Josh Hayes Perfect In MotoAmerica VIR Superbike

Josh Hayes (1) won his 50th Superbike race on Sunday at VIRginia International Raceway. Later that day he went out and won his 51st. Photography by Brian J. Nelson.
Josh Hayes (1) won his 50th Superbike race on Sunday at VIRginia International Raceway. Later that day he went out and won his 51st. Photography by Brian J. Nelson.
Josh Hayes Does The Double At VIR, Escalante Takes His First

In a word, Josh Hayes was perfect at VIRginia International Raceway on Sunday, the Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider chalking up two dominating Superbike wins during round three of the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship. At day’s end, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion had won the 50th and 51st Superbike races of his stellar career.

Starting from pole position, Hayes had his head down from the get-go in both races, storming away from the field to win the red-flag interrupted race one over his teammate Cameron Beaubier by 3.2 seconds. In race two, the gap was even bigger, with Hayes turning quicker laps to beat Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden by 13.368 seconds. In race one, Hayes’ best lap was a 1:24.994. In race two, he did a 1:24.895 on the 2.25-mile North Course.

With Beaubier splitting second- and third-place finishes with Hayden, the Californian managed to keep his championship points lead intact and he leaves Virginia with a 16-point lead over his teammate Hayes, 131-115. Hayden’s young teammate Jake Lewis is still third in the title chase with his fifth- and fourth-place finishes on the day, with Hayden jumping to fourth with 68 points after his two podiums.

“I thought it was possible,” Hayes said when asked if he came into VIR thinking he could have such a dominant weekend. “This is a racetrack that has been very good to me. I’ve always enjoyed racing here. I’ve gotten some good results here. I guess it just suits me well to the style that I ride with. I have a lot of fun riding around here.”

Earlier in the day when commenting on hitting the half-century mark in victories, Hayes said: “It feels like it wasn’t that long ago when I was just praying for one.”

The first Superstock 1000 race, which runs in the same event as the Superbikes but is scored separately, was won by TOBC Racing’s Taylor Knapp over Ryders Alley Racing’s Mark Heckles and Aprilia HSBK Racing’s Dustin Dominguez. In race two, it was Jake Gagne bouncing back from a mechanical DNF in race one to take his fourth victory of the season with Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Josh Day finishing second after crashing out of race one. Heckles completed his successful day with another third-place finish. Gagne leads the title chase by six points over Knapp, 100-94.

(Above) JD Beach (95) leads Josh Herrin (2) en route to winning Sunday's Supersport final. (Below) Richie Escalante won his first career race in the U.S. in Superstock 600.
(Above) JD Beach (95) leads Josh Herrin (2) en route to winning Sunday’s Supersport final. (Below) Richie Escalante won his first career race in the U.S. in Superstock 600.

Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s JD Beach led every lap of Saturday’s Supersport final – except for the last one. But he wasn’t going to let that happen again in race two on Sunday as he managed to take the lead early and then stretch it, winning by 2.7 seconds over his teammate Garrett Gerloff, who was some five seconds ahead of Saturday’s race winner Josh Herrin. Herrin barely beat M4 Suzuki’s David Anthony after a heated last-lap battle.

Beach’s victory puts him atop the championship standings by just a single point over Gerloff, 102-101. Herrin is third with 95 points.

“My first win at COTA felt amazing, but to win it in the rain… it just didn’t feel like it was a win,” Beach said of his first career victory in Texas in round one. “To finally get one in the dry like this is awesome. After yesterday, leading every single lap and then Josh [Herrin] coming by me with three corners to go, it was devastating. It was horrible. Today I just wanted to put the race in my own hands and just go for it. It was awesome.” 

Richie Escalante was a popular winner of the Bazzaz Superstock 600 class, the Escalante Racing Yamaha-mounted rider topping Kyle Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman by 3.7 seconds to win his first-ever American National road race. The Mexico City, Mexico resident is believed to be the first from his country to win a road race National in the U.S.

With his maiden victory, Escalante moves to the top of the Bazzaz Superstock 600 Championship over Saturday’s race winner Joe Roberts, 78-75. Roberts, who had been perfect on the season going into Sunday’s second race with three victories, crashed out of his early race battle with Escalante.

“Joe (Roberts) was sliding the tires and crashed,” Escalante said in his ever-improving English. “I just wanted to slow down and finish the race. I am so happy and I continue this way to the next races. I thank my team and my family for supporting me and congratulations to these guys.”

Josh Hayes (1) leads Roger Hayden (95), Cameron Beaubier (6) and the rest of the Superbike/Superstock 1000 pack at VIR.
Josh Hayes (1) leads Roger Hayden (95), Cameron Beaubier (6) and the rest of the Superbike/Superstock 1000 pack at VIR.

