Toni Elias made his race a difficult one today at the Utah Motorsports Campus, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider bungling his downshifts in Turn 1 and finishing the opening lap in 11th place. But from there he was faultless, the Spaniard patiently working his way through the pack to take the lead on the 12th of 17 laps. It was a lead he wouldn’t relinquish as he rode to his fifth Motul Superbike victory of the season and his 11th career MotoAmerica victory at the Championship of Utah.
The win also puts Elias 25 points (a full race) ahead of his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden in the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, 185-160, as the series reached its halfway mark at the 3.048-mile racetrack on the outskirts of Salt Lake City.
“It was really difficult (to come back from the first-turn mistake),” Elias said. “I didn’t expect that mistake. After that I was trying to be calm and trying to find some space because in the middle of the group (of riders) is tough. I tried to overtake very slowly, I didn’t do crazy things, and I also tried to control what was behind me. I could come back step-by-step, very slowly, taking my time. In the end when the tires dropped a little bit it was more easy for me. My team gave me a really good bike for the race distance. At the end, I lap easy and pass them (Hayes and Hayden). It was difficult to open up (a lead). I was trying very hard but Roger gave me good contest. The [lead] was 0.3, 0.4, 0.7, and then at the end I say ‘Okay, it’s mine.’ I know these guys are going to work a lot tonight and tomorrow I would just like to be safe in the first corner, don’ t make any mistakes. I’m really happy with the consistency (of the bike).”
Elias won by 2.461 seconds as the others failed to match his pace late in the race. Hayden finished second, the Kentuckian leading several laps before his teammate made his way through. Still, Hayden was able to hold off the advances of Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Josh Hayes, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion also leading at times during the race before ending up third.
“I knew he (Elias) was coming,” Hayden said of Elias. “Every time I would get in the lead I would try to lower the pace, but I was just struggling with some stuff and couldn’t go any faster. Josh (Hayes) was right there the whole time (too), and it was a pretty fun little back and forth with him (for the lead). But once Tony came by I hung on for one lap and just made some mistakes and I couldn’t hang on, and he was faster. So I’ll have to regroup tonight, look at some things, and try to see where we can close the gap.”
Hayes was trying not to make any costly mistakes as the race wore on and third was the best he could do on this day.
“That’s how it goes through the year, (you have) strong spots and weak spots,” Hayes said. “Their (Yoshimura Suzuki) bike is good in areas, our (Yamaha Factory Racing) bike is good in areas. A lot of the race was, since I haven’t seen these guys on the track that much, I was trying to figure out what we have where. What we can do good and what they can do good, so it was a bit of a chess match. It seemed like it was hard right in the beginning, but then it got a little better for a while and kind of wobbled back and forth a little bit. The second half of the race was pretty tough for me. Seeing all the mistakes on the first lap, I felt like grip was down just a touch from what it was earlier in the day, but overall I just tried to ride a smart race and bring it home. I had a few opportunities to get in there a race a little bit, but every time I tried it was just easy to make mistakes, so I had to take third, which is fun, but I was in the race (for the win) for a good while. I think we learned a lot and hopefully we come back tomorrow and are a little bit better than what we were today.”
Fourth place went to Bazzaz Superstock 1000 winner Bobby Fong, the Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki rider in the mix near the front of the Superbike pack early on before finishing 8.7 seconds behind. He was well clear of Helmet Sounds.com/Western Services/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin and his Yamaha R1 Superbike with Kyle Wyman finishing sixth on the Motovation USA/Lucas Oil/KWR Yamaha.
“I honestly haven’t been feeling that good,” Fong said. “Everyone I’ve been around has been sick, so I’ve been a little under the weather. I was on the grid and I didn’t know if I was going to last this race, I was just so depleted of energy. We did the best we could to stay with the Superbikes, but their straight-line speed is just insane compared to us. We actually had some corner speed on them. In a lot of the corners I could gain some pretty good time so that at least I could pull in on a straight line and in sector one and two it seemed like I could catch back up pretty quickly. But as soon as I saw the gap to Mathew (Scholtz), I just backed it down a little bit. It would have been nice to back on the Superbike podium again.”
Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz ended up seventh and second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class, some four seconds clear of third-place Superstock finisher Jake Lewis on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000. Cycle World Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim and TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick rounded out the top 10.
