Round 9 – Laguna Seca
Images by Brian J. Nelson
Cameron Beaubier closed out the 2020 season at the MotoAmerica Speedfest at Monterey, winning all three HONOS Superbike races to conclude the season ahead of his move to Moto2. That left him on 436-points, with runner up Jake Gage on 301, and third placed Bobby Fong on 253.
Beaubier won Race 1 from Toni Elias and Lorenzo Zanetti, with Race 2 seeing Zanetti in second and Elias third, before returning to the original finishing order in Race 3, of Beaubier, Elias and Zannetti.
Sean Dylan Kelly took the Supersport wins, after Richie Escalante crashed in Race 1, with Brandon Paasch and Cory Ventura completing the podium as a result. Escalante was back for Race 2 as runner up, with JD Beach in third.
The result saw Dylan Kelly finish the season on 341 points, 40 behind Escalante, with Paasch third overall on 260-points.
Cameron Petersen had already clinched the Stock 1000 championship, but he added another win to his tally in the single race run, with Corey Alexander and Danilo Lewis claiming the final podium positions. Petersen won the championship on 260-points, to Alexander on 204, and Travis Wyman on 148.
Rocco Landers won the Twins race, in a fitting end to a dominant season, although Dominic Doyle gave him a run for his money, just 0.112s off at the line, with Kaleb De Keyrel not far off either 0.376 behind the leader.
Landers won the championship with a final tally of 277-points, De Keyrel was runner up on 210, while Hayden Schultz was third on 154.
Landers also won both Junior Cup races on his Kawasaki, from Dominic Doyle and Samuel Lochoff in Race 1, with the same top three in Race 2.
The final Junior Cup standings saw Landers on 435-points, Doyle on 297, and Lochoff on 287.
HONOS Superbike Race 1
Cameron Beaubier demolished the competition on Saturday, leading from pole position over the hill and into turn two with the lead and he never looked back.
The Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha rider slowed in the final corner, did a stand-up wheelie over the finish line and still won by 10.734 seconds for his 14th win of the season – just a day after announcing that he will be leaving the MotoAmerica Series to pursue the Moto2 World Championship.
Beaubier topped the man he has battled for most of his Superbike career – Toni Elias. Elias, who announced this week that he will not race a Suzuki in next year’s championship, battled through after a rough start to finish second for just his second podium of the season.
Lorenzo Zanetti also struggled in the opening laps in his first race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but once the tires came in, he moved forward, passing Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne in the closing stages to finish third. Gagne looked to have second in the bag after Bobby Fong crashed out of their battle. But Gagne ran into fueling issues that ultimately dropped him to fourth.
Gagne held on for fourth place, some four seconds clear of Kyle Wyman, with Wyman barely beating Westby Racing stand-in rider Niccolo Canepa at the finish line by just .054 of a second.
Josh Herrin bested Cameron Petersen, the South African wrapping up the MotoAmerica Superbike Cup with his eighth-place finish and will earn $25,000 for his efforts. Jayson Uribe rode his Honda CBR1000RR to ninth with Corey Alexander rounding out the top 10.
HONOS Superbike Race 2 & 3
Cameron Beaubier ended his MotoAmerica career in the best possible fashion on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion adding two more wins to bring his season total to 16 victories. Now the 27-year-old can focus his efforts on the next phase of his career – the Moto2 World Championship.
Beaubier’s two victories on Sunday were dominating. He won the first of the two in iffy conditions by 10.47 seconds and the second by 4.76 seconds. The two wins on Sunday were his 15th and 16th of the year and the 16th tied him with former teammate Josh Hayes for the most wins in a single season in AMA Superbike history.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend emotionally and just everything, it felt good just to get everything out of the way Friday and get the contract signed and have the press conference in here and let everyone know I’m moving on, just let Yamaha know how thankful I am. Truthfully, it’s bittersweet, like I’ve been saying all weekend. I’m leaving some great people behind here in MotoAmerica. I’m definitely going to look back and cherish these moments, all the good moments we’ve had in the past. I was sitting on the grid today and I was getting a little emotional. I was like, ‘What are you doing? You’ve got to go race. Come on. Pull yourself together.’ I just went out and abused my R1 for a little bit and that made me feel a little better. Came back in and the emotions started coming back, your throat starts getting heavy or whatever.
