AMA Race Report: Laguna Seca
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Mat Mladin earned his 10th AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited victory and Ben Bostrom took his second AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victory in Sunday’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
As he has done at every previous American Superbike round this season, Mladin started his No. 7 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 from the pole position. However, the Aussie dropped all the way back to sixth place on the opening lap before beginning his march back to the front. He was fifth at the end of Lap 2, took fourth place on Lap 3, third on Lap 5 and second on Lap 6 of the 18-lap race.
Mladin then began stalking teammate and race leader Blake Young on the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000. He finally made his move to the inside in Turn 11 on Lap 11 and went on to lead the rest of the way. Mladin crossed the stripe 1.642 seconds ahead of Young and 4.588 seconds in front of Aaron Yates on the No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000, giving Suzuki a podium sweep. Mladin now leads the American Superbike championship standings by 127 points over teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) with 12 of 20 races now in the books.
1st – Mat Mladin Speaks…
"It was obviously a good race for us today," Mladin said. "Most importantly, it’s great to have the three Suzukis up here. That’s what we’re here to do is to try and get a Suzuki on top of the box. Today, it was good to fill the podium."
Young led Laps 2 through 10 en route to his third second-place result of the season and his seventh top-five result in 10 starts. He missed the doubleheader at Infineon Raceway in May due to an injury.
2nd – Blake Young Speaks…
"We got off to a really good start and got to lead some laps," Young said. "I think that’s probably the most amount of laps I’ve led so far in a Superbike race, so it felt really good. The crew worked really hard for me this weekend. I really want to thank them. It got a little rough around the shop, but some guys stepped in and stepped up and filled some shoes. They took care of business and got us up here today, so I really want to give this one to the guys back at the shop and thank them very much for everything. It was a good race for us. I tried to set a pretty good pace and Mat was coming. When he got by, he kind of got a little bit of a gap on me. I tried to jump in as quick as I could to learn where he was better than me, but I just put my head down and figured anything could happen. We ended up second today and I’m really happy with it."
Yates picked up his second consecutive third-place trophy finish and his third podium result of the season. He has finished inside the top 10 in 10 races this season.
3rd – Aaron Yates Speaks…
"It went okay," Yates said. "I kind of fell in a pace and couldn’t really get going any better. I thought we could go faster. We had a pretty good run this morning, but the bike just didn’t feel like it did in the morning warm up. We made a couple little changes and we thought it was going to give us a little better feel, but I was kind of stuck in a groove there. These guys (Mladin and Young) got out there. They were going fast. I think I was matching their pace, and I don’t know how hard Mat was going, but I just couldn’t close up any ground. It just feels good to bring home a podium position for the Jordan Suzuki crew. They worked hard this weekend and made it on the podium."
Josh Hayes finished fourth on the No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1 for his seventh top-five run of the year. Hayes came home one spot ahead of teammate Bostrom, who finished fifth aboard his No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1 and led the race’s opening lap. Bostrom has finished inside the top five in each of his last four American Superbike starts and a total of seven times this season.
The race was shortened to 18 laps from its scheduled 23-lap distance due to a pair of first-lap incidents. The initial race start was aborted when four bikes jumped the standing start. On the second start, a crash involving multiple riders in Turn 2 originally brought out a full-course yellow and the safety car and later a red flag when several riders passed the safety car on course.
Next up for AMA Pro American Superbike is a doubleheader at the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tires at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the weekend of July 17-19.
Bostrom Stays Perfect in Daytona SportBike
Bostrom took his second AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victory in a close battle with Chaz Davies at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Riding the No. 1s Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6, Bostrom first took the lead on Lap 6 of what would be a 21-lap race when race and points leader Martin Cardenas had a low-side crash in Turn 10. Cardenas started from the pole and led the first five laps before his incident.
Bostrom led through a 27-minute red flag brought about by a three-bike incident in the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Corkscrew involving Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600), Ricky Parker (No. 96 RPR Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) and Chris Fillmore (No. 55 Chris Fillmore Racing Yamaha YZF-R6). None of the three riders were injured and the race was shortened two laps from its scheduled 23-lap distance.
Bostrom led when the green flag flew again on Lap 11 but Davies motored his No. 57 Factory Aprilia Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R around Bostrom and into the lead on Lap 15. Bostrom would not go down without a fight, however, and the Californian once again regained the lead in Turn 11 with slightly more than three laps remaining.
While Davies kept the pressure on, Bostrom would not be denied, going on to win by 0.226 seconds for his second Daytona SportBike triumph. Bostrom also won the prestigious Daytona 200 By Honda to open the year in his only other Daytona SportBike start to date.
1st – Ben Bostrom Speaks…
"It was fantastic," Bostrom said. "I really enjoyed the little bike there. That race was quite enjoyable and Chaz did an amazing job. The race came down to the end and it was just one of those fantastic races. We knew the R6 was well capable of winning and it did, so it stands on top of the podium on a track that Yamaha helps sponsor, so that’s fantastic. It’s about time that little 600 won again, so it won at the correct track and it was good. It was very fun to ride."
Davies led a total of four laps en route to his first Daytona SportBike podium result. He has finished inside the top 10 in nine of 12 races this season.
2nd – Chaz Davies Speaks…
"I knew I had the pace all day," said Davies. "I was really fast this morning and consistent. Once we got the first half of the race started, I really struggled to get by some guys. I was struggling to get a gap on (Danny) Eslick. I knew my pace was stronger than what it was, but by that time, Josh and Ben were already gone. Their pace was really good. Actually, the red flag benefited me. There was some serious banging going on on the restart, and luckily I came out on the good side of it."
"I just managed to have myself a good race with Ben. We swapped positions a few times. I was stronger than him here and there and he was stronger than me in other spots. All in all, I’m happy. It’s the first podium of the year, the bike was fantastic and I just can’t say enough about the work that’s gone on with my team in the last three weeks. They’ve really knuckled down and got everything that I’ve asked for and it’s been really good. Hopefully, we’ll see the rest of the year go on like this as well."
Rounding out the podium with a third-place performance was Josh Herrin on the No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6. It was Herrin’s fourth podium result of the season and his eighth top-10 performance.
3rd – Josh Herrin Speaks…
"It feels really good to be back on the podium, but it kind of sucks when I know that I had the win really easy," Herrin said. "I was just sitting there before the red flag waiting for the last couple of laps just to pull a gap on Ben, but it just wasn’t my day today. I got hit, like, four times, and I just had to try and fight back. I figured, ‘Man, this just isn’t my day today. It’s not going how I want at all.’ Lucky for me, I was able to pull off a third. I’ve got to thank my crew. They did a really good job this weekend. I’m glad to put them back on the podium."
Aquino made it three Team Graves Yamahas in the top-four positions with a fourth-place ride on the No. 6 Yamaha YZF-R6. The result matched Aquino’s best run of the season, which he achieved in the second race of the doubleheader at Infineon Raceway in May. Scoring a career-best fifth-place result was Robertino Pietri on the No. 311 Team E.S.P. Yamaha YZF-R6. Pietri’s previous best results were 12th-place rides at Auto Club Speedway in March and Barber Motorsports Park in May.
Despite his early crash, Cardenas continues to lead the Daytona SportBike championship standings. He is 39 markers (255-216) ahead of No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R rider Jamie Hacking, who finished ninth today, after 12 of 20 races.
Next up for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike is a doubleheader at the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tires at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the weekend of July 17-19.
Photos by Andrea Wilson