Hayes Ends Drought With VIR Superbike Win

Josh Hayes (4) earned his first MotoAmerica Motul Superbike victory since last July on Sunday at Virginia Int'l Raceway. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

ALTON, Va. – Josh Hayes won the 61st Motul Superbike race of his career on Sunday during day two of the MotoAmerica Championship of Virginia at Virginia Int’l Raceway.

It was Hayes’ first victory since last July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With his victory Sunday, 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.

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.”

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 this season.

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 J.D. Beach and Saturday’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 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.

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.