I did the Superbike last year. We had a little bit of a problem with the fork yesterday and we fixed it today, but it actually didn’t work as well, so I need to go back to having a problem with the fork. We’ll sort something out there for tomorrow so I can start getting into the turns a little bit quicker and a little bit deeper and see if we can’t keep pushing tomorrow and get going."
Hayden finished second to his teammate for the third straight race but had to charge from seventh on the grid to do it after one of his trademark quick starts.
"I definitely knew it was going to be a little tougher today coming from the second row, but fortunately I was able to get a good start and I was up there pretty good on the first lap," said Hayden, who jumped from fourth to second on Lap 10. "It kind of took me a little while to work through the guys. I had to push to the end, but it feels good to stay up here and stay on the podium. I feel pretty good. After battling for the lead a little bit at Fontana, it’s a little disappointing to run a distant second, but we’ll try to learn something and be a little stronger tomorrow."
Third-place went to No. 54 National Guard/Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Geoff May who raced from sixth at the race’s halfway point to capture the final podium spot. May hails from nearby Gainesville, Ga.
"I just stayed motivated," said May, who raced in front of a large contingent of local family and friends. "I’ve ridden with these other guys and, honestly, I don’t think a lot of them are very fit. They fall off the pace really quick towards the end, especially since we’re all on the same tires and the tires go off a little bit and they have to fight the bike. They just go backwards. I just stayed patient and every time somebody made a mistake, I just picked them off."
Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) rounded out the top five after recovering from a spill in the morning warm-up. Both his race finish and yesterday’s second-place Superpole qualifying effort were season-best showings for Hayes.
Mladin has an early-season lock on the American Superbike championship standings with 126 points. Hayden is second with 97 points and May has moved to third with 71 points.
Road Atlanta Race 2 for AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited is Sunday at 4 p.m. local time.