It was delayed a couple of days and it took most of the day to complete, but the 2011 Springfield TT is finally in the books and it was defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson who came away with the victory on a hot and sunny day in central Illinois. It marked the second win of the season for Johnson and his second-career Springfield TT triumph.
Johnson put his Zanotti Racing Honda CRF450R into the lead on the first lap and never looked back. He battled early with three-time race winner JR Schnabel and 2009 AMA GNC champ Jared Mees.
In the middle stages Johnson broke away and appeared to have an easy win on his hands, but on lap 18 Mees got around Schnabel and slowly began chipping away at Johnson’s lead. Mees closed the gap and it looked like lapped traffic might help him, but Johnson had a little in reserve and clicked in a strong last couple of laps to secure the win by a margin of 1.3-seconds over Mees.
Schnabel fell off the pace late, yet still managed to finish on the podium with third.
Series leader Sammy Halbert suffered a crash with Robert Pearson, which brought out a red flag. Pearson was transported to the hospital for further observation. On the restart Halbert charged from the back of the grid to finish fifth. That preserved his series lead over Johnson leaving the Springfield doubleheader weekend.
“That was a tougher race than it looked,” Johnson said on the podium. “JR and Jared really pushed me hard.
“I thought I got away a little bit and then I started hearing Jared’s bike coming up behind me. I want that thing teched because his bike was really loud when he pulled up,” Johnson joked. “It was pretty intimidating having him on my tailpipe, but fortunately I was able to hold on.”
Californian Stevie Bonsey turned in a solid ride to take fourth, a little over five seconds back from Schnabel. Then came Halbert, Kenny Coolbeth and Matt Weidman. Shaun Russell, Brad Baker and Chad Cose rounded out the top ten.
Henry Wiles, who won this race three-years running, is sitting out until at least mid-summer, recovering from knee surgery.
The Pro Singles final was plagued by three red flags, but when the smoke cleared it was Michael Avila, who made a late-race charge to pass Michael Martin to take the hard-fought win. Hayden Gillim rounded out the podium finishers. With the victory Avila takes over the Pro Singles Series lead from Gerit Callies, who was fifth on the TT.
The series next moves to the Hartford Half-Mile, in Hartford, Michigan, for round eight on June 11.