“Just this last year has been one of the most fun years of my life at home and at the track with all the guys, just having a good time. When you’re getting good results and you’re not crashing too much, the team is happy and that means the rider is happy. It’s been so fun with them. I’ve said it multiple times, but Yamaha truly is a family to me, and same with all you guys at MotoAmerica. I’m going to miss you guys so much. Everyone goes home and does their thing at home, but we’ll still keep in contact and all that stuff. Then we get to go racing all weekend. It’s sad that’s coming to an end, but it’s not the last time I’ll show my face at the track at MotoAmerica. I’m glad to cap it off with three wins this weekend. I just had pure fun riding my bike this weekend. I just was able to ride free; ride loose and really, really enjoyed this weekend on my bike after having a rough weekend at Indy. It put everything back into perspective for us. I’m not sure if it’s Toni’s (Elias) last race but hats off to Toni for an amazing career. We’ve had our battles on the track and we were at each other’s throat a couple times, but I respect you a lot as a racer and a person. You’re amazing, man. Amazing career. I’m grateful for you coming over here and kicking our butts and putting us in our place. He gave us something to chase. Just really looking forward to getting going next year and hope to make you guys proud.”
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Toni Elias also had an emotional weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the Spaniard telling Suzuki that he wouldn’t be returning to their team in 2021 and that he was looking for a brand change to recharge his career. He then went out and finished on the podium in all three races – finishing third in Race 2 on Sunday and second in Race 3 behind his long-time rival, Beaubier.
“Yes, very good weekend, I really needed this. It’s been a difficult year for many reasons, not only racing, also personal side. Very nice to end this chapter. I had fun. Of course, it’s not a win, but tastes like a win coming from where we came from. Today, I think this bike is the best bike I ever ride here at Laguna, because my lap times were better than other years, just Cameron (Beaubier) another step he did. It’s incredible. Difficult to be at his level. It’s been amazing. But super happy because I had so much fun. I start to do what I wanted, not lose the initial part of the race, and then passed one rider, then another rider, in my style, in braking areas. I was riding so good, just in case this was the last one. I’m very happy. I feel I’m still very strong and I just need something else. I need fresh air. I need new motivation. I need something to work on, to develop things. We’ll see. As I said before, I let the universe, the destiny (decide). So, I hope come back with something good. But thanks to my team for all the season. Thanks to Suzuki for all these years, and to MotoAmerica to have me, to take me like home like another American. I think I’m half American now. Thanks to Suzuki and you guys I have a family here now, so I’m not going to go away. I’ll stay here forever.
“The last part I want to, like he said to me, hats off to this guy (Beaubier). I have to say, I battled with many strong riders in World Championship, specialist in 125, specialist in 250, specialist in Moto2, MotoGP, Superbikes. Valentino (Rossi), I think was one of the toughest guys I ever battled but he (Beaubier) is not less than him. I think he (Beaubier) has that level, has level enough to do it. Now is the opportunity. I believe in him and I believe in his opportunity. This way will bring him to MotoGP because he’s good enough. Here you have a friend. We had big battles. We had so much fun. It’s been really cool. Sometimes we play back to each other, we play our cards, but this is racing. And after that we appreciate each other. If you need me, just have the phone and do it. Good luck, man. Thanks to my family. They’ve always been behind me, supporting me. The biggest supporter I have is Kristie (his wife). It’s been a big change in my life discovering new things in life. It’s amazing. I will try to continue some more years and having fun. My next goal would be one day I put Toni (his son) on the podium on the top of the box next time. That would be really good. Is my next goal, so I hope to make it happen.”
The same three men stood on the podium in all three races – Beaubier, Elias and Lorenzo Zanetti. Zanetti ended up second in race two behind Beaubier and third in race three behind Beaubier and Elias. It was the Italian’s fourth, fifth and sixth podiums in his eight starts in the MotoAmerica Series.
In race two, Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne was fourth with Stock 1000 Champion Cameron Petersen fifth on the Altus Suzuki GSX-R1000. Westby Racing fill-in rider Niccolo Canepa was sixth with Kyle Wyman a lonely seventh. Josh Herrin, Michael Gilbert and Bobby Fong rounded out the top 10.
In the final race of the season, Fong was fourth ahead of Gagne with Canepa sixth for the second time on the day. Wyman was seventh again, ahead of Petersen, Gilbert and Corey Alexander.
Beaubier ended the season with a massive 135-point lead over Gagne, 437-301. Fong was third, 48 points behind Gagne and 31 ahead of Elias, who topped the injured Mathew Scholtz with his strong effort in the series finale by just a single point.
