Seven points were all that separated Cameron Beaubier from year-long championship leader Toni Elias as the 2019 EBC Brakes Superbike Championship reached a crescendo at Barber Motorsports Park over the weekend.
What seemed improbable just three days ago turned into reality for Cameron Beaubier on a sunny Sunday in Alabama, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider winning a fourth MotoAmerica Superbike crown by five points over his rival Toni Elias with a sweep of the two EBC Superbike races at Barber Motorsports Park.
Beaubier did everything he needed to do in the Championship of Alabama. He needed to win both races and for Elias to finish third or worse in both. And he got it with Elias struggling to a fourth-place finish on Sunday to give Beaubier the title.
Superbikes Race 1
Cameron Beaubier kept his championship hopes alive on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Alabama, the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion taking his fifth win of the season while everything fell into place behind him.
Beaubier knew he needed to win, and he did. He also knew he needed help. And he got it with his teammate Garrett Gerloff finishing second. And, finally, he needed Elias to struggle, which he did, finishing third with his teammate Josh Herrin riding shotgun to the Spaniard in the final laps.
Beaubier’s win combined with Elias’ third place narrows the margin to seven points, 349-342, with just Sunday’s finale remaining in the championship.
Elias was disappointed with third place but hopeful of better things to come tomorrow. He knows that to earn the title, third place isn’t going to be enough. On Saturday, the former Moto2 World Champion was a distant third – 18.8 seconds behind Beaubier and just .033 of a second ahead of Herrin.
Behind Herrin came JD Beach, the Yamaha rider closing in on the Yoshimura duo in the final laps and coming up just short at the finish after starting the race from the fourth row.
Sixth place went to Jake Gagne, just ahead of Kyle Wyman, who was some two seconds clear of Cameron Petersen. David Anthony and Travis Wyman rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Superbikes Race 2
Sunday’s victory was the sixth of the year for Beaubier and the 38th of his AMA Superbike career, but more importantly, it earned him a fourth AMA Superbike title, which puts him in a tie with former teammate Josh Hayes for the second most won in AMA Superbike history. Mat Mladin is at the top of that list with seven AMA Superbike Championships.
Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff finished second, the Texan again leading the early laps before playing good soldier and not putting up a fight when his teammate caught up. Beaubier, meanwhile, had made things difficult for himself by running off the track in turn one on the opening lap, but he got the job done.
“I couldn’t believe what happened off the start. I’ve been feeling so good. My R1 has been working so good all weekend – Friday, Saturday, this morning, warmup, Sunday. I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to get in front and win the race and Toni (Elias) had to get third to win. I thought it was all out the door. I was in the grass. I tried to go around the outside of (Josh) Herrin and everyone knows you don’t go around the outside of Herrin. You end up in the grass. So that’s what happened. I got back on the track. I think I was like around eighth or something like that. These guys were riding so good. They were so hard to pass, and they were trying to pass each other as well. So, I made it really, really tough on myself, but I had nothing to lose. I just put my head down and pushed as hard as I could. I can’t even believe we were in this position going into this race – seven points out of the lead after yo-yo-ing to 30 points back on Toni (Elias), and we’re sitting here with the number-one plate. I just can’t believe it, really. It’s amazing. I just owe it all to my team Yamaha. It really is like a big family. I love all those guys. It’s Rick’s (Hobbs, his crew chief) last year. He’s retiring after this year. He’s been a huge key, if not thekey, to these four championships. I owe a huge portion of it to him. I’m really going to miss that guy.”
Gerloff was happy with his performance and his season, a year in which he finished third in the title chase and won four races.
“This has been a good season for me. I definitely accomplished a lot of goals that I had going into the season. I feel like I had a pretty good year. Definitely some low points, but some really high points also. You can’t have one without the other. I’m really happy with my 2019 season. I really feel like I gelled with the R1 a lot better this year. I never give up and neither does my team. We’ve been working our butts off every weekend since last year to try to get the bike really where I like it and also just working on myself and working on my riding. A big part of that was having Josh Hayes help me out this year. He helped with a lot of different things, bike setup and also some mental stuff and everything. He’s been a huge part. Just can’t thank the whole team enough. I’m always looking for more, so I got bigger and better goals for next year. But just a big congrats to Cam. He’s been riding super consistent all year, super-fast. He’s definitely made me a faster rider. Like he said, it sucks to have a fast teammate sometimes because I was thinking the same thing. If I come in and he’s going a half a second faster than me and I’m like, ‘Dude, where the hell are you pulling this out of?’ But the challenge is always a closed door, but it’s a door that’s waiting to be opened for improvement. That’s the way I look at every challenge that I’ve had. I try to bust through those doors as fast as I can. It’s been a good year. I’m really excited with where we are and just really excited for what the future holds.”
