As if the 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Series needed anything to make it more exciting, the series just got something that makes it even more exciting: The Honda Superbike Showdown. And the three-race series within a series gets rolling this coming weekend, June 3-5, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with the Honda Superbike Showdown of Wisconsin.
The Honda Superbike Showdown consists of three events: the aforementioned Honda Superbike Showdown of Wisconsin at Road America, Barber Motorsports Park’s Honda Superbike Showdown of Alabama (June 10-12) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s Honda Superbike Showdown of California (July 8-10). The Superbike rider who emerges from those three events with the most championship points will drive away in a brand-new 2016 Honda Civic Sedan.
So while four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes currently leads his teammate Cameron Beaubier by 11 points in the 2016 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, he leads him by zero points in the Honda Superbike Showdown. Hayes, Beaubier, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Toni Elias, Broaster Chicken/Roadrace Factory’s Jake Gagne, HSBK Aprilia’s Claudio Corti, Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong and the rest of the Superbike stars come to Road America on equal footing with a clean slate as a separate points tally will be kept for the series within a series.
Meanwhile, the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship continues to be a dog-fight between the top four riders with Hayes, Beaubier, Hayden and Elias separated by just 26 points after four of nine rounds.
Despite leading the championship, Hayes went through the first six races of the series without a victory. But that changed at VIRginia International Raceway two weeks ago when Hayes won race one for his first win of the season and the 59th Superbike victory of his storied career. He combined that with a second-place finish to his teammate Beaubier in race two to leave Virginia with the points lead, 137-126.
Hayden had a solid weekend with second- and fourth-place finishes while his teammate Elias was a consistent third in both races. Those two are 21 and 26 points behind Hayes, respectively.
Beaubier comes to Road America fresh off his debut in the World Superbike Championship this past weekend at Donington Park in England. Called in as a replacement rider to the injured Sylvain Guintoli on the factory Yamaha team, Beaubier impressed after qualifying ninth and finishing 10th in race two. Unfortunately, the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion crashed out of race one. Still, he comes to Wisconsin fresh off three solid days of riding and racing and chomping at the bit to get going at one of his favorite racetracks.
“Every year when we go to Road America, I’m excited to be there,” said Beaubier, who finished first and second in the two races there last year. “I’ve had some good finishes there in the past, some good race wins on a 600 and a 1000 at Road America. I like the fast, flowing track and it’s a track that brings out some great fans as well. I really look forward to going there. I’m not too worried about the points situation right now. Obviously, I’d love to have the points lead, but it’s still pretty early days in the championship. No matter what, I’m going to do my best to win both races. You have to do what you can to be consistent, but you’re not going to win the championship if you’re not winning races.”
Bobby Fong made a big move in the battle for the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship at the last round in Virginia, the Latus Motors Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R-mounted Californian scoring two second-place finishes to move to within 11 points of championship leader Claudio Corti. Fong tallied 40 points to Corti’s 34 points to gain ground and those two come to Road America fifth and sixth in the Superbike Championship on their Superstock-spec Kawasaki and Aprilia. Wheels In Motion/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin sits third in the Superstock title chase, 27 points behind Corti.
You could almost hear the collective gasp from the Y.E.S. Graves Motorsports Yamaha crew when Garrett Gerloff crashed out of the second Supersport race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in round three as it looked as though the young Texan was injured. But it was back to business a round later for Gerloff as he stormed to a doubleheader sweep of the 600cc class at VIRginia International Raceway and left the facility with a 31-point lead in the championship over Frenchman Valentin Debise.
Debise, on the M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki, came so very close to winning his first career MotoAmerica race on Sunday at VIR, losing out to Gerloff by a whisker .038 of a second in the dry race two after finishing ninth in wet conditions the day before. Debise is just three points ahead of MotoAmerica Supersport Champion JD Beach. Debise’s South African teammate Cameron Petersen is fourth in the title chase with Wheels In Motion/Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts fifth.
Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince is leading the Superstock 600 Championship by 33 points over HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Dakota Mamola, with Prince winning three of the six races in 2016. Mamola, Travis Wyman and Michael Gilbert are the other riders who have stood atop the podium this season.
Last year the KTM RC Cup made its debut in the rain at Road America, but this year the spec class got started at Road Atlanta in May so the 14-to-22-year-olds have already completed six races as they venture to Wisconsin. The championship is being led by Anthony Mazziotto III, but he’s being hounded by fellow New Jersey resident Brandon Paasch. The pair are separated by just 5 points. Jody Barry, the only other rider to win besides Mazziotto and Paasch, is third in the series standings – 44 points behind the class leader.
