Josh Hayes won his 61st career Superbike race today in the Championship of Virginia at VIRginia International Raceway, the 41-year-old taking his first Motul Superbike win of the season and his first since last July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a dominating performance.
Every time Hayes climbs to the top of the podium he either breaks or gets close to breaking a record. With his victory today, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory R1-mounted Hayes moved out of a tie with Mat Mladin for second on the all-time list of AMA victories across all classes with his 83rd career win – just three shy of Miguel Duhamel’s 86 career victories. It was also Hayes’ 61st Superbike victory.
Hayes led the race early and he led it again when his teammate Cameron Beaubier ran off track in turn one on the seventh lap, a mistake that dropped the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion back to seventh. From there Hayes took control of the 23-lap race, monitoring his lead and finishing with 4.4 seconds in hand over Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias, the Spaniard spending the majority of his race battling teammate Roger Hayden.
“About a half hour before the race I didn’t feel comfortable, however, I just kept telling myself positive things and that I needed to be relentless by making everyone ride the pace that I’m capable of,” Hayes said. “It took me a little while to get going the first five or six laps, despite having really good grip. Once Cameron (Beaubier) got around me I went into a little bit of a panic until he made the mistake and went off of the track. I was able to regroup a few laps later, pick the pace back up with a few really good laps, and manage the rest of the race.”
Hayden made things easier for Elias when he ran off the track at the start of the last lap. But it wasn’t totally comfortable as Beaubier had, for the second straight day, charged through the pack after his mistake to finish just .084 of a second behind the Suzuki.
“It was really hot and a physical day, not necessarily more than others, but when you’re not 100% comfortable with the bike it’s easy to experience strange problems like arm pump,” Elias said. “Roger (Hayden) was riding well, but I could see that he was struggling also and I decided to go for the pass. I tried to follow Josh (Hayes) for five or six laps and make up some ground, but wasn’t able to do anything. I’m happy with second today and to get good points after yesterday was a sad day for me with the accident between Josh (Herrin) and I.”
Beaubier was upset with himself after the race for making the crucial error in turn one for a second successive day.
“I’m pretty disappointed in myself, I felt like I was riding well all weekend and had the pace to win at least one of these races,” Beaubier said. “To make the mistake once yesterday is one thing, but to do it twice is dumb and pretty frustrating. Josh was on rails out front, also Toni (Elias) and Roger (Hayden) were running a good pace. I tried to tuck in behind Toni on the last lap and draft him in hopes of making something happen, but I just wasn’t close enough to make a move.”
Hayden, meanwhile, recovered to finish sixth.
“I was having some trouble today pushing the front end,” Hayden explained. “On the last lap, I was battling with Toni (Elias) and made a mistake and ran off the track, but luckily I came back on and ended up sixth and salvaged some points. I was disappointed about today’s race, but all in all it was a pretty good weekend.”
With Beaubier charging through to third, fourth place went to Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong, the Californian taking the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class win for the second straight day and fourth time on the season.
“The pace was definitely a little bit faster at the beginning of the race today,” Fong said. “I feel like I could have stayed with the Suzuki boys (Elias and Hayden) a little bit longer in the middle of the race, but my tire ending up spinning on the rim 180 degrees and I started getting this huge vibration. I accomplished my goal in the Superstock class but, like I said yesterday, I really want to be closer to these guys like I’ve done at a few of the other rounds.”
Kyle Wyman rode his Excelsius Solutions/Lucas Oils/KWR Yamaha R1 to fifth, some three seconds ahead of Hayden. Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Jake Gagne ended up seventh, well clear of eighth placed Mathew Scholtz, the Yamalube Westby Racing rider earning second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class in the process. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis was ninth overall and third in the Superstock class – just .395 of a second behind the South African.
Cycle World Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim rounded out the top 10 on his Superstock-spec Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Elias, who failed to score points on Saturday after crashing, still leads the championship points chase with 115 points, 10 more than Beaubier and 11 more than Hayden. Hayes jumps to fourth with 69 points, four more than Fong, who leads the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship standings by 15 points over Scholtz.
For the second straight day, the Supersport final ended up being a two-rider battle between Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha’s JD Beach and yesterday’s winner Garrett Gerloff with Beach turning the tables on his teammate with his second victory of the season.
“I respect all of the riders out there and am going to race everyone clean, but hard at the same time,” Beach said when asked if it’s difficult to race with his teammate. “It was a good race with Garrett (Gerloff), but he kept leaving the door open and I’m a dirt tracker, so I was able to take advantage of that. As long as he wasn’t going to be in the grass on the left side, then I was going to go for it and keep sticking it in on him. I think Garrett had the speed on me today and I kept trying to get back in front of him in order to hold him back a little bit. His pace was good all weekend, he was fast again this morning, and I knew if I let him get a little bit of a gap on me that it would be difficult to make it up.”
Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis ended up third for the second straight day with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise crashing out of the race for a second day in a row.
Three rounds and five races in the Supersport class, Gerloff leads Beach by just four points, 106-102. Solis takes over third from Debise with 69 points to the Frenchman’s 65.
Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert won the Superstock 600 class for the second straight day, the 20-year-old Californian in dominant form this weekend. Gilbert beat Aguilar Racing’s Jason Aguilar by 3.1 seconds with Nick McFadden third on the M4 medAge Suzuki.
“It feels better to win today than it did yesterday because it is nice to leave the weekend sitting on top. I didn’t have the best start and was able to get around some of the guys in front of me, allowing me to run some clean laps,” Gilbert said. “The pit board showed the guys were right on my tail for a while, but I kept digging and digging, which helped me open a cushion and manage it until the end. The tires were getting pretty greasy at the end and you had to be careful not to push to hard or you risked the chance of a mistake.”
With his two wins this weekend, Gilbert takes over the championship points lead from Road Atlanta winner McFadden, 86-77. Aguilar is third in the title chase with 69 points.
A day after finishing on the podium for the first time in his KTM RC Cup career, 15-year-old Jackson Blackmon went one better and won his first race as those behind him fell to the wayside. Blackmon, and his Quarterley Racing/On Track Development KTM, led from the start and was even aware the misfortune of those behind him. The first to go was championship leader Benjamin Smith, the Quarterley Racing/On Track Development rider running into the back of his teammate Draik Beauchamp. Not long after, Beauchamp also crashed. Ditto for his teammate Jake Leahey, who was running third at the time.
All that allowed Blackmon to run away to a 11.4-second win over Canadian Alex Dumas, the JP43 Junior Team rider finishing some three seconds clear of third-placed Toby Khamsouk. Khamsouk, a 14-year-old Californian, was having his best outing in just his second MotoAmerica race and ended up on the podium for the first time.
Although the order in the championship wasn’t shaken up, the points chase got a lot tighter with the demise of Smith and Beauchamp. Smith leads Beauchamp by a single point, 66-65, with Dumas closing to within six points of the leader. Blackmon, meanwhile, who missed the opening round at Road Atlanta with his wrist injury, jumps to fourth with 45 points – 21 behind Smith.
“The race was awesome and I got off to a really good start, pushing into turn one pretty hot,” Blackmon said. “I put my head down once I got into the lead and saw I had a comfortable gap just a few laps in. I saw Draik (Beauchamp) behind me for a while, but then I saw my pit board had me six seconds ahead and figured something had happened to him. My wrist was getting pretty sore, but I found a good rhythm and just tried to bring it home from there.”
Motul Superbike Championship Standings
Bazzaz Superstock 1000
Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship Standings
Supersport Championship Standings
Superstock 600 Championship Standings
KTM RC Cup
KTM RC Cup Championship Standings