Toni Elias sweeps MotoAmerica Superbike races in Texas for Suzuki
Marc Marquez may be the King of the Circuit of The Americas with his five straight MotoGP wins here, but Toni Elias is a close second, the Spaniard winning his fourth successive MotoAmerica Superbike race in Texas on Sunday.
For the second straight day, Elias scored victory at COTA, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider matching his effort from a year ago with two wins. Like yesterday’s Motul Superbike race, it didn’t come easy as he had his hands full with two riders for the duration of the race. The first was his teammate Roger Hayden, the second was Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier, the defending two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion bouncing back from yesterday’s crash-interrupted eighth-place finish to beat Hayden to the line for second place.
Elias topped Beaubier by .716 of a second with Hayden just a tick over a second behind his teammate in third place.
“Roger [Hayden] and I were pushing hard from the very start of the race since the conditions were much warmer today,” said Elias. “Pulling off the double win this weekend is really good for my confidence, however, I have my boots on the ground and am concentrated on continuing my season with strong results and staying consistent at each race. All of the guys are going quick right now and it will be a fight each weekend.”
Beaubier was happy to be leaving with a podium finish after yesterday’s crash and eighth-place finish. He also had the fastest lap of the race with a 2:09.173 with today’s race pace much quicker than yesterday’s.
“A year ago I left COTA in bad shape, so I’m happy to walk away with decent points today and carry the momentum into Atlanta,” said Beaubier. “Early in the race I was struggling to keep pace with the leaders in the final sections of the track, although I felt alright in the first few sections. I lost some ground at the beginning, but regrouped and got into a flow that allowed me to pick up the pace and make a move on Roger [Hayden] at the end.”
Hayden was a shadow third, the Kentuckian passing Elias late in the race only to lose the spot in the next corner. From there to the finish, Hayden had his hands full with Beaubier and ultimately lost second place to the Yamaha man.
“It was a good race, a fun race, and solid start to the new season,” said Hayden. “There were a few sections of the track I was better than Toni and in other sections he was a little better than me. Cameron [Beaubier] and I had a good battle going, but it let Toni [Elias] slip away.”
Like his teammate Beaubier, Josh Hayes also bounced back in today’s Motul Superbike race after his disastrous crash in yesterday’s race one. Hayes’ race was mostly lonely as he finished some 11 seconds behind the lead trio and some 12 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Bobby Fong on the Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki. Fong backed up his Superbike podium finish from yesterday with a fifth in today’s race and that also put him on top of the heap in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 race for the second straight day.
“The pace was a lot faster today and it was nice to walk away with the Superstock win,” said Fong. “I decided to make some changes after yesterday, specifically to the rear shock, and it ended up being for the worse. Today didn’t feel quite as rewarding as yesterday since we were a little bit behind the Superbike guys, but I think it is important to keep my focus on the Superstock class. Trying to keep up with the Superbike guys is awesome for me and has helped me elevate my game.”
Sixth place went to Josh Herrin, which was one spot better than where he finished yesterday.
Mathew Scholtz was again second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class, the South African was some two seconds behind Herrin and 2.5 seconds ahead of TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick, the third-place finisher in the Superstock class.
Kyle Wyman bounced back from a high-speed crash in yesterday’s race to finish ninth today on his Superbike-spec Yamaha YZF-R1.
Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, who was on the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 podium yesterday with his third-place finish, slipped to fourth today and 10th in the Superbike category.
With two races complete in the 10-round (20-race) battle for the Motul Superbike crown, Elias leads the way with his perfect 50 points, 14 clear of Hayden’s 36. Beaubier sits third with 28 points, one better than Fong.
Fong leads the Bazzaz Superstock Championship with 50 points, 10 more than Scholtz and 21 more than Eslick.
JD Beach had a tough off season. The 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion suffered a broken leg in an off-season motocross accident, struggled to get movement back, and was bested by his teammate Garrett Gerloff at every off-season test. But that changed on a cloudy day at COTA with Beach dominating the race to win by 4.930 over M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman coming out on top of a race-long battle with defending Superstock Champion Gerloff. Debise beat Gerloff to the line by .478 of a second.
“The off-season was difficult this year coming off of a broken leg and it feels good to breakthrough with a win at the first race,” said Beach. “I spent a lot of time the past few months training with fast guys like Roger [Hayden] and I feel like it really helped me elevate my riding and come into the season a better rider.”
Debise was second and knew he didn’t have the pace to match Beach.
The restart was a huge benefit for me after I crashed in the opening laps of the race,” said Debise. “I lost confidence due to my crash and it kept me from pushing as hard as I would have liked. It was a good battle with Garrett [Gerloff] and I was able to make the pass back on him in the final corner.”
Gerloff thought the two would have been better fighting less with each other in order to try and stay with Beach.
“My riding felt good today, but I just lacked speed to run at the front,” said Gerloff. “The restart allowed for me to get off of the line a little bit better and regroup. Valentin [Debise] was riding awesome, we passed each other back and forth, but maybe next time we should try to push forward towards JD [Beach] instead of holding each other up.”
Round two of the 2017 MotoAmerica Series is the Suzuki ECSTAR Championship at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, next weekend, April 28-30.
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