2012 AMA Superbike
The 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing season got underway this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway, with two rivals once again battling it out in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship.
And each of these riders took a race win, the two-man battle quickly resuming at Daytona during Round 1 of 11 in the series.
The two riders? The reigning AMA SBK Champion Josh Hayes (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1) and his on-track nemesis, Blake Young (Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000). Hayes would win race 1 Friday, and Young would win race 2 on Saturday.
Following are recaps of each race from AMA Pro Racing.
Daytona AMA Superbike: Race 1 Recap:
Hayes accomplished what he could not one year ago in Friday’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Hayes once again led from the green flag, but unlike last year the veteran was able to hold off rival Young in National Guard SuperBike Race 1 to take his first SuperBike win at the historic venue.
Making his way into the lead just as the pack hit the line to complete the first lap, Hayes put his head down, took full advantage of his No. 1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1’s newfound legs, and clicked off a series of blazing laps to break the pursuit of his challengers.
Meanwhile, last season’s double Daytona winner, Blake Young, found himself in a brawl for second with Hayes’ first-year National Guard SuperBike teammate, Josh Herrin, and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, and was helpless to do anything about Hayes’ rapid escape during the race’s early stages.
The contest became further stretched out when Herrin lost the front and crashed from third place on lap 6 of 15. The 21-year old, who led all but the final meters of the opening lap of his Superbike debut before being double drafted by Hayes and Young, remounted and briefly re-entered the fray before eventually retiring.
Hayden lost ground as well, running wide in Turn 1 and losing touch with Yoshimura Racing Suzuki ace Young in the race for the runner-up position.
Hayes continued on in flawless fashion at the front to score his 18th career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike victory, boasting an 8.332-second margin of victory over Young.
Prior to the contest, Hayes claimed that he and his team had put forth a great deal of effort in the offseason to ensure they came out stronger this season than in 2011. The 36-year-old Mississippian’s performance backed up those statements while serving notice to the rest of the field.
Josh Hayes (Monster Energy Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike) says: “It was a pretty good day, I’d say. It’s a tough field. Blake rode really well last year. Tommy (Hayden) was all over me. Rog was taking all the necessary steps to be a big pain at the end of the year and Herrin has been fast in testing.
“So I just went home and worked really, really hard to try to take another step in my game and the team has been working really hard on the machine. This is the payoff. Daytona is one of the tracks last year where we were fast but couldn’t get it done. This year we were able to take it another step and I hope we’ll be able to do that at every racetrack this year.”
Blake Young (Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike) says: “I’m pretty disappointed with my performance today. I feel like my team worked really, really hard. I feel like all weekend long I’ve been just a little bit behind on the curve. I haven’t really got out and run faster than Josh all weekend and that obviously makes for a difficult weekend.
“Like I said, I’m not happy with today’s race. Whether I have to get out of bed on the other side tomorrow or put my left sock on before my right like I did today… Whatever I need to do, I need to not let this happen again.”
Hayden completed his lonely ride to the final podium position, taking the checkered flag some 16 seconds behind the race winner.
Tommy Hayden (National Guard Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike) says: “It’s a good way to start the season, finishing on the podium. But at the same time, it’s not very satisfying with the gap to Blake and the gap to Josh being a little bigger than we wanted. But we’ll regroup tonight and try to change the bike and try to put a better show on tomorrow.”
Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom was another high-profile crasher, falling from fourth moments after taking the position away from Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Big Kahuna/LeoVince Attack Kawasaki’s Steve Rapp near half-distance.
However, despite Bostrom’s mistake, Rapp was ultimately unable to lock down the position, losing out at the stripe to Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW’s Larry Pegram by a scant 0.001 seconds — a dramatic moment in an otherwise largely processional race.
Team Amsoil/Hero EBR’s Geoff May earned sixth, with Evan Steel Performance BMW’s Jake Holden, Team Venezuela’s Robertino Pietri, Yoshimura Racing Suzuki’s Chris Clark, and Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing’s David Anthony rounding out the top ten.
