Round 7 – Championship of Sonoma
Images by Brian J. Nelson
The 2019 Championship of Sonoma, Round 7 of the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, saw Garrett Gerloff take the Saturday race win, with Toni Elias in tow, while Beaubier was a non-finish in a result that looked set to decide the Superbike championship.
Sunday’s Race 2 proved that anything can happen however, with Toni Elias crashing out and Beaubier taking the win, leaving Elias with a strong but not insurmountable lead, while Gerloff and Beaubier are separated by only six-points in the standings.
In the Supersport class Hayden Gillim took out the Race 1 win on Saturday from Bobby Fong and PJ Jacobsen, while Sunday Jacobsen claim the win from Fong and Bryce Prince, with Gillim having to settle for fourth. Andrew Lee claimed victory in the single Stock 1000 race of the weekend.
In the Liqui Moly Junior Cup Rocco Landers continued to build his lead with Kevin Olmedo his closest competitor over the weekend. Alex Dumas meanwhile took a clean win in the Twins Cup class, with a single race run and the rider holding a 12-second lead over second placed Draik Beauchamp.
Superbikes – Saturday
Toni Elias took a giant step towards winning his second MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike title in the Championship of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, the Spaniard finishing second to Garrett Gerloff while his main championship rival Cameron Beaubier crashed out of the race on lap two.
Elias’ second-place finish combined with Beaubier’s non-finish gives him a 59-point lead in the championship heading into Sunday’s second EBC Brakes Superbike race, 266-207.
While Elias may have gained the most on a sunny Saturday in Northern California’s wine country, the day belonged to Gerloff. Hot off his win in race two at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca a month ago, the Texan bested Elias by 10.3 second to take his second career EBC Brakes Superbike race win.
Gerloff was quick all day, ending up the second fastest qualifier behind his teammate Beaubier, the three-time series champion who had won the last four Superbike races held at Sonoma. Gerloff didn’t waste much time in taking the lead from Elias after Beaubier crashed out of the lead on the second lap – just moments after passing Elias.
In addition to taking his second win, Gerloff also took big gains in the title chase and is now just a single point behind Beaubier in third place with 206 points.
Third place today went to Mathew Scholtz, the South African besting JD Beach. Fifth place went to Jake Gagne in his best finish of the season. Max Flinders had his best career Superbike finish in sixth. Sam Verderico finished seventh in the race that featured an exorbitant amount of non-finishers. The non-finishers included Beaubier, Josh Herrin, Kyle Wyman, David Anthony, Jake Lewis and Cameron Petersen.
EBC Brakes Superbike Result – Saturday
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Suzuki) +10.369
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha) +21.193
- JD Beach (Yamaha) +27.084
- Jake Gagne (BMW) +50.380
Superbike – Sunday
Sunday’s race in the Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma was further proof that it truly ain’t over till it’s over. With most series observers, including Cameron Beaubier, thinking the 2019 MotoAmerica EBC Brake Superbike Championship was a foregone conclusion after Beaubier crashed out of Saturday’s race and championship leader Toni Elias won, suddenly it wasn’t.
Elias crashed out of Sunday’s race early and Beaubier rode to victory, his fifth in the last six Superbike races at Sonoma Raceway, and his third of the season. And just like that, the championship is back on with Elias leading Beaubier and his YZF-R1 by 34 points with three rounds and six races left in the title chase.
With fast-starter Beaubier leading, Elias crashed out of second place on the third lap. From there it was yesterday’s race winner Garrett Gerloff giving chase to Beaubier, the Texan putting up an admirable fight until losing front tire grip that forced him to slow his pace. That allowed Beaubier to cruise to a 5.281-second win, pocketing the 25 championship points that come with it.
“It just feels really good to get a win today after crashing three laps in yesterday, especially just after kind of being in a rut lately. I saw plus 3.5 on my board and I was like, ‘Let’s just take this home.’ It feels really good. Obviously, it’s unfortunate I crashed yesterday. I thought it was pretty much all over points-wise going into today. I think it was good for me,though, because I just went out with the intention to win. Don’t go ride careful or nothing like that. Just put your head down and go race. Go race to win. I felt like I rode loose. I felt like I rode good. We’re back in it.”
Gerloff had a solid weekend at Sonoma and leaves Northern California with a win and a second place.
“My team gave me an awesome bike today, I really felt good on it. Wasn’t too different from yesterday. Yesterday I ran the softest front compound there was, and it ended up shredding on me at the end of the race. I tried the little bit harder compound this morning and just hated it. I didn’t like it. I was hoping that with the higher temperature today and stuff that the soft would maybe go a little bit longer, and I think it did but just not the whole race. It sucks. I wish I could have adapted a little bit better to the green tire this morning, but we just didn’t want to take the chance. I felt good at the beginning of the race. Ran off in the chicane on the fifth lap or sixth lap, which helped him (Beaubier) get out a little bit farther in front. Just did everything I could to try to kind of reel him back in. Felt like I was, to a certain extent, but then with like nine laps to go, my front was just so gone that I had trouble just turning the bike into the chicane and the last corner. Just really heavy braking front load corners. That was it. Kind of sucks, but we learned a lot this weekend. It was still a good weekend. First and second is not too bad. It’s cool that we’re right there in the championship, more or less. It feels good. Just try to keep taking steps forward. I’m really excited for Pittsburgh. It’s a track I really like. See how it goes there.”