Third place on Sunday went to Mathew Scholtz, the South African some 10 seconds behind the Yamaha duo but almost three seconds ahead of Elias.
Elias was extremely gracious in defeat, especially considering he’d led this championship from the second race until the start of the 20th race.
“First of all, I want to congratulate Cameron (Beaubier) and Yamaha. They did an amazing end of the season and they deserve this win. For me it is not nice – it’s hard and sad. It will take some days to digest this loss and accept it. We tried hard. We did everything we could. The whole team gave 200 percent. We tried to find grip where there was no grip. I also want to say thank you to my teammate Josh Herrin. He tried to help and did a great job, but it was not enough. I’m very proud of my team, every single person. It’s very difficult for them as well, but we must accept that we tried our best and be content with that fact. We will come back and work harder next year and try to win another championship for Suzuki.”
Kyle Wyman was fifth on Sunday, his best result of the season on his Ducati. Wyman was on Elias’s rear wheel as they crossed the line and was just ahead of Cameron Petersen, who also enjoyed his best result of the season in sixth. Josh Herrin faded to finish seventh, less than a second head of Jake Lewis. David Anthony and Max Flinders rounded out the top 10.
In the penultimate Supersport race of the season, Bobby Fong led the 19-lap event from start to finish and clinched the 2019 championship in a dominant performance for the Northern California rider.
At the finish line, Fong’s lead was nearly one-and-a-half seconds over Bryce Prince, while third place went to Richie Escalante.
Fong, who has been road racing professionally since 2006, was understandably both joyful and relieved to win his first championship.
“Honestly it’s unreal. I’ve never been in this position before, so I didn’t know how to control it. My coach, Josh Hayes, had a shoulder I could cry on most of the time, so that was a big relief. I’ve never been under so much pressure. I felt like I was a kid again. Almost nauseous before the race and everything. I knew I had the bike underneath me to do it. This morning in qualifying, I knew that we had the pace, and I just had to ride smart and focus on hitting my marks. We rode a good, smooth race. These guys kept me on my toes the whole time. I’m just excited to go into tomorrow and not even think about the championship.”
Supersport Race 2
The final Supersport race of the season was red-flagged with five laps to go in the race when Bobby Fong, who clinched the 2019 championship with his win in Saturday’s Race 1, crashed out of the lead. Fong was able to successfully remount his bike and ride it back to the pits, which, by rule, meant that he was declared the winner of the race.
There was understandably confusion on the podium, but the final results from race control declared Fong the victor with Richie Escalante finishing second and PJ Jacobsen finishing third.
Supersport Race 2 Confusion
The following statement was released to explain the Supersport Race 2 result:
The following is the explanation for the decision to declare Bobby Fong the winner of Sunday’s Supersport race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Fong crashed out of the lead with four laps to go, remounted and had started to ride his motorcycle back to the pits prior to the red flag being thrown because of debris on the track from Fong’s crash.
The decision to declare Fong the winner of the race is based on regulation 1.28 Finish Of A Race And Race Results, d2, which reads:
“In the case of a race interrupted after two thirds distance completed (art. 1.26 f), be actively participating at the time of the red flag is displayed. For the purposes of these regulations “actively competing” is defined as the rider riding on track, or attempting to repair/restart the machine, or to rejoin the track or return to pit lane. Race Direction will be sole judge of whether a rider is actively competing.”
Both Richie Escalante’s and PJ Jacobsen’s teams filed protests that Fong “exceeded the track limits,” and “that Fong should not be classified as a finisher” respectively, and both were denied.
In Liqui Moly Junior Cup, 2019 class champion Rocco Landers raced his Kawasaki to his 13th victory of the season on Saturday. The result was very much in doubt, however, as Dominic Doyle gave Landers a run for his money in the middle-to-late portions of the race as the two riders swapped the lead a few times.
Ultimately, Landers managed to get back around Doyle and make it stick as he took the checkered flag by .277 of a second, while third place went to Jackson Blackmon.
Aussie Jacob Stroud came home in ninth on the Quarterley Racing/On Track Development Kawasaki.
