2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship
Round 8 – New Jersey Motorsports Park
Images by Brian J. Nelson
Jake Gagne wrapped up the MotoAmerica Superbike championship at New Jersey Motorsports Park, winning three from three races, despite only needing two additional points after his first race win. The victories see him finish the round on 400-points, with Scholtz a comfortable second on 292, while Petersen is third overall.
Gagne winning his 16th race of the season matches the record held jointly by Josh Hayes and Cameron Beaubier for Superbike wins in a single season, while also tying three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey’s mark for career victories.
Sean Dylan Kelly also brought home the Supersport title, winning Race 1 by the smallest of margins, 0.001s, while Sam Lochoff took the Race 2 win. The result saw Dylan Kelly 70-points ahead of his next nearest rival, Escalante, with Lochoff third.
Jake Lewis won the single Stock 1000 race run, while Corey Ventura and Tommaso Marcon shared the Twin wins, with Kaleb De Keyrel bringing home the title in the Aprilia dominated class. Tyler Scott won both Junior races by a large margin, extending his lead over injured Gloddy.
In HONOS Superbike race one on Saturday afternoon, Gagne and his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha again made a mockery of the rest of the field as he led all 20 laps in winning his 14th straight race by 7.6 seconds. After 15 races, Gagne leads the championship point standings by a whopping 98 points, needing just two points to claim the title.
Only a brave man would bet against Gagne winning his 15th and 16th straight races tomorrow and the Californian doesn’t seem to be willing to let someone else win. Second place on Saturday went to Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African taking the runner-up spot for the fifth time on the season as he solidifies his stranglehold on second in the championship.
Toni Elias had his third outing on the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha and he put it on the podium for the second time, the Spaniard ending up third, some four seconds adrift of Scholtz and just .132 of a second ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong.
Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz finished fifth and some 10 seconds behind Fong after topping the third Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha ridden by the returning Josh Herrin by just .051 of a second.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen was seventh, well clear of One Cure Ducati’s Kyle Wyman who was less than a second ahead of Superbike Cup winner Jake Lewis and his Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000. FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ Bradley Ward rounded out the top 10.
Honos Superbike Races 2 & 3
Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Gagne won both HONOS Superbike races at NJMP on Sunday after winning the lone race on Saturday in MotoAmerica’s Superbike tripleheader. The two wins were his 15th and 16th on the season (those are also his career win marks in the class) and the first victory on Sunday morning is the one that earned him the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike crown.
“Even on the bad years, I’m racing motorcycles. It’s what I love to do. It’s fun. It’s sure a lot more fun when we’ve got a winning motorcycle, a winning team, and we can manage to get some wins. It’s been an incredible year. I wouldn’t have thought going in that we would be 15 wins deep. It’s pretty surreal. Again, hats off to this team because the guys are working so hard, and the bike has been super, super dialed in. We keep trying to go faster. These guys are always chasing us down and we’ve got no choice but to keep trying to go. But it’s amazing. We got another race today, so it hasn’t quite set in yet. We’ve got some work to do this afternoon because I know it’s not going to be easy, so we’ll roll on to race two.”
As he has done all year long, Gagne dominated and again led every single lap of both races en route to the two wins. Gagne has now led 273 consecutive laps in the 2021 season.
The two Superbike podiums on Sunday were identical with Gagne leading Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Josh Herrin in both.
For Scholtz it was a solid day as he managed to keep Gagne in sight in both races, finishing 9.5 seconds behind in race two and 6.5 seconds behind in race three.
Herrin, meanwhile, was in his comeback weekend after suffering from COVID-19 that forced him out of two rounds of the series. If Herrin’s life wasn’t hectic enough in the past few months, his wife, Rachel, also gave birth to the couple’s first child this week. He put in a tough day’s work on Sunday, however, and came out on top of two hard-fought battles with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz.
With Baz finishing fourth in both races, it was M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen who finished fifth in both. Sixth place was different, however, with Scheibe Racing’s Hector Barbera earning the spot in race two and Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Toni Elias besting the Spaniard for the spot in race three.
