If you’re one of Toni Elias’ rivals in the 2018 MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Championship, two words have probably come to mind with frequency the week following the Yoshimura Suzuki rider’s two victories at Road Atlanta: Uh Oh.
Elias won in the dry on Saturday in the Championship at Road Atlanta. Then he won again in the wet on Sunday. A double whammy. And what makes the plight for his rivals even more daunting this week is the fact that this weekend’s round two is the Championship of Texas, which takes place at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. So, what’s the big deal? Well, Mr. Elias has won all four of the Motul Superbike races in which he’s taken part in at COTA. That’s right, the last four. Perhaps the words “Oh, s%&t” come to mind.
But racers are racers and not many of them are going to Texas thinking they can’t beat Elias. After all, most of the top Superbike men left Road Atlanta with some glimmer of hope even though they were beaten in both races by the Spaniard.
This is also a big weekend for the men of MotoAmerica as they will not only try to beat Elias at what now seems like his home race, but they will do so in front of the world as MotoAmerica shares COTA once again with the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, round three of the MotoGP World Championship.
Based on his results at Road Atlanta, Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz probably isn’t too worried. Scholtz ran with Elias early in Saturday’s first race and finished second. On Sunday, he fought back from an off-track excursion to finish third. Not bad for the Motul Superbike rookie’s first race in the class. Scholtz and his 36 points come to Texas second in the Motul Superbike title chase to Elias and his perfect points haul of 50.
Next up in the standings as the series heads to Texas is Monster Energy/Yamalube/Factory Yamaha Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, who finds himself third in the title chase and 23 points behind Elias. He also knows that it could be a lot worse. Three crashes, including the costliest one in race one on Saturday at Road Atlanta, put a dent into Beaubier’s opening round. But he was fortunate to be able to remount from Saturday’s crash and finish ninth to earn seven points that may prove to be valuable as he tries to wrestle the crown from Elias after owning it for the first two years of MotoAmerica. He also held Elias off for the majority of the wet race two, ultimately finishing second.
Motul Superbike rookie Garrett Gerloff comes into his home race fourth in the standings. Gerloff finished third in race one at Road Atlanta but suffered a nasty crash in Sunday’s race two. But, like his teammate Beaubier, he was able to remount to also salvage points from a ninth-place finish.
Fifth heading to COTA is the property of racer/team owner Kyle Wyman. Wyman was steady at Road Atlanta, with sixth and fourth-place finishes putting him in a good spot early in the season.
Elias’ teammate Roger Hayden suffered two race crashes at Road Atlanta. And, while he wasn’t able to remount after a fall in race one, his crash out of the lead in race two in the rain wasn’t as harmful as he was able to get going again to finish fifth.
Only two of the Superbike riders failed to score points in Road Atlanta: Cameron Petersen and Max Flinders. Flinders suffered a finger injury in practice and couldn’t race while Petersen crashed in race one and suffered a concussion that put him out of race two.
Elias went into the season knowing that everyone was taking aim at him and his number-one plate. He wasn’t the fastest at the preseason tests (Beaubier was), but when it came time to race he was at the front. But he knows this isn’t going to be easy and he’s not taking any of it for granted. Still, Elias must be riding a wave of confidence as he heads to COTA fresh off two wins in Atlanta with the knowledge that he’s going to a racetrack on which he’s never lost. On the other hand, if someone can go into Texas and beat him…
With that being said, COTA should provide even more answers as the 2018 MotoAmerica season will have two of its 10 rounds completed on Sunday night in Texas.
The Motul Superbike class is the only MotoAmerica class racing with MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 at the Circuit of The Americas this coming weekend. The rest of the classes will rejoin the Superbikes in the Championship of Virginia at VIRginia International Raceway, May 4-6.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden earned pole position for last year’s Motul Superbike race at Circuit of The Americas with his Superpole lap of 2:08.184. Monster Energy/Yamalube/Factory Yamaha Racing’s Cameron Beaubier was second with a 2:08.342 and Hayden’s teammate Toni Elias was third with his 2:08.429 as just .245 of a second separated the top three qualifiers.
Toni Elias won both Motul Superbike races at COTA last year. In the first race, Elias beat teammate Roger Hayden with Bobby Fong finishing third on his Superstock-spec Kawasaki. In race two, Elias beat Cameron Beaubier by .716 of a second with Hayden finishing third.
Who is the winningest active Superbike rider in MotoAmerica? Cameron Beaubier. The two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion (2015/2016) has won 21 MotoAmerica Motul Superbike races – eight in both 2015 and 2016 and five in 2017. Next best is Toni Elias with 18 wins – six in 2016, 10 last year and two already this year. Roger Hayden has five MotoAmerica Superbike wins to his credit (nine counting his other four AMA Superbike wins). The only other riders to have won MotoAmerica Superbike races are the retired Josh Hayes (13 MotoAmerica wins/61 total Superbike wins) and Mathew Scholtz, who took his maiden MotoAmerica Superbike win in the season finale at Barber Motorsports Park while riding his Superstock 1000-spec Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha.
If they have the kind of season expected from them, Suzuki could reach the milestone of 200 Superbike victories in 2018. Toni Elias gave the brand its 195th and 196th wins last weekend at Road Atlanta, putting them four wins shy of the mark. Honda is second on the all-time Superbike win list with 116 victories, while Yamaha’s 107 wins puts them third.