Round 6 – Championship of Monterey – Laguna Seca
Images by Brian J. Nelson
Toni Elias claimed the Saturday Superbike win at Laguna Seca, with Garrett Gerloff and Cameron Beaubier completing the podium, to kick off the weekend. Sunday would see Gerloff claim the Race 2 win, with a 4.449-second lead over championship leader Elias, with third places Beaubier now has a 39-point deficit to contend with.
Supersport saw a single race for the weekend, run on Sunday, where Bobby Fong took the win from PJ Jacobsen and Richie Escalante, with a crash by standings leader Gillim catapaulting Fong to an 18-point lead.
Andrew Lee claimed the Stock 1000 race win, while Kaleb DeKeyrel came out on top in the Twins Cup. Rocco Landers continued his domination of the Liqui Moly Junior Cup class, with another win.
Toni Elias may not have led any of the practice or qualifying sessions at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but he led the only thing that paid points on Saturday as the Spaniard raced to his sixth EBC Brakes Superbike win of the season in the Championship of Monterey.
Elias won a battle between himself and the Yamaha Factory Racing duo of Garrett Gerloff and Cameron Beaubier, the Texan getting the better of his three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion teammate Beaubier to finish second, and .778 of a second behind Elias.
With Elias winning and Beaubier finishing third, the points gap has grown to 35 points, 226-191, heading into Sunday’s second of two EBC Brakes Superbike races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“I’m happy. My team did an amazing job. My family is here. My son is here. It’s his first race ever for him. Thirty-five points now in the lead of the championship, but as you all know, you can’t get too comfortable. Mistakes can happen. You’ve got to stay calm. There’s still many, many races to go. Today has been a really good race but doesn’t mean anything tomorrow. These guys will improve some details. The championship is so long, and many things will happen. My championship lead had some advantage riding in one race in MotoAmerica, and then in the corner of the race I crashed. So, I lost almost everything. But we are increasing it again, so that’s good. Let’s keep doing every race like this, keep going, working like this. We are doing a great job.”
Gerloff finished on the podium for the eighth time this season and for the seventh race in a row. It was also his third runner-up finish of the year as he searches for his first career Superbike win. Beaubier was visibly disappointed with third place and his ninth podium finish of the season.
Herrin crashed after making contact with Beaubier, the Georgian battling for the lead at the time. Fourth place went to JD Beach, the Kentucky resident in the mix at the front until the closing laps. He finished 7.8 seconds behind Elias but was well clear of Jake Lewis, the Kentuckian racing to fifth all alone.
David Anthony was sixth, narrowly topping Cameron Petersen. Sam Verderico, Jeremy Coffey and Max Flinders rounded out the top 10 finishers. In addition to Herrin, Mathew Scholtz, Jayson Uribe and Kyle Wyman all crashed out of the race. Uribe and Wyman went down together in turn two on the opening lap with Wyman suffering a suspected broken wrist.
Superbikes Race 2
Garrett Gerloff fulfilled a life-long dream in the Championship of Monterey on Sunday, the 23-year-old Texan winning the first MotoAmerica Superbike race of his career in front of a record crowd at Laguna Seca.
In what was his 32nd career Superbike race in his sophomore season in the class, Gerloff was dominant. The two-time Supersport Champion was second off the start behind Toni Elias, made the pass early, and was never headed, pulling away to a 4.449 second win.
With Gerloff, who earned his second career Superbike pole position on Saturday, riding off into the sunset, the battle for second was just that. A battle. The protagonists were Toni Elias and Cameron Beaubier, and the pair exchanged body blows to the bitter end with Elias coming out on top by just .326 of a second after 23 laps of the 2.2-mile track.
“It feels so good, I was telling the TV earlier, I know it’s just a race win and these guys get wins all the time and I used to, but I haven’t for a while. There’s been a lot of emotions the past year and a half, getting used to the Superbike and everything. These guys haul ass everywhere. It’s tough, stiff competition out there. It’s been a long road. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. To finally get it and to do it here even more in front of the World Superbike guys and everything, it’s just something that I’ve wanted for so long, something that’s been on my bucket list forever. When I started racing, I was watching the MotoAmerica guys, AMA guys back in the day. That was one of the things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. To finally say that I got just one win, it just feels awesome. I’m ecstatic, for sure.”
The second-place finish for Elias may not have been a win on the day, but it was as far as the championship goes as he now leads Beaubier by 39 points, 246-207. Gerloff, meanwhile, is third in the series standings with 181 points after his first career Superbike victory. Beaubier was third for the second day in a row after controlling most of practice and qualifying.