Third place on Sunday went to Josh Herrin, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider making up for yesterday’s first-lap crash.
“It feels good, it sucks coming in being on a factory team and seeing these guys that are expecting a win and not doing good. Not to say that third is great, but I think all of us could say at the team that it feels pretty good today. This weekend hasn’t been good at all. A lot of people have been struggling, besides these two. Like I said, it feels really good. I’m happy to be up here. Hopefully Pittsburgh treats me a little bit better and we can be fighting up there with these guys at least. That would feel really good if we could at least see them at the end of the race. Thanks to the entire team for putting in all the work. I know it sucks being out in the heat and then having to repair a bike all night, so thank you to Jimmy, Frenchie, Ollie, Davey, all the guys, Scott, for putting in the work. Congrats to these guys. I look forward to going to Pittsburgh.”
As much as he gained in Saturday’s race, Elias lost in Sunday’s.
“We made a little change to the front fork, I was feeling comfortable because I went with the medium tire and I was expecting a great race from mid-race to the end. I was in a good rhythm behind Cameron (Beaubier). I didn’t feel like I was pushing. I didn’t feel like I made a mistake or braked too late, but maybe with the change I did in the front, it was too hard and I just lost the front in one of the bumps. I’m sorry for the team, but I want to look in a positive way. We still have a 34-point lead. It’s not 59 like it was yesterday, but it’s still 34. We still have six races and we’ll see what happens.”
Fourth place went to Mathew Scholtz, the South African finishing third on Saturday. Scholtz battled with Herrin for most of the race and also had JD Beach nipping at his heels for the duration. Beach ended up just over a second behind in fifth place, a day after the Kentuckian finished fourth.
Jake Gagne was sixth, some four seconds ahead of Cameron Petersen. David Anthony rebounded from a crash in yesterday’s race to finish eighth. Jeremy Coffey and Sam Verderico rounded out the top 10.
With the series heading to Pittsburgh International Race Complex in two weeks, Elias leads the title chase, 266-232, over Beaubier with Gerloff third on 226. Beach is fourth with 159 points, 11 better than Herrin.
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) +5.281
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki) +21.832
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha) +26.470
- JD Beach (Yamaha) +27.796
EBC Brakes Superbike Standings
- Toni Elias 266
- Cameron Beaubier 232
- Garrett Gerloff 226
- JD Beach 159
- Josh Herrin 148
- Mathew Scholtz 139
- Jake Lewis 121
- Cameron Petersen 90
- David Anthony 84
- Jake Gagne 83
- Max Flinders 65
Supersport – Saturday
After the Supersport race was red-flagged because of a crash on the first lap, it was re-started, and Hayden Gillim went to the front and hung on to a narrow lead to capture his fifth win of the season.
Second-place finisher and current championship leader Bobby Fong closed the gap to Gillim as the laps wound down and brought his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki home in second. As a result, Gillim closed the points gap to just 13 behind Fong. Third place went to PJ Jacobsen.
Supersport Race Result – Saturday
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki) +0.102
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha) +3.089
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha) +7.213
- Joshua Hayes (Yamaha) +10.692
Supersport – Sunday
In Sunday’s Supersport race, PJ Jacobsen notched his second win of the season after passing Bobby Fong late in the race. Fong, who is leading the championship, tried a couple of times to get back around Jacobsen, but he used discretion to maintain his second-place position rather than put valuable points in jeopardy. Bryce Prince put his Yamaha on the podium in third.
“Right from the beginning with the bike I felt really good. It was weird. In the beginning, everyone was running low 40s, high 39s. The pace was really slow. When that was happening, I felt really good. So, I just wanted to move to the front. I haven’t been there so much, but I just decided I wanted to go to the front and just try to lead this thing until the end, and I just pushed as hard as I could. The team, Celtic HSBK Racing, gave me a great bike today. We made some changes overnight, really just with some gearing and a little bit of the suspension. It was working really good. I’m pretty pumped. Also, Jake Zemke helped me with some line choices. I was struggling in the esses with these guys yesterday. So, I think I got everything pretty right today.”
