The 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship may be signed, sealed and delivered, but there’s still plenty to play for this coming weekend in the Honda Championship of Alabama, presented by Genuine Broaster Chicken, as the series comes to Barber Motorsports Park for its season finale.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias is the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion, the 34-year-old Spaniard wrapping up the title last weekend in New Jersey with a victory in the first of two Motul Superbike races. But Elias didn’t cruise in race two. Instead he passed his teammate Roger Hayden in the first turn on the final lap for a sweep of the two races, bringing his 2017-win total to 10.
That’s proof that Elias won’t be coming to Barber to cruise around sipping leftover champagne. He comes to Alabama determined to keep winning, and he’d love nothing more than to leave here with 12 wins under his belt for the season.
His Motul Superbike rivals will also show up here wanting to go out with a bang. None more so than Hayden, who led all of race two with the exception of the final lap. And Hayden won a race at Barber Motorsports Park last year so he’s a fan of the racetrack on the outskirts of Birmingham.
Josh Hayes rode his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 to third and fifth place finishes and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see if this is Hayes’ grand finale to what has been an incredible career, or if the four-time AMA Superbike Champion is planning on coming back for 2018.
Hayes is fourth in the title chase and unless he wins both races, he won’t finish any higher in the title chase. His injured teammate Cameron Beaubier will be on hand at Barber but won’t be racing, but he leads Hayes by 48 points with just the two Barber races left to run.
Elias wasn’t the only one to wrap up a championship in New Jersey as Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz did likewise in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship. The South African had to wait until Sunday to take his title, but he did so in similar style to Elias – with a victory, his eighth of the year.
The Supersport title is still up for grabs. Barely. Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff holds a 46-point lead in the title chase over his teammate JD Beach with just 50 points up for grabs. The fat lady might not be singing, but she’s certainly clearing her throat.
The Superstock 600 class, which runs with the Supersport class on-track, is a different story. That one will likely go to the final lap of the final race of the season on Sunday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park, as Riderz Law/Aguilar Racing’s Jason Aguilar and Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert are separated by just three points going into the final round. Both riders have won four races apiece heading into the last weekend of the series.
If you think the Superstock 600 title chase is close, how does one point between three riders sound? That’s the situation in the KTM RC Cup, which will race for the final time this weekend as it becomes the Junior Cup next season and not a spec-class. With his four wins, Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Benjamin Smith comes into Barber tied for the championship lead with three-time winner Cory Ventura. That’s right, tied. But it gets better. JP43 Junior Team’s Alex Dumas, the hottest rider in the series with four straight wins, comes to Alabama just one point behind the other two. One point. That run for the title will go down to the final lap of the final race and probably the final few feet of tarmac on the run to the checkered flag.
Barber Motorsports Park Fast Facts
The first AMA Superbike races held at Barber Motorsports Park were won by Aaron Yates and Kurtis Roberts in September of 2003. Yates won race one with Roberts taking race two.
Josh Hayes comes to Barber Motorsports Park as the winningest active racer in the MotoAmerica Series and also at Barber. Hayes has won seven Superbike races in Alabama, but he was shut out there last year. Hayes has 61 AMA Superbike victories to his credit and he’s second on the all-time list to Mat Mladin, who has 82 Superbike wins.
Cameron Beaubier will miss his second straight MotoAmerica event as he recovers from shoulder surgery after dislocating his shoulder in a near crash in round eight at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Beaubier, who has won the first two MotoAmerica Superbike titles, will be on hand at Barber supporting his team.
Beaubier will be replaced for the second straight race by 2013 Superbike Champion Josh Herrin, the Georgian finishing fourth and sixth in his first two races on Beaubier’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1. Herrin won both of the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 races at Barber last year, en route to taking the championship in that class.
With his 10 wins in the Motul Superbike class thus far in 2017, Toni Elias now has 16 career Superbike wins in just his second season of MotoAmerica racing. Elias is now tied for eighth on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with his childhood hero and MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey.
Four riders have won Motul Superbike races this season: Elias (10), Cameron Beaubier (5), Roger Hayden (2) and Josh Hayes (1).
Toni Elias gave Suzuki its 192nd and 193rd Superbike wins with his two victories at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Honda is second on the all-time list with 116 victories while Yamaha’s 106 wins puts them third.
Elias also gave Suzuki its 14th AMA Superbike title when he took the title last week in New Jersey. With those 14 titles, Suzuki tops the all-time list. Kawasaki is next on the list with nine titles with Honda and Yamaha at eight and seven, respectively.
Roger Hayden and Toni Elias split race wins at Barber Motorsports Park last year. Hayden won race one with Elias second and Elias won race two with Hayden second. Cameron Beaubier finished third in both races.
JD Beach would like to replicate the weekend he had at Barber last year when he won both Supersport races in June. The man with the hand in the class this year, however, is Beach’s Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff, the Texan with a firm grasp on the title for a second straight season after winning his seventh race in a row last week in New Jersey.
Bryce Prince was the king of the Superstock 600 class last year at Barber, the Californian winning both races en route to taking the title. Prince now races in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.
The KTM RC Cup races last year were won by Brandon Paasch and Anthony Mazziotto III. Paasch won’t be racing this weekend in Alabama as he heads to England for a round of the British Superbike Series; Mazziotto, meanwhile, will be racing in the Superstock 600 class after winning race two in his native New Jersey a week ago.
This marks the first time in MotoAmerica history that the series will conclude at the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park. For its first two seasons, the series ended at New Jersey Motorsports Park.