“This weekend was a rough one. I was pretty confident going into the races. I felt really good in practice and had good pace, but in Saturday’s race that all went out the window. We did our homework and made some adjustments for Sunday’s race. I had a really good bike but got caught up in a battle for second and was unable to get up front early. All in all, two podiums is important for the championship. We will keep working and move forward!”
Fourth place went Elias’ Suzuki teammate Josh Herrin, the Georgian in the mix for second place early in the race before fading back to the clutches of JD Beach, the Kentuckian beaten up from a morning crash in the first of two World Superbike races on Sunday. Herrin was able to beat Beach to the line by some two seconds.
Mathew Scholtz rebounded from a race crash yesterday to finish sixth today, the South African holding off Jake Gagne at the finish. Jake Lewis was eighth with Cameron Petersen and Jayson Uribe rounding out the top 10 finishers.
EBC Brakes Superbike Race 1 Result
- Toni Elias (Suzuki) 32:50.909
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) +0.778
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) +2.427
- JD Beach (Yamaha) +7.481
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki) +24.254
- David Anthony (Kawasaki) +45.511
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha) +45.622
- Sam Verderico (Yamaha) +1 Lap
- Jeremy Coffey (BMW) +1 Lap
- Max Flinders (Yamaha) +2 Laps
EBC Brakes Superbike Race 2 Result
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 32:42.894
- Toni Elias (Suzuki) +4.449
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) +4.775
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki) +9.983
- JD Beach (Yamaha) +11.814
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha) +22.512
- Jake Gagne (BMW) +23.386
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki) +27.144
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha) +53.858
- Jayson Uribe (Honda) +54.825
EBC Brakes Superbike Standings
- Toni Elias 246
- Cameron Beaubier 207
- Garrett Gerloff 181
- JD Beach 135
- Josh Herrin 132
- Jake Lewis 116
- Mathew Scholtz 110
- Cameron Petersen 81
- David Anthony 76
- Jake Gagne 62
To wrap up the weekend, the Supersport class took to the track for their one scheduled race at the MotoAmerica Championship of Monterey, and it was a good one, especially for Bobby Fong. The California rider got a great jump off the front row at the start, and also got the holeshot over Hayden Gillim.
Fong was never headed in the race, and Gillim ultimately crashed out unhurt, which contributed to Fong taking the victory over second-place finisher PJ Jacobsen, with Richie Escalante in third. The win vaulted Fong into the Supersport Championship lead with an 18-point advantage over Gillim in second.
“On my pitboard, I saw plus zero. I never knew I had a one-second gap, so I just kept on pushing. Honestly, I was making quite a few mistakes and going a little bit slower than I felt like I should have been. My guys gave me the chill board, and I had to back it down a little bit. I came back around and then I saw the plus two and I was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got a little cushion.’ I don’t know what happened. I try not to look back really when I’m racing. I just ran consistent pace the whole time and just raced my board, basically. It was good. My guys were on it with the board today. I’ve got to give it up to them. It was a short weekend for us. We didn’t have much track time. The first two sessions we were kind of all over the place but thank God I’ve got a good crew and they figured it out overnight. We made some good changes for today’s race, and it paid off.”
Supersport Race Result
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki) 27:52.481
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha) +1.603
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha) +3.978
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki) +5.699
- Josh Hayes (Yamaha) +10.914
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha) +11.594
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha) +18.576
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha) +19.237
- Lucas Silva (Suzuki) +35.699
- Caroline Olsen (Yamaha) +51.488
- Bobby Fong 160
- Hayden Gillim 142
- P.J. Jacobsen 123
- Richie Escalante 123
- Sean Dylan Kelly 115
- Bryce Prince 88
- Joshua Hayes 83
- Nick McFadden 67
- Jason Aguilar 65
- Braeden Ortt 47
Home cooking proved to be a benefit for Californian Andrew Lee as the Kawasaki rider won Saturday’s Stock 1000 race and extended his championship lead to 11 points over the day’s third-place finisher, Stefano Mesa. Former World Superbike competitor Geoff May finished second in the race aboard his Ameris Bank Kawasaki.
Lee started from the pole with Mesa and May gridded right next to him on the front row, and the race was a battle from the get-go. As the laps wound down, Lee made strategic use of a few backmarkers and tiptoed through them to win by just under a second at the checkers.
