The biggest weekend of competition since the season-opening Daytona 200 Week by Honda is set for the monstrous Road America road course this weekend where the AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader will be Round 6 of the 2009 AMA Pro Road Racing series.
Every division within AMA Pro Road Racing will be in action Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Road America, but the undisputed headline events will be dual feature races for AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited and AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL. Also on the card is the season’s second dual East/West AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei race and the multi-rider action of the AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT division.
Road America’s AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader marks the midway point of 2009’s season and is the second of only three weekends on the schedule that showcases every division under the AMA Pro Road Racing umbrella. Flag-to-flag coverage of the four featured Road America races, as well as SuperSport and SunTrust Moto-GT highlights, will be broadcast on AMA Pro Prime Time on SPEED in consecutive episodes on Saturday, June 13th and Saturday, June 20th at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT).
Respective American Superbike and Daytona SportBike Championship leaders Mat Mladin (No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX- R1000) and Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) will lead a strong entry of top riders and teams in the premier classes to the 4.05-mile Road America circuit that is the biggest track on the AMA Pro Road Racing schedule.
Mladin has been the man to beat in American Superbike all year and has won eight of the year’s first nine races and every pole. He has led the championship all season, currently has 268 points, and also leads American Superbike in all statistical categories. He is part of the powerhouse Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki team that also includes Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Wisconsin’s own Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Hayden is second in the standings with 189 points and has four second-place finishes and two thirds to his credit. He finished second in both races at Auto Club Speedway in March and also made a pair of podium appearances one race ago at Infineon Raceway.
Young is likely to be back in action at his home track after missing the Infineon event due to
severe injuries to his left pinkie and ring finger after an early accident in the Sunday final two events ago at Barber Motorsports Park. His best results came in the last two races just before his incident and included seconds in Race 1 at Barber and the Sunday finale at Road Atlanta in early April.
Yamaha’s American Superbike riders Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) and Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) have collectively come on strong in the last three races. Hayes broke up Mladin’s 2009 win streak and Suzuki’s several season lock on American Superbike with a breakout victory at Infineon in the Saturday final. That milestone win was the highlight of a strong streak of consecutive top-five finishes in the last six races, which has moved Hayes to third in the championship with 160 points. Bostrom is fourth in the championship just 10 points behind his teammate and has hit the podium in three of his last four races, including a season best second in the Sunday final at Infineon.
Geoff May (No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) is fifth in the American Superbike Championship with 143 points and his best showings have been three third-place finishes in Race 1 at Auto Club and both rounds at Road Atlanta. His Jordan Suzuki teammate Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) had his best finish of the season in the Sunday final at Barber where he placed second and backed up with a solid fourth in Race 1 at Infineon.
Neil Hodgson (No. 100 Corona Extra Honda CBR1000RR) returned to action at Infineon after being sidelined for several months after finishing second in the Daytona opener. Hodgson suffered a motocross training injury right after Daytona but did manage to crack the top 10 in the Sunday final on his first weekend back in action at Infineon. Jake Holden filled in solidly at Corona for Hodgson and is continuing to race now on the No. 59 Holden Racing Honda CBR1000RR. Another rider in the Honda camp is Aaron Gobert (No. 96 Team Trifoglio Racing Honda CBR1000RR).
Ducati’s Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) had a great weekend at Infineon for his best showings since leading and placing fourth in the Daytona opener and third in Race 1 at Auto Club. Pegram finished third in the Saturday final and fifth on Sunday at Infineon, and Road America should be a good track for the lone Ducati in the series.
Other riders to keep an eye on include David Anthony (No. 25 Aussie Dave Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000), Taylor Knapp (No. 44 Taylor Knapp Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000), Chris Ulrich (No. 18 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki GSX-R1000), Anthony’s teammate Hawk Mazzotta (No. 121 Aussie Dave Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Scott Jensen (No. 61 Moto Garage Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000).
A total of 32 entries are set for the AMA Pro American Superbike class and the division’s pair of races each start at 3 p.m. local time Saturday and Sunday. Both races are 13 laps for 50 miles.
While Mladin has taken firm control in American Superbike, Cardenas could be on a similar streak at mid season in Daytona SportBike. The talented Colombian has won the last four races and five of the last six to take the points lead. His impressive run includes sweeps of both the Infineon and Barber weekends and his first career Daytona SportBike win in Race 1 at Road Atlanta.
Cardenas has 203 points heading to Road America and leads Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R), who is second in the standings with 179 points. Although still looking for a win, Hacking may be one of the most consistent riders in AMA Pro Road Racing and has finished out of the top five just twice this year.
Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) is the only other Daytona SportBike rider with multiple wins, and he swept the Auto Club weekend and won the Sunday final at Road Atlanta. He is third in the championship with 168 points.
The only other Daytona SportBike class winner this year is Bostrom who captured the season-opening Daytona 200 from the pole in a one-off start. Hayes also moonlighted in the Daytona 200 but Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) and his 16-year-old teammate Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) are Yamaha’s full season riders in Daytona SportBike.
Herrin shook off a brief stretch of bad luck to return to the top-three podium at Infineon where he placed third in the Sunday final after leading the most race laps. He also finished second to Bostrom at Daytona, scored another runner-up showing in Race 2 at Road Atlanta and heads to Road America fifth in the championship with 136 points. Aquino turned in a season-best finish of fourth just one race ago in the Sunday final at Infineon.
Cardenas teams with the equally quick Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) who has won the pole at the last three races. He also finished third in the Daytona 200 and Race 1 at Auto Club before posting season-best second-place finishes behind Cardenas in the Saturday final at Barber and Sunday race at Infineon. DiSalvo is fourth in the championship with 148 points.
Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV) is the top Aprilia threat and a pair of recent fourth-place showings at Barber and Infineon has kept the former Daytona 200 winner in touch with the championship leaders. Steve Rapp (No. 48 Bazzaz/Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha R6) is another past Daytona 200 winner who is hitting his stride after taking his first podium of the year at Infineon with a third-place finish in the Saturday final.
Jake Zemke (No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) and his Canadian teammate Chris Peris (No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) saw their best results this season at Road Atlanta in addition to a fifth for Zemke in the Sunday final at Infineon. Zemke also led the most race laps and finished fourth on Saturday at Road Atlanta and Peris finished third in the Sunday final at the same event.
Hacking’s teammate Roger Hayden (No. 95 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) – Tommy Hayden’s youngest brother – made his first start of the year at Road Atlanta and promptly went out and finished second to Cardenas in Race 1. He currently doesn’t factor into championship contention after missing the year’s first three races but is a rider to watch throughout the Road America weekend.
Race 1 for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike will be Saturday at 4 p.m. local time with the weekend’s second race for the division getting the green flag at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Like American Superbike, both races are 13 laps for 50 miles.