In a change of pace for the HONOS Superbike class in MotoAmerica, it wasn’t Cameron Beaubier claiming the wins at the Indianapolis triple-header after the 27-year-old was left rattled from a crash in the opening bout.
Bobby Fong took the advantage and put in a tremendous performance to win Races 1 and 3, while Lorenzo Zanetti took the Race 2 win for Ducati, breaking a 10-year drought for the Bologna machines on American tarmac.
In Stock 1000 Cameron Petersen seemed to win the sole race to claim the championship title, but was docked 0.4s, regulating him to second for the race, although the championship was his. Travis Wyman took the race win as a result, with Maximiliano Gerardo completing the podium.
In Supersport Richie Escalante extended his lead, winning from Stefano Mesa and Brandon Paasch in Race 1, and Sean Dylan Kely and Stefano Mesa in Race 2.
Junior Cup champion Rocco Landers also added two more wins to his 2020 tally in the class, ahead of Dominic Doyle and Benjamin Gloddy in Race 1, while Dominic Doyle was just 0.157s off in Race 2, with Samuel Lochoff a distant third.
Rocco Landers also wrapped up the Twins Cup championship over the weekend, winning the race from Hayden Schultz and Kaleb De Keyrel, with Keyrel and Schultz second and third in the standings, respectively.
HONOS Superbike Race 1
If you wanted some drama in the MotoAmerica Superbike Series, your wish was granted in the first of three HONOS Superbike races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Bobby Fong emerging from the melee at The Brickyard with his second-career AMA Superbike victory.
In circumstances eerily similar to his first win of the year and first of his career at Road America earlier in the season, Fong was again in second place when runaway championship leader Cameron Beaubier crashed out of the lead. And, again, it was Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne who ended up hounding Fong to the checkered flag.
The race, which featured two red flags and two Beaubier crashes, saw Fong was in second place when Beaubier crashed on the fourth lap of the third restart, but he was pressuring the Yamaha man when the crash occurred. From there Fong was chased by Lorenzo Zanetti, the Italian taking the lead at one point before running off the track. Zanetti managed to stay upright, however, and he fought his way back to third place by the end of the 15-lap race, which translated to three different manufacturers on the podium and four different brands in the top five with Josh Herrin ending up fifth on the Scheibe Racing BMW.
Meanwhile, following Zanetti’s mistake, Gagne was on the move and closing in on Fong, the two Californians crossing the line with just .228 of a second between them. At Road America, Fong beat Gagne by .509 of a second.
There was drama before the race even started with Beaubier deemed late to get out of pit lane for the start of the sighting lap, meaning that he would be forced to start from the back of the grid. He did just that, going from 20th to sixth in one lap before the first red flag came out for Kyle Wyman’s crash coming on to the front straight.
Beaubier started sixth on the next restart and was in the lead pack when both he and Mathew Scholtz went down almost simultaneously in fluid that was leaked onto the track by a previously crashed motorcycle. After the cleanup, Beaubier was able to make the restart while Scholtz was being transported to the hospital with an ankle injury.
On the third start, Beaubier got into the lead quickly but wasn’t getting away from the pursing Fong when he crashed on the fourth lap in the final corner, the same spot that claimed Wyman. The four-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion’s bike was too damaged to continue, and he was forced to be a spectator for the rest of the race.
Gagne took over second when Zanetti ran off the track, and he closed on Fong before coming up just short at the finish. Zanetti led before his off-track excursion and he ended the day third in what was just his second MotoAmerica round (and his third race). It was the first podium for Ducati in the series since Kyle Wyman did it twice at Road America 2 earlier in the season.
Toni Elias took over third for a few laps after Zanetti’s miscue, but he had no grip and couldn’t keep the Ducati behind him. At the finish, Elias was some two seconds adrift of the Italian, but was over 18 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Josh Herrin on the Scheibe Racing BMW.
Travis Wyman finished sixth with Michael Gilbert, in his MotoAmerica Superbike debut, finishing seventh. Alex Dumas ended up eighth with Danilo Lewis and Corey Alexander rounding out the top 10.
HONOS Superbike Race 2
Zanetti started Sunday morning off with a victory on his Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York Panigale V4 R Superbike in the second of the three HONOS Superbike races following his first podium a day earlier. The win ended a drought for Ducati in the AMA Superbike Series as it was Ohioan Larry Pegram who rode his privateer Ducati to the Italian manufacturer’s last victory at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California on March 27, 2010.
In winning at The Brickyard, Zanetti also became the first Italian to win an AMA Superbike race since Alessandro Gramigni rode a Fast By Ferracci Ducati to victory at Brainerd in 1996.
Zanetti was in a race-long battle with Saturday’s race-one winner Fong for the duration of race two on a cloudy and cool Sunday morning, the Italian taking over for the first time with three laps to go. On the final lap, Zanetti was able to hold off Fong by just 0.196 of a second.
