AMA Superbike: 2009 Road America results

Pegram out-duels Mladin in Race Two

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 08, 2009
Larry Pegram earned his first career AMA Superbike win in ten years and the first for Ducati since the manufacturer returned from a three-year absence from the class.

Racing the Foremost Pegram Ducati 1098R, Pegram emerged victorious in a battle against the points leader, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin in Race 2 at the AMA American Superbike round at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The win was Pegram’s first AMA Superbike win since April 19, 1999 at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, Calif.

Pegram took the early lead from a second-row start and was ahead for the opening six laps of the 13-lap race. Mladin took the lead on lap seven but Pegram stayed on his tail. The two riders traded the lead a couple of times before the end of the lap with Mladin coming out ahead.

The following lap included four more lead changes, but again, Mladin came out ahead to lead laps seven through 11. With two laps remaining, Pegram again made his move, jumping ahead before the first turn. Mladin pushed ahead again on turn three, but Pegram returned the favor and powered through to win by 0.342 seconds. Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates crossed the finish two seconds later to complete the podium.

“The Ducati was working better than the Suzuki over most the track so I just fought to keep Mat behind me,” says Pegram. “On the last few corners I kept telling myself to keep my head down and not screw it up! It feels so good to win on my own factory team. It’s been a long time since we set started out in 2004, and my last Superbike win was at Willow Springs in 1999. To be able to do it on a factory Ducati, with the team I built means a lot to me. It hasn’t fully set in yet but it feels so great.”

Larry Pegram and his Ducati 1098R reached a top speed of 181.18 mph compared to Mat Mladin's 176.65 mph on the Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Mladin did not leave June 6-7 double-header winless however as he overcame difficulties with his clutch to take a wet Race one.

The technical issue kept Mladin out of the warm-up and dropped him several positions after starting from the pole. By lap two however, Mladin got a handle on the clutch problem and passed Pegram to take the lead. Mladin would lead the rest of the way for his ninth win of the season.

“We had a bit of a problem in the warm up so we didn’t get to do any laps,” says Mladin. “So the first lap, lap and a half, of the race I was trying to get the feel of the racetrack because I didn’t know how it was going to be. It worked out good for us, though. After that first lap, I got a bit of a feel for it and the Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 felt good. I decided to have a go at it. I just kept trying to go.”

Finishing four seconds back was Celtic Racing Suzuki’s Michael Laverty. The 2007 British Supersport champion started from 11th< on the grid to finish in second, recording the race’s fastest lap in the process with a time of 2:30.803.

“A lot of people in the American paddock don’t know who I am yet,” says Laverty. “That’s the biggest result from this is people might realize I can ride a bit. I’m over the moon.

“If I hadn’t gotten such a bad start, I probably could have raced Mat for the win, but I just had to come back through from 11th. By the time I got through to second, he already had quite a gap. It was a bit frustrating from that point of view, with the win being so close, but at the end of the day, Mat is one of the best Superbike riders in the world and I was pushing him pretty hard towards the end. I even pushed him into a bit of a mistake.”

Factory Yamaha rider Ben Bostrom finished third for his fourth podium in five races.

“The bike is fantastic, and this track’s quite fun in the rain, as well,” says Bostrom. “It’s got a lot of different elements to it because there’s some patches here and there in different corners. The boys just out rode us today.”

The AMA Pro Road Racing season now enters its mid-season break with Mladin holding a 325-215 lead in the American Superbike championship standings over teammate Tommy Hayden who finished ninth and seventh in the Road America races. The series will resume July 3-5 at Laguna Seca where it will share the bill with the MotoGP Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

2009 AMA American Superbike top five standings
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Mat Mladin Suzuki GSX-R1000 325
2nd Tommy Hayden Suzuki GSX-R1000 215
3rd Ben Bostrom Yamaha YZF-R1 187
4th Larry Pegram Ducati 1098R 180
5th Josh Hayes Yamaha YZF-R1 164