Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Roger Hayden and Toni Elias had a tough, cold and rainy weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey.
Hayden lost the MotoAmerica Superbike points lead, finishing ninth in race one and then crashing in the second race. He remounted to finish 17th, but he missed-out on scoring points as team-mate Elias was able to finish both races, but also suffered through a difficult outing, finishing 18th and 12th in the two races.
Hayden qualified his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 third on the front-row on Saturday with a time of 1:21.641 in Superbike Superpole 2. Elias started from row two after qualifying sixth with a time of 1:22.285.
Sunday brought rainy and cool weather, which proved to be difficult conditions for the Yoshimura Suzuki pair: Hayden could not find any confidence with the track; and even though Elias already had three MotoAmerica Superbike wins to his credit, he felt he’s still learning the Yoshimura Suzuki and found the combination of a new track and wet conditions a major challenge.
In the first leg on Sunday, Hayden raced to an uncharacteristic ninth-place finish. Elias, meanwhile, struggled mightily in the steady rain and lost positions as the race progressed to eventually finish 18th.
Hayden was determined to earn a better finish in race two and nailed a good start and ran third in the early laps, but on lap three he hit one of the tricky patches on the circuit and crashed. Even though it was a high-speed fall, he scrambled to his downed machine and was able to get back underway. He came back from last and earned back several positions to ultimately finish 17th, missing a points-scoring position by two spots.
Said Hayden: “We definitely struggled in the wet this weekend. We made some changes in race two and I felt a lot better. I was running third and was really just cruising and I knew I didn’t have the pace to run with the top two guys. I was just going to settle in and then out of nowhere the rear came around and spat me off. There’s so much sealer around this track it’s like riding on ice or something. That’s the way it goes. We’ll regroup and head to Virginia and try to get back on the podium.”
Elias found better pace in the second race and improved six spots to take 12th.
“It was a tough weekend,” said Elias, who won the first three races of the season. “I struggled a lot in wet conditions so in the first race I wasn’t able to get into the points. We improved a lot for the second race and take home some points, but it’s not what we want, of course. I need more kilometers on the Suzuki in wet conditions to find the right set-ups. We have to accept and continue fighting and the next one we’ll be better for sure.”
As a result of the tough weekend in New Jersey, Hayden and Elias fell from first and second in the series standings. Hayden is now third with 83 points, nine points out of the series lead, while Elias is fourth with 79 points.
The MotoAmerica Championship moves to Virginia Motorsports Park in Alton, Virginia, on May 13-15th for round three of the nine-round series.