Toni Elias and Cameron Beaubier Split MotoAmerica Wins At Road Atlanta
Claudio Corti, Josh Herrin, Travis Wyman and Brandon Paasch take support class wins
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias won his third straight race to start his debut season of racing in the 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship, but defending series champion Cameron Beaubier turned the tables in race two as his miserable luck of the new season finally turned for the better at Road Atlanta.
Elias may have won race one in the Suzuki Superbike Shootout of Georgia after Beaubier was knocked out of the lead in a two-rider crash with his Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes, but then it was Elias’ turn to show a chink in his armor as he crashed out of race two.
With Elias, Hayes and Beaubier all suffering crashes, the man who emerged from Road Atlanta with the biggest smile on his face was Roger Hayden, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider leap-frogging to the top of the championship table after two rounds and four races. Hayden, with his four podium finishes in four races, heads the points table with 76 points – one better than his teammate Elias. Hayes is third with 52 points and Beaubier, who is 38 points behind Hayden, is all the way back in seventh. But it could have been worse for the defending champion if Elias had finished race two.
Both races were thrillers with the top four together for the majority of both. Leading on the 13th lap, Beaubier was hit from behind by Hayes and the pair tumbled off into the gravel on the exit of turn 10B. Hayden took over at the front, but Elias was with him and with a few laps to go the former World Champion took over and held on to win by .343 of a second.
“My plan was not this one,” Elias said. “I’d been surprised at the beginning. In turn one I had been struggling a lot all weekend. I wasn’t surprised when Roger (Hayden) passed me. Today in warm-up he was really fast. He could stay with us for the race and he showed me on the second lap. After that I made a mistake and I lose one second, one second and a half, and in two laps I could catch the group again and that gave me a lot of motivation. I could catch again, especially the last section, but I suffer all day. I try to keep calm and try to not come too tired, I have arm pump. Finally, I push and where I want to pass Roger every lap was yellow flags, yellow flags, yellow flags. I did my best and he was there all the time. We got lucky because the Yamaha guys crashed and I’m sorry because they had good rhythm.”
Jake Gagne rode the Broaster Chicken/Roadrace Factory Yamaha R1 to third and his first career Superbike podium. Fourth place and top Bazzaz Superstock 1000 rider was Italian Claudio Corti, the HSBK Aprilia rider coming out on top of an epic battle with Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin, Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong and MotoEverything/DieselOps Racing’s Taylor Knapp.
Cycle World Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim ended up eighth with Team Rabid Transit’s Sheridan Morais and Millennium Technologies/KWR’s Kyle Wyman rounding out the top 10.
In race two Beaubier wasn’t to be denied, the Californian battling with his teammate Hayes for the duration with Hayden lurking in their shadow. Elias was with the three until running through the grass in the esses, first falling back and then starting to reel the lead trio back in. But things went bad for the Spaniard on the 14th lap as he crashed out of fourth place in turn six.
Beaubier fought off Hayes’s challenge to win by .415 of a second with Hayden a close third. It was the 12th Superbike win of Beaubier’s career, which puts him in a tie with MotoAmerica rider representative Doug Chandler for 14th on the all-time list.
“At the time, I’m not gonna lie, a little bit,” Beaubier said when asked if he wanted to smack Hayes after being struck from behind by his teammate in race one. “It happened. Obviously, Josh has been racing for a long time, I look up to the guy and he would never do that on purpose, obviously. It’s just something I want to put behind me and move on. We’re both safe, we’re both good. Obviously, it sucks that we didn’t get any points out of the race, but it’s just time to move on. I’m really happy to get on the podium and to get a win after the disaster of a weekend we had in COTA and in the first race. All in all, I felt good and it was an awesome race. It was pretty fun dicing back and forth with Josh and I knew Rog was right there behind us too. It seemed like Josh had his spots and there were spots where I knew I was better than him. It felt good to actually pass Josh decently on the brakes too because I’ve struggled with that in the past.”
Fourth place went to Herrin, the Georgian taking top Bazzaz Superstock 1000 honors in the process as it was his turn to head the pack of Corti, Fong and Gagne across the line. Gillim and Morais rounded out the top 10.
Fong continues to lead the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 with 66 points to Herrin’s 56 points. Corti is third with 45 points.
Today’s Supersport race was won by Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff, the Texan keeping his perfect season intact as he won his third race in three starts. In an identical result as yesterday’s first Supersport race, Gerloff beat M4 Sportbike TrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valentin Debise and defending class champion JD Beach. Again, his margin of victory was an impressive 10.3 seconds.
