Photography By: Andrea Wilson
BRASELTON, GA, APR 21 - Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young recovered from a frightening crash that brought out the red flag to hold off Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes in a thrilling last lap battle in the shortened Superbike finale on a sunny Saturday at Road Atlanta.
Hayes and Young had separated themselves from the field when the race took a dramatic turn on the 14th of 20 scheduled laps. They were engaged in a fierce battle when contact was made as their front wheels lifted while cresting the turn 11 hill. Young had the wind knocked out of him as he slid to a stop towards the final turn 12, while his motorcycle came to a rest on the grass after sliding to a halt just prior to the front straight tarmac.
Hayes would later apologize for the contact, which Young accepted.
"I just want to start out and say what happened there between me and Josh I know it wasn't intentional, it was racing, it was a racing incident," Young said. He explained that as he wheelied over the crest his handlebar ended up getting caught up with Hayes' boot.
Young refused medical care and limped to his motorcycle, his only concern being that it be race-ready for the re-start. Young's Peter Doyle-led crew was joined by the crew of teammate Chris Clark in furiously making repairs that produced a flawless motorcycle. While that was being done, Young swapped his riding gear and prepared for the seven-lap final.
AMA Pro Road Race officials put Young on the back row in the belief that he'd caused the red flag. No matter. He made short work of the small field and turned the seven-lap sprint into a replay. On their tail, Hayes' teammate Josh Herrin was busy holding off National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Lee Hayden for third.
On the final lap Young drafted by race leader Hayes, taking the lead into the turn 10 left, where much of the passing was made. Hayes had retaliated twice during the race with an outside-inside move in the ensuing right, but that didn't happen this time. Instead Hayes followed Young over the crest and down the hill and made a bold move into the hard braking final right hand turn 12. But his momentum carried him to the edge of the track as Young sped to victory by .293 sec.
Young's win not only denied Hayes the victory, but it also prevented Yamaha from earning their first ever Superbike win at Road Atlanta.
"Those guys are the best team in the paddock," Young said of the crew which rebuilt his motorcycle. "That thing was spot on. This one's for them."
Said Hayes, "Close racing sometimes big accidents happen. I felt really bad about what happened over there," adding that Young knew it wasn't intentional.
"What a hero day for him," Hayes said. "Congratulations. I'm excited for him, proud for him." As for his own race, he said, "Came up a little short at the stripe."
The day ended with the pair tied on points at 85, with Young holding the first tie-breaker of two wins to one.
Herrin finished a close third earning a podium in only his third Superbike race. That it came in his adopted home state in front of a throng of supporters made it that much sweeter.
"It's not a win for me, but it's really big to get on the podium for the first time," Herrin told the crowd that included 50 friends and family members.
Hayden was fourth at 1.637 secs. to Herrin.
Geoff May finished a popular fifth on the Team Amsoil/Hero EBR 1190RS. May, who lives in nearby Gainesville, Ga., held off the late charge of KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore. Steve Rapp was a close seventh on the Attack Performance Kawasaki with Ben Bostrom eighth. Fifth through eighth were covered by half a second.
AMA Pro Road Race Superbike Results:
1. Blake Young (Suzuki)
2. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
3. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
4. Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
5. Geoff May (EBR)
6. Chris Fillmore (KTM)
7. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki)
8. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki)
9. Chris Clark (Suzuki)
10. Danny Eslick (EBR)