Hayes’ Race, Mladin’s Title

Henny Ray Abrams | August 16, 2009

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin won an unprecedented seventh AMA Superbike title with a ninth place finish in his final appearance at Virginia International Raceway on the same weekend that Yamaha’s Josh Hayes swept the American Superbike class for the second time this year.Needing only two points to clinch the title, Mladin rode a controlled race, challenging Hayes and leading the first lap before Hayes took over in turn one lap two. Then Hayes was gone.He steadily built a lead that peaked at just under ten seconds before slowing on the final lap to win by 6.829 seconds.The win, his fifth of the year and second of the weekend, along with Ben Bostrom’s pair of third place finishes and Team Graves Motorsports’ Josh Herrin’s Daytona SportBike sweep, gave Yamaha their best road race weekend in years.Once Mladin was passed by Hayes, he gradually dropped through the pack to finish ninth. That left him with 427 points, 79 more than teammate Tommy Hayden, second today, and 83 more than Hayes.The title was Mladin’s first since 2005, when he won the sixth of his crowns. Then followed three years of chasing teammate Ben Spies to the title before this year’s return to the top. His first six titles came from 1999 through 2005, with the only interruption being Nicky Hayden’s 2002 title year.Mladin has 82 wins, 78 of which came with the Suzuki, the other four on the Fast by Ferracci Ducati that he rode in 1997.Hayden was second, after repassing Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom on the 18th of 23 laps.Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram was fourth, less than a second in front of the late charging Aaron Yates (Jordan Suzuki).Then came Latus Racing’s Taylor Knapp (Suz), nearly five seconds on, with 3.25 on Blake Young who nipped Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson at the line by .009 secs. Hodgson was so focused on passing him on the outside that he ran off the track in sixth gear, but skillfully kept the Honda on two wheels.Mladin was ninth followed by Jake Holden (Hon).


1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)

2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)

3. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha)

4. Larry Pegram (Ducati)

5. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)

6. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki)

7. Blake Young (Suzuki)

8. Neil Hodgson (Honda)

9. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)

10. Jake Holden (Honda)

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.