Racing the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 model for the first time today, Mladin dropped back to fourth on the opening lap after starting from pole on the No. 7 Makita/Rockstar Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000. However, he quickly began working his way back toward the front, and claimed the lead from Ben Bostrom’s No. 2 Yamaha R1 on Lap 6 of the 21-lap race.
Mladin wouldn’t be challenged from that point on as he claimed his sixth AMA Pro American Superbike victory in six 2009 starts, this time by 1.928 seconds ahead of teammate Blake Young. It was also Mladin’s fifth consecutive victory at Barber Motorsports Park and the eighth of his career at the 2.38-mile Alabama road circuit.
1st – Mat Mladin Speaks…
"At the start of the race, the boys were having a bit of a go," Mladin said. "Ben came by and I just sort of sat there to see what was going on, just to get a feel for the bike with a full tank of gas and a few laps in. I had a bit of a look at what they were doing and made our way through. I just tried to keep it solid, but try not to wear too much stuff out, because we really didn’t know what the bike was capable of doing or what it was going to do to the tires. This motorcycle, as far as a GSX-R1000 goes, is very, very different to any other one we’ve ever had. It’s a very different motorbike. We have some work to do to try and figure out a few things. We didn’t want to go too crazy today. We were riding hard, but we needed to keep it within a certain envelope."
Young and Bostrom played central roles in a thrilling race-long battle for second place, although both riders also spent time at the head of the field. Young led Lap 2 on his No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 before surrendering the spot to Bostrom, and the two riders resumed their battle — this time for second — throughout the remainder of the race. Young took advantage of several lappers on the second-to-last lap to claim second place for the second-straight race behind his teammate.
2nd – Blake Young Speaks…
"It started off pretty good there," Young said. "After getting out front, I really wanted to see what the track was like. It was obviously really green and not very much grip, but I just tried to get comfortable and put in a pace that I was comfortable doing. Ben came by and he was running a bit quicker, so I definitely just jumped in and tried to learn where he was a little bit better. All of a sudden, Mat came by and he was running even more of a quicker pace, so I knew he was going to go. I was just trying to stay on his rear wheel and wait until he went by Ben and try to go with him. It didn’t end up like that. We had to wait another lap, but I just kept my head down and worked really hard. We’ve got another race tomorrow. Hopefully, we can get up there and race with Mat a little bit longer."
Bostrom also had his hands full keeping the No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki of Tommy Hayden at bay, but the 2009 Daytona 200 winner managed to take his first AMA Pro American Superbike podium result of the season with a third-place run on the No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1. Bostrom’s Daytona 200 victory came aboard an AMA Pro Daytona SportBike.
3rd – Ben Bostrom Speaks…
"It’s a lot better than where I’ve been sitting, so I’m not going to be bummed," said Bostrom of his third-place showing. "I’m going to sleep well tonight. I think it was a fantastic ride and the Yamaha worked amazing. The boys here (Mladin and Young) are out-riding us a little bit and made a couple of amazing passes on me. Mat about scared the (crap) out of me, honestly. It was good racing. It got my heart rate up, and I’m ready to attack again. I’m looking forward to another good day tomorrow. Hopefully, that’s how it goes. I want to maintain this spot up here and keep racing. I really enjoyed racing with these guys. It just seems like a long way ’til today. It’s a big race tomorrow. It’s going to be exciting. Hopefully, we find something, but honestly, these guys are riding amazing, so it’s going to be hard to chip away at it."
Hayden finished fourth on the No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, and Josh Hayes — who led the opening lap of the race — completed the top five aboard the No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1.
The second race of the American Superbike doubleheader closes out the Honda Superbike Classic festivities at 4:00 p.m. local time on Sunday.