JD Beach takes Supersport class victory at COTA
AUSTIN, TX (April 22, 2017) – Toni Elias did it again today, the Spaniard storming to his third straight win at the Circuit of The Americas as he beat his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden by 1.7 seconds after Hayden’s last-lap attempt at victory came up short. Elias swept to both Motul Superbike wins last year at COTA in his MotoAmerica debut and this year gave the new GSXR-1000 its debut victory in Texas.
Elias led for the majority of the race with Hayden in his shadow. On the final lap, Hayden tried a late-braking move into turn 12, went under Elias, but drifted wide and allowed Elias to come back past. That was all the former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner needed to win his seventh career MotoAmerica race.
“COTA is one of my favorite tracks of the season and I’ve had a lot of success here the past couple of years,” said Elias. “Roger [Hayden] was riding really good, I tried to open a gap on him, but he kept me honest the entire race. I found some new lines the last few laps and was able to hold on for the win.”
Hayden gave it all he had, but came up short. It was his third straight second-place finish at COTA.
“The plan was to try and make a pass stick somewhere where he [Elias] would least expect it,” said Hayden. “It was close, but I came in to the turn a little too deep and was finished just short. Overall, it was a good race and I’m happy to start the season off with a podium on the new bike.”
Third place today went to the impressive Bobby Fong on the Quicksilver/Latus Motors Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R and it also gave him the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 victory as Fong was able to mix it up with the top Superbike men for most of the race. The Californian finally ran out of grip and dropped to 10-some seconds behind, but he was well clear of fourth-placed Mathew Scholtz on the Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1. Scholtz was second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class. Fong also had the fastest lap of the race on lap three and ended a Superbike podium drought for Kawasaki that dates back to 2008 and Jamie Hacking.
“I was riding 110 percent in order to keep pace with these two guys [Elias and Hayden],” said Fong. “Running with the Superbike guys puts a little bit of pressure on myself for the rest of the season, but I’m just going to take it race-by-race and do my best each time out. This track suits my style, braking is one of my strong points, I’m going to try and repeat my performance tomorrow.”
Fourth place went to Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African ending up second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.
Jake Gagne finished fifth in this Honda debut on the Genuine Broaster Chicken CBR1000RR SP2, besting M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, who finished third in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.
Josh Herrin finished seventh after a rough week on the RiderZ Law/Western Services/Meen Yamaha.
And what of the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Team? Two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier crashed out of the battle for the lead, remounted and finished eighth. And his teammate Josh Hayes was even worse off after getting taken out by the crashing Kyle Wyman early in the race. Hayes remounted to finish 14th, scoring just a single point in the opening round of the series. Wyman was lucky to escape injury, but didn’t remount.
TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick and Cycle World/Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim rounded out the top 10 finishers and were fourth and fifth in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.
JD Beach had a tough off season. The 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion suffered a broken leg in an off-season motocross accident, struggled to get movement back, and was bested by his teammate Garrett Gerloff at every off-season test. But that changed on a cloudy day at COTA with Beach dominating the race to win by 4.930 over M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman coming out on top of a race-long battle with defending Superstock Champion Gerloff. Debise beat Gerloff to the line by .478 of a second.
“The off-season was difficult this year coming off of a broken leg and it feels good to breakthrough with a win at the first race,” said Beach. “I spent a lot of time the past few months training with fast guys like Roger [Hayden] and I feel like it really helped me elevate my riding and come into the season a better rider.”
Debise was second and knew he didn’t have the pace to match Beach.
The restart was a huge benefit for me after I crashed in the opening laps of the race,” said Debise. “I lost confidence due to my crash and it kept me from pushing as hard as I would have liked. It was a good battle with Garrett [Gerloff] and I was able to make the pass back on him in the final corner.”
Gerloff thought the two would have been better fighting less with each other in order to try and stay with Beach.
“My riding felt good today, but I just lacked speed to run at the front,” said Gerloff. “The restart allowed for me to get off of the line a little bit better and regroup. Valentin [Debise] was riding awesome, we passed each other back and forth, but maybe next time we should try to push forward towards JD [Beach] instead of holding each other up.”
Fourth place in the Supersport race went to Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis, the CBR600RR-mounted Californian some 15 seconds behind the Debise/Gerloff battle and 7.7 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Daytona Anderson.
