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Cameron Beaubier put together the best performance of his season today in the MotoAmerica Championship at Sonoma Raceway, the two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion riding his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing R1 to a 6.1-second win in a race that was never in doubt.
Beaubier, who lives just 90 minutes away from Sonoma Raceway, was fast from the get-go as he led every session on Friday and Saturday, earning pole position this morning in Superpole. In the race he was dominant from the beginning, leading off the start and never letting up. By the end of the race he was over six seconds clear of his rival Toni Elias as he stormed his third Motul Superbike win of the season.
“Overall, it’s been a good weekend so far,” Beaubier said. “As soon as we rolled the bike off the truck on Friday I felt comfortable on the thing. We made a couple changes here and there but we put ourselves in a good position after Superpole and I just tried to nail my start. I knew I was first going into the second corner, but I didn’t expect to see a one second gap coming into the second lap. I just put my head down after that. From what Toni (Elias) said it was pretty crazy on that first lap so I think I got a little relief from that. I’m super happy with how today went and I know tomorrow is going to be a little tougher. This one is definitely for my team because I know how hard they work back at the shop and they like winning just as much as I do, if not more. It feels good to put my bike back on the top step for this race and hopefully we turn it around for the rest of the season.”
Yoshimura Factory Suzuki’s Elias had a rougher road to the front as he got bunched up off the start and found himself well back in the pack while he watched Beaubier streak away at the front. The Motul Superbike Championship leader didn’t panic and instead methodically picked his way through the field on a march to the podium. Late in the race he moved around M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis to take over second spot and he held that to the finish for his 12th podium in 13 races.
Elias was rewarded for his efforts with 20 points and he goes into Sunday’s race two with a 60-point lead over his Yoshimura Factory Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden, as Hayden was taken out of the race on the opening lap when Josh Herrin crashed into him in the Carousel. Combine Hayden’s non-finish with Elias’s second place and the Spaniard now leads the title chase by 60 points, 280-220, over Hayden. Beaubier is third in points, 75 behind Elias with 205.
“I felt very comfortable during the weekend,” Elias said. “The bike is working good. The pace is good. Cameron (Beaubier) is another step this weekend. Of course my goal was to have a good start and then try to win but I saw in the second corner that was impossible because everyone was so aggressive trying to pass. In five or six corners Cameron was like ‘see you’ and was very far (away)! I saw a lot of mistakes and crashes so I just tried to stay calm and make my rhythm. Everyone was pretty aggressive and I didn’t want to make a mistake so when everything started to clear up I was able to find my rhythm again. I honestly felt so good during the race. Then it was just a question of time and luck. I knew I could arrive on the podium but I didn’t expect to be second. We are in a good position for a championship but I don’t think about that. Tomorrow we have another race.”
Third place went to Beaubier’s Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes, the four-time Superbike Champion also having to fight his way through the pack to score his fourth podium finish of the season at a racetrack where he’s won Superbike races five times in his career. Hayes passed Lewis on the final lap to take the last podium spot.
“The start was a little frantic but okay,” Hayes said. “As things started to spread out I was able to take advantage of Toni, jump in there with him and just try to focus on moving forward. A few people made some mistakes that helped me out a little bit. As the race wore on I was able to make some more passes but I made a mistake and it cost me a little bit of time. It wouldn’t have been so bad but we immediately caught a large group of traffic that hurt me. Towards the end I got a good run off of turn one and was able pass him (Jake Lewis) heading into turn two, so third is what I got today. We learned a few things during the race and hopefully we can improve a little bit tomorrow.”
Lewis had the best race of his season, the Kentuckian holding down second for most of the race before being passed by Elias and Hayes after getting a bad run through lapped traffic. Although he slipped to fourth in the Superbike class, he won the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class for the third time in the 2017 season.