One Cure Ducati’s Kyle Wyman ended the day with seventh- and eighth-place finishes with Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis finishing eighth in race two.
Ninth place in race two went to Jones Honda’s Ashton Yates with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong finishing ninth in race three. Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert was 10th in race two with Tecfil Racing Team’s Danilo Lewis 10th in race three.
In Supersport race one, the expected battle between points leader Sean Dylan Kelly aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki and defending champion Richie Escalante aboard his HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki manifested itself in a big way during the 19-lap event.
Before that, it was Kelly’s teammate Sam Lochoff who had the best race of his MotoAmerica career so far. The South African led the race multiple times and mixed it up with both Kelly and Escalante. On the final lap, Kelly and Escalante established themselves at the front, and the battle was on.
The season-long rivals swapped the lead at least four times on the final go-around, and Kelly ultimately prevailed by a scant .001 of a second to notch his 11th win of the season thus far and move even closer to clinching the season championship.
Supersport Race 2
In Sunday’s Supersport race two, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s two-rider team took all the headlines for the 19-lap event as Sam Lochoff won his first-ever MotoAmerica race and Sean Dylan Kelly clinched the 2021 Supersport Championship with his second-place finish.
HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki rider Richie Escalante finished third, but the defending champion did not surrender his class title without a fight in every race so far this season, including Sunday’s. There were lead changes aplenty throughout the entire race, and all three riders took turns at the front.
Sean Dylan Kelly
“This is a dream come true to get this championship. To now be crowned national champion is a dream. I’ve been working really hard for this. Not only me, but everyone around me. My family, ever since I started racing when I was five, they have given literally everything they had. They left everything behind in the U.S. They took me to Spain. They lived there with pennies. Everything for me, for this passion, for this dream. This is one of the first steps. It’s emotional. It’s something that I’ve been working really hard for. Last year, I really wanted to be the one to be crowned. I worked hard, but it clearly wasn’t enough. At one point I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be difficult. What’s my pathway?’ But, I didn’t stop believing. I kept on working. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki gave me another chance, another opportunity. (Team owners) John and Chris (Ulrich), I need to thank them from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity for the past two years. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them. Thank you very much to them. Thank you to everyone that has been behind me, my parents, my family, my friends, my supporters…Like I said up there on the podium, this is only my first national championship, and I’m going to keep on going. I’m not going to stop. My next goal is to be world champion, wherever it needs to be.”
“It’s the second-to-last race of the season, but honestly that was our goal in the beginning of the year. Our goal was to try to get on the podium towards the end of the year, but when I saw that I was getting on the podium in the beginning of the year, I knew that maybe by this race or Barber I’d be able to win. Yesterday seeing that I was really close to the front for the majority of the laps, and only the last couple laps losing quite a bit to them, I knew today I just had to dig a little bit deeper, and it paid off. Honestly, it took everything out of me. I have a week now, or a couple days to get ready for Barber. We’re going to just relax, just get the body ready. I think, if we can get on the podium again or maybe win or come second, I think for next year I’ll have a good chance at maybe getting a championship.”
Ask any motorcycle road racer, and pretty much all of them will say that the best way to wrap up a championship is to win the race when you clinch overall victory. And that’s exactly what happened for Altus Motorsports Suzuki rider Jake Lewis in the weekend’s only Stock 1000 race.
Lewis had the best day of his MotoAmerica career with the win and the championship, but his closest rival Corey Alexander unfortunately had one of his worst days. Aboard his “Engine 23” HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki – which featured special fire engine-inspired livery in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 – had a technical issue with his bike on the grid and was unable to start the race.
Second place went to Jones Honda’s Ashton Yates, who led a large portion of the 15-lap race until Lewis ultimately passed him and went on to the get the win. Meanwhile, the surprise of the day was third-place finisher Mike Selpe, who put his Markbilt Racing Yamaha on the podium in his first-ever MotoAmerica race.
The Twins Cup class has seen an influx of new riders all season long, and for round eight of the championship, Aprilia test rider Tommaso Marcon raced for Robem Engineering, while Cory Ventura, who podiumed twice in Supersport at Laguna Seca in his only other appearance this season, competed for Veloce Racing.
