ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Three-time AMA Pro SuperBike king Josh Hayes made it clear that he’s not ready to be put out to pasture any time soon at the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader.
The 39-year-old dug deep in difficult conditions on Sunday and claimed the 43rd victory of his AMA Pro SuperBike career in a showcase of bravery and skill.
Just keeping his R1 on two wheels over the twice-stopped race’s final two laps was a supreme test of his skills as the rain poured down on the Wisconsin circuit. The Mississippian made it through despite a number of near-crashes on the tense run to the checkered flag – which was actually shown as a final red flag, stopping the race for good when a number of last-lap incidents.
“I’m really happy for my team,” Hayes said. “Big thank you to Monster Energy Graves Yamaha for providing me with what I need to win races.”
Commenting on the level of difficult of today’s victory, Hayes said, “It was harder than the hardest lap I’ve ridden around this racetrack just to negotiate around.”
Hayes’ Factory Yamaha teammate, Cameron Beaubier, made his first real rookie mistake during the dry portion of Sunday’s contest, prior to the race’s first red flag. The 21-year-old was the favorite coming into Race 2, having dominated in the lead-up to the race, reeling in the pole position and the win on Saturday.
Beaubier appeared content to sit just behind early-leader Hayes and Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Martin Cardenas and wait for the race’s second half before making his move, similar to the strategy he used so frequently en route to his 2013 GoPro Daytona SportBike crown.
However, looks can be deceiving. Beaubier lost the front of his No. 2 Yamaha YZF-R1 in Turn 1 on lap six of 13 and crashed out of contention. If he had won the race, he would have had more than a full race’s points lead over three-time champ Hayes, but the miscue completely altered the complexion of the developing title fight.
Later that same lap, riders started to signal it was raining in the back half of the circuit and the race was red flagged shortly after.
Until the stoppage, Cardenas was glued to Hayes’ rear wheel at the front of the race, well separated from the remainder of the pack. Cardenas’ teammate, Roger Hayden, was all alone in third at the time, with ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing’s David Anthony leading a group that included Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram, KTM/HMC Racing’s Fillmore and third Yoshimura runner Clark.
At the restart, the frontrunners all took to the circuit with full slicks. The race resumed with Hayes opening an early advantage over Cardenas, while Hayden and Clark settled into a close fight for third.
However, when the rain returned a second time, it was with a vengeance. Hayes managed to hold on for the win, but Cardenas plummeted down the order.
Meanwhile, Anthony blasted forward and claimed the runner-up spot, the first podium result of his AMA Pro SuperBike career.
Hayden was credited in third, followed by Clark, who picked up his third fourth-place result of the season.
“It was pretty good,” Hayden said. “Actually, I don’t really don’t deserve third place; I got lucky with Cameron crashing. Those guys were faster than me. I’m just glad to finish the race on the two wheels.”
Fillmore crashed on the final lap, but was listed in fifth, as the late red flag reset the final results by a lap. He was followed by Pegram and Cardenas.
Spaniard Bernat Martinez finished in eighth on the Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha R1, while Seven Sports’ Trent Gibson and Dumas Superbike Team’s Fancois Dumas rounded out the top 10.