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).
SUPERBIKE RACE 2: 1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha); 2. Josh Hayes (Yamaha); 3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki); 4. Josh Herrin (Yamaha); 5. Taylor Knapp (Yamaha); 6. Claudio Corti (Aprilia); 7. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki); 8. Jake Gagne (Yamaha); 9. Hayden Gillim (Yamaha); 10. Sheridan Morais (Yamaha).
SUPERSPORT RACE 2: 1. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha); 2. Valentin Debise (Suzuki); 3. JD Beach (Yamaha); 4. Joe Roberts (Yamaha); 5. Cameron Petersen (Suzuki); 6. Benny Solis Jr. (Honda); 7. Travis Wyman (Yamaha); 8. Bryce Prince (Yamaha); 9. Xavier Zayat (Suzuki); 10. Conner Blevins (Kawasaki).
SUPERSTOCK 600 RACE 2: 1. Travis Wyman (Yamaha); 2. Bryce Prince (Yamaha); 3. Xavier Zayat (Suzuki); 4. Conner Blevins (Kawasaki); 5. Dakota Mamola (Yamaha); 6. JC Camacho (Yamaha); 7. Gage McAllIister (Yamaha); 8. Andy DiBrino (Yamaha); 9. Deion Campbell (Yamaha); 10. Michael Gilbert (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.