Toni Elias has a knack for dominating the opening round of the MotoAmerica Series and in his first two years most attributed that to his speed at the Circuit of The Americas where he is a perfect four-for-four. The defending champion put paid to this perspective, by taking a clean sweep at the opening round of the 2018 MotoAmerica championship at Road Atlanta, for a strong start to the season.
Meanwhile in the Supersport class, JD Beach took the Race 1 win in the dry, while Jayden Gillim fought back for the Race 2 win on Sunday in the wet.
Motul Superbike Race 1
Defending MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Champion Toni Elias started the 2018 MotoAmerica season with a bang in the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta, the Spaniard riding to a 5.123-second victory to begin his title defense.
Elias led the Motul Superbike race from the beginning, was hounded from behind by Mathew Scholtz early on, but eventually pulled away to win the 17th Superbike race of his career on a partially sunny day at Road Atlanta by a tad over five seconds.
Scholtz, who had a brief moment at the front when he passed Elias on the fifth lap, ended up an impressive second in his Superbike debut.
Third place went to another Superbike rookie, Garrett Gerloff. Gerloff was 12.9 seconds behind Elias at the finish, but some 10.5 seconds ahead of fourth-placed Bobby Fong on the Yamaha YZF-R1.
Fifth place went to Jake Lewis, the Kentuckian chasing Fong to the finish and well clear of Kyle Wyman Racing’s Kyle Wyman. Wyman was 7.3 seconds ahead of Danny Eslick. David Anthony was eighth.
And what of two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier and last year’s championship runner-up Roger Hayden? Beaubier crashed on the opening lap, remounted and finished ninth. Hayden also crashed early but was unable to continue as his Yoshimura Suzuki was too damaged to ride. Cameron Petersen was another first-lap crasher, the South African going down at high speed.
Tenth place went to Josh Herrin, the 2013 Superbike Champion riding his track bike – a Yamaha YZF-R1S – as his racebike is stuck in a broken-down truck in Louisiana.
MotoAmerica Superbike Race 1 – Atlanta
Motul Superbike Race 2
On the heels of his dry win yesterday, Elias came back today in the rain and hunted down Cameron Beaubier, stalking the two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion and passing him on the inside into turn one to start the 17th of 18 laps. He then put his head down and rode a perfect lap to beat Beaubier to the finish line by 1.639 seconds for the 18th win of his Superbike career.
“It’s been a perfect weekend for us, I didn’t expect to win a wet race. It’s been since 2001. So, it was really important for us. The wet condition is always difficult. The bike was good at the beginning, but I needed more confidence. Cameron (Beaubier) and Roger (Hayden) helped me to find my pace, and at the end of the race, I was able to go a little bit more. Many thanks to my team. They did a really great job, in the wet and dry, during this winter, and I am happy. There are a lot of fast guys, and we will have to fight a lot, but we will be consistent.”
Beaubier was second and fairly pleased with his effort, considering he had three crashes this weekend including one in the rain this morning. Beaubier took over at the front when Elias’ Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden crashed out of the lead on the ninth lap in the chicane. Beaubier held the lead until Elias went by.
“I was just happy to get through the race without falling down like I did pretty much every session this weekend. First of all, a big thanks to my guys for patching up my bike, time after time. The crash this morning wasn’t too bad, but the crash on Friday, it beat some stuff up. Big thanks to them. I’m happy to get out of here with a second place, and to salvage what I could from this rough weekend. I’m excited to go to COTA. At the beginning of the race, I was pretty nervous going into it after falling over this morning, and with so much standing water in the first section. I just slowly got going, and Herrin came past me and Toni came past me, Rog (Hayden), and then, I started figuring things out, getting comfortable, and got in behind Rog, who was riding really good until he hit the stream (of water) in 10 and fell down. So, I found myself in the lead, and I was kind of running wide here and there, and I saw my gap opening up, and I was kind of surprised to see that. The gap started closing up, and I was like, ‘Oh, here comes Toni.’ And, I just didn’t have anything for him. On the last lap, I was already riding pretty tight, and I was struggling with trust in the front tire. I’m just happy to be up here and get out of here and salvage some points.”
Mathew Scholtz had an eventful ride to third place, the South African forced off track to avoid the crashing Jake Lewis in turn one to start the race. After a run through the Georgia mud, Scholtz recovered and worked his way through the pack to finish on the podium for the second straight day.
Kyle Wyman ended his weekend with a fourth-place finish after soldiering through the miserable conditions and bettering his fifth place from yesterday’s series opener.
Hayden was able to remount from his crash to finish fifth and salvage 11 points after crashing out of yesterday’s race and not earning any points. Sixth went to Josh Herrin, the Georgian riding his track bike again today and running with the front group early in the race. Herrin looked to have third or fourth in the bag but his R1 ran into mechanical problems that slowed his progress.
Herrin was the last rider on the lead lap in what was a race of attrition with four of the top men crashing (Danny Eslick, David Anthony, Jake Lewis and Garrett Gerloff, though Gerloff was able to remount to finish ninth). Bobby Fong didn’t make the start on his Quicksilver/LEXIN/Hudson Motorcycles Yamaha.
Elias leaves the Peach State with a perfect 50 points – 14 more than Scholtz’ 36 points. Beaubier is third with 27 points, four better than his teammate Gerloff and Wyman, the pair tied for fourth with 23 points.
