Round 3 of the 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing
series heads out West this weekend to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young will battle it out in the premier SuperBike events, each vying for the top spot in championship points. So far the difference between the two riders has come down to bonus points, with Hayes leading by six after two rounds. The Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam will also feature action in GoPro Daytona SportBike, Motorcycle-SuperStore.com
SuperSport and Vance and Hines XR1200 contests.
AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike
Josh Hayes of Monster Energy Graves Yamaha leads in championship points by six over Yoshimura's Blake Young.
Since 2010, Josh Hayes has won three of the four SuperBike main events at Infineon, loosing Race 2 last year to Tommy Hayden. Blake Young has consistently improved his performances at the venue, jumping from dual fifth place finishes in 2010 to a Race 1 fourth and a Race 2 third in 2011. Young has been riding strong this season though, recovering from an early crash in the Saturday race at Road Atlanta to take the win from Hayes.
“When I first hit the ground,” said Young, “I had the wind knocked out of me. I wanted to get my back to the pits as fast as possible so we could get back to the race…when I got back on the GSX-R1000, it was perfect.” The Suzuki rider charged forward from the back of the field after the restart and was back out front almost immediately.
The Mississippi native came back on Sunday and posted a 5.214-second win over Young, posting laps consistently faster than his pole time. The win also marked the first Yamaha AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike win at Road Atlanta. Earning bonus points for best qualifying time and most laps led puts Hayes in the points lead and also earned him the “Big Kahuna” title at the event, where he took home a custom surfboard trophy designed by Roland Sands and Motorcycle-Superstore.com.
The two will definitely continue to trade punches in California as the 2011 series champion looks to extend his lead over Young.
Hayes’ teammate Josh Herrin also fared well in Road Atlanta, earning third place finishes in both races. Herrin is in his rookie SuperBike season and finished second in points last year in Daytona SportBike. National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden is a seasoned veteran compared to Herrin, but the two battled hard for podium positions in Road Atlanta with differences between third and fourth in both events down to fractions of a second.
“Two fourths is a little disappointing after being on the podium twice at Daytona,” said Hayden. “I feel like I’m riding good and the National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 is working
Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Attack Performance's Steve Rapp scored top ten SuperBike finishes in both Road Atlanta races.
Hayden’s teammate Ben Bostrom has had difficulty so far this season. “I’ve crashed out of three of four races,” he commented, “That’s unheard of. I usually don’t crash all year.”
Steve Rapp of Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Attack Performance will break a big record if he can score a win at Infineon Raceway seeing how Kawasaki hasn’t won a SuperBike title since 1993. Rapp contended in a battle for fifth place at Road Atlanta with Foremost Insurance’s Larry Pegram, KTM’s Chris Fillmore and Rider’s Discount’s Tyler Knapp. With some luck and determination, any of these riders could see a podium at Sonoma.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Geico Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas is the man to beat in the SportBike class after his impressive victories on Saturday and Sunday at Road Atlanta. Race 1 proved to be the more definitive win for the Suzuki rider, but M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki’s Dane Westby, Graves Yamaha’s Tommy Hayden and Ducshop ‘s Jake Zemke will all be looking to knock the Columbian from the top spot this weekend.
Martin Cardenas will look to increase his points lead at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California
"Tommy put the pressure on me the whole race, so it was very difficult," said Cardenas of his 18th career GoPro Daytona SportBike victory on Sunday at Road Atlanta. "I tried to pull a gap on him but it wasn't possible. At the end, we found a few lapped riders and I think that helped me a bit."
Other riders posted improved results and might possibly be seen closer to the front of the pack as the 2012 season progresses. LTD Racing’s Huntley Nash got his best ever Daytona SportBike finish in Atlanta scoring seventh place. Team Latus Motors Racing’s Jason DiSalvo had difficulty during the last round, but was still able to post the fastest lap time in Race 2. Riders Discout Vesrah Suzuki’s Benny Solis went head-to-head with Tommy Hayden on Sunday and looked strong until going down during the tenth lap. Solis' teammate Cory West grabbed a top five finish behind Zemke. The Suzuki riders may be a force to be reckoned with at Sonoma.
Cardenas leads in championship points with 82. Dane Westby is the closest contender, 20 points behind at 62 while T-Hayden follows in third with 60. If Cardenas has another big weekend, it will become difficult to catch him, so it will be a showdown to steal the top spot from the Suzuki ace.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Sunday’s matchup between Vesrah Suzuki rider James Lewis and Celtic Racing’s James Rispoli was a nail-biter. Saturday’s race saw Rispoli taking the victory and in each case the riders were mere seconds apart.
“"I led most of the race and James and I had an awesome battle," said Lewis about Race 2 in Road Atlanta. “I felt more comfortable out front. Yesterday I got a little unlucky with a lapper and today I got a little lucky with the red flag taking it back a lap."
Rispoli will have to fend off Elena Myers at Infineon if he hopes to keep his championship points lead in the West Division.
Rispoli is registered in the SuperSport West division, so he didn’t earn points toward the title in Atlanta. Lewis will need to continue riding well if he hopes to challenge Rispoli in overall points at the end of the season. Lewis leads the East division with 82 points after four rounds and Rispoli has 50 after two.
Second in West division points is SuzukiScoop’s Elena Myers, trailing JR by a mere five points. Her eighth place finish in Race 2 in Atlanta was a disappointment, but she has fared well at Sonoma in the past. Myers became the first female in history to win an AMA Pro Road Race there in 2010 riding in SuperSport and has already won a race this year as well.
Hayden Gillim of Road Race Factory suffered from tire issues on his Yamaha YZF-R6 in Saturday's SuperSport race where he finished sixth, but was able to take fourth place Sunday after switching to a harder tire.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR100
Bartel’s Harley-Davidson teammates Tyler O’Hara and Michael Barnes took first and second place respectively in the Road Atlanta race with Barnes trailing by less than a second. KWR’s Kyle Wyman was able to take third, but lagged behind the front runners by over six seconds. Double duty rider Steve Rapp, also contending in the SuperBike class, was positioned up front until mechanical issues forced him to cut short his race. Barring any significant issues in Sonoma, either of these riders could claim a podium this weekend.
O’Hara said after the Road Atlanta contest, “What a race today. Rapp passed me in a place I didn't think I could be passed. I followed him a little bit and learned a lot and that helped me out when I got back in the lead. And Barney was there the whole time keeping us honest. There's no down time on these Harleys. It's pretty much pinned wire-to-wire."
Kyle Wyman trails O’Hara in championship points by five and will be looking to take the top spot with a solid finish at Infineon.