ALTON, VA, AUG 16: Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin cut the championship lead of teammate Ben Spies to 23 points by fronting a Suzuki podium sweep with a runaway win in Saturday’s Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia. Spies got the jump on the field, but Mladin wasn’t far behind. Third at the end of lap one, he was up to second on the second lap and on Spies on lap four of 28. He made the pass for the lead in turn four, the second of two hard lefts, where Spies has historically been vulnerable. Spies stuck with him for a lap, but on lap six the Texan had a moment at the start of the esses, both feet coming off the pegs. That gave Mladin the breathing room he needed and he took advantage of it. With a pace that was .7 secs. of a lap faster than Spies, and much more on the third placed rider, Mladin quickly built an insurmountable lead. It went over 11 seconds in the final quarter of the race before ending at 8.382 secs. The win was Suzuki’s 42nd in a row and Mladin’s 71st. It was also his seventh in a row and eighth overall at VIR. Tommy Hayden, the third member of the Rockstar Suzuki team, made it a sweep of the podium by finishing third. It was the team’s fourth sweep of the year. Hayden passed Yamaha’s Eric Bostrom on the 21st lap after dogging him for much of the race. Bostrom stuck around until the final few laps when he faded back, finishing 5.632 secs. in arrears. Bostrom was 18.760 secs ahead of Yamaha’s Jason DiSalvo. DiSalvo passed American Honda’s Miguel Duhamel on the final lap. Jordan Suzuki’s Geoff May was a distant seventh, by himself, as was Monster Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden in eighth. Both did much better than their teammates. Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates retired on the second lap and Monster Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking crashed in turn one on the 12th lap while in fifth place. American Honda’s Neil Hodgson was another non-finisher. The Englishman had a massive high-side on the ninth lap while in sixth place. Mladin ends the day with 486 points, 23 less than Spies with four races remaining in the championship. Superbike: 1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 2. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 3. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 4. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha) 5. Miguel Duhamel (Honda) 6. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha) 7. Geoff May (Suzuki) 8. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki) 9. Chris Peris (Suzuki) 10. Kenny Noyes (Suzuki)
Mladin Storms to Victory at VIR
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.