HONOS Superbike Results
|16||Jeremy Coffey||BMW||+1 Lap|
|17||Sam Verderico||YAM||+1 Lap|
|16||Max Flinders||YAM||+1 Lap|
|17||Sam Verderico||YAM||+2 Laps|
|15||Sam Verderico||YAM||+1 Lap|
|16||Travis Wyman||BMW||+4 Laps|
Supersport Race 1
Supersport race one had a somewhat familiar start and a surprise conclusion as 2020 class champion Richie Escalante survived some early skirmishes with Sean Dylan Kelly and Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s last-round replacement rider JD Beach, who got the holeshot in the race, but later crashed out of second place.
Escalante got into the lead on lap two and held onto it till lap eight when Kelly took the point and Escalante was shuffled back to second. And then, disaster struck for Escalante when his HONOS Kawasaki experienced a technical problem, which ended his day.
Cory Ventura, competing in Supersport for the first time this season, moved up to second and battled for position with Escalante’s new-for-this-weekend HONOS teammate Brandon Paasch, who switched from a Yamaha to a Kawasaki for the final round of the season.
At the checkers, it was Kelly taking the win, with Paasch finishing second over Ventura in third.
Supersport Race 2
Starting from the pole, Kelly gave up the lead to Richie Escalante, who had already clinched the 2020 class championship at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weekends ago. But Kelly was far from satisfied with being in second. He and Escalante engaged in a race-long battle that continued all the way to the final corner of the final lap. Escalante ran a little wide in the turn and opened the door for Kelly to take the lead and then the win.
Escalante finished second and JD Beach, who was racing in MotoAmerica for the first time all season and was aboard a Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha, finished third.
Sean Dylan Kelly
“It was my first double-win this year, and that was obviously the goal after winning yesterday, I came really determined to Laguna saying that I definitely wasn’t going to leave this place without at least one win. After getting it yesterday I was like, this is my best opportunity to make it a double. So honestly really, really happy about today’s race. I gave everything I had. It was a really nice race, a long race up there with Richie. I know JD was close a few laps. It was kind of back and forth. At one point we had a little bit of a gap, but I think Richie and I, just after so many passes, he caught up again. I was honestly expecting JD to get by me at one point because I know how strong he is in the last sector which I saw yesterday. It was really nice to have JD here, as well. Clearly going very quick from the beginning. Just nice to be able to fight again from the start of the race to the end, which is what I think we were missing yesterday after his issue. Just really happy to give the fight that we did today and see a last-lap, last-corner win. One of the best feelings ever, especially to make it a double.”
|1||Sean Dylan Kelly||SUZ||27:55.5|
|16||Grant Cowan||KAW||+1 Lap|
|17||Michael Kim||YAM||+1 Lap|
|18||Steven Campbell||KAW||+1 Lap|
|19||Chris Sarbora||YAM||+1 Lap|
|20||Tony Blackall||YAM||+1 Lap|
|1||Sean Dylan Kelly||SUZ||27:55.0|
|18||Kevin Murphy||KAW||+1 Lap|
|19||Harm Jansen||YAM||+1 Lap|
|20||Chris Sarbora||YAM||+1 Lap|
|21||Michael Kim||YAM||+1 Lap|
|22||Steven Campbell||KAW||+1 Lap|
|23||Grant Cowan||KAW||+1 Lap|
|24||Tony Blackall||YAM||+1 Lap|
|25||CJ LaRoche||YAM||+1 Lap|
|2||Sean Dylan Kelly||341|
|17||Max Angles Fernandez||26|
Stock 1000 Race 1
In Saturday’s Stock 1000 race, which was the season-concluding event for the class, Cam Petersen who clinched the 2020 class championship at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weekends ago, added another victory to his resume with his eighth win of the season in another dominant performance for the South African rider.
Second place went to Corey Alexander, who recorded his 10th podium result on the year and completed what was a remarkably consistent season for the New Yorker. Danilo Lewis rounded out the top three, and the Brazilian was overjoyed to notch the first MotoAmerica podium of his career.
“I think every racer’s goal is to put their head down the first few laps and make a break for it,” Petersen said. “If you can make a break for it, it makes your life quite a lot easier. It was definitely part of my strategy to put my head down and give it everything I had for the first two laps. Then I just kind of let the race play out from there. What a season. I’m super, super happy. I’ve been wanting this my whole life. We made it happen. It means a lot to me and my family. We’ve sacrificed our lives pretty much to come to America. I think this means a lot to us. I’m going to cherish this one for a little bit. Now it’s time to go focus on the Superbike races. Hopefully, I’ve got something for them. For right now, I’m just doing everything I can. Let’s go have some more fun.”