SUPERBIKE RACE 1: 1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha); 2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha); 3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki); 4. Danny Eslick (Honda); 5. Jake Lewis (Suzuki); 6. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki); 7. Bernat Martinez (Yamaha); 8. Stefano Mesa (Honda); 9. Elena Myers (Suzuki); 10. Mathew Orange (BMW).

SUPERBIKE RACE 2: 1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha); 2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki); 3. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha); 4. Jake Lewis (Suzuki); 5. Danny Eslick (Honda); 6. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki); 7. Stefano Mesa (Honda); 8. Elena Myers (Suzuki); 9. Bernat Martinez (Yamaha).

SUPERSTOCK 1000 RACE 1: 1. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha); 2. Mark Heckles (Yamaha); 3. Dustin Dominguez (Aprilia); 4. Frankie Babuska (Suzuki); 5. Tyler O’Hara (Yamaha); 6. Shane Narbone (Yamaha); 7. Barrett Long (Yamaha); 8. Jeremy Cook (BMW).

SUPERSTOCK 1000 RACE 2: 1. Jake Gagne (Yamaha); 2. Joshua Day (Yamaha); 3. Mark Heckles (Yamaha); 4. Tyler O’Hara (Yamaha); 5. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha); 6. Barrett Long (Yamaha); 7. Max Flinders (Yamaha).

BAZZAZ SUPERSTOCK 600: 1. Richie Eslcalante (Yamaha); 2. Travis Wyman (Yamaha); 3. Wyatt Farris (Yamaha); 4. Bryce Prince (Yamaha); 5. Christian Crosslin (Yamaha); 6. Andy DiBrino (Yamaha); 7. Jason Aguilar (Yamaha); 8. Nick McFadden (Suzuki); 9. Michael Gilbert (Yamaha) 10. Curtis Murray (Suzuki).

SUPERSPORT: 1. JD Beach (Yamaha); 2. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha); 3. Josh Herrin (Yamaha); 4. David Anthony (Suzuki); 5. Tomas Puerta (Yamaha); 6. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha); 7. Ben Young (Yamaha); 8. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha); 9. Corey Alexander (Yamaha); 10. Hayden Gillim (MV Agusta). 

Saturday – V Is For VIR Victories For Herrin And Roberts
JD Beach (leading) and Josh Herrin battled for the duration in the Supersport final at VIRginia International Raceway on Saturday with Herrin taking the win. Photo By Brian J. Nelson.
JD Beach (leading) and Josh Herrin battled for the duration in the Supersport final at VIRginia International Raceway on Saturday with Herrin taking the win. Photo By Brian J. Nelson.

JD Beach led almost every lap of the 23-lap Supersport final at VIRginia International Raceway today. Unfortunately, for Beach, it was Josh Herrin who led the lap that counted most. The last one. The win, Herrin’s second in four races, allowed the Georgian to claw his way back into early season championship contention as the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship got round three rolling under brilliant sunshine in Virginia.

It was Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Beach who led the field away at the start from pole position, with Herrin and his Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports Yamaha R-6 matching his every move. The two stayed locked together for the duration with Beach always in front, Herrin always his shadow in second place. But on the final lap, Herrin made his move, putting  his R-6 up the inside of the similarly mounted Beach in turn 10 and leaving him no time for any sort of retaliation. At the finish line, Herring was a scant .100 of a second ahead of Beach.

“Road Atlanta was a different story,” Herrin said of his first win a month ago in Georgia. “I was really confident going into the race. Today, when JD [Beach] threw down that lap in qualifying and I couldn’t match it… to be honest, I was kind of worried going into the race. When I saw we were doing low 27s [1:27 lap times] and I’m sure a couple of laps he did high 26s, there was nobody showing me a wheel and we were all just comfortable there and waiting. Like I said before, there’s no points for most laps led anymore so there’s no point wasting my tire trying to battle with him and letting the guys behind us catch up. We’re both real aggressive riders and we’d pass each other back. I was trying to play it smart and get some points. If we could get him at the end, we’d celebrate, but if we didn’t we’d get some points.”

The championship leader coming in to VIR was Beach’s Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff. And it was Gerloff who still led the series after the first of two Supersport races here today – thanks to a gritty performance with the Texan racing with a badly broken pinkie finger on his left hand. The injury was a result of a crash on Friday, but Gerloff wrapped it up and stuffed it in his  glove and went racing, besting M4 Suzuki/SportTrackGear.com’s David Anthony by just .200 of a second to finish third. Latus Motors Racing Triumph’s Bobby Fong was also in that battle for most of the race, eventually finishing fifth.

Gerloff’s effort kept him in the championship lead heading into tomorrow’s second race. Gerloff has 81 points, two more than Herrin’s 79. Beach is just another two points behind with 77 points.

