The penultimate AMA Roadracing round at Virginia International Speedway last month held many questions: After announcing he would retire at the end of season, could Matt Mladin wrap up the Superbike championship in Virginia? Could Larry Pegram put the Ducati on the top step again as he had done in Kansas or, would someone else bring a challenge to the dominating Yoshimura Suzuki team? Would Mladin suffer another “tech inspection” after his non-appearance in Kansas? How would the tie between Martin Cardenas, attempting to ride with a compound fracture in his hand, and Danny Eslick in the Daytona Sportbike class work itself out? Had Johnny Rock Page learned to recognize the color blue since Mid-Ohio?
Going into the VIR round, Mladin led the Superbike series by 83 points with only four races left. If he out-scored his team mate Tommy Hayden and Larry Pegram he would clinch is seventh AMA Superbike title. He had finished consistently ahead of Hayden but, Pegram was coming off a victory from the Topeka round.
In Superpole, Mladin looked as if he would take the top spot followed by the Jordan Suzukis of May and Yates but, the last man out was Yamaha’s Josh Hayes. Hayes clinched the number one spot by a tenth.
In race one, Hayes got the holeshot and never looked back. He quickly checked out and left the field to fight for second. In the opening laps there was serious dicing going on between Mladin and May for second but May lost the front in the “roller coaster” section and left Mladin to finish a lonely second place ride. The best fight of the day was between Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom and Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates for third. Yates had a bad start and had come from as far back as eighth. He was leading Bostrom when he was passed negotiating lapped traffic.
In race two, Mladin got the holeshot but quickly turned into another episode of the Josh Hayes show. A flawless performance was given by Hayes this time followed by Yoshimura Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden in second and Graves Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom in third. Mladin cruised home in ninth to clinch the AMA Superbike Championship.
The Daytona Sportbike class had a ferocious weekend with multiple leaders in each race. In race one Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin and Erion Honda’s Jake Zemke got past first time pole sitter Latus Motor’s Taylor Knapp on his Buell. As the race progressed Zemke and Attack Kawasaki’s Roger Hayden held the lead periodically but, at the end the fight came down to EMGO Suzuki’s Jason Disalvo and Herrin in a dash to the finish. Herrin squeaked by with a margin of 0.01 of a second to win.
Race two had Taylor Knapp getting the holeshot but, by lap seven Roger Lee Hayden had stormed to the front. He held the lead until three laps to go then was passed by Herrin, Danny Eslick on the Geico Powersports Buell and Graves Yamaha’s Tommy Aquino.
The Moto GT class 2 hour endurance race was akin to a Dukes of Hazzard episode. There were multiple get-offs, yet Mark Crozier and Dave Estok brought home their Crozier Racing Triumph 675 in the GT-1 class ahead of Eric Pinson and Eric Haugo on the Liberty Waves Racing Buell 1125. Possibly the best ride of the day was the third overall finish (first in class) by GT-2 combatants Ryan Elleby and Cory Rech on the Touring Sport Ducshop Ducati PS1100 after crashing early on.
In the Supersport race, after having been fastest in Friday practice, Josh Day had pulled out a 3-second lead on the ESP Yamaha R6 when the red flag was brought out at the end of second lap due a crash between Leandro Mercado and Cory Rech. Once the race resumed Day got back to business. At the mid-point, his lead was four seconds and growing. The fight for second was between Garrett Carter and Rockwall Performance’s J.D. Beach, both mounted on R6’s. Beach got past Carter in the last lap.