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With Cameron Beaubier scheduled for surgery on his dislocated right shoulder this week, there are only two men with a mathematical chance of being crowned the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion as the series heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) for the Championship of New Jersey, presented by K&N – and that is Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Toni Elias and Roger Hayden.
But realistically, this championship belongs to Elias. With two rounds, four races and 100 points up for grabs, Elias leads Hayden by 79 points. If Elias wins Motul Superbike race one at NJMP, the title is his even if Hayden finishes second. A win by Hayden can prolong the inevitable, but the odds are massive that Elias leaves New Jersey with the title. If Elias finishes race one with more than a 75-point lead on Hayden, he’s champion; if he doesn’t take the title in race one but finishes race two with a points lead of more than 50 points, he’s champion.
Although he’s on the brink of winning his first MotoAmerica Superbike title, Elias is careful with his words when discussing the coming weekend and the fact that this is as close to a done deal as you can get.
“Nothing is done until it’s done,” Elias said. “I want to have my feet on the ground and continue to work like this and the next race I want to start thinking about winning more races. That’s my goal and if it can be more early than late, well that’s better. Honestly, every time it’s (the championship) more close, it’s more easy but I don’t want to talk much about it until it happens.
With his Motul Superbike victory in race two at Pittsburgh International Race Complex two weeks ago and Beaubier’s injury that has taken him out of the equation, Hayden now has a lock on second in the championship. And that means a one-two finish in the title chase for Yoshimura Suzuki for the first time since Ben Spies and Mat Mladin did the deed in 2008. This will also be Suzuki’s first AMA Superbike title since Mladin won his seventh title in 2009. Since then, Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, Josh Herrin and Cameron Beaubier have run the table on Superbike titles with seven in a row.
Beaubier is relatively safe in third as he is 75 points ahead of his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Josh Hayes, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion some 21 points ahead of Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz.
Scholtz, meanwhile, is the championship leader in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class, the South African holding down a 64-point lead over M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis after taking his seventh win of the season at round eight in Pittsburgh. Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong is third, a further eight points adrift but still mathematically alive in the title chase.
Although you hate to pick up a ride because another rider is injured, the timing of Beaubier’s injury came at the right moment for Josh Herrin. Herrin will fill in for Beaubier at NJMP and also in the final round at Barber Motorsports Park, September 15-17. Herrin earned the AMA Superbike Championship in 2013 riding for the factory Yamaha team (with the same Rick Hobbs-led crew that works with Beaubier), a spot that was taken over by Beaubier in 2014 when Herrin went to the Moto2 World Championship.
Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach are still fighting over the Supersport Championship, though Gerloff now leads by 32 points after five straight wins. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise had two second-place finishes to Gerloff in Pittsburgh, but the Frenchman is 100 points behind and thus has no shot at the title. Debise is now 17 points ahead of Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis.
The battle for the MotoAmerica Superstock 600 Championship looks set to go the duration with Riderz Law/Aguilar Racing’s Jason Aguilar just 17 points ahead of Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert. Aguilar has four wins to Gilbert’s three.
The KTM RC Cup is also still up for grabs with Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Benjamin Smith leading CSVMoto’s Cory Ventura by 24 points. Smith’s teammate Jackson Blackmon and JP43 Junior Team’s Alex Dumas are also still in the chase, though they are 32 and 35 points behind, respectively.
New Jersey Motorsports Park Fast Facts
With his victory in Motul Superbike race one at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Cameron Beaubier now has 24 AMA Superbike victories, which puts him fifth on the all-time list. Beaubier is now three wins behind three-time AMA Superbike Champion and 2009 World Superbike Champion Ben Spies, who is fourth on the all-time win list. Beaubier, however, won’t have the opportunity to move up the list this season as the shoulder injury he suffered in race two in Pittsburgh will keep him out of the final two rounds.
Josh Hayes is the winningest active rider in the MotoAmerica Series. The four-time AMA Superbike Champion has won 61 AMA Superbike races in his career, a mark that places him second on the all-time list behind Australian Mat Mladin. Of those 61 wins, 11 have come at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Hayes won his first career Superbike race in May of 2009 at Sonoma Raceway in California.
With his eight wins in the Motul Superbike class thus far in 2017, Toni Elias now has 14 career Superbike wins in just his second season of MotoAmerica racing. Elias is tied with Doug Polen and Blake Young for 13th on the all-time win list.
Four riders have won Motul Superbike races this season: Elias (8), Cameron Beaubier (5), Roger Hayden (2) and Josh Hayes (1).
With its six wins thus far in 2017 (five for Beaubier, one for Josh Hayes), Yamaha now has 106 Superbike wins to its credit. Roger Hayden, meanwhile, gave Suzuki its 191st win when he emerged victorious from Motul Superbike race two at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Honda is second on the all-time list with 116 victories while Yamaha’s 106 wins puts them third.
The United States Classic Racing Association will run an historic race in conjunction with the regular MotoAmerica program at New Jersey Motorsports Park this weekend.
One to watch: Jake Gagne had his best Superbike race result of the season in race one in Pittsburgh, the Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda rider finishing fourth. Gagne backed that up with a seventh-place finish in race two as the Roadrace Factory team seems to be making improvements to the new Honda CBR1000RR SP2 as the season heads into the final two rounds.
MotoAmerica raced twice at New Jersey Motorsports Park last season with Cameron Beaubier dominating the two races in May, both of which were held in wet conditions. In the season finale, held in September, Roger Hayden and Toni Elias came away with the two wins. Superpole in May went to Beaubier with his 1:21.390, but Josh Hayes earned pole position in September with a faster 1:21.100.
If Roger Hayden were to make inroads into Toni Elias’ points lead, he might want to do a rain dance. In the two wet races last May, Elias finished 18th and 12th. Hayden, however, wasn’t much better with his ninth- and 17th-place finishes.
With either Elias or Hayden set to take home the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike title, the championship will mark the 14th AMA Superbike title for Suzuki. Kawasaki is next on the list with nine titles with Honda and Yamaha at eight and seven, respectively.