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Although it may prove to be too little too late, Cameron Beaubier is doing everything he can to try and retain his MotoAmerica Superbike Championship as he won his third successive Motul Superbike race, this one coming in the first of two races in the Championship of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Beaubier gained five points on championship leader Toni Elias, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider finishing 1.4 seconds behind the defending two-time champion after leading the majority of the laps.
“It was a really good race for me today,” said Beaubier. “I felt that I was a little slow to get going compared to these guys, just struggling with grip, but as the race wore on I was able to pick it up. The team and I went backwards with some changes in practice this morning and we ended up putting yesterday’s settings back in for the race today. It was an awesome race, a good battle, and the pack was so big coming down the front stretch that I couldn’t even see my pit board. This track requires you to be precise and I’m really happy to be racing here in Pittsburgh.”
With his 14th podium finish of the season, Elias leads the title chase by 65 points with five races and 125 points left on the table.
“I had a good fight going today, but in the end he (Cameron Beaubier) had more pace,” said Elias. “I tried to follow him on the final lap to make something happen, but the gap was too big to do anything. I’ve had a problem destroying my tires each time out on this track and the team and I need to try and find a solution. Cameron has been really strong since Laguna Seca and running a fast pace. The finish today was still good for consistency and the championship.”
The race was a thriller in front of a large crowd in what was the first day of two days of MotoAmerica racing at the facility on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. For most of the race there were seven riders in the lead pack, led by the trio of Elias, Beaubier and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, followed by a horde of Bazzaz Superstock 1000 riders and the Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda of Jake Gagne.
Elias grabbed the holeshot and led the first seven laps. Beaubier took over on the eighth lap, but that lead was short-lived. On the ninth lap, Beaubier found himself in third as Hayden moved past the Californian. On the 14th lap, Beaubier found his way around Hayden again and on the 16th of 18 laps, Beaubier moved past Elias to take the lead. And it was a lead he wouldn’t relinquish as he put his head down and gapped the two chasing Suzukis, crossing the line 1.4 seconds ahead of Elias.
“I got a good start and followed Toni (Elias) for the first few laps,” said Hayden. “Cameron (Beaubier) came by me and those two up front had a pretty good race going that set me up to get back around Cameron. With a couple of laps to go Cameron got around us both and had another gear. I’ve got minimal time on this track, but I really enjoy it and can’t wait to get back on it tomorrow.”
Gagne was impressive in what was by far his best Superbike effort of the season in his first year on the Honda. By the end of the race he’d fought through to fourth place and was nipping on the heels of Hayden. At the finish he was just 4.8 seconds off Beaubier and just a tick over a second off Hayden and the podium.
Fifth place went to Quicksilver/Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong and with it came his sixth victory of the season in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class as he passed both of his rivals Mathew Scholtz and Jake Lewis on the final lap. Scholtz ended up sixth on the Yamalube/Westby Racing YZF-R1 with Lewis seventh on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki.
“We made a lot of changes to the motorcycle heading into the race today,” said Fong. “With all of the changes we made it took me the first half of the race to get used to the bike. I just kept chipping away, started gaining ground, and never gave up. That chicane actually helped me get the win today, so I’m digging the chicane. It was a blessing that I didn’t take everyone out in the final corner, but it was for the race win.”
Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Josh Hayes finished eighth in what was his 300th AMA start across all classes. TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick battled back from an off-track excursion to finish ninth with Australian Anthony West 10th on the Fly Street/Motul Oils/ADR Motorsports Kawasaki. Scholtz continues to lead the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class by 51 points over Lewis, 286-235. Fong now trails Scholtz by 72 points after matching Scholtz’ win total with his sixth victory.
Supersport: Again It’s All Gerloff
Supersport races aren’t normally won by large margins, but apparently Garrett Gerloff doesn’t know that. Gerloff rode his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha to victory today in Pittsburgh, topping M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise by 19.1 seconds after 16 laps. Gerloff’s teammate and title rival JD Beach was a further five seconds behind in third and just two tenths ahead of Team H35’s Benny Solis.
This one was all Gerloff, however. The Texan battled back from a slight off-track excursion and a bee sting to lead the final 12 of the 16 laps for his seventh win of the season and his fourth in a row as he tries to defend his 2016 Supersport title. With Beach finishing third, Gerloff now leads by 23 points, 271-248. Debise, who came from well down after running off in turn two on the opening lap, is third in the series points with 178 points.
“It was a dumb mistake that I made in turn one by running straight through the grass,” said Gerloff. “I had a little bit of a gap on the guys behind me and everything was clicking really well all day for me. We’ve made a lot of small changes and have been focusing on some minor details with my program, which has really shown the past three races. I’m looking forward to carrying my momentum through the rest of the season.”
New Jersian Anthony Mazziotto III finished fifth today and that was good enough for him to earn his first career win in the Superstock 600 class, the former KTM RC Cup race winner coming back after sitting out the last three “west” races in Utah and California. Paasch topped his former KTM rival Brandon Paasch, with last year’s KTM RC Cup Champion finishing sixth. Travis Wyman’s first race of the 2017 MotoAmerica season resulted in him finishing seventh on his Travis Wyman Racing Yamaha. M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden finished eighth, and second in the Superstock 600 class, just ahead of third-place Superstock 600 finisher Michael Gilbert. Connor Blevins rounded out the top 10. With Jason Aguilar crashing and remounting to finish 12th and sixth in the Superstock 600 class, the Riderz Law/Aguilar Racing rider saw his lead shrink to just eight points over Gilbert, 201-193.
Dumas Gets His First In KTM RC Cup
Fifteen-year-old Canadian Alex Dumas won his first-ever KTM RC Cup race, the JP43 Junior Team rider barely holding off Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Jackson Blackmon by .045 of a second after 10 laps of the Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
CSVMoto’s Cory Ventura ended up third, just 1.1 seconds behind and in the battle for victory for all 10 laps despite a big crash in the morning practice session. Blackmon’s teammate Draik Beauchamp finished fourth with Savage Racing’s Sean Ungvarsky rounding out the top five. Points leader Benjamin Smith failed to finish after crashing out of fourth place and the result is a tighter championship. Ventura now trails Smith by 21 points, 192-171, with Blackmon moving to third in points, 36 points behind Smith.
“I thought it was Benjamin (Smith) and Cory (Ventura) with me at the end of the race,” said Dumas. “It ended up being Jackson (Blackmon) who was there with me, but I had no idea that it was him. The finish was close and it felt good to grab the win. I’ve been to this track one time previously and it seems to suit me pretty well.”