“That was the plan after about halfway through the race (to get on the Superbike podium),” Lewis said. “I got a good start because of my qualifying. I saw Roger (Hayden) and Josh (Herrin) crash at the beginning and I was kind of stuck behind Matthew (Scholtz) and saw Bobby (Fong) getting away so I knew I had to go because for me and Bobby we both have to win for the championship. Once I caught up to him he crashed in the carousel so I just decided to keep pushing. Josh (Hayes) passed me late in the race but at that point I decided to play it safe and win the Superstock race, not pitch it down the road. Hats off to the whole M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team because I pretty much put a bike in the garbage can yesterday in free practice two so thanks to them for putting a good bike underneath me. I just need to keep winning races.”
Fifth-place went to Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship leader Mathew Scholtz, the Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha rider taking second in class to minimize any attacks on his championship points lead. Scholtz now leads the championship by 46 points over Lewis with Bobby Fong, the unluckiest of the championship hopefuls as he crashed out of second place on the Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki.
Sylvain Barrier had his best outing of the season, the Frenchman riding his Brixx Performance BMW to sixth place after narrowly beating TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick. Eslick, however, was third in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.
Kyle Wyman rode his Décor Brilliance/Lucas Oils/KWR Yamaha R1 Superbike to eighth with Cycle World Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim and Team WD-40/Scheibe Racing’s Jason DiSalvo rounding out the top 10.
Gerloff Wins Big In Supersport
Garrett Gerloff’s fifth win of the season in Supersport was equally as impressive as Beaubier’s, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha rider beating his teammate JD Beach by 6.2 seconds after also dominating every session in practice and qualifying.
Gerloff took off from the start and was never headed, though Beach kept him honest in the opening laps. With Gerloff gone at the front, Beach found himself with his hands full in the closing laps as M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise closed in. At the finish Beach was just .4 of a second ahead of the Frenchman.
With his fifth win of the season, Gerloff opens up a nine-point lead on Beach heading into tomorrow’s second race in the class. Debise, meanwhile, moved into a tie for third in the series standing with Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis, the CBR600RR rider finishing fourth today.
“Me and my team talked a lot about what we wanted to do for this round so as soon as the bike came off the truck we were on the right page and just working to make things a little more comfortable and improve the pace,” Gerloff said. “I’ve got some things to work on for tomorrow, not so much with the bike, but with me and being more consistent. I’m still happy to be up here on the podium again and I just want to keep having fun and having good races. I’m ready for tomorrow and can’t thank the team and MotoAmerica enough. It’s awesome to see all the people and fans out here.”
The Superstock 600 class win went to Tuned Racing’s Braeden Ortt, the Canadian finishing fifth overall and holding off a tightly knit group of five behind him in winning for the first time in the class. Ortt topped Superstock 600 points leader Jason Aguilar and his Riderz Law/Aguilar Racing Yamaha, Palmetto Motorsports Team New Zealand’s Shane Richardson, Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert and Deion Campbell Racing’s Deion Campbell. Jayson Uribe rounded out the top 10 on his Supersport-spec Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha.
Aguilar further increased his championship lead over Gilbert, 180-152. Connor Blevins is third in the series standings.
Smith Also Dominates KTM RC Cup
Runaway victories in the KTM RC Cup are rare. Wins with an 11.9-second margin of victory are unheard of, but that’s what Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Benjamin Smith did to the competition on a sunny Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.
Smith destroyed the competition in the first of two KTM RC Cup presented by Riderz Law races, besting CSVMoto’s Cory Ventura by 11.9 seconds. Third place went to first-time MotoAmerica podium finisher Brett Voorhees with Smith’s teammate Jackson Blackmon finishing fourth. Roadracing World Wild Card Team’s Tyler Linders rounded out the top five.
Smith now leads the title chase by 41 points over Blackmon going into tomorrow’s race two, 172-141.
“It was a great race,” Smith said. “That was one of the hardest races of my life just trying to stay out front and consistent by myself. But I’m really happy to get more of a points lead; it really gives me a lot of confidence heading into the final rounds.”