AMA Pro American SuperBike Race Report
Round 1: Daytona 200 Week
Daytona International Speedway, Florida
by Colin Gibbons
Photography by Winnie Liau, Mynds Eye
Last Thursday saw the official start of the 2014 AMA Pro SuperBike season as riders made their way out on track for the first practice and qualifying sessions of the year on Daytona International Speedway’s short course. Graves Yamaha riders Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes, and Yoshimura Suzuki riders Roger Hayden and Martin Cardenas quickly established the gap at the front of the pack, all lapping in the 1:38- 1:39 range. As the first qualifying session came to a close on Thursday, 2013 Daytona SportBike Champion Cameron Beaubier was at the top of the sheets with an impressive 1:38.079 followed by teammate Josh Hayes (1:38.322) in second, Roger Hayden (1:38.827) in third, and Martin Cardenas (1:39.472) in fourth.
Friday’s second qualifying session saw the pace increase even more with Hayden scoring pole position for the inaugural SuperBike race with a 1:37.674. Beaubier qualified in second place, Hayes in third, and Cardenas in fourth, all with less than a half second gap to Hayden and over a second clear of fifth place qualifier Chris Clark also aboard a Yoshimura Suzuki.
It became immediately clear after these sessions that Yoshimura Suzuki had put together a competitive package during the off-season, and that their top riders were up to the task of challenging the Graves Yamaha riders this year.
The first race of the double-header weekend for the SuperBike class took place Friday and short of a Turn 1 mishap for Martin Cardenas, proceeded in predictable fashion. Cardenas had an early crash out of the lead pack but was able to get his bike restarted and rejoin the race, ultimately finishing in 12th position. The race itself was hotly contested between Hayes, Hayden, and Beaubier for a time until Beaubier overshot his line in Turn 1 twice, causing him to lose touch with Hayes and Hayden. Both riders were looking very strong with not much between them down to the checkered flag where Hayes barely managed to edge out Roger Hayden by 0.025 seconds at the line while Beaubier finished a distant third. The next closest rider was Chris Clark, who took the checkered flag more than 20 seconds after Hayes.
Saturday’s Race 2 featured a revitalized Cardenas following his mishap in Race 1, and Beaubier who was eager to contest the win straight off the line. Hayes unfortunately suffered from a mechanical issue early in the race and finished in 21st position, leaving Beaubier, Hayden, and Cardenas to fight for the top spot. In what turned out to be some of the closest racing of the weekend, Cameron Beaubier ultimately scored his first career SuperBike win crossing the line just 0.09 seconds ahead of Roger Hayden, and only 0.135 seconds ahead of Martin Cardenas. Not only was this Beaubier’s first win in the category, but this weekend’s results left him sitting first in the championship, just one point ahead of Roger Hayden with Chris Clark a distant third.