Final Pre-COTA Test Shakedown – Several MotoAmerica Teams Test At Thunderhill Raceway Park
Several of MotoAmerica’s top teams tested for a third time this off-season at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California, February 17-18, in what was the final shakedown test prior to the official team test at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, March 23-24.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis; Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes; Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin, Joe Roberts, Dakota Mamola and Richie Escalante; Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha’s JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff; and the Latus Motors Kawasaki team of Bobby Fong and David Anthony made up the 11-rider roster of testers burning laps at the three-mile racetrack in Willows, California.
The test was interrupted by rain on the morning of the second day and both days were hampered by cold and windy conditions, though it was still considered a success by the majority of the teams involved.
“We had a couple of new parts to try, a couple of different shocks and stuff, and I feel like we definitely made forward progress,” said defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier. “Our lap times weren’t as good as in previous tests here, but I definitely think we made a step in the right direction and it’s always good to ride. It set us up good for the COTA test and by that time we’ll be thinking about going racing.”
The test saw the debut of the Latus Motors team’s new Superstock 1000-spec Kawasaki ZX-10Rs that Bobby Fong and David Anthony will race in the 2016 championship. The duo were busy turning laps on the new bike in an effort to get it close to race ready for the COTA test, but both riders were impressed with how good the new bike is.
“I like it; the Kawasaki is good,” said Anthony near the end of day two. “For coming straight out of the box, it’s really good. We made a lot of changes, but we pretty much went back to where we started; back to how we turned up here with it. We’ve got one more test, the COTA test, and that’s it, so it’s hard to judge where we stand. We’re still a few seconds off the Superbikes, but it’s hard to tell. Superstock-wise, we’re all about the same speed. I think we’ll be close right away.”
The test also saw the debut of HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Dakota Mamola on American soil. Mamola, who is coming off a year and a half sabbatical from racing, spent his two days getting the rust off. Mamola, the son of Grand Prix legend Randy Mamola, also had former AMA star Kurtis Roberts offering assistance at the test.
“I’ve ridden dirt track, Supermotard and motocross, but I haven’t ridden an actual road racer like this in a long time,” Mamola said. “I did an hour at the Leon Haslam school and that’s it. Yesterday was tough. Just because I had to learn the track, get back on a bike… and the wind didn’t really help. It was a lot at one time, but now on day two we are starting to get there and now is where things start getting complicated when you have to change shocks and get the set-up. I’m enjoying it and I want to thank Ameen (Sajjadi – the team owner) and the whole HB Racing team for giving me this chance and hopefully we can do something good. It’s good to be back here in the U.S.”
Two riders were injured at the test with HB Racing/Meen Motorsports Richie Escalante suffering a fractured knee and broken finger and Graves Y.E.S. Yamaha’s JD Beach escaping with a bruised pelvis from his crash on the afternoon of day two.
The two-day MotoAmerica Preseason Test powered by Dunlop at Circuit of The Americas will take place March 23-24 and is open to spectators for free. The 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Series also begins at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, April 8-10, with round one of the nine-round (18 races) season.
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