Defending two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier’s difficult weekend continued with his second crash of the weekend, and this time it was costly. Beaubier sped away at the start, but crashed out of the lead on the second lap. He was able to dust himself off and finish, but could only muster 16th and thus didn’t score any championship points. He now finds himself 39 points behind Elias after nine of 20 races (10 rounds).
“I had a terrible Superpole, so we changed the engine in my R1, and we were looking forward to the race,” Beaubier said. “With the motor change, I was confident that we could run up front. I got a really good start, which has been my weakness, so I felt really good about that. I was in third coming out of the first corner, but when everything settled, I was in the lead. So, I settled into a rhythm, and got a good pace going. I got into turn six a little hot, so I gave myself some room to make the turn. I didn’t expect the front to tuck as easily as it did, and I slid into the dirt. I got the bike restarted and, other than the windscreen, it was mostly okay. It took me a few laps to make sure everything was good. My lap times kept getting quicker as the laps wound down despite my head getting buffeted pretty good going down the front straight without the windscreen. Being so far back, the best I could hope for was a red flag. It’s been a terrible weekend for me so far, and to lose all those points, plus causing my guys to have to stay late again tonight to fix my bike just makes it all the worse. I’ve got a great team, though, and I’m confident that we’ll turn it around for tomorrow.”
Broaster Genuine Chicken Honda’s Jake Gagne was a non-starter after a crash during Superpole damaged his Honda badly enough that the team couldn’t get it repaired for today’s race. They are hoping to have the CBR1000RR back on the grid for tomorrow’s Race 2.
Supersport: Beach Wins Fifth In A Row In Utah
JD Beach came into Utah riding a four-race win streak on the fast and flowing Utah Motorsports
Campus racetrack. Make that a five-race win streak after Beach and his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha R6 won his fourth Supersport race of the season and his fifth in a row in Utah. The win also gave the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion the points lead for the first time in the 2017 season.
Beach won this one with two very fast opening laps while his teammate Garrett Gerloff struggled to find a way around M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise. After two laps, Beach led Gerloff by 2.1 seconds and that gap would hold steady until the closing laps when Gerloff gained ground in traffic. At the finish line it was Beach by 1.060 seconds. Debise, meanwhile, faded to third place and was 24.128 seconds behind at the finish.
“I kind of just went into the race with the same plan I always do and tried to get a good start,” Beach said. “I pushed the first few laps and we had some really good pace, but I definitely used up my tires a lot because towards the end of the race the bikes started to move a lot. I think I lapped five or six guys and I didn’t even see a blue flag (requiring lapped riders to move out of the way) until the last rider I lapped. That kind of threw off my rhythm a little bit towards the end of the race, but we’ve got some really good notes for tomorrow and we need to make some improvements so we can stay in front of Garrett (Gerloff) and (Valentin) Debise. I hope we can get back up there tomorrow and get another win.”
Fourth place went to Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis over M4 The 22 Project’s Daytona Anderson.
Aguilar Racing Yamaha’s Jason Aguilar finished sixth overall, but that was good enough to give him his first career MotoAmerica victory in the Superstock 600 class. The win also moved Aguilar to within two points of series points leader Connor Blevins, the Excel Machine Racing Kawasaki rider finishing third today.
“It was a really good race,” Aguilar said. “We made a lot changes to the bike before the race and I actually struggled quite a bit the first couple laps. I was a little bit worried, honestly, I thought I made the wrong decision, but I ended up coming (on) good. We ran really good lap times that were a second faster than where we were in qualifying, so I’m happy with it. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and make a little more happen tomorrow because the other guys are going to be right there.”
Second in the Superstock 600 class went to Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert, the Californian who led the series prior to Road America now just six points behind Blevins in the title chase.
Palmetto Motorsports Team New Zealand’s Shane Richardson and M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden finished fourth and fifth in class, respectively.
KTM RC Cup: A First Time Winner In Ventura
Cory Ventura showed what he was capable of at the previous round of the KTM RC Cup Series in Road America when he finished second. Today he went one better, the 15-year-old Californian winning his first MotoAmerica race after a thrilling three-way battle to the finish with Benjamin Smith and Jackson Blackmon.
