When it comes to last-lap battles, they don’t get much better than the final lap of today’s Motul Superbike race between Toni Elias and Cameron Beaubier in the Championship of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
The 18-lap Motul Superbike race came down to the very last lap of the 2.78-mile PittRace course and featured several close passes by both riders. In the end, though, victory went to Elias and his Yoshimura Suzuki – by just .046 of a second from Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Beaubier. It was Elias’ seventh win of the season and the 23rd of his MotoAmerica Superbike career and he dedicated the victory to Brian Drebber, the MotoAmerica announcer who passed away on Thursday from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
“It was crazy,” Elias said of the final lap. “I’m really proud of the moves these two (Cameron Beaubier and Josh Herrin) are doing during this season because I think there’s not many championships you can see this show. Some days it falls on my side, other days it falls on his side, and other days on his side. So, everybody is there to try to win. It was amazing. I tried to push all the last lap, trying to close the doors, but I knew he (Beaubier) had the pace. He was there. I knew he was there to try it and he did it. The next corner I give it back, but, honestly, I was braking really hard in the last area. He tried. It was a big surprise. I said, ‘wow, where he go?’ He did it, but at the end I was inside and I could continue leading the race until the finish line. I’m happy because this is not our favorite track. We are always struggling a lot here, but this year we’re struggling more. It looks like yesterday we found some solution. My team is giving more than what we have. I felt better than yesterday. I don’t feel comfortable. I feel I’m losing the rear too much on the entrance, on the exit. Too much spin sometimes. With these guys, especially the official Yamaha team, we’re struggling a little bit in the edge grip and that first moment when you want to go out of the corner. But today it looks like we found something was a little bit better. Was not perfect but was a big help. Thanks to my team. Let’s continue like this.”
Beaubier bounced back today after finishing fifth in yesterday’s iffy conditions and, after a slow start, caught and followed Elias until the final lap. At that point he pounced, the two exchanging blows for the entire lap until Elias’ decisive counter punch a few corners from the finish.
“The race started off not the best, I think,” Beaubier said. “I think what I did was hit the pit limiter and the launch control. So, I launched and when I was going, it just hit like a limiter at 11,000 RPM or whatever it’s set at. I made a couple quick shifts and it slotted me back to like fourth place. I was fighting for a position with Matty (Scholtz) and was able to beat him down the hill into five. (Josh) Herrin and (Garrett) Gerloff were riding really good. This place is pretty tough to pass at. I was able to sneak up the inside of Garrett and then Herrin ran or blew the chicane and let me by. Honestly that was pretty big for me because I was able to put my head down and start chipping away at Toni’s (Elias) lead. It wasn’t easy, though. He was riding really good. He definitely upped his pace from practice and yesterday. I wasn’t expecting him to be that fast. That’s all I had. I got in behind him and I just wanted to stay on his wheel and see what I could do the last five laps or so. I knew there was no way I could pass him and gap him or nothing like that. I knew that wasn’t happening. So, I waited until the end and tried to get creative. I was struggling a little bit getting a run onto the front straight into one. Then compared to last year, Toni was really good over turn two down into the braking zone into three and that was where I felt like I could capitalize on him last year, but this year wasn’t the case. It always sucks to come up short, but I was really happy with how I rode this weekend. He (Elias) deserved it. He led almost every lap of the race. Hats off to him. I’m happy we’re going into the last two rounds with a good points lead. We’ve been working so hard this year. Hats off to my guys. I’m really looking forward to going to New Jersey because I didn’t get to race here last year with my shoulder injury, so should be good.”
Third went to Saturday’s Motul Superbike winner Josh Herrin, the Georgian holding off both M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz by less than a second.
“Can do like in motocross where we get an overall?” Herrin said after posting what would have been a 1-3 moto tally. “I was happy with the race. I think the thing that I was most proud of was that I had struggled in the beginning. I had some big moments going into the corner, like (Garrett) Gerloff and (Valentin) Debise had earlier. It just got in my head. I was just kind of riding around, not really concentrating and looking forward. I was thinking, ‘is it going to do it again?’ the whole time. So, I was proud that I was able to kind of regroup and charge again and do some consistent times by myself. These guys were riding super-fast, Toni (Elias) especially. I wasn’t expecting him to be up there. I thought he was going to get a good start. I thought that Cam (Beaubier) was going to come blowing by, but Toni kept the pace and rode really well. There was a certain part of the race where I felt like me and (Mathew) Scholtz were maybe going to catch a little bit, and it was just motivating. I didn’t think we were going to catch them, but we were at least biting away a little bit and we were using those carrots to kind of move forward. Then they pushed super hard at the end and pulled away again. I lost my carrot there, but I was happy with the last lap. I was able to put my head down and do my fastest lap of the race to get away from (Jake) Lewis. Like I said yesterday, this track is amazing. It was new to me this weekend and I was kind of nervous to ride here because I didn’t think I’d do well because it was a difficult track to learn. I’m super pumped with the track and I can’t wait to come back next year. I think it’s definitely an event that we should look at coming to twice just because the fans are so good here and the track is really good, the racing is really good. I think all of us would say the same thing. We had a lot of fun. Looking forward to New Jersey.”
Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Bobby Fong finished sixth in his second race on the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, improving upon yesterday’s eighth-place finish.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Danny Eslick was seventh after yesterday’s non-finish with KWR’s Kyle Wyman taking eighth, improving on Saturday’s 10th-place finish. Fly Street Racing’s David Anthony and Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders rounded out the top 10.
The only two non-finishers were notable in that they were Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff and Elias’ teammate Roger Hayden. Gerloff crashed on his own accord, with Hayden getting bumped off by Scholtz.
Despite a weekend without a victory, Beaubier has his hands firmly on the title with a 56-point lead and two rounds (four races) left to run. The Californian has 329 points to Elias’ 273. Herrin is third with 228, 101 points adrift of Beaubier. Scholtz and Gerloff round out the top five in the title chase as the series heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park in two weeks.
Supersport – It’s A Beach
In the red-flag-shortened Supersport race, Monster Energy/Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha rider JD Beach edged oh-so-close to clinching the 2018 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship when he made a strong comeback from a so-so result on Saturday at PittRace to win Sunday’s 12-lap feature, albeit by less than a second over Rickdiculous Racing/Yamaha’s Hayden Gillim.
Beach currently holds a 98-point lead over Gillim in the point standings, and he is poised to wrap up the championship at the next round in New Jersey. Yesterday’s third-place finisher Bryce Prince once again finished third aboard his RiderzLaw Racing/KWR Yamaha in the best weekend the California rider has had all season.
“We struggled quite a bit in the race yesterday after about lap six or so,” Beach said. “I think we figured out what it was, and it definitely didn’t happen again in the race for today. I felt like I had really good pace before the first red flag. After the second red flag it was like we were all in a group. (Valentin) Debise and Hayden (Gillim) were passing hard and I was passing Debise trying to get up to Hayden, and then Debise would get back by me. It was going to be a really fun race, and then I was able to get out in front. There were definitely parts of this track that I was struggling at, but I was trying to just be real quick in the parts that I was good at. We were able to get the win. I’m not too sure that would have happened if we would have gone the full race distance, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Oh, Canada
In Liqui Moly Junior Cup, Saturday’s race winner Alex Dumas did the double and also notched a win on Sunday aboard his KTM Orange Brigade/JP43 Training RC390R. Dumas battled with Quarterley Racing’s Renzo Ferreira for several laps before Ferreira crashed out unhurt. Also crashing unhurt and out of the race was Yates Racing’s Ashton Yates, which opened the door for MP13 Racing Yamaha rider Cory Ventura and RiderzLaw Racing/Yamaha’s Jackson Blackmon, who finished second and third, respectively. Dumas, who now has eight race victories on the season, holds a 64-point advantage in the championship standings.
“This weekend has been incredible for me,” said Dumas. “I’m happy because I won the race and got 25 more points for the championship. I’m really happy about that. My KTM RC390R just went so well this weekend. We made a lot of changes, even all the weekend. I’m really happy how we ended up. I had a good holeshot in the first part of the race. I was able to do a big lap in the half lap, and then there was a red flag, so I just put my head down for the second part. Some guys just passed me, and I was just putting my head down and trying to be in front.”
Stock 1000 – Lee Again!
In Stock 1000, RiderzLaw Racing/Kawasaki’s Andrew Lee, who won his first race of the season at Sonoma Raceway during MotoAmerica’s previous round, emerged victorious again on Sunday at PittRace. The championship points leader had the measure of the field in the red-flag-shortened event and won by nearly seven seconds. Woolich Racing/Kawasaki rider Shane Richardson, who missed two races while he was back home in New Zealand, finished second. Third place went to Team Lewin Estates/Yamaha rider Chad Lewin.
“My goal coming into this weekend was to repeat Sonoma, and thankfully I did it because the crew behind me really stepped up this round and really worked super-hard,” Lee said. “To do it again, same kind of form, was just honestly a dream come true.”
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
- Anthony Mazziotto III (Yamaha)
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Alex Dumas (KTM)
- Cory Ventura (Yamaha)
- Jackson Blackmon (Yamaha)
- Kevin Olmedo (Yamaha)
- Toby Khamsouk (Yamaha)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Shane Richardson (Kawasaki)
- Chad Lewin (Yamaha)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Stephen Incledon (Yamaha)