Road America Notes...
With his four wins thus far this season, Cameron Beaubier has moved into a tie for eighth on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with 15 victories. He’s now equal with former 500cc World Champion Freddie Spencer and former AMA Champion Eric Bostrom.
With his first win of the season coming at the last round at VIRginia International Raceway, Josh Hayes now has 59 AMA Superbike wins, which is second on the all-time list behind Australian Mat Mladin. Of Hayes’ 59 victories, eight have come at Road America, including his race-one win a year ago. In addition to his 59 Superbike wins, Hayes now has 81 total AMA class victories. Hayes won his first career Superbike race in May of 2009 at Sears Point Raceway in California.
Hayes leads the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship with 137 points – 11 more than his teammate Beaubier. Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden is third with 116 points – five more than his Spanish teammate Toni Elias.
Hayes and Beaubier are the only two current Superbike racers to have tasted Superbike success at Road America and those two split wins here last year. Beaubier also has a Daytona SportBike victory (now Supersport) on his Road America resume.
Toni Elias, a former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner, was filling in on the Yoshimura Suzuki team for the injured Jake Lewis early in the season, but now that position is his for the remainder of 2016. Lewis, meanwhile, returned to action at VIR and now races for the M4 Suzuki team to allow Elias to finish the season with Yoshimura. Lewis is competing for the remainder of the year in the Superstock 1000 class after earning Superbike rookie of the year honors in 2015.
Elias’ three victories to start the season were the 174th, 175th and 176th AMA Superbike wins for Suzuki, the all-time leader for a manufacturer in victories. Yamaha, which won all 18 races in last year’s MotoAmerica Superbike Series, has now won 95 Superbike races with its five wins thus far in 2016 with Beaubier and Hayes. That places them behind Suzuki and Honda. Honda has 116 Superbike class wins.
Beaubier won race one at Road America last year just .136 of a second over Roger Hayden. Hayes crashed in race one, but bounced back to win race two by 4.5 seconds over Beaubier. Jake Lewis was third in both races – the first two podiums of his rookie Superbike season.
Defending MotoAmerica Supersport Champion JD Beach split Supersport wins with Josh Herrin last year and the pair left Wisconsin tied in the championship. Beach beat Herrin by just .009 of a second in the second Supersport race last year with Garrett Gerloff, this year’s championship leader, just .012 of a second from victory.
Last year the KTM RC Cup made its debut at Road America with Gage McAllister winning both races en route to taking the title at season’s end. This year, Anthony Mazziotto III – with his three class victories thus far in 2016 – is leading the title chase over fellow New Jersey native Brandon Paasch by just five points. Mazziotto and Paasch have won five of the six races thus far this season. The other winner is Jody Barry, who sits third in the title chase.
Toni Elias isn’t the only new face from Europe in the MotoAmerica paddock. ItalianClaudio Corti has joined the series for 2016 on the HSBK Aprilia team. Corti, who owns a bicycle shop in Italy, has made quite an impression in his debut season in the U.S. He’s won four races and leads the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 point standings; and he’s also fifth in the Superbike title chase with two Superbike podiums on his Superstock-spec Aprilia.
Three-time 500cc World Champion Freddie Spencer won the first AMA Superbike race at Road America in 1980. MotoAmerica President and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey won his only Road America Superbike race in 1986 on a Honda.
HOW TO WATCH (All Times EDT)
June 4 – Superpole 1&2, Supersport/Superstock 600 Race 1 (Live), 3:30 p.m.
June 5 – Superbike Race 1 & 2/Supersport/Superstock 600 Race 2 (Live), 1 p.m.
beIN SPORTS CONNECT
June 4 – Superbike Superpole 1 (Live), 2:45 p.m.
June 4 – Superbike Superpole 2 (Live), 3:20 p.m.
June 4 – KTM RC Cup Race 1 (Live), 4:10 p.m.
June 4 – Supersport/Superstock 600 (Live) 4:45 p.m.
June 5 – Superbike Race 1 (Live) 1 p.m.
June 5 – KTM RC Cup Race 2 (Live) 2:50 p.m.
June 5 – Supersport/Superstock 600 Race 2 (Live) 3:30 p.m.
June 5 – Superbike Race 2 (Live) 4:45 p.m.