“Coming into this weekend, I knew I had some momentum coming off of Utah, so I just wanted to really continue that. I knew it was going to be difficult with Geoff and Stefano right there behind me. I’m just happy I got to accomplish my goals this weekend. It was a really good battle. I knew coming through Rainey Curve that there were some lappers up-ahead going up over turn one, and I knew I had to get there before Geoff did. Coming into the last lap, there was a big group ahead of me. I was like, that’s going to be pretty intimidating. Thankfully, I got over the hill and got one backmarker in-between Geoff and me, and I made it down the hill and crossed the line first.”
Stock 1000 Race Result
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki) 17:33.470
- Geoff May (Kawasaki) +0.959
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki) +3.787
- Travis Wyman (BMW) +14.903
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki) +16.379
- Andy DiBrino (Yamaha) +17.102
- Sebastiao Ferreira (Kawasaki) +25.319
- Miles Thornton (Suzuki) +27.468
- Doug Frenchak (Kawasaki) +44.074
- George Myshlyayev (Kawasaki) +45.107
Stock 1000 Standings
- Andrew Lee 124
- Stefano Mesa 113
- Michael Gilbert 78
- Travis Wyman 68
- Geoff May 65
- Miles Thornton 40
- Rhett Norman 34
- Bradley Ward 27
- Corey Alexander 26
- Garrick Schneiderman 21
In Saturday’s Twins Cup race, former MotoAmerica Supersport racer Kaleb DeKeyrel returned to the series after a couple of years away, and aboard his Yamaha, notched his first career MotoAmerica victory.
DeKeyrel started from 12th on the grid, but through patience and determination, he moved to the front and passed the current points leader Michael Barnes and the race leader at the time, Alex Dumas. Dumas and Barnes ultimately finished in second and third, respectively.
“Qualifying obviously didn’t go so hot, so I knew we had to make some serious changes in order to be there for the race. We had an incredible bike for the race. I’ve got to give a huge shout-out to Roaring Toyz and 1833CJKnows for getting me out here. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be here. I drove over 110 hours just to make this race happen. But I also knew that the Yamaha was a great platform as far as handling and everything. So, I knew we would have a decent bike coming here. It would just be fine-tuning it for the track. But I’ve been training a lot. I’m training really hard with my buddy Garrett Gerloff, even though I haven’t been at the MotoAmerica races in a couple of years. I live down in Texas right next to him, so we’ve been training hard. I’m hoping I get more opportunities in the future to show my talent to the paddock.”
Twins Cup Race Result
- Kaleb DeKeyrel (Yamaha) 18:41.790
- Michael Barnes (Ducati) +0.683
- Alex Dumas (Suzuki) +0.846
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha) +7.934
- Kris Turner (Suzuki) +8.676
- Jason Madama (Yamaha) +9.668
- Chris Parrish (Suzuki) +10.222
- Cooper McDonald (Yamaha) +12.366
- Curtis Murray (Suzuki) +18.092
- Joseph Blasius (Suzuki) +32.487
Twins Cup Standings
- Michael Barnes 106
- Draik Beauchamp 88
- Alex Dumas 82
- Curtis Murray 79
- Chris Parrish 78
- Joseph Blasius 50
- Jason Madama 47
- Jeffrey Tigert 40
- Chris Bays 33
- Cooper McDonald 30
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race was another dominant performance by Kawasaki rider Rocco Landers, who started from the pole and led from start to finish to notch his seventh win out of nine races so far this year.
The order of finish for the other two podium finishers was hotly contested between Dallas Daniels and Kevin Olmedo. The two riders diced back and forth throughout most of the race, and Olmedo made a brave move on Daniels coming into the last turn on the final lap of the 12-lap contest, but Daniels was able to fend off his rival and cross the finish line second with Olmedo coming home third.
“My plan was to just go as fast as possible in the beginning, and make a little gap. I just tried to never look back. I didn’t believe it. Coming into the last corner, I was like, ‘I did not expect to do that.’ Then I just tried to push and tried to make really good lap times.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Race Result
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki) 19:38.466
- Dallas Daniels (Kawasaki) +9.270
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki) +9.333
- Josh Serne (Kawasaki) +15.522
- Karen Ogura (Yamaha) +22.980
- Dominic Doyle (Kawasaki) +22.984
- Jackson Blackmon (Kawasaki) +26.684
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki) +26.704
- Branden ketelsen (Kawasaki) +30.746
- Hunter Dunham (Kawasaki) +38.481
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Standings
- Rocco Landers 200
- Dallas Daniels 174
- Kevin Olmedo 113
- Dominic Doyle 81
- Gauge Rees 80
- Damian Jigalov 66
- Jackson Blackmon 63
- Samuel Lochoff 62
- Isaiah Burleson 51
- Toby Khamsouk 39