“Two rounds in so it’s still super early,” Gerloff said. “But I’m having fun though and really enjoying riding my bike right now. Everything is working pretty good right now. As far as the race today, I found it a little harder to be more consistent. The first couple of laps were a little bit faster than yesterday so that felt good, but after that I kinda struggled to be as consistent as I was yesterday. Toward the end of the race I was able to get more in the zone and hit my marks. The race actually felt shorter. All in all, it was a good day and a good weekend and I’m looking forward to going to New Jersey, which is a track I like.”
Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts and Debise’s M4 teammate Cameron Petersen rounded out the top five finishers.
Gerloff now has a perfect 75 points in the championship. He’s 19 points clear of Debise and 23 ahead of Beach.
The Superstock 600 win went to Kyle Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman, the Las Vegas resident ending up seventh overall and 3.2 seconds ahead of yesterday’s winner Bryce Prince. Xavier Zayat was third on his M4 Sportbike TrackGear.com Suzuki.
The KTM RC Cup also ran its second race of the weekend today and this time AXcess Racing’s Brandon Paasch was able to turn the tables on Anthony Mazziotto III, who beat his fellow New Jersey on Saturday. Paasch passed Mazziotto in the final corner to take the win by .105 of a second. For the second day in a row, Brandon Altmeyer finished third on his Altmeyer Racing KTM RC 390.
Paasch and Mazziotto lead Georgia tied in points with 45 each. Altmeyer is third with 32 points.
The MotoAmerica Series returns in two weeks with round three at New Jersey Motorsports Park, April 28-May 1.
SUPERBIKE RACE 1: 1. Toni Elias (Suzuki); 2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki); 3. Jake Gagne (Yamaha); 4. Claudio Corti (Aprilia); 5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha); 6. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki); 7. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha); 8. Hayden Gillim (Yamaha); 9. Sheridan Morais (Yamaha); 10. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha).
KTM RC CUP RACE 2: 1. Brandon Paasch; 2. Anthony Mazziotto III; 3. Brandon Altmeyer; 4. Jody Barry; 5. Jackson Blackmon; 6. Ashton Yates; 7. Benjamin Smith; 8. Ian Champness; 9. Josh Serne; 10. Sean Ungvarsky.
Beaubier On Pole At Road Atlanta – Gerloff, Prince And Mazziotto Take Class Wins
Cameron Beaubier took the first step towards putting his nightmarish opening round behind him today, the Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha rider earning his first pole position of the season in a riveting Superpole session at Road Atlanta, the site of round two of the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship.
Beaubier, who crashed and finished fourth in the two races at Circuit of The Americas a week ago, rebounded to earn the sixth Superbike pole position of his career on a sunny day at Road Atlanta during qualifying for the Suzuki Superbike Shootout of Georgia.
“After last weekend, it was just nice to come here and not touch the bike and just put our original base setting there and just pound out laps,” Beaubier said. “I think I did almost 60 laps yesterday. It was good to just clear my mind and get my confidence back. I felt really good in Superpole. That Superpole tire ended up lasting for two laps so I got two back-to-back pretty good laps with maybe one mistake. I think for all of us it’s just a little tough to cruise around and then just hammer one lap and get everything out of the tire. Overall, I feel good and my race pace was good.”
Beaubier was the only rider to dip into the 1:24s, with his 1:24.844 on the new Dunlop qualifying tire putting put him .224 of a second ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias, the Spaniard continuing his torrid start to the season as the replacement rider for the injured Jake Lewis.
“In Europe, when I found these type of tracks, I felt really bad with the situation and I never find the good setup,” said Superbike Championship points leader Elias on his first trip to Road Atlanta. “That’s why I was worried before. When I arrive I try to see the right lines and I see the bike was working really well. I didn’t find the same problem as Europe and I become a little bit more calm and trying to work with my team to solve some little problems. Now it is good. This is very difficult track – I think the most difficult track I have ever been (to). But is also the one that gives me the most satisfaction and great feelings – (with the) up and down, especially the fast one I think is 300 km (186 mph). I never felt this before this feeling.”
Beaubier’s teammate Josh Hayes will complete the front row for tomorrow’s two Superbike races, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion ending up .301 of a second behind his teammate.
“Things are definitely better here (than in Texas a week ago) and I’m feeling pretty confident I will be in there for the race,” said Hayes. “The race is going to be a long one. It’s not just the three of us because there are a couple of other guys that whenever you put them into the mix, they will hang in there for a long time. This place produces a lot of good racing so I don’t think anybody is going to be splitting too easily and it should be a really fun race. I would have liked to be higher than third on the list, but I improved over half a second from what I had been doing. I think there are some areas of the racetrack where could have done a little better, but I can’t say it doesn’t bother me when I go out and I have four guys lined up behind me. My head wasn’t exactly in the right place when I started my lap so all things considered I got out of it okay and I look forward to the race tomorrow.”
