2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship
Round One – Road Atlanta
Matthew Scholtz and Jake Gage have shared the HONOS Superbike race wins at the Road Atlanta season opener, with the early lead going to Scholtz from Travis Wyman and Josh Herrin.
In Supersport Sean Dylan Kelly swept both races for 50-points, with Richie Escalante running 2-2 and Benjamin Smith third overall.
Michael Gilbert took the opening Stock 1000 race win from Yates and Wyman, while the Sunday bout saw Wyman take the win from Geoff May and Yates. That left Wyman with the overall lead, from Yates and Gilbert.
Kaleb De Keyrel took the Twins win, leading an Aprilia RS660 trio, but a crash in race two took out the top running Aprilias, leaving Benjamin Gloddy to take the win. As a result Trevor Standish takes the lead on 33-points, from Chris Parrish and Teagg Hobbs.
Tyler Scott and Teagg Hobbs shared the Junior Cup wins, leaving with 45-points each. Tyler O’Hara took the King of the Baggers win to open the season.
HONOS Superbikes Qualifying
Jake Gagne ended his Friday afternoon at Michelin Raceway with his YZF-R1 in the gravel trap on the outside of turn 10-B. But he also ended it on top of the timesheets as the MotoAmerica Series opened its season on an overcast day in Georgia.
Gagne’s best lap in Q1 was a 1:23.746, which was under the Superbike lap record of 1:23.844 set by Garrett Gerloff during Superpole in 2019. Gagne’s best came on his 16th lap and it was .359 of a second faster than Mathew Scholtz, the South African lapping at 1:24.105 on his 18th lap.
The provisional front row was filled by Loris Baz, the Frenchman making his MotoAmerica debut and turning in a 1:24.269 on his first visit to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
HONOS Superbikes Race 1
Mathew Scholtz got the soaking-wet monkey off his back with his first dry-race HONOS Superbike victory today at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the South African leading 18 of the 19 laps for the perfect start to his 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.
Scholtz, whose previous two Superbike wins came in wet conditions in 2017 (Circuit of The America) and 2018 (Barber Motorsports Park), won this one from the front and under bright sunshine in Georgia. The victory also came in Scholtz’s first race since he suffered serious leg injuries at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October.
Scholtz led every lap but the 14th when he was passed by York’s Loris Baz, the Frenchman fast in his MotoAmerica debut. Scholtz, however, struck straight back and dove under the Ducati rider going into the chicane that is turns 10-A and 10-B. Baz didn’t brake until well after Scholtz after the run down the back straight, Scholtz let off the brakes and both were in hot and wide, with Baz tucking the front and crashing.
Scholtz raced to victory, 3.044 seconds ahead of Bobby Fong, the Californian having fought through to third place and within striking distance of the top two. Fong was there to capitalize on Baz’s miscue to finish second. Josh Herrin completed the podium, almost 13 seconds behind Scholtz, but was pleased considering his rough start to the weekend with mechanical problems wrecking his Friday.
Cameron Petersen’s debut with the team was a good one, the 2020 Stock 1000 Champion getting off to a good start and ultimately finishing fourth.
Kyle Wyman rode his Panera Bread Ducati Panigale V4 R to fifth well clear of Hector Barbera, the Spaniard making his MotoAmerica debut. Travis Wyman rode his Stock 1000-spec BMW S 1000 RR to seventh and was the top finishing Superbike Cup rider.
Danilo Lewis, Geoff May and Michael Gilbert, who won the Stock 1000 race held earlier in the day, rounded out the top 10.
The unluckiest rider in the race was fast qualifier Jake Gagne. Gagne was at the front of the pack on the opening lap when his YZF-R1 imploded on the front straight ending his day and putting him in the same boat as Baz with 0 championship points to start the season.
HONOS Superbikes Race 2
After finishing second eight times a season ago, Jake Gagne finally won his first career MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike race and he did so in style, working his way through to the sharp end of the field from his third row starting spot and pulling away to a 4.712-second victory.
