MONTEREY, Calif. – Three-time AMA Pro SuperBike champion Josh Hayes took another major step toward becoming “four-time” on Sunday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as he closed out the GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round with a convincing victory, his fourth in a row.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha ace, racing on the No. 4 Yamaha R1, moved past the holeshooting Martin Cardenas on the 23-lap race’s opening circulation. The contest was pretty much decided at that point, save for 18 more precision laps executed at breakaway speed. The race was red flagged and called official with 19 laps complete due to a crash by rider Marcel Irnie.
Hayes’ biggest challenge figured to come from rookie teammate Cameron Beaubier, who opened the race from the front of the grid after claiming his second pole position of the 2014 season on Saturday. However, the 21-year-old failed to capitalize on his prime starting position at launch and was shuffled back to fourth, corralled behind Cardenas and his Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing teammate, Roger Hayden, while Hayes eked out a gap in front.
Beaubier found his way into third on lap 4 and then moved into second on the following circuit, but by then he already trailed Hayes by more than two seconds.
Hayes boasted a commanding multi-second advantage with just three laps remaining when the race was red flagged and ultimately called complete.
The win is the 46th of Hayes’ remarkable career and his fourth in succession, both on the season and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
As a result, Hayes now leads the title chase with more than a full race’s points allotment in hand and only four contests left in play. Two of those races will take place next weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and it’s not inconceivable that he could lock up the crown as early as Sunday.
“What a beautiful day,” said Hayes after claiming his fifth win of the season. “I can promise you it’s never as easy as it looks. The last few laps I was actually having a pretty hard time. I was just trying to stay focused which can be pretty hard to do when you’re riding by yourself. Cameron had a little carrot out there in front of him. I didn’t have much to look at. I was more running like a scared rabbit, looking at the pit board. It’s a little bit of a different game.”
Beaubier was credited with second while Hayden, who passed Cardenas while working lap 7, came in third. With his runner-up result, Beaubier now moves into second in the points as well, 40 back of Hayes (175-135), and one up on Hayden in third.
Josh Hayes; Cameron Beaubier; Roger Hayden; Martin Cardenas; Chris Fillmore; David Anthony; Cory West; Bernat Martinez; Chris Clark; Sebastiao Ferrera; Kevin Pinkstaff; Johnny Rock Page; Mathew Orange; Jake Holden; Marcel Imie.