Motorsports Update – September 24, 2012
American Le Mans Series
Next race: Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, October 17-20
Next race: Gran Premio Iveco de Aragon, September 30
AMA Pro Racing
Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince
The remarkable Josh Hayes stormed from more than 15 seconds back to claim his 30th career victory and secure a third-consecutive AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike crown on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha ace outfoxed his opposition even if it didn’t appear that way in the early going. He fell back with the pack in the race’s early stages while a number of other competitors who selected different tire combinations stole the spotlight.
KTM/HMC’s Chris Fillmore was an early leader but also an early fader, holding the lead momentarily before plunging down through the pack. The stays at the front of Team Amsoil/HeroEBR’s Geoff May and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden were longer lived but just as destined to come to an unhappy end as the track continued to dry.
Saturday winner Hayden fell off the chase by lap 10 of 23, while May found himself swallowed up by Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom on lap 13.
However, all the while Hayes continued to charge, catching Bostrom and the rest by a clip of two seconds per lap or more. He sailed past the #23 machine on his #1 YZF-R1 on lap 15, and, once in the lead, proved simply unstoppable yet again, winning by nearly five seconds.
His accumulation of 14 victories this season stands as the all-time record. But perhaps the most monumental achievement that Hayes has accomplished this season is the collection of a third AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike title, tying him for second most ever with legends Reg Pridmore, Fred Merkel, Doug Chandler, and Ben Spies.
GRAND-AM Road Racing
Next race: Championship Weekend, Lime Rock Park, September 28-29
Full wet conditions arrived on Sunday morning at Portimao and they were to play a part in the race being halted because of an oil spill after a crash. A restarted race, over only 16 laps, was won by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) who scored his third win of the 2012 season and drew himself closer to championship leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) as a result. Max was fourth in the opening race after several incidents and changing fortunes as the race unfolded.
Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) looked like he could pass Sykes but was unable to in the final two laps, and settled for second place, while PATA Racing Ducati privateer rider Sylvain Guintoli scored himself another podium finish, in third.
A collision on lap one of the first start saw Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) crash after an attempted pass on Biaggi and he was taken to hospital for scans on a bruised kidney, missing out on the re-start as a result.
After a tense battle in the second race at Portimao, Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) took his first victory of the 2012 season, and his first on an Aprilia machine, as he held off the impressive late charge of Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) by only 0.162 seconds.
Eugene became the ninth rider in 2012 to win a race. Laverty had been a clear leader but in the final laps Rea put in a real charge at the undulating Portuguese circuit. Over three seconds behind the race winner, Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) was third and now carries a more than useful lead into the final round in France.
His new main championship rival Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) was forced out with an engine problem in the early laps of race two and no-scored. Max now has 347 points to Sykes’ 316.5. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) missed the second race after suffering a badly bruised kidney in his first race crash.
Singapore Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel jumped into stronger contention for the world championship after scoring a comfortable victory in Singapore over McLaren’s Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on Sunday.
Once Lewis Hamilton’s leading McLaren had quit after 22 laps with a gearbox fault, Vettel had no trouble in keeping Button’s sister MP4-27 at bay as the Englishman struggled with balance on the soft Pirelli tyre. Meanwhile, Alonso found his Ferrari lacking the pace to do anything about either of them.
Indeed, the Spaniard was a little fortunate that besides Hamilton, a challenging Pastor Maldonado retired his Williams with hydraulic problems after 38 laps, and saw his points tally rise to 194. He lost ground to Vettel, who now has 165 points, but extended his advantage over fellow contenders Hamilton, Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
Sylvania 300, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Denny Hamlin, the top winner in NASCAR’s regular season, earned his series-leading fifth victory of the year Sunday with a mistake-free and dominating run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the second event of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
It was the 100th career victory for team owner Joe Gibbs, who also won three Super Bowls as the coach of the Washington Redskins. And it came with a little teamwork, too, when Kyle Busch slowed down to help suck some debris off the front of Hamlin’s car and propel him to victory.
Jimmy Johnson finished second, Jeff Gordon third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth.
AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Texas Motorplex
Antron Brown raced to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the famed all-concrete Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the second of six playoff events in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
Sources: series websites, press releases and various independent motorsports websites