With Sunday’s race gridded by Saturday’s race results, Gagne started from the middle of the third row. Once he’d adjusted the play out of his slipping clutch, Gagne went on a rampage and his pace was unmatchable. It was Gagne’s first win of any kind since his Superstock 1000 Championship-winning season in 2015.
“Yeah, it feels good to get something like that off the back. Obviously, last year (there was) a lot of second places and it wears you down. We came here wanting to win. We came off the truck really firing. After yesterday’s disappointment, this team, the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha work so hard. Those guys were up late last night throwing in one of last year’s motors. So just hats off to those guys. It feels good to get one off my back. Sorry, I didn’t even figure out, two hours before the race they told me I was on the third row, so I didn’t hear about that new fun little rule. So, I knew I had to get off to a good start because I knew Mat (Scholtz) was going to go, and Bobby (Fong) was going to go. I tried so hard to get a good start, I slipped and slipped the clutch. I thought I was in a situation like last year. The first couple laps my clutch was slipping. Luckily, from the experience last year, I knew which way to adjust the clutch. I was going down the straightaway trying to figure it out, and then once I got that dialed in, I knew the bike would keep rolling. I tried to make some passes. Mat was tough. This track is tough to make passes. Turn 10 is one of the main areas and that was where Mat was really strong, even Bobby too. Happy again, we got her done. Looking forward to VIR. I really, really love that place. I know this bike can be a rocket around there.”
The man who came closest to matching Gagne’s pace was Saturday’s race winner Mathew Scholtz, the South African sticking with Gagne for a few laps before realising he didn’t have the speed of the race winner. Scholtz held on for second, however, well clear of teammate Josh Herrin, who was third for a second straight day.
Herrin’s pace was faster than his identical third-place finish on Saturday, though he was slowed in the latter part of the race with arm pump.
“I’m extremely happy with our finishes this weekend. We never gave up and it paid off. I’m looking forward to a great weekend at VIR! Huge congrats to Jake Gagne and his crew on their first win!”
Cameron Petersen completed a successful debut weekend with the team, the South African finishing fourth, some 10 seconds clear of his teammate Bobby Fong, after finishing fifth on Saturday.
Fong’s day was made more difficult as he was deemed to have jumped the start and was forced to do a ride-through penalty that put him well back in the pack. He persevered though and was rewarded with fifth and the 11 championships that went with it. Prior to the penalty, Fong was battling with Gagne and Scholtz at the front.
Sixth place went to Kyle Wyman, the team owner/rider some three seconds ahead of Hector Barbera. Travis Wyman was eighth and the top Superbike Cup rider with Jake Lewis and Jayson Uribe rounding out the top 10.
Scholtz leads the championship as the series heads to Virginia International Raceway, May 21-23, chase after two races, 45-32, over Herrin.
For the second straight race, Loris Baz failed to score a point. The Frenchman, who was making his MotoAmerica debut at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, crashed out of race one and was halted by a mechanical problem in race two.
The tight battles at the front of the Supersport field that were an every-race occurrence last year between Champion Escalante and title runner-up Kelly picked up right where they left off in Supersport race one at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Kelly, who started from the pole aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, got the holeshot twice in the red-flagged race and held off all but one of Escalante’s attempts to take the lead.
The HONOS Kawasaki rider, who ended up having to race his 2020 HONOS Kawasaki after crashing his 2021 green machine in final qualifying, couldn’t match Kelly’s pace.
Kelly showed that 2021 may flip the script as his margin over Escalante at the checkers was more than 2.6 seconds. Nolan Lamkin survived the attrition that led to the red flag and successfully reached the podium for his best-ever result in Supersport competition.
Supersport Race 2
The first double race winner of 2021 was Sean Dylan Kelly, who completed a perfect weekend in the Supersport class by earning the pole and winning both Saturday’s race one and Sunday’s race two.
Defending class champion Richie Escalante salvaged what started out as a rough weekend when he crashed and destroyed his 2021 HONOS Kawasaki and had to race his 2020 bike in both Supersport events.
