The AMA American Superbike points race still looks to be a lock for Matt Mladin and the Yoshimura Rockstar Suzuki team, but for the first and second times this season someone else took the top spot on the podium. At Infinion Raceway (formerly Sears Point) in Sonoma, California May 16 and 17, Yamaha R1 rider Josh Hayes took the win in Race 1, followed by Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden and Ducati-mounted Larry Pegram. Mladin crossed the line in 5th. In Race 2 Mladin took the win, followed by Ben Bostrom on the Yamaha and Mladin's teammate, Tommy Hayden.
The next round, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin June 6 and 7, Mladin won rainy Race 1, followed by Irishman Michael Laverty on the Celtic Racing Suzuki GSXR1000 and Ben Bostrom on the R1. In Sunday's Race 2, rider/team owner Larry Pegram on the Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098 took the win in a battle to the wire with Mladin, followed in third by Aaron Yates on the Jordan Suzuki. Pegram's margin of victory was 0.34 seconds.
In the Daytona Sportbike class, Colombian Martin Cardenas took a healthy points lead with two wins at Infinion and a third and a first at Road America. The M4 Suzuki GSXR600 rider leads with 255 points over Attack Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking with 204 and Rossmeyer Geico Powersports RMR Buell rider Danny Eslick with 199.
In the 16-21 year-old SuperSport class, Grave Motorsports Yamaha R6 rider Ricky Parker took the win at Infinion, and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Leandro Mercado won at Road America on his ZX-6R. Mercado, who also took second at Infinion, leads the SuperSport points race with 81 points over Roadracingworld.com Suzuki GSX-R600 rider Russ Wikle with 63.
The endurance-class MotoGT bikes didn't make the trip to California, but at Elkhart Lake the GT2 class and overall MotoGT win went to the Touring Sport/DucShop Ducati PS1000LE ridden by Frank Shockley and Ryan Elleby. The GT1 win went to the James Gang/Hoban Bros. Racing Buell 1125R ridden by Paul James and Jeff Johnson. The race marked the first time a GT2 machine took the overall MotoGT win.
The series next moves to Laguna Seca on July 4th weekend.
Safety Bikes Replace Safety Cars: In related news, AMA announced June 2 that beginning with the Mid-Ohio round, the much-reviled "safety car" will be replaced with specially equipped police-version Buell Ulysses "pace bikes" and Buell 1125R "safety bikes." The AMA announced it had signed a multi-year agreement with Buell Motorcycle Company to provide the bikes.
WERA to Replace AHRMA at Mid-Ohio VMD: And finally, the AMA has made a deal with WERA Motorcycle Road Racing to run the vintage road-racing series July 24-26 during Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. WERA replaces AHRMA, with whom the AMA broke their long-standing relationship in the racing events at VMD over a legal squabble, detailed in June's Handlebars. The road racing rules for the event can be viewed at amavintagemotorcycledays.com/racing.