Beaubier was third, 0.323 of a second from the win with his teammate Jake Gagne a close fourth. With the top four covered by just 0.505 of a second it was the best HONOS Superbike race of the year, thus far.
“I compared yesterday, and the key of today is the work of the guys during the night. They changed the balance for the bike. Yesterday, I’m not really confident on the front tire. Today I did a really good job. This morning in warmup I was in first place so I think that the whole race I can win. It’s not easy because from yesterday also the tire (temperature) is different, maybe seven or eight degrees less. So just try to keep calm because yesterday when I tried to stay in front to Bobby (Fong) I did a mistake, so today I just stay on back for half part of the race and study. So, when I try in the last four or five laps, the tire is dropped and it’s difficult to manage. Some parts of the track Bobby is better than me, and some I’m better. So, it’s difficult, but in the end is all right. I don’t want to think a lot. Just try to improve a little bit again for the second race of today and try to be again on the podium. This is incredibly important for me but also for Ducati because four months ago not many people trust in me that I can do it, to be able to ride in the U.S. and win some races. So, I think it’s a really good target today for me.”
HONOS Superbike Race 3
The third race was all Fong. After a red flag came out when his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate Toni Elias crashed out of the lead (and right in front of him), Fong simply dominated. Chased by Gagne and Zanetti, Fong’s win got really comfortable when Gagne crashed and Zanetti ran straight at the end of the front straight, joining in fourth place.
Gagne was able to remount from his blunder to finish seventh, but the miscues moved Beaubier to second and he was able to hold off Zanetti’s charge to take the spot – 9.8 seconds behind the fleeing Fong.
“It’s a good feeling. First of all, I just want to say congratulations to Cameron (Beaubier). The whole pack has been chasing him all year long. He’s rode so good all year long. Hopefully, we’ll battle with him at Laguna. We all know if he didn’t have a championship to win, he would have been right there with me or in front of me. Who knows? But it’s been a good weekend. I can’t complain. It’s been weird, though. This weekend we haven’t changed anything on the bike. We started FP1 and we made minor changes, a few clicks of something, whatever. Usually every weekend we have a completely different motorcycle every session, almost. This was the first weekend where I said, ‘Just don’t touch it. I’ll figure it out.’ We made a little bit of TC stuff and fork maps, but other than that this was the most consistent motorcycle I’ve rode this year. So, it definitely paid off and I definitely had a good feeling out there. Had plenty of moments out there on the front (tire), just trying to get a 36 (1:36 lap time) for a while but it didn’t happen. Thankful to get some money and get the win. Looking forward to Laguna.”
“To be honest, I felt like I just lost a little confidence after three crashes this weekend, and the little electrical gremlins we had, which it doesn’t happen often, but the Superbikes, the electronics are so complex that just one little thing you do wrong can just kind of throw everything off. Luckily everything was fine that last race today, but after the tires heat cycle, I just had no confidence, man. Sure, I could have gone faster but I wanted to bring this thing home after crashing three times and having my guys stay up until midnight a couple nights this weekend fixing my bike. Obviously, I’m over the moon happy, but I’m just relieved at the same time to get this plate for my guys, for Monster Attack Yamaha and everyone at the team, my family, my friends, everyone that supports us. 6D my helmet sponsor, it’s their first Superbike Championship and I think Attack’s first Superbike Championship as well. I just had pure fun this year. It was so fun just ripping off those wins. I was just really enjoying riding my bike all year. I’ve never felt so comfortable on a bike and just at home with my guys. We really built a family together, Yamaha and me. It’s just such a privilege to ride for them. This is my eighth-year riding for them, and we’ve been able to rack up six championships together. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity and everything they’ve given me. Just going to enjoy this one and go have fun at Laguna.”
Cameron Petersen clinched the 2020 Stock 1000 Championship in a race that he appeared to win, but he was docked 0.4 of a second due to a sporting infraction, which dropped him from first to second in the final result.
Meanwhile, Travis Wyman, who had caught up to Petersen in the race, overtook him, and led the race briefly until Petersen passed him, inherited the win for his first Stock 1000 victory of the season. Third place went to Maximiliano Gerardo, the Uruguayan rider notching the first MotoAmerica podium of his career.
“I can’t even explain it, even hearing you say that kind of brought a lump to my throat. It means so much to me. This is my life. Obviously, my goal is to be a Superbike champ and hopefully one day get in the World Championship. Just being able to hold this number one board is pretty special. It’s something I’ve dreamt of my whole life. It wasn’t easy. It hasn’t been an easy fight. Every year I’ve been here, I’ve had to get on a different team, different bike. It seems like every year kind of halfway through the season I start finding my feet. This year, I just decided to ride the Stock bike and see if I could find my feet again a little bit. I think I lost my way a little bit there a few years ago just kind of getting caught up in the whole Superbike thing. This year has probably been the best thing for my career. I’ve had so much fun riding my bike every single weekend. I look forward to coming to the track. The vibe in the team, everything is incredible. I honestly can’t explain the feeling of being a champion, but hopefully this isn’t the last number-one board I’ll hold up. Just all off-season going to put my head down, go to work and hopefully something good comes up for me next year. I want to show people that I can do this in the Superbike class, as well.”