Escalante made the best of the situation and finished second to Kelly on Saturday and again on Sunday. Class rookie Rocco Landers emerged on Sunday with a third-place finish after surviving a last-turn skirmish for the final podium spot.
Sean Dylan Kelly
“I have to be very, very proud of the work and very happy with this weekend. Honestly, it’s been a tough road ever since the 2020 season. We already know how Richie was from the start of last year. It was definitely tough for me throughout the year and then throughout the off-season. I’ve just been really focused on my work, focused on what we have to improve. It’s been big teamwork between working on myself, working with the team. They made huge steps. I made huge steps. Our package is just much better, and here’s the results. We came in really well this weekend. I just focused on being better in the end of the races. That’s where we struggled last year. Here’s the result. I wasn’t expecting a pole position yesterday, but we got that. The pace in yesterday’s race was really, really good. We focused on some improvements for today. I didn’t go any faster in the race, but I think just certain things were a little different out there but still my pace was just as good. Really happy with my consistency with the gap that we made to second. Overall, just very proud of all the work. I just want to thank my whole team, thank my sponsors and everyone who was behind me, supporting me, and believing in me. We’re just going to keep on working. We have a long way to go. We’re just going to keep on going with this focus and go into every weekend working to dominate.”
In Saturday’s Stock 1000 race, long-time litre-bike road racer Michael Gilbert got the victory aboard his brand-new Kawasaki ZX-10R, and prevailed over hard-charging Jones Honda rider Ashton Yates, who was also aboard a brand-new bike – the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.
Both riders battled hard in the 13-lap event, as did third-place finisher Travis Wyman, who raced his trusty BMW S 1000 RR to a coveted spot on the podium.
Stock 1000 Race 2
In Sunday morning’s Stock 1000 race two, the middle Wyman brother Travis rode his Travis Wyman Racing BMW to victory one day after finishing third in race one.
Wyman caught up to and overtook early race leader Geoff May, who finished second aboard his Honda. Meanwhile, Jones Honda rider Ashton Yates rounded out the podium after finishing second in Saturday’s race one.
“I still didn’t get a very good start. But we made a pretty good change last night. We kind of gambled on something in the warmup to get a little bit more grip out of the bike in the long term, and we did. We improved it, for sure. But really the biggest change today was just getting through the pack of riders. Jake (Lewis) kind of really gave me an advantage. He hit a false neutral there or something. So, when I got out front and I had a little bit of a gap, I knew that I could click off some laps to catch Geoff (May), but it definitely wasn’t easy. I was pushing really hard. I was seeing 27 flat, 27 flat on my timer, and I wasn’t really making up a lot of ground. But I could tell that Geoff was struggling a little bit and the tire was starting to fall off. I think mine just held on a little bit longer. Towards the end of the race, I was able to close the gap. Definitely got to give it to my crew chief, Steve, for making that adjustment this morning to our rear end.”
Coming into the Twins Cup season, the big question was, how would the brand-new Aprilia RS 660 fare in MotoAmerica’s rough-and-tumble “tuner class.” Very well, thank you very much.
In Twins Cup race one, the new, twin-cylinder middleweight sportbike swept the podium with Kaleb De Keyrel taking the victory over Jody Barry – who has returned to the MotoAmerica Series after a few years away – and Hayden Schultz – one of De Keyrel’s teammates.
Twins Cup Race 2
Saturday’s Twins Cup race one winner Kaleb De Keyrel crashed his Robem Engineering Aprilia in Sunday’s race two, and the incident unfortunately also collected his teammate Hayden Schultz, along with two other teammates and Jody Barry.
All told, four Aprilia riders were caught up in the incident, and thankfully none of the five were seriously injured. The race was red flagged, but none of the Aprilia riders who crashed were able to make the restart.
As a result, the podium after Sunday’s race two was completely different from Saturday’s race one podium. Polesitter Teagg Hobbs escaped the incident completely, restarted the race, and went on to win by just .264 of a second over second-place finisher Trevor Standish. Third place went to Chris Parrish.