Daytona AMA Superbike: Race 2 Recap:
Friday’s AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike race winner, Hayes, wasn’t able to savor his season-opening victory for long as his primary rival, Young, took his revenge on Saturday in a thrilling showdown of the series’ title favorites.
Hayes bolted into the lead from the start aboard his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 but was unable to replicate yesterday’s escape as Young made a concerted effort to track him down and cling onto the lead draft.
Their battle pushed them far out in front of a trailing pack that quickly broke into a number of smaller melees, with National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Hayes’ Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, vigorously swapping positions in their clash for third.
While Young was able to keep pace with Hayes up front, the Mississippian appeared to be very much in control of the race. Utilizing a superior line out of the chicane, Hayes demonstrated the ability to hold an advantage all the way to the stripe while in front or draft past from second while the Suzuki man struggled to do either with any sort of consistency.
However, Hayes suffered a moment on the banking while leading late in the race and decided his safest bet would be to follow on the final lap and set up a strike at the flag. That plan unraveled when Hayes mistimed his slingshot attempt, coming up just 0.002 seconds short of Young at the line.
Blake Young says: “Today’s race was a lot better than yesterday’s race, for sure. I knew Josh was going to be good on the banking and out of the chicane. I just didn’t know how good. I knew I had to make it happen on the first five laps and be right on him to see what he was doing exactly out of the chicane that made me him so good onto the banking. I definitely learned and adapted pretty quickly before he could get away.
“He’s got more power this year than last year for sure, but my guys worked hard for me. We sat back and looked at the data, but I knew it was nothing we were going to see on the data — it was me yesterday. I just didn’t have a very good race and wanted to work hard to show my crew they shouldn’t give up on me yet.”
Hayes was happy to leave Daytona with a win, a runner-up, pole, and two lap leader points in his pocket, but couldn’t help but feel like he let one get away on this day.
Josh Hayes says: “We were both playing the game out there. We both tried each other through the banking and we seemed pretty even on one another. I felt like I was pretty good out of the chicane and I had gotten away with that a whole bunch of times, but in the later part of the race I struggled with some grip and lost the front in NASCAR 4.
“I ended up going through there about three-quarter throttle and that was the first lap he actually did come by me on the banking. So I started having a few doubts about making a run from the front because if I had an issue like that at the end I’d be a sitting duck. Once I made the run on him and knew I could draft by him just the same I kind of let him lead the last lap and just sat back there.
“Going into the back straightaway I was a little further back than I wanted to be and panicked a little bit and ran off in the chicane pretty hard. I don’t think it was the deciding factor, but once we got up on the banking I just mistimed it a little bit. It was 100% my fault – I just mistimed it. I had a good weapon today. I had a bike that could win the race and this one is on my shoulders. He rode a great race and definitely upped his game from yesterday.”
Hayden ultimately came out on top of a seesawing duel with National Guard SuperBike rookie Herrin, who responded to his Friday crash with a fine effort to finish within sight of the podium in fourth.
Tommy Hayden says: “Josh Herrin made me earn this one today. He was really riding good for his rookie race weekend. I was trying to break the draft in the infield; I felt I was a little bit stronger than him but he could always draft back by me and I couldn’t draft him. We definitely need to find a little bit more speed but I am happy to come away with two third-place finishes. It’s a good start to the season. We kind of know where we are weak at now so we can try to improve before Road Atlanta.”
For the second consecutive day, Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW’s Larry Pegram victimized Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Big Kahuna/LeoVince Attack Kawasaki’s Steve Rapp at the flag. Pegram edged Rapp for fourth on Friday by 0.001 seconds and turned the same trick on Saturday, topping him for fifth by 0.080 seconds.
New Yoshimura Racing Suzuki runner Chris Clark came home in seventh, with EvanSteelPerformance.com BMW’s Jake Holden ultimately coming out on top of a mid-race multi-rider affair for eighth, followed by two-time Daytona SportBike king Danny Eslick on the Team Hero EBR 1190RS and Team Venezuela Suzuki’s Robertino Pietri to complete the top ten.