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Toni Elias Wins MotoAmerica Opener At Circuit of The Americas

Toni Elias did it again today, the Spaniard storming to his third straight win at the Circuit of The Americas as he beat his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden by 1.7 seconds after Hayden’s last-lap attempt at victory came up short. Elias swept to both Motul Superbike wins last year at COTA in his MotoAmerica debut and this year gave the new GSXR-1000 its debut victory in Texas.

Elias led for the majority of the race with Hayden in his shadow. On the final lap, Hayden tried a late-braking move into turn 12, went under Elias, but drifted wide and allowed Elias to come back past. That was all the former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner needed to win his seventh career MotoAmerica race.

“COTA is one of my favorite tracks of the season and I’ve had a lot of success here the past couple of years,” said Elias. “Roger [Hayden] was riding really good, I tried to open a gap on him, but he kept me honest the entire race. I found some new lines the last few laps and was able to hold on for the win.”

Hayden gave it all he had, but came up short. It was his third straight second-place finish at COTA.

“The plan was to try and make a pass stick somewhere where he [Elias] would least expect it,” said Hayden. “It was close, but I came in to the turn a little too deep and was finished just short. Overall, it was a good race and I’m happy to start the season off with a podium on the new bike.”

Third place today went to the impressive Bobby Fong on the Quicksilver/Latus Motors Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R and it also gave him the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 victory as Fong was able to mix it up with the top Superbike men for most of the race. The Californian finally ran out of grip and dropped to 10-some seconds behind, but he was well clear of fourth-placed Mathew Scholtz on the Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1. Scholtz was second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class. Fong also had the fastest lap of the race on lap three and ended a Superbike podium drought for Kawasaki that dates back to 2008 and Jamie Hacking.

“I was riding 110 percent in order to keep pace with these two guys [Elias and Hayden],” said Fong. “Running with the Superbike guys puts a little bit of pressure on myself for the rest of the season, but I’m just going to take it race-by-race and do my best each time out. This track suits my style, braking is one of my strong points, I’m going to try and repeat my performance tomorrow.”

Fourth place went to Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African ending up second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.

Jake Gagne finished fifth in this Honda debut on the Genuine Broaster Chicken CBR1000RR SP2, besting M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, who finished third in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.

Josh Herrin finished seventh after a rough week on the RiderZ Law/Western Services/Meen Yamaha.

And what of the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Team? Two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier crashed out of the battle for the lead, remounted and finished eighth. And his teammate Josh Hayes was even worse off after getting taken out by the crashing Kyle Wyman early in the race. Hayes remounted to finish 14th, scoring just a single point in the opening round of the series. Wyman was lucky to escape injury, but didn’t remount.

TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick and Cycle World/Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim rounded out the top 10 finishers and were fourth and fifth in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.

JD Beach had a tough off season. The 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion suffered a broken leg in an off-season motocross accident, struggled to get movement back, and was bested by his teammate Garrett Gerloff at every off-season test. But that changed on a cloudy day at COTA with Beach dominating the race to win by 4.930 over M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman coming out on top of a race-long battle with defending Superstock Champion Gerloff. Debise beat Gerloff to the line by .478 of a second.

“The off-season was difficult this year coming off of a broken leg and it feels good to breakthrough with a win at the first race,” said Beach. “I spent a lot of time the past few months training with fast guys like Roger [Hayden] and I feel like it really helped me elevate my riding and come into the season a better rider.”

Debise was second and knew he didn’t have the pace to match Beach.

The restart was a huge benefit for me after I crashed in the opening laps of the race,” said Debise. “I lost confidence due to my crash and it kept me from pushing as hard as I would have liked. It was a good battle with Garrett [Gerloff] and I was able to make the pass back on him in the final corner.”

Gerloff thought the two would have been better fighting less with each other in order to try and stay with Beach.

“My riding felt good today, but I just lacked speed to run at the front,” said Gerloff. “The restart allowed for me to get off of the line a little bit better and regroup. Valentin [Debise] was riding awesome, we passed each other back and forth, but maybe next time we should try to push forward towards JD [Beach] instead of holding each other up.”

Fourth place in the Supersport race went to Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis, the CBR600RR-mounted Californian some 15 seconds behind the Debise/Gerloff battle and 7.7 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Daytona Anderson.

M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden was sixth with KTM RC Cup Champion Brandon Paasch seventh in his Supersport debut on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600. Lucas Silva, JC Camacho and Caroline Olsen rounded out the top 10 finishers in the opening round of the series.

The Motul Superbike class will be back on track at COTA for race two tomorrow afternoon. The Supersport Championship resumes next weekend at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

Results 

Motul Superbike

  1. Toni Elias (Suzuki)
  2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
  3. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki)
  4. Mathew Scoltz (Yamaha)
  5. Jake Gagne (Honda)
  6. Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
  7. Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
  8. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
  9. Danny Eslick (Yamaha)
  10. Hayden Gillim (Suzuki) 

Bazzaz Superstock 1000

  1. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki)
  2. Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
  3. Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
  4. Danny Eslick (Yamaha)
  5. Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
  6. Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
  7. Tyler O’Hara (Kawasaki)
  8. Max Flinders (Yamaha)
  9. Anthony Kosinski (Yamaha)

Supersport

  1. JD Beach (Yamaha)
  2. Valentine Debise (Suzuki)
  3. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
  4. Benny Solis (Honda)
  5. Daytona Anderson (Yamaha)
  6. Nick McFadden (Suzuki)
  7. Brandon Paasch (Suzuki)
  8. Lucas Silva (Yamaha)
  9. JC Camacho (Yamaha)
  10. Caroline Olsen (Yamaha)

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