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki) +8.196
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha) +10.988
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha) +11.737
- Joshua Hayes (Yamaha) +15.613
- Bobby Fong 200
- Hayden Gillim 180
- P.J. Jacobsen 164
- Richie Escalante 136
- Sean Dylan Kelly 125
- Bryce Prince 117
- Joshua Hayes 105
- Jason Aguilar 84
- Nick McFadden 83
- Lucas Silva 58
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Saturday
In Liqui Moly Junior Cup race one, Rocco Landers won his eighth race out of 10 so far this season, and though he notched the victory in dominant fashion, it was not without drama.
The Californian had a couple of “moments” during the nine-lap event where he and his Kawasaki were not in sync, but the talented 14-year-old maintained his composure to take the checkers by a little over one and a half seconds over second-place finisher Kevin Olmedo. Third place went to Marc Edwards, the local rider also aboard a Kawasaki.
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Race 1
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki) +1.513
- Marc Edwards (Kawasaki) +1.584
- Josh Serne (Kawasaki) +1.659
- Brenden Ketelsen (Kawasaki) +7.089
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Sunday
Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race-two podium was a carbon copy of Saturday’s result. Rocco Landers tallied his ninth win out of 11 races so far this season, but the 12-lap event was a battle between him and Kevin Olmedo, who led the majority of the laps.
Landers seemed to be biding his time, and on the final lap, he pounced and passed Olmedo for the lead, and ultimately, the win. Local rider Marc Edwards matched his third-place finish on Saturday with another third place on Sunday aboard his Kawasaki.
“I didn’t have an exact plan as to what corner I’d pass him in, but the couple laps to the end, I just started trying to see what was going on, just tried to step back and think about it, I really wanted to see what I could do. On the last lap there, I was just following him a little bit. Coming up towards the end, I was like, ‘I got a good run. Just see what happens here.’ I came up on him and got by him. It was a very fun race. He was going so fast, and so was everyone.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki) +0.219
- Marc Edwards (Kawasaki) +19.408
- Brenden Ketelsen (Kawasaki) +20.161
- Josh Serne (Kawasaki) +30.698
Liqui Moly Junior Cup Standings
- Rocco Landers 250
- Dallas Daniels 174
- Kevin Olmedo 153
- Gauge Rees 98
- Dominic Doyle 81
- Jackson Blackmon 79
- Damian Jigalov 72
- Marc Edwards 63
- Samuel Lochoff 62
- Brenden Ketelsen 57
Stock 1000 – Sunday
The weekend’s Stock 1000 race saw local rider, defending class champion, and current points leader Andrew Lee get his fourth victory of the season with a dominant performance that saw him start from the pole, get the holeshot into turn one, and lead every one of the 14 laps to the checkers aboard his Kawasaki.
Michael Gilbert also rode his Kawasaki to second place after getting by Geoff May with just two laps to go in the race. May finished third to round out the podium.
“The Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki crew has been working really hard lately, getting a bike underneath me that I can go out there and ride to my full potential today. The bike was just feeling really great. I got a good start, and I knew these guys were going to be breathing down my neck. After qualifying, I felt like I had some pretty good pace underneath me. I was looking at the pit board and I was like, ‘Man.’ The grip wasn’t great for me. I was just clicking my markers and getting lap in, lap out, just trying to stay consistent. I’m just happy to come away with three wins in a row. So, hopefully, moving forward we can keep it going.”
Stock 1000 Race Results
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki) +7.608
- Geoff May (Kawasaki) +11.472
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki) +17.123
- Travis Wyman (BMW) +23.288
Stock 1000 Standings
Twins Cup – Sunday
The Twins Cup race saw a big shakeup in the championship after points leader Michael Barnes’ Ducati had a technical issue, which took him out of the race lead, out of the race, and unfortunately, out of the championship lead.
Alex Dumas then took over the lead, put his head down, and stretched out a gap of more than 12-seconds by the time he took the checkers. Second place went to Draik Beauchamp, while Joseph Blasius finished a close third.
The race result vaulted Beauchamp into the championship lead with 108 points, Dumas is in second with 107-points, and Barnes was shuffled down to third in the standings. But, he has 106-points, so only three points separate the top three title contenders.
“Michael (Barnes) passed me on the first lap coming into the last corner, he was going pretty fast. I followed him for two or three laps until he had a problem. I didn’t know if I could win. I was catching him at some places on the track where I was faster, and he was pulling a gap on me at other places. It was really hard to just keep up with him and stay behind him really close to make a pass. It was pretty much a lonely race at the end. I just took it home, and I’m really happy.”
Twins Cup Race Result
- Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha) +12.521
- Joseph Blasius (Suzuki) +13.334
- Kris Turner (Suzuki) +24.891
- Jason Madama (Yamaha) +31.790
Twins Cup Standings
- Draik Beauchamp 108
- Alex Dumas 107
- Michael Barnes 106
- Curtis Murray 89
- Chris Parrish 78
- Joseph Blasius 66
- Jason Madama 58
- Kris Turner 42
- Jeffrey Tigert 40
- Cooper McDonald 38