Richie Escalante moved even closer to clinching the 2020 Supersport Championship with his victory in Saturday’s race one at The Brickyard. For Escalante, it was his 12th win this season.
Early in the race, Sean Dylan Kelly crashed out of the lead, unhurt, which handed the lead to Brandon Paasch. Escalante eventually overtook Paasch, and then Stefano Mesa, who is competing in Supersport for the first time this season in addition to Stock 1000, closed in on Paasch and nipped him at the finish line for second place, with Paasch completing the podium in third.
Supersport Race 2
With his 13th race win of the season, Escalante clinched the 2020 Supersport Championship in Sunday’s race two in style. Escalante completed another perfect weekend with wins in both races, and he did it in his usual fashion of surviving the early-lap onslaught of his competitors, persevering, and running fast laps all the way to the finish line.
On Sunday, he withstood challenges from Sean Dylan Kelly, who crashed out of Saturday’s race, and Stefan Mesa. Kelly and Mesa threw everything they had at Escalante, and Kelly even led the race in all but one of the opening five laps.
But then Escalante established himself at the front and took the win by a little more than a second over second-place finisher Kelly. Mesa worked his way into second place on lap four and five, then Kelly overtook him, and Mesa brought it home in third place to complete the all-Latino podium.
“I’m really happy, especially this year when start the year I know (HONOS Kawasaki team principle) Humberto (Baca) tried to give me the best package, the best mechanics, the best crew chief. So, thanks to all my team to give me the best bike, and my crew chief, my mechanic. All the people who support me and my team. This is why we had an almost perfect year, 13 wins. I’m very happy. It’s a pleasure to race with Sean (Dylan Kelly) and Stefano (Mesa) and all the young riders, very talented. I’m very happy to race with these guys and every race try to push and give you my best. I’m very happy. One more race (weekend) in Laguna, so keep working to try to finish the season on the top.”
Recently re-crowned, two-time Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion Rocco Landers continued his winning ways and notched his 12th-consecutive class victory of the season. The 15-year-old phenom started from the pole, and as has been his method almost all season long, he built a gap at the front and won the race by just a little more than two seconds at the checkered flag.
Second place went to Dominic Doyle, which was the South African’s ninth podium finish of the season. The battle for third place was hotly contested, and Ben Gloddy took the final spot on the podium in a photo finish at the stripe.
Junior Cup Race 2
After winning Saturday’s Twins Cup race, clinching the class championship, and winning Liqui Moly Junior Cup race one, Landers completed another perfect weekend on Sunday when he also won Liqui Moly Junior Cup race two.
The rider started from the pole, got the holeshot, and led all but the second-to-last lap to take the checkered flag by a scant .157 of a second over Dominic Doyle. The South African put in a strong performance and got even stronger in the final couple of laps when he took the lead on lap 10 of 11 and very nearly had the measure of Landers. Doyle came up just a little short and had to settle for second place.
Third place went to Celtic HSBK Racing Kawasaki’s Sam Lochoff, who started back in eighth position on the grid, was in fourth after the opening lap, and then battled Isaiah Burleson for the final spot on the podium. Lochoff secured third place on lap eight and maintained the position to the finish line.
“Today’s race was pretty good. I’m stoked for Dom (Doyle) to finally get back up there with me. Under the circumstances, I think it’s super awesome how fast he’s going right now. I was struggling with the edge grip and driving grip the whole race. So, I didn’t have the feel that I normally would. Yesterday, I felt a little bit better, could be the heat of the asphalt. But I’m happy with the win.”
In Saturday’s Twins Cup race, Rocco Landers, who already clinched his second-consecutive Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship at MotoAmerica’s previous round in Alabama, added the 2020 Twins Cup Championship to his collection of number-one plates.
The Suzuki rider started from the pole and rode another one of his signature flawless races to cross the finish line with a gap of nearly six seconds over second-place finisher Hayden Shultz. Third place went to Kaleb De Keyrel, who was in a fierce battle with Schultz for second place until he mistook the white flag (signifying one lap to go in the race) for the checkered flag and let up on the throttle after the crossing the start-finish line. The mistake enabled Schultz to take the position and pull away on the final lap with De Keyrel unable to catch him before the checkered flag flew.
“Road America 1 was a little bit rough for us, and at Road America 2, we got in gear a little bit and started putting better results together. We had a bit of hiccups until Atlanta, and I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen because of the Red Bull (MotoGP Rookies Cup) schedule and COVID-19. COVID affected the Red Bull schedule to where I was going to end up going to every round except Laguna, I believe. But I think 35, 37 wins, 43 podiums, three championships in two years is pretty awesome. My team has worked all year putting a great program at every single round, getting better and better. Thanks to everyone who has supported me this year. It’s been awesome.”
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