M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden was sixth with KTM RC Cup Champion Brandon Paasch seventh in his Supersport debut on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600. Lucas Silva, JC Camacho and Caroline Olsen rounded out the top 10 finishers in the opening round of the series.
The Motul Superbike class will be back on track at COTA for race two tomorrow afternoon. The Supersport Championship resumes next weekend at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
1.Toni Elias (Suzuki)
2.Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
3.Bobby Fong (Kawasaki)
4.Mathew Scoltz (Yamaha)
5.Jake Gagne (Honda)
6.Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
7.Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
8.Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
9.Danny Eslick (Yamaha)
10.Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
Bazzaz Superstock 1000
1.Bobby Fong (Kawasaki)
2.Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
3.Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
4.Danny Eslick (Yamaha)
5.Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
6.Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
7.Tyler O’Hara (Kawasaki)
8.Max Flinders (Yamaha)
9.Anthony Kosinski (Yamaha)
1.JD Beach (Yamaha)
2.Valentine Debise (Suzuki)
3.Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
4.Benny Solis (Honda)
5.Daytona Anderson (Yamaha)
6.Nick McFadden (Suzuki)
7.Brandon Paasch (Suzuki)
8.Lucas Silva (Yamaha)
9.JC Camacho (Yamaha)
10.Caroline Olsen (Yamaha)
Yoshimura Suzuki Rider Puts GSX-R1000 On Pole In Debut
AUSTIN, TX (April 21, 2017) – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden earned the first Motul Superbike class pole position of the season today at the Circuit of The Americas, the Kentuckian leading the way with a blistering 2:08.184 to set himself up nicely for tomorrow’s opening round of the 2017 MotoAmerica Series. It was Hayden’s second successive pole position at COTA, the Suzuki rider earning pole here a year ago before finishing second in both races to his teammate Toni Elias.
Hayden’s lap of 2:08.184 was impressive and .121 of a second faster than his quick lap from the Dunlop Preseason Test held at COTA three weeks ago. Last year, Hayden earned pole position with a 2:09.151.
“It definitely feels good to be on pole,” said Hayden. “Overall I just feel pretty good on the bike. Yesterday I didn’t feel as good as the (preseason) test, but today we made some changes this morning and I felt pretty good. The lap time wasn’t there this morning as I had a lot of traffic on my last run, but I feel like the bike is working good. Like these guys said, it’s going to be a tough race. I think tire management is going to come into play a lot during the last couple of laps. This place can be pretty hard on tires. I’m happy to be on pole. The new Suzuki GSX-R1000, we definitely want to showcase its ability and putting it on pole is big for them. So hats off to the team and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Second fastest today was two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing team rider just .158 of a second off Hayden’s best. Both Hayden and Beaubier turned their fast laps on their sixth lap in the 15-minute Superpole session.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” said Beaubier, who has been suffering from a head cold. “After first practice yesterday, just sweating a little bit of the cold out helped a lot and I woke up this morning feeling quite a bit better. I’m ready to go racing. We had a good day today. We had a decent pace going on the race tires this morning. We still have a couple of things here and there to work on that we want to try tomorrow, but hopefully it’s dry. I know the forecast said it might rain overnight so hopefully the track is dry enough in the morning to try what we want to try but all-in-all I’m happy. I feel like I didn’t get completely everything out of the qualifier, but I think that’s kind of always the case. It’s almost impossible to put together a perfect lap. But I’m happy.”
Last year Elias swept the doubleheader victory at COTA on his Yoshimura Suzuki – in his debut in the series. Today he was third fastest and not overly pleased with his Superpole session. Elias was .245 of a second off his teammate Hayden’s best lap.
“Qualifying has been not well,” said Elias. “I did some mistakes. Normally it’s difficult for me to make the pole, but I think we did a good job for the race. We have a good pace. We’ll see about the race distance and how the tires will work during the race. I know these guys are really tough and it will be a difficult race. For sure (Josh) Hayes will also be there because on Sunday he always is. Let’s do a good start and a consistent race.”
Bobby Fong showed why he won both of the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 races here last year and today he showed why. The Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki rider put his Superstock-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R fourth on the grid with his 2:09.588 and marginally ahead of Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes. Hayes’ best lap came on his second lap and was a 2:09.724.
Kyle Wyman was the fifth fastest Superbike and sixth overall, the Motovation USA/Lucas Oils/KWR rider/team owner turning in a 2:09.788.
