Yamaha’s Josh Hayes swept to 1-2 finishes in the second round of the 2011 AMA Superbike series at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15.
The defending AMA Superbike champion excelled in the blustery winter-like conditions at the San Francisco-area track aboard his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1, chalking up his second pole of the season and leaving with a six-point lead in the nine-round championship.
Meanwhile in the Daytona Sportbike class, Josh Herrin earned a solid third-place podium finish on Sunday aboard his Graves Sports YZF-R6 after sitting out Saturday’s race to satisfy a penalty the AMA assessed after the Daytona 200. Herrin now lies sixth, with teammate Tommy Aquino fourth, in the Daytona Sportbike standings.
Superbike race one was a textbook example of Hayes’ smooth, fast riding style – and of the R1′s performance envelope. Although rival Tommy Hayden grabbed the holeshot at the start of Saturday’s 22-lap race, Hayes took the lead after an early battle with both Hayden and Blake Young.
Then as tires wore and nerves frayed, Hayes was able to inch further and further ahead, ultimately scorching to the quickest lap of the race late in the going and opening up a sizable seven-second advantage at the checkered flag. “Our bike was just like last year,” Hayes noted of his R1. “It’s a very strong bike that basically allows me to just go out there and ride well.”
Race two on Sunday proved more of a battle for Hayes, partly due to fierce competition from Hayden and Young, and partly due to a restart precipitated by a crash by Chris Ulrich. Hayden took he holeshot at the restart, with Young and Yamaha’s Hayes in tow.
Hayes would not be denied, and eventually forced his way past both rivals to again head the field. But in the closing laps Hayden found his way back past the Yamaha star, and was even able to open up a small gap over Hayes at the flag. Nonetheless, the defending AMA Superbike champ was rightfully satisfied with the day.
Josh Hayes (Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike) says: “I got a pretty good jump, but I just didn’t get rolling as good as Tommy and Blake did,” Hayes commented. “I think the red flag hurt me a little. But before that I’d been able to do pretty good laps, so I decided I was just going to dig deep and ride the R1 the best I could.”