Stock 1000 Results
|16||Aaron Ascher||APR||+1 Lap|
|17||Mauricio H Hidalgo||KAW||+1 Lap|
|18||Ivan Munoz||KAW||+1 Lap|
|19||Cody Cochran||BMW||+1 Lap|
|20||Brian Evans||SUZ||+1 Lap|
|21||Joe Brown||KAW||+1 Lap|
In Sunday’s Twins Cup race, class champion Rocco Landers had his work cut out for him. The Suzuki rider started from fourth on the grid, didn’t get a good jump off the line, and was shuffled back to fifth.
Meanwhile, Dominic Doyle got past polesitter Cooper McDonald and took the lead aboard his Robem Engineering/Plastic Surgery Racing Suzuki. Doyle swapped the lead with Kaleb De Keyrel.
On lap eight of 13, Landers, who had been moving up through the pack, took the lead and maintained it till the checkered flag. Doyle moved into second place, and De Keyrel into third to complete the final Twins Cup podium of the year.
“It’s been an awesome year, my SportBikeTrackGear.com RoadracingWorld.com Suzuki team worked hard all weekend and all year making a great bike. I think it’s the best bike on the grid, for sure. At the beginning of the race, I had a bit of a bad start, back in fifth or sixth, I think. In turn one, I was actually pretty far back. I was having trouble getting by Jackson (Blackmon). I eventually got by him. Then, I was having trouble getting by Cooper, then I got by him. I was on a bit of a struggle bus in the beginning of the race. I kind of waited for my tire to come in, and when it did, I was able to get by Cooper, catch up to (the leaders) and I think I put in the fastest lap of the race. Once I got by Dominic, I tried to hit my marks and do as well as I possibly could and run as clean laps as I could. Towards the end, I started running into a little bit of tire wear. Straight up, I didn’t expect to win that race. I thought one of them was going to come by me at any second going down the front straight into the last lap, the last turn. I’m stoked. This is awesome.”
|3||Kaleb De Keyrel||YAM||+0.376|
|13||Aaron Tulchinsky||YAM||+1 Lap|
|14||Michael Kim||SUZ||+1 Lap|
|15||Matthew Riedlinger||SUZ||+1 Lap|
|16||Gino Angella||YAM||+1 Lap|
|17||Cliff Ramsdell||SUZ||+1 Lap|
|2||Kaleb De Keyrel||210|
|15||Ryan Max Johnson||24|
|20||Tyler Freeman 9||9|
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Race 1
Two-time Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion Rocco Landers kept his momentous season going strong on Saturday, winning his 14th race of the season. It was not easy though. He was hounded throughout the 13-lap event by Dominic Doyle, who moved up quickly from his fourth place starting position on the first lap, got into second place, and maintained his position all the way to the checkers.
Third place went to Sam Lochoff, who was in a race-long battle with Liam Grant for the final step on the podium. Lochoff got by Grant on the final lap and made it stick to secure third place.
“After the first two laps, I knew it was going to be a fight between me and (Dominic). I saw Sam and, I think, Liam behind us. So, I was just trying to push the whole race and see what would happen, maybe capitalize on any mistakes made. I knew that Dominic was going to make no mistakes. So, when I saw it was seven more riders, I assumed possibly they would trip each other up maybe and I could pull away. Dom rode a great race, though, and so did Sam, so I had to push the entire way.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Race 2
In the final Liqui Moly Junior Cup race of the 2020 season. Rocco Landers completed another perfect weekend by adding a win on Sunday to his Twins Cup victory earlier in the day and his triumph in Junior Cup race two.
Starting from second on the grid, Landers got the holeshot and was never headed in the 13-lap event. He finished a little over three seconds ahead of Dominic Doyle, who moved into second place on lap two and stayed there all the way to the checkers.
Finishing third was Sam Lochoff, who overtook MotoAmerica newcomer Max Toth on the final lap to secure the final spot on the podium.
“It went great, perfectly, according to plan,” Landers said when asked to self-evaluate his race. “I was trying to get as good of a first lap as I possibly could. Unfortunately, Dominic made a couple errors on the first lap and fell back a little bit. I was looking forward to having a good race with him, but we’ll take what we can get. It was an awesome race. It’s been great racing with these guys.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Results
|15||Daniel Kinard||KAW||+1 Lap|
|16||Alex Ricci||KAW||+1 Lap|
|14||Alex Ricci||KAW||+1 Lap|
|10||Joseph LiMandri Jr||98|