Garrett Gerloff proved that you can’t keep a good man down as he crashed his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha in the final Supersport qualifying session, but got up and went on to earn pole position. The Texan and defending MotoAmerica Supersport Champion turned in a 2:12.676 to best M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise by .140 of a second. Gerloff’s best was almost a second slower than his best from the Dunlop Preseason test.
“Today was really good,” Gerloff said. “I felt comfortable and had a very similar setup to the pre-season test,” said Gerloff. “In the final stint of the qualifier I caught a pack of riders pretty quickly and tried to make an aggressive pass while my tires were still in good shape. Unfortunately, I tangled with one of the riders, but luckily the bike was alright. I was pretty fired up and dusted myself off to put in a hot lap and take the top spot.”
Debise has been at or near the top of the timesheets this week and said his focus in the final session was making sure his bike was race ready rather than just going for a fast lap.
“I felt good on the bike, despite the schedule giving us limited time on the track this weekend,” said Debise. “Today, I focused on working towards getting a good lap in during the qualifier and we [the team] put a new tire on that allowed me to drop my time. I’m happy heading into the race tomorrow.”
Gerloff’s teammate JD Beach ended up third, .301 of a second off his teammate’s best with the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion set to start tomorrow’s 12-lap race from the outside of the front row.
“I’ve made a lot of changes to the bike since the test a few weeks ago here at COTA,” said Beach. “I missed about 30 minutes of practice yesterday due to an issue with the bike, so today I was able to try some new parts for the first time. Some of the parts were an improvement and others were not. The team and I will find a happy medium with our setting heading into the race.”
Today’s Superpole session featured the debut of the new Dunlop evelopment “pre-qualifying” tire that fits between the race tire and the one-lap, yellow-banded Dunlop qualifying tire. The new tire was popular amongst the riders.
“I like that MotoAmerica introduced that pre-qualifier because I feel like it’s kind of a safety barrier,” said Beaubier. “You can go out and get a few laps in on that and still be relatively close to what you can do on a qualifying tire, lap-time wise. That way, if someone gets in the way or if you have a big mistake – run off the track on a qualifier – you’re not on the third row. So I think it’s good.”
1.Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 2:08.184
2.Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 2:08.342
3.Toni Elias (Suzuki) 2:08.429
4.Bobby Fong (Kawasaki) 2:09.588
5.Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 2:0.9.724
6.Kyle Wyman (Yamaha) 2:09.788
7.Matthew Scholtz (Yamaha) 2:09.877
8.Cameron Petersen (Kawaski) 2:10.124
9.Jake Lewis (Suzuki) 2:11.077
10.Hayden Gillim (Suzuki) 2:11.129
11.Jake Gagne (Honda) 2:11.155
12.Sylvain Barrier (BMW) 2:11.728
1.Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)2:12.676
2.Valentin Debise (Suzuki) 2:12.816
3.JD Beach (Yamaha) 2:12.977
4.Daytona Anderson (Yamaha) 2:15.060
5.Benny Solis (Honda) 2:15.399
6.Nick McFadden (Suzuki) 2:16.156
7.Brandon Paasch (Suzuki) 2:16.840
8.Lucas Silva (Yamaha) 2:17.312
9.JC Camacho (Suzuki) 2:17.802
10.Brandon Cleland (Suzuki) 2:17.858
Gerloff Again Leads Supersport Class
AUSTIN, Texas (March 29, 2017) – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden turned the tables on the competition during the final day of the Dunlop Preseason Test at Circuit of The Americas, the Kentuckian clicking off a 2:08.305 late in the last session of day two to take the top spot.
Roger Hayden rode his Yoshimura Suzuki to the fastest time at the COTA test. | Photo: Brian J. Nelson
Hayden was .127 of a second better than his teammate Toni Elias, the Spaniard having logged the best Motul Superbike class time yesterday. Third quickest, and the final rider to break into the 2:08s, was two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier. Beaubier was a tick over half a second off Hayden’s best.
Hayden’s quickest time was .459 of a second faster than Beaubier’s best from last year’s Dunlop test at COTA, and .846 of a second faster than Hayden’s pole time at last year’s race here. The top men all did their times on Wednesday afternoon using the latest generation of Dunlop qualifying tires.
