Hayes Wins AMA Superbike Championship
First AMA Superbike Championship for Yamaha Since 1991
Aboard his Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R1, Josh Hayes claimed his first career AMA Superbike championship at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. on Sunday, Sept. 26. The championship is also the first for Yamaha in America’s premier road-racing class since Thomas Stevens took the crown in 1991. Meanwhile Team Graves YZF-R6 mounted Josh Herrin finished third in the AMA Daytona SportBike championship, while Austin Dehaven won the AMA SuperSport title on his R6.
The Superbike title chase came right down to the final weekend of the season, with Hayes ahead in points but rival Tommy Hayden still able to take the championship if Hayes faltered. Thus, Hayes’ mission for the weekend was the same as it has been all year long – race to win, but this time with extra care. In the first race on Saturday afternoon, Hayes led the most laps and ultimately finished a secure second as his rival Tommy Hayden claimed the victory. The result set up a situation on Sunday where Hayes would win the title with an eighth-place or better finish, even if Hayden won.
Severe weather soaked the area on Sunday morning, and by race time a quarter of the circuit was still damp. Nonetheless Hayes settled into a great ride with the lead pack until Brett McCormick crashed, pushing Hayes off track and dropping him several seconds behind the group. From here though, Hayes rode to an easy seventh-place finish and a very sweet championship. “A huge thank you to Yamaha for bringing me onboard for my first Superbike ride,” he said afterwards. “I am glad I was able to race well and bring home the R1’s first AMA Superbike championship.”
Yamaha road racing team manager Tom Halverson added, “This is probably the best team we’ve ever had, and the effort that everyone has made to win the championship is just incredible. From the machinists to the secretaries back at Yamaha, thank you. The race crew has really been amazing this year too. Josh has been a great rider, and it’s easy to stand behind him because he puts in so much effort.”