AMA Superbike - round 5

Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies won his first-ever Road America AMA Superbike race in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon in wet weather. This victory is Spies' third win of the season and moves the defending AMA Superbike Champion into the lead in the AMA Superbike Championship points chase.

Team mate Mat Mladin finished an impressive third in the wet race, with Jamie hacking taking second place.

The 16-lap race went off as scheduled in spite of the rain and Spies got the holeshot. By lap two, Hayden was running in third and Mladin was in seventh. As the storm grew worse, however, the race was red flagged because of conditions. When the storm subsided into merely rain, the complete restart saw Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates get the holeshot but he was overtaken by Mladin and Spies on the first lap. Mladin, who started from pole position, led briefly before being passed by Spies. Spies took over the lead and created a gap and took the win.

Mladin, meanwhile, settled into second position before being passed midway through the race. The six-time AMA Superbike Champion played it safe, however, and rode his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 to the third podium spot.

American Honda's Jake Zemke moved into third place in the AMA Superbike Championship after finishing fifth on an overcast Saturday, after the performance of his race bike changed dramatically and for no reason.

For Sunday's race the Honda team gambled on the rain tire choice, opting for the harder of the two rear compound choices with the hope that the track would change. With the track not drying as quickly as he'd hoped, Zemke's rear tire struggled to find grip until the final stages of the 16-lap race.

Duhamel nearly earned his fifth podium of the year on Saturday. The veteran, a five-time Superbike winner at Road America, ran third past the halfway point and was back in the spot in the final corner. But a small problem on the run up and over the hill to the start-finish line allowed Tommy Hayden, the younger brother of Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden, to draft past. The difference was .027 seconds.

Duhamel fell victim to the weather and inconsistent paving on Sunday. The first attempt to start Sunday's race saw Duhamel, who excels in the rain, jetting into second place. But lightning forced race officials to stop it before two laps were completed.

When the race was re-started, Duhamel was a close fourth on the second lap when he hit a slick spot braking for the first turn. Instantly and without warning he was on the ground. The rider just behind did the same thing, in the same spot. Duhamel tried to re-start his CBR1000RR, but it was too badly damaged to continue.

Suzuki's Mat Mladin beat teammate Ben Spies in the dry on Saturday. Spies won Sunday's wet race, with Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) second. Zemke moved up to third place in the championship, after nine of 19 rounds, with Duhamel now in fifth, but only eight points behind his teammate.

After two weekends' break, the series resumes at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on June 24.

Ben Spies : "In the first start, I got a pretty good holeshot but I was still feeling it out and not going all out. Then we had the red flag and in the second start I followed Mat and then got around him. I just tried to put some decent laps together and get as big a gap as I could. Then, I just put it on cruise control; I've been riding hard all year and trying to not make mistakes. We know we have to win races to win the championship. Now, we just need to take it to a new level and not ride so conservatively."

Mat Mladin : "I didn't get a good start in the first start. There was so much water that I couldn't see where I was going. I'd already made the decision to not do anything crazy. The conditions in the second start were more sane. It was slippery, but visibility was ok. (As for Jamie and Ben), they just rode better than me. In the race, I saw some things I could improve on. I am lacking in the rain in some areas. But some of the things that hurt me in the rain help me in the dry. And fortunately, most races are on sunny days."

Miguel Duhamel : "I'm not too pleased about it. We can't be racing on a racetrack with that many different surfaces in the corners. I was braking straight up and down and hit one of the tar patches that I guess they have for the cars. Straight up and down and I just locked up the front and I fell. And I wasn't the only one. Matt Lynn fell in the same spot and Tommy Hayden fell also. I noticed when I got into the sand that it was wavy and not big waves, but big enough to tumble and destroy my bike. I think we got lucky. We dodged another bullet and nobody got hurt. For sure, on Saturday I had a good race and I thought for sure we'd have a podium. It came down to the last lap with me and Tommy Hayden. I thought I had him, but I had some issues coming up the hill. The bike wanted to wheelie and he was able to draft past me at the start-finish line. It's really disappointing because I really wanted to get a podium for the team."

Jake Zemke : "Well, going into it we actually gambled a little bit. I saw the sun on the horizon and I was gambling that the sun was going to get here and start drying things out before it did. Only problem was when the sun came out it was still raining and it just kept raining with the sun being out. But all in the all the race itself was fine. I was pretty much by myself the whole time. We went with a little bit harder rain tire than everybody else used and I just didn't have any grip. I was hoping for a dry line to form. I think we would have been in a lot better shape, for sure. Just probably the last four laps, my tire started working. But before that, I just couldn't even lean the bike over. But just from the race in '05 here that we had in the rain as well, I just knew it was going to be a long race and there would probably be a lot of attrition in that race. Sure enough, there was. Keeping her upright, we got some good points. Kind of disappointed, I really wanted a dry race. Because after yesterday's race we found some things that were wrong with the bike."


Saturday AMA Superbike
1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
2. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
3. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)
4. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
5. Jake Zemke (Honda)
6. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha)
7. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
8. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha)
9. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
10. James Ellison (Honda)

Sunday AMA Superbike
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
2. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
3. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
5. James Ellison (Honda)
6. Jake Zemke (Honda)
7. Jake Holden (Suzuki)
8. John Haner (Suzuki)
9. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha)
10. Dominic Jones (Honda)

AMA Superbike Championship standings
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 307
2. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 305
3. Jake Zemke (Honda) 232
4. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 225
5. Miguel Duhamel (Honda) 224
6. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha) 206
7. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha) 203
8. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 197
9. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) 188
10. James Ellison (Honda) 153