“That felt good that last session,” Hayden said. “Not just the qualifier, but with the softer race tire I did a bunch of 2:09s there so I was really excited about that. I was actually going to try to keep trying to go and see how many low 9s I could do, but the boys wanted me to come in and try the qualifiers. That’s always fun, the qualifiers, having so much grip and going for it one lap. Overall, I’m really happy. We got through a lot of stuff and being fast from the get-go helps a lot. We kinda hit a little bit of a wall yesterday afternoon and this morning we got stuck at a lap time and then this afternoon we started making steps again. We lost a session due to weather and another with an accident, but we leave here with a lot of information. We need to improve in some areas and we still have a long ways to go, but I’m ready to get this season going.”
Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes was fourth fastest, the four-time Superbike Champion lapping at a best of 2:09.696.
Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong was the fastest of the Superstock 1000 riders and was up amongst the Superbikes on his ZX-10R. Fong dropped down to a best of 2:09.745 in the final session on a bike that has yet to be modified to the new Superstock specs. Fong won both Superstock 1000 races at COTA a year ago.
Sixth fastest was Millennium Technologies/Lucas Oil/KWR’s Kyle Wyman, the team owner/racer lapping at 2:10.521 to best Wheels In Motion/Western Services/Meen Yamaha’s Josh Herrin. Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, Broaster Chicken Honda’s Jake Gagne and Fly Racing/Motul/ADR Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen rounded out the top 10 from today’s sessions.
Garrett Gerloff was again the fastest of the Supersport racers, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha rider stepping up big on day two to slice 1.4 seconds off his best from yesterday. Gerloff lapped at 2:11.728, which was .271 of a second under his pole position time from last year’s Supersport race at COTA.
That put him .658 of a second ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman’s best also coming in the last of four 50-minute sessions today. Debise’s best was a hair quicker than Gerloff’s Yamaha teammate JD Beach, the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion ending up third quickest after the two-day test.
Rickdiculous Racing’s Daytona Anderson jumped up to fourth fastest, a tad over half a second faster than yesterday’s fourth-placed rider Brandon Paasch on the second M4 ECSTAR Suzuki. Paasch slipped down a spot to fifth.
“It was a good day,” Gerloff said. “We figured out some things with this new bike. Even though there are some things that are similar to last year, it is a new bike and we have to find different settings for the tracks we go to. The tracks we have been testing on are a lot more flowing and fast and not a lot of hard braking compared to this track where it doesn’t flow very well and there’s a lot of hard braking. They demand two different setups and we struggled a bit with that yesterday. Today, with the better track conditions and everything, we were able to figure out some things that we couldn’t yesterday with the wind. Everything is feeling good and ready for the race in three weeks.”
Day Two Lap Times
1. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 2:11.728
2. Valentin Debise (Suzuki) 2:12.386
3. JD Beach (Yamaha) 2:12.402
4. Daytona Anderson (Yamaha) 2:15.273
5. Brandon Paasch (Suzuki) 2:15.848
6. Nick McFadden (Suzuki) 2:16.153
7. Lucas Silva (Yamaha) 2:17.183
8. Brandon Cleland (Suzuki) 2:17.872
9. JC Camacho (Yamaha) 2:18.961
10. Caroline Olsen (Yamaha) 2:19.227
1. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 2:08.305
2. Toni Elias (Suzuki) 2:08.432
3. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 2:08.827
4. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 2:09.696
5. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki) 2:09.745
6. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha) 2:10.521
7. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 2:10.627
8. Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha) 2:10.977
9. Jake Gagne (Honda) 2:11.122
10. Cameron Petersen (Kawasaki) 2:11.506
Interviews with Indiana motorcycle racing pioneers during the Indiana Motorcycle Expo at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Feb. 18, 2017
Grattan Raceway always produced some great racing as this photo shows. It’s Scott Zampach leading Dave Barnard and Jeff Harder in the Michigan Grand Prix. Zampach and Barnard were Grattan regulars, but Harder came up from the South Central Region to mix it up with the North Central Region riders with good success. The Michigan Grand Prix was a series held exclusively at Grattan and was a money-paying race. You could run any machine in the class. While you mainly saw production-based bikes racing, sometimes riders would show up with ex-GP machinery.
Brian Nitto does an amazing job of making the MotoAmerica races really come to life on video. Check out this highlight clip!