Josh Hayes Wins Fourth AMA Superbike TitleThu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Say what you will about the depleted state of the American roadracing scene, it shouldn’t diminish the fact Hayes put in the effort and beat some formidable challengers to the title. Here, the AMA congratulates Josh Hayes on his accomplishment.
Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes entered the 2013 AMA Pro SuperBike season on the heels of the most dominant campaign in the history of the series and with his primary threat no longer in the paddock. Seeking an unprecedented fourth-straight premier series crown, Hayes was ultimately upset following a tumultuous season in which he demonstrated the pace to win every single race but still fell short of the title.
Hayes came back in 2014 a year closer to 40 and with a new teammate – one even quicker than the man who had just taken his No. 1 plate. After his season got off to another shaky beginning and upstart Cameron Beaubier flashed the potential to be untouchable at times, the end of the Josh Hayes era seemed to be within sight.
However, the 39-year-old fought back like the champion he is officially once again, ultimately securing his fourth AMA Pro SuperBike crown in convincing fashion.
Hayes ended his 2014 campaign on Sunday at the Kawasaki Devil’s Showdown at New Jersey Motorsports Park by scoring his seventh victory in eleven races, upping his mammoth career tally to 48.
Hayes has accumulated his Hall of Fame credentials so thoroughly since finally getting a shot at a factory ride in the SuperBike class, that it’s now difficult to remember that only a handful of years ago he was a journeyman rider in his mid-thirties who was repeatedly passed over and seemingly destined to never get a legitimate shot at the class.
Now he stands alone in second in virtually every class category of any importance, trailing only the legendary Mat Mladin.
Appropriately, Hayes’ era began when he closed the door on Mladin’s career by winning six of the final eight races that season – Hayes’ first as a factory SuperBike rider. He’s been the man to beat ever since.
“I remember early in 2009, having tears in my eyes because I was racing for eighth for the third weekend in a row,” Hayes said. “And within two months I had become the overdog. I was the giant killer. And then all the sudden, I was the giant. As soon as Mat retired, it became ‘Who’s going to beat Josh?’
“It’s not been completely smooth for five years since then – I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve had great challenges and some years that were pretty easy. But I’ll always remain motivated to make up for lost time.”
Hayes demonstrated his continued desire by racing for the win in treacherous conditions on Saturday despite having a title to lock up. The following day, he powered off to the win despite having already clinched the crown.
“If somebody takes a race win on me, I want them to feel good about it,” Hayes remarked. “I’ll always give everything I have – nothing left. I’m never going to give one away. If someone beats me, they earned it. Those are the right things to do and the right way to think about things. There are no gifts. I’ve never felt like anyone ever handed me anything and I’m not going to cheapen anyone else’s experience.
“If I can maintain the way I feel – reinvigorated and motivated – I think all the things are in place for me to continue at a high level for a long time.”
Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Roger Hayden earned his first victory of the year on Saturday and closed out his season by finishing second – both in the race and in the standings – on Sunday.
Hayden was narrowly edged to the stripe by Hayes on Saturday but later awarded the win when Hayes was penalized for passing under yellow.
The Kentuckian rewarded Suzuki for making room for him when he was without a gig deep into the offseason by claiming its only SuperBike victory of the year. He also finished strong in general, closing out his first campaign with Yoshimura by ripping off five straight podium placements to edge second Yamaha pilot Beaubier for season runner-up.
“I’m really happy with the way the season went,” Hayden said. “We’ve been consistent and fast, and we were on the podium at just about every race. This was our first year together and I’m really proud of my team. I can’t thank Yoshimura and Suzuki enough for giving me this opportunity. This weekend was a good way to finish the season, I rode as hard as I could, every lap. This was my first time to finish second in points, and I learned a lot this year. We can all be proud of this.”
Beaubier ended his up-and-down rookie effort with a pair of crashes but made a huge impression during his first season in the premier class. Beaubier showed the raw speed to beat Hayes on his day and picked up three victories in the process.
Hayden’s Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Chris Clark also enjoyed a breakthrough season in which he earned his first SuperBike podium. He ultimately edged ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing’s David Anthony – who took a big step forward himself – for fourth in the standings by a single point.
“Overall, it was a really incredible year,” Clark said. “I felt like we were finally going in the right direction and we became a lot more competitive. There were some changes with my Yoshimura Suzuki crew, our chemistry improved and we were able to communicate really well. I have to thank the whole Yoshimura Suzuki team for opportunity to race and for providing me with a great bike like the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000.”
Preseason title hopeful Martin Cardenas struggled at times in 2014 but ended the year with a strong podium effort – his fourth of the season – to wind up ranked sixth.
“This was a tough weekend,” said Cardenas. “The track is very physical. I wanted to finish a little higher on the podium on Sunday but third was the best I could do. I’m very happy for me and for the Yoshimura Suzuki team to finish on the box.”
Team AMSOIL Hero EBR’s Cory West moved ahead of KTM/HMC Racing’s Chris Fillmore to finish seventh as Fillmore again saw a potential first podium ride end in disappointment.
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram earned his first podium ride of the season aboard the EBR 1190RS in Saturday’s wet race while Proto-Tech Spain’s Bernat Martinez secured tenth in the championship with what was easily his most impressive outing of the season.
By Troy Siahaan
See also: Suzuki Prepares For Season Finale LeMans 24hr Endurance Race, Volume Six Of The Ninja H2 Video Series, New BMC Air Filters For KTM 1290 SuperDuke, Yamaha FZ-09, Honda CBR250/CBR300R.