It was a case of bad news/good news for the pair of Aprilia RS 660 riders as Marcon crashed out of the 14-lap event, while Ventura won the race. And while Ventura celebrated on the top step of the podium, second-place finisher Kaleb De Keyrel celebrated the class championship that he clinched aboard his Robem Engineering Aprilia. Also celebrating was De Keyrel’s teammate Max Toth, who got his first Twins Cup podium finish in only his second race in the class.
“All weekend long I’ve been facing issues with my shifter. I’m not good when it comes to downshifting. I’ve had years in the past where it’s been a huge struggle of mine, and once I got on (a Kawasaki in Supersport), I didn’t have that issue anymore. Here we are again. It kind of caught me by surprise. As soon as I go to focus on racing and what’s in front of me, I forget about making positive shifts. So, tomorrow I need to make sure I get that dialed in and figured out. But to be honest, I don’t think I was riding too well. I think there was a lot of time out of the racetrack and so a lot of battles to be had. Tomorrow we’ve got to come back swinging because there’s no way what I did today is going to win tomorrow’s race.”
Kaleb De Keyrel
“Half of me wanted to win and half of me wanted to play it safe. I was definitely going for the win. Cory was riding awesome. Max got by me, and he was riding really good. Definitely stepped it up from last weekend, so that was cool to see. All three Robem Engineering bikes were up front, so that was really good for us. There were definitely some points in the race where I was like, I really want to win, but we’re pushing really hard here. Then Tommaso threw it away. Something happened to Mazziotto, I think. I was like, okay, there’s a lot on the line here, so I was kind of trying to plan my move where I could. I really did want to win. Like I said, the whole race, half of me wanted to win, half of me wanted to just play it safe, but I gave it everything I had out there. Cory was riding awesome, so congrats to him. We’ll hopefully work on the setup a little bit and come out swinging for tomorrow.”
Twins Cup Race 2
Talk about saving the best for last. The final race of the weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park was in Twins Cup, and it was arguably the best race of the entire event, not to mention the best race in that class all year. Which is saying something considering that MotoAmerica’s “tuner class” always puts on a good show for the fans.
The battle at the front was fierce between Aprilia riders Tommaso Marcon, Anthony Mazziotto, and Max Toth. Marcon, who is an Aprilia test rider in Italy and is racing with Robem Engineering at the final two rounds of the MotoAmerica season, got the win by just .049 of a second over local rider Mazziotto, who competes for Veloce Racing. Marcon’s teammate Max Toth, who also recently joined Robem Engineering, finished third for the second day in a row and only his third race in the class.
In SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup race one, Scott Powersports KTM rider Tyler Scott and Landers Racing Kawasaki’s Ben Gloddy were expected to continue their season-long fight for the championship, but a fractured wrist suffered by Gloddy a couple of weeks ago prevented Gloddy from finishing higher than fourth, and he was more than eight-and-a-half seconds behind race-winner Scott when the 13-lap event concluded.
While Scott tallied his eighth win of the season, the rest of the podium was a battle between Rodio Racing Kawasaki’s Gus Rodio and Bauce Racing/Cybersafe Solutions/JL62 Racing Kawasaki’s Joe LiMandri Jr. At the finish line, Rodio prevailed in second place by just .024 of a second over third-place finisher LiMandri Jr.
Junior Cup Race 2
In Sunday’s SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup race two, Scott Powersports KTM rider Tyler Scott won his ninth race of the season and extended his points lead to 30 over Landers Racing Kawasaki’s Ben Gloddy, who finished third on Sunday for his 14th podium finish this year.
Local rider Gus Rodio, who won at Road America earlier this season, came in second aboard his Rodio Racing Kawasaki for the second day in a row.
“I knew Ben had difficulties after the warmup lap yesterday. So, I knew today he was going to be there and fighting really hard for the podium and (to get) the points back, so I put my head down and saw three seconds on the board, so I just tried to keep pushing and get the win.”
At the checkered flag, Scott won by a little more than seven seconds over Rodio, while Gloddy was another eight seconds behind Rodio.
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