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Race 2
Sunday saw 14-year-old phenom Rocco Landers match his age with the number of class victories he won, capping off his 2019 championship with his 14th race win out of 17 total races.
Landers won the pole aboard his Ninja 400 Kawasaki, won Saturday’s race one, and then dominated Sunday’s race two where he took the checkered flag by more than three seconds over second-place finisher Dominic Doyle – Saturday’s runner-up.
Third place on Sunday went to Benjamin Gloddy, the New Hampshire rider scoring his first MotoAmerica podium result after finishing fourth on Saturday.
“I think I kind of had faster pace today, I was just getting a little more consistent with my times. I saw a plus-one, and I was like, ‘Stay consistent and see what we can do.’ Then I had, like, a two-second gap. I was like, ‘Just maintain this.’ I had a really good first lap. It was a really, really, really fun race. Everyone was going super-fast. It’s super rad for Ben (Gloddy) to get his first podium. I just couldn’t have done it without my mom and dad, Ninja400R.com, Norton Motorsports, Hot Bodies, Dr. Farr, Bell Helmets, Mithos Leathers, Lee Cycle, Barnett clutches and cables, Wonder CBD, Fuzzy and Natalie.”
A disappointing end to the weekend saw Jacob Stroud record a DNF in Race 2, after his top-10 finish in Race 1.
Even though Andrew Lee wrapped up his second consecutive Stock 1000 Championship two weeks ago at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the California rider just keeps on winning.
In the first Stock 1000 races at Barber Motorsports Park, Lee notched his seventh victory out of 10 races and his sixth in a row. The two-time class champ bested second-place finisher and Michael Gilbert by nearly three-and-a-half seconds at the stripe, with Stefano Mesa rounding out the podium in third.
Stock 1000 Race 2
There was no denying Lee from defending his Stock 1000 Championship, earning pole position, winning Saturday’s Race 1, and finishing the season with one more win in Sunday’s Race 2, which was his eighth victory out of 11 races on the season.
The Sunday podium was a carbon copy of Saturday with Michael Gilbert and Stefano Mesa finishing second and third, respectively, for the second consecutive day.
“I couldn’t have imagined a better way to do it, to end off the season that way. It’s just been a long one. Both these boys next to me have been kicking butt all year. I know Mike had a little slump halfway through the year, and I think he would have been there at the end. I’m really grateful for the team behind me. My crew chief, Derek Keyes, he’s been there basically three years now. I wouldn’t be here without him. I just want to put it out to him, my family for always believing in me. I feel bad for them. Sixteen years of dealing with me with racing. It’s a dream come true to be here and win the championship this year, especially with the competition we had. Hopefully, we have some good things planned out for next year. Hopefully start figuring that stuff out here pretty soon. I’m just really happy to cap it off this way.”
In the final MotoAmerica race of the season Alex Dumas clinched the 2019 Championship with his third-place Twins Cup result. Meanwhile, Chris Parrish, who started the season on a Suzuki and concluded it on a Ghetto Customs/AP MotoArts Yamaha, notched his second win and fourth podium of the year. Second place went to Michael Barnes, which was his eighth podium this season.
“I’m happy about the championship and I’ve really got to thank (team principals) Chris and John Ulrich. I had the best bike out there. Overall, the season, I’m really happy to come back home with the championship. I’ve also got to thank (my riding coach) Jason Pridmore, too.”
“At the beginning of the season, (the Suzuki) was powerful enough, but when all these guys started stepping their game up I just didn’t have the funds or the time to step my game up so I just ended up on the short end of the power. I over-rode the bike a couple times and ended up crashing, so it just threw me out of the points and basically out of the series. My buddy Jeff Fisher threw a fundraiser together. Everybody donated and it kept me in the racing, and that’s what all the names on the side of the motorcycle are, all the people who sponsored the last three rounds. So that’s pretty neat. I just gave Andy Palmer a call like, ‘You got a bike I can ride?’ He kind of hesitated, then he said, ‘Sure.’ He showed up to Jersey with a bike that he built in three days. This is how we ended up. So I just want to thank the crew that’s stuck with me all season. Beth (Braun), especially. She’s traveled every mile with me. All the sponsors. All my helmet sponsors that have helped me pay for tires through the year. Shoei, Baseline Motorsports, Red Fox Racing. I really appreciate it. I’ve had fun. Thanks, MotoAmerica, for having this class. It gives us old guys something to do.”
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