Row two will be led by COTA pole sitter Roger Hayden, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider the final rider to crack the 1:26 barrier as he lapped at 1:25.480 in Superpole 2. Hayden will be joined by Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin, the Georgia resident lapping at 1:26.145 on his Superstock 1000-spec Yamaha R1. Herrin was the top Bazzaz Superstock 1000 qualifier. Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong, on the Superstock-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R, will complete row two.
While the Superbike riders spent Saturday qualifying, the Supersport, Superstock 600 and KTM RC Cup racers spent their day racing. And nobody impressed more than Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff, the Texan putting his Yamaha R6 on pole position and then dominating the race for his second successive win.
“I think it’s just been a combination of a lot of things,” Gerloff said in explaining the differences between 2015 and his perfect-thus-far 2016. “There’s been a lot of changes that have happened over the off-season in my personal life and also my training and things like that. I really feel more planted in everything I do and it’s given me a lot of confidence in my racing. I think I’ve been missing some stability and everything off the track, but that’s been a huge thing for me and helps me just relax out here and have fun. That’s what I was doing out there today. It was a tough race. JD (Beach) and Valentin (Debise) were riding really well and I was just lucky enough to put in some good laps and pull away a little bit at a time and get through the traffic pretty easy. I’m happy with the result and it does feel good to see everything paying off. It’s not going to be an easy year and every day is a new day.”
Gerloff beat M4 Sportbike TrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, who was making his Road Atlanta debut, by 10.557 seconds after 20 laps of the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta rode course. Defending class champion JD Beach bounced back from a near-crash early in the race to finish third on his Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha R6.
Fourth place went to M4 Sportbike TrackGear.com Suzuki’s Cam Petersen, the South African beating Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts to the flag by just .167 of a second.
The Superstock 600 win went to Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince, the Californian finishing sixth overall after a titanic battle for the majority of the race. For Prince it was his second career win in the class, matching his effort from last year’s season finale at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“It was a really exciting race and there was a group of probably five of us and one of the Supersport guys as well going back at it,” Prince said. “I can’t remember how many times I’d go from fifth to first lap after lap doing down the backstraight. People started falling down when we hit traffic. I made a couple of last-minute passes on some people and used the traffic to my advantage. It was definitely a good race, a tough race, and I can’t thank my team and all the people supporting me enough.”
Dakota Mamola, who made his MotoAmerica debut last week in the Supersport class at COTA, raced to second in what was the opening round of the Superstock 600 class on his HB Racing/Meen Yamaha. JC Camacho rode his Altus Motorsports Yamaha to third in the Superstock 600 class.
The KTM RC Cup also made its season debut at Road Atlanta today with Jimmy Winters Racing’s Anthony Mazziotto III taking the win over AXcess Racing’s Brandon Paasch by 1.315 seconds. Mazziotto won last year’s season finale in the class and is the only returning race winner in the 2016 series. Brandon Altmeyer was third on the Altmeyer Racing KTM RC 390.
“I broke my ankle a month ago doing silly things, but we don’t have to talk about that,” said Mazziotto. “This race was definitely a great race. I came off the launch and my bike stood straight up 12 o’clock and something happened in the gearbox. I was grabbing my upshifts going up the hill and went to grab a downshift going into the chicane and the shifter wouldn’t move. It was stuck in sixth gear all the way to turn seven when I finally kicked the thing and it went. I fought back from ninth place. The race was really hectic.”
Jody Barry Racing’s Jody Barry and NCR Development’s Brett Voorhees rounded out the top five.
Racing action in the Suzuki Superbike Shootout of Georgia continues tomorrow at Road Atlanta. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.motoamerica.com.
SUPERPOLE: 1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:24.844; 2. Toni Elias (Suzuki) 1:35.068; 3. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:25.145; 4. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.480; 5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:26.145; 6. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki) 1:26.249; 7. Sheridan Morias (Yamaha) 1:26.291; 8. Danny Eslick (Yamaha) 1:26.331); 9. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha) 1:26.426; 10. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:26.481; 11. Claudio Corti (Aprilia) 1:27.433; 12. Geoff May (Honda) 1:27.673.
SUPERSPORT RACE 1: 1. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha); 2. Valentin Debise (Suzuki); 3. JD Beach (Yamaha); 4. Cameron Petersen (Suzuki); 5. Joe Roberts (Yamaha); 6. Bryce Prince (Yamaha); 7. Dakota Mamola (Yamaha); 8. Christian Crosslin (Suzuki); 9. JC Camacho (Yamaha); 10. Andy DiBrino (Yamaha).
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.