“Pretty tough weekend. We were P1 almost every session we went out. That was harder for me because that was the most pressure I’ve ever felt. So going into yesterday’s race, we were running all right, then I got the sign for the jump start. I was gutted immediately. I knew I needed to put it past me today before today’s race. Learn from those mistakes. I went into today’s race, and we were running all right. There was a big pack up front. Kaleb went by me on the front straight, and I held my line on the outside of him and all of a sudden, I saw a bunch of smoke and he went backwards. I heard a bunch of noises. I looked back and there were three guys on the ground. Obviously, the red flag came out, and we came in. I thought they’d be back in the race, given how long the cleanup time was. Then I saw the starting grid and these guys were all behind me. I was like, ‘Oh boy. This isn’t going to be an easy one.” Just put my lines down and tried to focus for the race. Off the line I wanted to get a good start and try to lead, but also like Trevor was saying, I didn’t want to lead into turn one. Luckily my start was horrendous. The first few laps were a little hairy into turn one, but I took the lead and I knew I just needed to do whatever I could to stay up front. Trevor was putting a lot of pressure on me. Every time I went by the start/finish I saw on my board ‘plus 0.’ I tried my best to ride the best last few laps I could and finally won one of these things, so I’m stoked. I’ve got a lot of pressure on me now to chase down the points leader going into Virginia. I’m happy for Trevor, happy for Chris.”
The final race of the day on Saturday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta was in the SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup, and a brand-new rider in MotoAmerica emerged with the victory in the red-flagged-and-restarted event.
Tyler Scott raced his KTM to the win by just .271 of a second over Ben Gloddy. David Kohlstaedt finished third, which was the first MotoAmerica podium of his career.
Junior Cup Race 2
Ben Gloddy finally broke through with the race win that he’s been coveting for the past couple of years. A frequent visitor to the podium, but never on the top step, Gloddy, who races a Kawasaki for Landers Racing, took the checkers in Sunday’s race two by a scant .127 of a second over Tyler Scott. Third place on Sunday went to Cody Wyman.
Incidentally, Wyman’s podium result completed a rare road racing trifecta, with all three Wyman brothers finishing on the podium: Travis winning in Stock 1000, Kyle finishing second in King Of The Baggers, and Cody coming home third in Junior Cup.
“It was good to get the monkey off the back, last year, we were finishing third. I think I finished third eighth times last year. Yesterday, we put it in second and the goal after that was just to keep making progress forward. We were able to do that today and get on the top step of the box. Me and Tyler (Scott) pulled a little bit of a gap there in the middle of the race. I was kind of hoping for me and Tyler’s sake, it would be me and him out front, but we got caught by that group again, and I was just trying to stay as far in front of that group as I could and not get tossed too far back. Doing that, I was able to draft Tyler down the back straightaway and cut him off in the last corner, so I was able to get the win.”
Round one of the Mission King Of The Baggers Championship featured an exciting battle at the front between Tyler O’Hara, who was last year’s King Of The Baggers invitational winner, and MotoAmerica Superbike rider Kyle Wyman, who was aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special.
O’Hara and Wyman each took turns at the front with Wyman getting the holeshot and leading the race until lap five when O’Hara took the lead and, ultimately, the checkers.
At the stripe, O’Hara’s margin of victory over Wyman was just under half a second. Meanwhile, third place went to Frankie Garcia, who raced his Roland Sands Design Indian Challenger to his second consecutive King Of The Baggers podium finish.
“Kyle (Wyman) is riding awesome. To have that full factory effort coming in here, it’s an awesome challenge. I love a challenge, and I think it’s great for the sport and it’s just going to elevate both of our programs, and our bikes are just going to get better and better. So definitely it’s good to have. Hopefully, we can get some more bikes. The Indian Challenger, you can go out and buy it and basically get all the parts that I’m running on my bike and come out and race. I’m looking forward to getting more bikes on the grid, but for sure there’s definitely more of a challenge this year.”
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