Hayes Makes History at Infineon Raceway

Henny Ray Abrams | May 16, 2009

Yoshimura Suzuki’s nearly three-year domination of Superbike racing came to an end when Yamaha’s Josh Hayes took advantage of a rare off day by Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin to earn his first Superbike win on a blazingly hot Saturday afternoon at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.Hayes’ historic win, a month after his 34th birthday and in his eighth race as a factory Superbike rider, ended  both Suzuki’s winning streak at 53 and Rockstar Makita Suzuki Mat Mladin’s personal winning streak at eight, including the first seven of this season.The last time Superbike race Suzuki didn’t win was at Miller Motorsports Park in June of 2006, when Jake Zemke won on an American Honda CBR1000RR. The last time Mladin didn’t win the Superbike race was when he was beaten by teammate Ben Spies in the penultimate round of the 2008 series at Road Atlanta. Since then, Mladin ran his streak to eight by winning the final race of the 2008 season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year before taking all seven this year. And Hayes’  win was the first Superbike victory for Yamaha since Anthony Gobert won at California Speedway in Fontana on April 6, 2002.”I have no aspirations that a Superbike race will ever come that easy again,” Hayes said, before acknowledging it was clear Mladin was struggling with front end issues. “I expected it to be elbow to elbow and I’m sure if and when next time it will be.”Mladin was philosophical in defeat, saying, “We just struggled today, couldn’t get it done. That’s it. Nothing really to say about it.”Mladin had gotten the jump and led the first two laps, but the riders just behind could tell he wasn’t comfortable with the front end. Hayes took the lead on the third lap and stretched his lead so effortlessly it was astounding. Mladin not only didn’t have an answer for Hayes, he couldn’t keep the others at bay.From the start he knew that the machine wasn’t right so he “just tried to hang in there the best I could, and then when (Larry) Pegram came past I looked over and seen a couple Suzuki boys behind me, so I let them go and just tried to give them a shot at getting up there.”Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati’s Pegram passed Mladin on the outside of the Carousel on the 11th lap, a move Pegram called the greatest pass of his career. Soon after Mladin’s teammate Tommy Hayden also came past. One lap on and Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates passed Mladin and the top five were set, though Hayden and Pegram would engage in an entertaining battle that was mostly settled by traffic in the final two laps.”Seven in a row this year, eight in a row in total and 50-something wins in a row for Suzuki; it’s got to come to an end one day. That’s racing,” Mladin said. “You know me, it’s not how I look at it. It’s now how I work. The one thing about winning all the time is there’s only one place to go if something goes wrong and that’s not better than a win. That’s okay.”American Superbike:1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)3. Larry Pegram (Ducati)4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)5. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)6. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki)7. David Anthony (Suzuki)8. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki)9. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha)10. Cory Call (Suzuki)

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.