Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin crushed the field in Saturday’s first race of the Suzuki Superbike Showdown at Road Atlanta.Starting from the pole position, the six-time AMA Superbike Champion opened up a gap of a second on the first lap and added to it almost every lap. The lead ballooned to 16.027 seconds on the 17th of 20 laps before Mladin slowed at the finish to win by 15.718 seconds.Mladin’s pace was so hot that he turned his fastest lap on lap 16.”This isn’t Superstock racing, this is Superbike,” Mladin said.
The win was Mladin’s third of the year, 76th of his career, and 50th in a row for Suzuki, who had a very good day sweeping the top four spots, with second going to Mladin’s teammate Tommy Hayden.”It was a good race for us today. It’s good to see Suzukis one-two-three-four-five today,” Mladin said, not knowing that Josh Hayes finished fourth on a Yamaha.After three of 21 rounds, Mladin holds a 29-point lead on Hayden, 126-97.National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Geoff May was a popular third on the day. May, from nearby Gainesville, was in the six way battle for second that spread out towards the end of the race. May ended up challenging Hayden and holding off Blake Young, the third member of the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team who finished fourth.Then came a gap of 6.4 seconds to Yamaha’s Josh Hayes. Hayes, who had a heavy get-off in morning practice, was second on the tenth lap before being passed by Hayden. Hayes barely held off Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates, who finished .024 of a second back in sixth.Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati’s Larry Pegram slid from an early fourth in the pack to a lone seventh, more than seven seconds back of Yates.Another ten-plus seconds would pass before Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom crossed the line in eighth. David Anthony (Suz) and Corona Extra Honda’s Jake Holden filled out the top 10.
Saturday Superbike:1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)3. Geoff May (Suzuki)4. Blake Young (Suzuki)5. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)6. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)7. Larry Pegram (Ducati)8. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha)9. David Anthony (Suzuki)10. Jake Holden (Honda)