May 14, 2011MOTORSPORTS PAGEJohn Crowley
SONOMA -- It seems as if Josh Hayes can do no wrong when he comes to Northern California. Even when he's at less than his best.
Hayes, the defending series and Infineon Raceway AMA Superbike champion, crashed in morning qualifying, was beaten off the line by Tommy Hayden in the main event, battling a backup Yamaha R1 for 22 laps that hadn't been raced before Saturday.
His margin of victory of victory? A whopping 7.3 seconds.
Despite the blustery, cold conditions, it was Hayes' third consecutive win on the 12-turn, 2.32-mile road course, and his fourth in five races there. Tommy Hayden took second on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 , with Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) third in the AMA Pro Road Racing event.
"That was hard work," Hayes said after celebrating with a sip of SonomaCounty wine. "Tommy rode a fantastic race but what can I say, this hasbeen three years in a row to win a race here and that'sfantastic.
"I said when I got here that we've set the bar pretty high,but I'm really glad we're maintaining. We'll come back tomorrow andhopefully make them wait another year before someone else wins."
Cardenas, the rising Colombianstar, provided the most exciting racing of the day, staging a pitched battle with Blake Young, edging Young for third by just .068 of a second.
Hayden shot from the line at the wave of the green flag, but the effort to hold off the hard-charging Hayes was futile. Hayes took the lead on lap 2 with an inside pass in Turn 9. It was a lead he would never relinquish en route to his 15th career Superbike victory and sixth in Sonoma.
"I knew it was going to come down to the end but he held on and unfortunately I used my tires too much to try and make up time in different spots," Hayden said. "Overall, I feel good about the race; I've come a long way at this track."
Notes: Pole-sitter and Ducati rider Jason DiSalvo took advantage of an early-race mistake by Jake Holden to claim the 22-lap feature for Daytona SportBike. ... Honda's Benny Solis rode to victory in the SuperSport 18-lap feature. It was Solis' first-career AMA Pro Road Race.