MotoAmerica Superbike Race 2 – Atlanta
Supersport Race 1
JD Beach started fast and finished fast to win the opening round of the Supersport Series. And, in between, he was hounded mercifully by his friend Hayden Gillim. At the finish line of the red-flag interrupted race it was Beach over Gillim by just .223 of a second.
Third place went to Cory West, the racing veteran filling in admirably for the injured Valetin Debise. West was some 6.5 seconds behind Beach and just .131 of a second ahead of Nick McFadden in his first outing in the Supersport class. McFadden won both Superstock 600 races here a season ago.
Braeden Ortt rounded out the top five finishers in the red-flag interrupted race. Ortt had crashed out of the first part, taking Gillim with him. But both riders were fortunate that Michael Gilbert’s crash brought out the red flag that allowed them to restart with the rest of the field. Gilbert suffered facial injuries in his accident, but no broken bones.
MotoAmerica Supersport Race 1 – Atlanta
Anthony III Mazziotto
Supersport Race 2
JD Beach beat his friend and neighbor Hayden Gillim to take victory in the opening race of the 2018 MotoAmerica Supersport season. Today, Gillim turned the tables on Beach, winning his first race in four years on a rainy day at Road Atlanta.
Beach again had the fast start, but Gillim reeled him in and passed him in the final corner on the fourth lap. From there he was never headed, and he rode away to an 11.7-second win over Beach.
“I wish I could have put up more of a fight yesterday with JD (Beach) there at the end of the race. It would have made it a little better show for everybody, but I didn’t have anything for him yesterday. He was so strong on the brakes and, today, it just felt like I had a little bit of extra confidence going into the last corner. I was right behind (Beach), and I tried to squeeze it in there, and it worked. I like the rain. Whenever there’s rain in the forecast, I’m secretly back in the back praying and hoping that it comes down. Today was awesome. It’s my first win in four years, and it’s on a 600 again, and I am loving riding this thing. I’m just so pumped right now. Hopefully, it doesn’t change anything between JD and I (laughs). We’ll see how that goes when we get home.”
Third place went to Ashton Yates, the son of former National Champion Aaron Yates, and in doing so he became the first MotoAmerica rider to podium in two different classes on the same day. Earlier in the day, Yates had won the Liqui Moly Junior Cup race on his Kawasaki Ninja 400.
Anthony Mazziotto III and Richie Escalante rounded out the top five finishers in the wet race. Gillim and Beach are tied at the top of the championship after the first two races of the season with 45 points, 21 points ahead of yesterday’s third-place finishers Cory West finishing eighth in race two. Yates is fourth in the series standings in his first season in the Supersport class.
MotoAmerica Supersport Race 2 – Atlanta
Anthony III Mazziotto
Travis Wyman returned to the MotoAmerica paddock in style on Sunday at Road Atlanta, the younger brother of Superbike racer Kyle Wyman riding his BMW S 1000 RR to victory in the first-ever Stock 1000 race.
Wyman ended up 5.6 seconds clear of runner-up Andrew Lee on the Andrew Lee Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R. Third place today went to Big ‘un Motorsports’ Timothy Bemisderfer on a Suzuki GSX-R1000.
MotoAmerica Superstock Race – Atlanta
Junior Cup Race 1
Alex Dumas rode his Orange Brigade/JP43 Training KTM to victory in the first-ever Liqui Moly Junior Cup class, the 15-year-old French Canadian besting Yates Racing’s Ashton Yates and his Kawasaki by 5.306 seconds. Ghilliman Racing’s Sean Ungvarsky rode his KTM RC390 R to third place – 35.535 seconds behind his pseudo teammate.
Fourth place went to Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Jamie Astudillo, the female racer having by far her best performance in a road race on her new Kawasaki Ninja 400. Astudillo barely beat the first Yamaha in the race, the MP13 Racing R3 ridden to fifth by last year’s KTM RC Cup Series runner-up Cory Ventura.
MotoAmerica Junior Cup Race 1 – Atlanta
Junior Cup Race 2
Ashton Yates won the wet Junior Cup race on Sunday at Road Atlanta, but it was Jamie Astudillo who made history. Astudillo finished third behind Yates and Sean Ungvarsky to become the first female racer to stand on the podium in a MotoAmerica race.
Yates was unstoppable in the rain, a day after he finished second to Alex Dumas in the dry. Once in the lead, the Georgian rode off into the distance and ended up taking victory by 13.29 seconds. Ungvarsky, meanwhile, had his hands full with Astudillo, with the KTM rider beating Astudillo and her Kawasaki by just .229 of a second. Jay Newton was just as close in fourth place. Jackson Blackmon ended up fifth after starting from well back on the grid after mechanical problems curtailed most of his weekend.
Yates leads the title chase 45-36 over Ungvarsky. Astudillo is third with 29 points.
MotoAmerica Junior Cup Race 2 – Atlanta
Ghetto Custom’s Chris Parrish rode his Suzuki SV650 to a narrow .057 of a second victory over the Yamaha FZ-07 of Jason Madama, the two fighting it out all the way to a photo finish at the end of the 12-lap race at Road Atlanta.
Madama was a Yamaha sandwich between the Suzuki bread with Curtis Murray riding his SV650 to third place after a mistake cost him the chance to run with the top two. Murray was 4.7 seconds behind at the finish. Shane Perry and Dustin Ducote rounded out the top five. Both were Suzuki SV650 mounted.
MotoAmerica Twins Cup Race – Atlanta
The MotoAmerica Motul Superbike class will race alongside the MotoGP at Circuit of The Americas next weekend. The rest of the MotoAmerica classes will resume their battles May 4-6.
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