When Herrin won on Saturday at Road Atlanta, his Meen Motorsports teammate Joe Roberts also came away victorious in the Bazzaz Superstock 600 final. Today the team did the double again, with Roberts keeping his perfect 2015 season intact with his third win in three starts on his Yamaha R-6. This time, Roberts had it a bit tougher with Escalante Racing’s Richie Escalante chasing hard until coming out on the bad end of a run through lapped riders. That allowed Roberts to open a lead that resulted in a margin of victory of 2.427 seconds.

Superstock 600 MotoAmerica VIR
Superstock 600 MotoAmerica VIR

“At the start of the race, I didn’t know he was there,” Roberts said of Escalante. “I thought I saw plus two [seconds]. I was trying to work out to keep that pace and see if I could pull away and all of a sudden down the front straightaway he came blowing by me. So it was point-two [of a second], not plus two. It was a great race. I wasn’t expecting him to be that close by looking at the qualifying times, but he definitely stepped it up for the race. It will definitely be a battle tomorrow.” 

(From left to right) Richie Esclanate, Joe Roberts and Travis Wyman celebrate their podium finishes in Saturday's Superstock 600 final at VIR. (Below) Josh Hayes will start Sunday's two Superbike races at VIR from pole position. Photography by Brian J. Nelson.
(From left to right) Richie Esclanate, Joe Roberts and Travis Wyman celebrate their podium finishes in Saturday’s Superstock 600 final at VIR. (Below) Josh Hayes will start Sunday’s two Superbike races at VIR from pole position. Photography by Brian J. Nelson.

Roberts and his perfect points tally of 75 leads the series over Escalante by 22 points. Kyle Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman, who scored his third podium of the season in three starts today with his third-place finish, is third in the title chase – just a point behind Escalante, the Mexican National Champion in his first full season of racing in the U.S. 

Saturday at VIR also featured qualifying for the premier MotoAmerica Superbike class and when the heated 15-minute Superpole 2 session was complete it was four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes taking pole position for tomorrow’s two races. For Hayes it was career pole position number 37 and it was one he definitely earned, ending the session just .030 of a second faster than his Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha teammate Cameron Beaubier.

“Right from the get-go I was pushing pretty hard and I wasn’t too far off,” Hayes explained. “I was definitely making a few mistakes and I’d do one [lap] and think, ‘Oh, that’s going to be the one.’ And it would be within a 10th of the previous one. I’d put together another one [lap] and I’d be like, ‘I’ve got it this time.’ Nope. I found myself in a group of people and then cruised around. Everybody wanted to ride with me I think, so I rode through pit lane and rode back out with some clear racetrack. During my last lap I was riding around going, ‘Man, it’s not working that good. I I hope it’s a 25.’ It ended up being a pretty decent 24 [a 1:24.868].”

Both of the factory Yamaha men encountered their share of troubles on Friday. Hayes was lucky to walk away uninjured from a big crash that destroyed one of his motorcycles, and Beaubier missed almost an entire session when both of his R-1s had mechanical woes. Both, however, bounced back today, setting up what should be two thrilling battles tomorrow.

Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, meanwhile, will also likely be in the mix as he fills row one for Sunday’s two races, the Kentucky resident admitting that he was having troubles with “the rider and not the bike.”

Row two will be led by Superstock 1000 class riders Jake Gagne on the Roadracing Factory Yamaha and Westby Racing Yamaha’s Joshua Day. They will be joined there by returning Superbike racer Danny Eslick on the Turbo Turtle Racing Honda CBR1000RR.

SUPERSPORT RACE 1

  1. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
  2. JD Beach (Yamaha)
  3. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
  4. David Anthony (Suzuki)
  5. Bobby Fong (Triumph)
  6. Tomas Puerta (Yamaha)
  7. Ben Young (Yamaha)
  8. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha)
  9. Hayden Gillim (MV Agusta)
  10. Corey Alexander (Yamaha)

SUPERSTOCK 600 RACE 1

  1. Joe Roberts (Yamaha)
  2. Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
  3. Travis Wyman (Yamaha)
  4. Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
  5. Nick McFadden (Suzuki)
  6. Andy DiBrino (Yamaha)
  7. JC Camacho (Yamaha)
  8. Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
  9. Ryan Jones (Honda)
  10. Christian Crosslin (Suzuki)

SUPERBIKE/SUPERSTOCK 1000 QUALIFYING

  1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:24.868
  2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:24.898
  3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:24.411
  4. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:25.810
  5. Joshua Day (Yamaha) 1:26.196
  6. Danny Eslick (Honda) 1:26.367
  7. Jake Lewis (Suzuki) 1:26.557
  8. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha) 1:27.057
  9. Mark Heckles (Yamaha) 1:27.300
  10. Shane Narbonne (Yamaha) 1:27.351