Take it to the Limit One More Time: Rispoli Wins in GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

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The GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing action is heating up in Monterey, Calif. and grids are set for tomorrow’s National Guard SuperBike and GoPro Daytona SportBike finals, but today's Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport will be a hard one to top in the excitement department.

James Rispoli barely edges Hayden Gillim at the line

James Rispoli barely edges Hayden Gillim at the line

Once I saw him a smidge off line, I was on the gas trying to make a run.

GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing’s first race of the weekend will be a hard one to top in the excitement department. James Rispoli won the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race on Saturday over Hayden Gillim by just 0.036 of a second with a thrilling last-turn maneuver. The Celtic Racing/Orient Express Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 pilot came closer to clinching the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport West division championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but will have to wait until the final round before he can claim the number-one plate as his strongest championship rival Gillim kept his chances alive.

Rispoli led most of the 16-lap race, but Gillim on the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 harassed him from the opening turns. Rispoli was able to just keep his fellow dirt-tracker at bay as the duo moved away from the rest of the field. Both riders had moments, with Rispoli nearly highsiding in the Corkscrew and Gillim being forced onto the astroturf in the final turn.

As the white flag flew, Rispoli knew he would encounter a move from Gillim, and it came in turn five; a bold outside pass Gillim was able to convert. Rispoli’s only chance came at getting a better drive out of the final turn and he made it happen to earn the win when Gillim went a little wide.

“As soon as he got by, I tried to get the run back and pass him,” said Rispoli. “Through Rainey Curve, I wasn’t close enough but I thought, ‘This isn’t over.’ Once I saw him a smidge off line, I was on the gas trying to make a run.”

It was Rispoli’s fifth win of the year, and he now leads AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com SuperSport West by 60 with just one event and two rounds to go.

Garrett Willis (GWR Kawasaki) earned his first-ever AMA Pro podium by beating out Jake Lewis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) by just 0.001. Corey Alexander (National Guard Fairhills Group Celtic Racing) was fifth, ahead of Stefano Mesa (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha) and Elena Myers (Suzuki SportBikeTrackGear.com).

AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike

Despite facing a stiff challenge from noted Laguna Seca master Ben Bostrom, Josh Hayes escaped with his AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike pole streak intact on Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha superstar Hayes dropped his mark to a 1:24.446 during QP2 to narrowly spoil the pole aspirations of Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom (1:24.657).

The Mississippian now boasts a perfect record of eight pole positions in 2012 while his overall run has been extended to ten straight dating back to the tail-end of his second title-winning campaign.

Hayes will now seek to protect his seven-race win streak, a feat that will require him to earn a first-career Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca National Guard SuperBike triumph. He's been close each of the past two years, but was nipped at the flag on both occasions. Considering their qualifying showdown, Hayes will no doubt remember that the man who defeated him in '10 was none other than Bostrom.

"Sounds like I got a little lucky today," Hayes joked after Bostrom came up just short of stealing away the position. "Everything has been going pretty well. I've done a couple of good strings of '24s. I did some this morning, and I did the same thing this afternoon. I don't even know which lap was my best. I had quite a few laps where I had to pass people.

"With eight minutes to go or so, we came in and decided if one of the guys stepped up and took pole, that was okay; we still had some things we wanted to work on to be able to do a faster race pace. I didn't throw my last tire at it and decided to work on some other things. Fortunately, the time held up even though Ben got really, really close."

While '11 Laguna Seca SuperBike winner Tommy Hayden is now contesting the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike category, his younger brother, Roger, gave Hayes fits at Mid-Ohio and has shown the potential to do the same this weekend, as well.

The National Guard Jordan Suzuki pilot ranked second-quick throughout much of the session before ultimately qualifying a close third at 1:24.867 to claim the final spot on the front row in the unique three-rider-per-row format utilized alongside the MotoGP stars at Laguna Seca.

The Jordan men will look to, again, take the fight to Hayes.

Bostrom said, "I like the track, and the bike has been really great. Obviously, all year, it keeps improving. Last race, Rog (Hayden) did an awesome job all weekend and almost put the thing on the top of the podium. It was a very inspired ride, and I expect to have a good fight with Rog and, obviously, Hayes, who is the man to beat. I'm just happy to be up fighting. It's been a while since I've been at the front."

Hayden remarked, "I kind of cut it a little bit close there at the end. I came in and got a new tire and tried to put in a quick lap. It seemed like I was having a lot of problems getting a clean lap; there were a lot of guys out there looking for a tow, but luckily, I got one clean lap at the end and got on the front row. That's really important at this place because there are only three spots on the front row and it's really hard to pass."

If Hayes manages to win tomorrow's 23-lapper, he'll set a new single-season win streak with his eighth consecutive AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike victory.

AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike

In AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, Martin Cardenas earned his fourth pole of the season in a tough, time-restricted qualifying session caused by weather and track cleanup issues. Most riders did not improve their lap times in the handful of completed laps, with only GEICO Suzuki’s Cardenas bettering his Friday marks on Saturday.

He will be joined on the front row by the Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha teammates Tommy Hayden and Cameron Beaubier in the special three-rider front rows used during the Grand Prix weekend.

Television Coverage, Live Streaming, Live Timing & Scoring and Social Media Channels

SPEED will air the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike and AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike races in a set of back-to-back, same-day-delayed broadcasts beginning at 11:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, July 29.

AMA Pro Road Racing Live Timing & Scoring presented by Cortech offers fans real-time access to results from on-track sessions at http://live.amaproracing.com/rr/. Between the races, stay connected with AMA Pro Road Racing at http://www.twitter.com/AMAProSBK and http://www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing.

AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at http://www.amaproracing.com.

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