It all came down the last lap and Ventura got through the final three miles the best, taking victory over Smith by just .021 of a second with Blackmon third – just .061 of a second behind.
“The race was really good,” Ventura said. “We got off to a good start, probably my best start of the season, and I just stuck with these two fast guys (Smith and Blackmon). I tried to get up there and mix it up early on in the race, and tried to break away one lap, but both of them draft past me about halfway down the straight. I knew that wouldn’t have been eligible to do, so I just kind of sat back and knew I had to save my tires a little bit to wait for the right moment and time to make my move. They pulled a gap on me for a second and had me worried, so I to push really hard to get back up there. I just happened to make moves really fast and coming into that last lap there were those lappers, which spooked me a little bit because I didn’t know what they were doing. Jackson (Blackmon) got around one but maybe lost some momentum getting around the other one and I came up on these fast guys. I did whatever I could going into Turn 14. Jackson was killing it through that corner and I had to do something. I knew he was faster than me through (Turns) 15 and 16, and had me down there. I got the pass made and led the rest of the race to the finish line.”
Fourth place went to Toni Elias protégé Francesco Perez, the young Spaniard in his first MotoAmerica race and on his first trip outside of Europe. Perez came out on top of a battle with Gavin Anthony and Brett Voorhees and Trevor Standish. Perez was riding an M4 Roadracing World-backed wild card.
Smith continues to lead the championship standings over his Quarterley Racing/On Track Development teammate Draik Beauchamp, 127-99. Beauchamp crashed on the final lap but was able to remount and finish 11th. Blackmon, who also rides in the Dale Quarterley-owned team, is third in the series standings with 93 points.
1. Toni Elias, Barcelona, Spain, Suzuki
2. Roger Hayden, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki
3. Josh Hayes, Gulfport, Miss., Yamaha
4. Bobby Fong, Stockton, Calif., Kawasaki
5. Josh Herrin, Dublin, Ga., Yamaha
6. Kyle Wyman, Macedon, N.Y., Yamaha
7. Mathew Scholtz, Durban, South Africa, Yamaha
8. Jake Lewis, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki
9. Hayden Gillim, Philpot, Ky., Suzuki
10. Danny Eslick, Tulsa, Okla., Yamaha
Motul Superbike Championship Standings
1. Toni Elias, Barcelona, Spain, Suzuki – 185
2. Roger Hayden, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki – 160
3. Cameron Beaubier, Roseville, Calif., Yamaha – 146
4. Josh Hayes, Gulfport, Miss., Yamaha – 98
5. Bobby Fong, Stockton, Calif., Kawasaki – 88
6. Mathew Scholtz, Durban, South Africa, Yamaha – 80
7. Jake Lewis, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki – 75
8. Josh Herrin, Dublin, Ga., Yamaha – 73
9. Danny Eslick, Tulsa, Okla., Yamaha – 63
10. Kyle Wyman, Macedon, N.Y., Yamaha – 55
Bazzaz Superstock 1000
1. Bobby Fong, Stockton, Calif., Kawasaki
2. Mathew Scholtz, Dublin, South Africa, Yamaha
3. Jake Lewis, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki
4. Hayden Gillim, Philapot, Ky., Suzuki
5. Danny Eslick, Tulsa, Okla., Yamaha
6. Bryce Prince, Bakersfield, Calif., Yamaha
7. David Anthony, Melbourne, Australia, Kawasaki
8. Max Flinders, Preston, England, Yamaha
9. Matthew Orange, Half Moon Bay, Calif., BMW
10. Roi Holster, Napa, Calif., Yamaha
Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship Standings
1. Mathew Scholtz, Durban, South Africa, Yamaha – 166
2. Bobby Fong, Stockton, Calif., Kawasaki – 165
3. Jake Lewis, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki – 154
4. Danny Eslick, Tulsa, Okla., Yamaha – 130
5. Hayden Gillim, Philapot, Ky., Suzuki – 107
6. Bryce Prince, Bakersfield, Calif., – 90
7. Max Flinders, Preston, England, Yamaha – 75
8. David Anthony, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki – 37
9. Anthony Kosinski, Crumstown, Ind., Yamaha – 37
10. Frankie Babuska, Pelham, N.Y., Yamaha – 17
1. JD Beach, Owensboro, Ky., Yamaha
2. Garrett Gerloff, New Waverly, Texas, Yamaha
3. Valentin Debise, Albi, France, Suzuki
4. Benny Solis, North Hollywood, Calif., Honda
5. Daytona Anderson, Riverside, Calif., Suzuki
6. Jason Aguilar, Placentia, Calif. Yamaha
7. Jayson Uribe, Napa Valley, Calif., Yamaha
8. Michael Gilbert, Santa Ana, Calif., Yamaha
9. Connor Blevins, Oklahoma City, Okla., Kawasaki
10. Shane Richardson, Wellington, New Zealand, Kawasaki
Supersport Championship Standings
1. JD Beach, Owensboro, Ky., Yamaha – 172
2. Garrett Gerloff, New Waverly, Texas., Yamaha – 171
3. Benny Solis, North Hollywood, Calif., Honda – 111
4. Valentin Debise, Albi, France, Suzuki – 99
5. Brandon Paasch, Freehold, N.J., Yamaha – 60
6. Connor Blevins, Oklahoma City, Okla., Kawasaki – 56
7. Jason Aguilar, Placentia, Calif., Yamaha – 54
8. Michael Gilbert, Santa Ana, Calif., Yamaha – 51
9. Daytona Anderson, Riverside, Calif., Suzuki – 46
10. Nick McFadden, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki – 43
1. Jason Aguilar, Placentia, Calif., Yamaha
2. Michael Gilbert, Santa Ana, Calif., Yamaha
3. Conner Blevins, Oklahoma City, Okla., Kawasaki
4. Shane Richardson, Wellington, New Zealand, Kawasaki
5. Nick McFadden, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki
6. JC Camacho, Deer Park, Texas, Suzuki
7. Braeden Ortt, Calgary, Alberta, Yamaha
8. Ezra Beaubier, Roseville, Calif., Yamaha
9. Andrew Lee, Clovis, Calif., Yamaha
10. Gauge Rees, Roy, Utah, Yamaha
Superstock 600 Championship Standings
1. Conner Blevins, Oklahoma City, Okla., Kawasaki – 112
2. Jason Aguilar, Placentia, Calif., Yamaha – 110
3. Michael Gilbert, Santa Ana, Calif., Yamaha – 106
4. Nick McFadden, Owensboro, Ky., Suzuki – 88
5. Shane Richardson, Wellington, New Zealand, Kawasaki – 84
6. JC Camacho, Deer Park, Texas, Suzuki – 80
7. Anthony Mazziotto III, Hammonton, N.J., Yamaha – 65
8. Braeden Ortt, Calgary, Alberta, Yamaha – 64
9. Andrew Lee, Clovis, Calif., Yamaha – 49
10. Ashton Yates, Milledgeville, Ga, Yamaha – 32
KTM RC Cup
1. Cory Ventura, Union City, Calif., KTM
2. Benjamin Smith, Glenmoore, Pa., KTM
3. Jackson Blackmon, Rock Hill, S.C., KTM
4. Francesco Perez, Barcelona, Spain, KTM
5. Gavin Anthony, Hilliard, Ohio, KTM
6. Brett Voorhis, Citrus Heights, Calif., KTM
7. Trevor Standish, Roswell, Ga., KTM
8. Toby Khamsouk, Banning, Calif., K
9. Gray Pham, San Diego, Calif., KTM
10. Alex Dumas, Quebec, Canada, KTM
KTM RC Cup Championship Standings
1. Benjamin Smith, Glenmoore, Pa., KTM – 127
2. Draik Beauchamp, Knoxville, Tenn., KTM – 99
3. Jackson Blackmon, Rock Hill, S.C., KTM – 93
4. Alex Dumas, Quebec, Canada, KTM – 79
5. Cory Ventura, Union City, Calif., KTM – 47
6. Toby Khamsouk, Banning, Calif., KTM – 68
7. Gavin Anthony, Hilliard, Ohio, KTM – 64
8. Trevor Standish, Roswell, Ga., KTM – 62
8. Sergio Rodriguez II, Oxnard, Calif., KTM – 50
10. Jake Leahey, Hammonton, N.J., KTM – 46