A Day Of Close Racing And Firsts In MotoAmerica Support Class Battles At Road Atlanta

Close racing was the order of the day as the MotoAmerica Championship began its 10th season of racing with the four support classes ending the day with a combined margin of victory of just 1.5 seconds (for an average of .389 of a second) at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday.

Winners on the day included a few firsts. For starters there was a first-time winner in the Junior Cup class with Matthew Chapin scoring his debut MotoAmerica win, and the Rahal Ducati Moto team nabbed its first-ever Supersport victory with PJ Jacobsen riding the team’s Ducati Panigale V2 to victory.

Additionally, Troy Herfoss won the Mission King Of The Baggers race in his first visit to Road Atlanta, and Rocco Landers rode a Suzuki GSX-8R to victory in the BellissiMoto Twins Cup race for the new bike’s first Twins Cup win.

A Day Of Close Racing And Firsts In Motoamerica Support Class Battles At Road Atlanta
Troy Herfoss (1) beat Kyle Wyman (33) and Hayden Gillim (1) to win the Mission King Of The Baggers on Saturday at Road Atlanta. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Mission King Of The Baggers – Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

S&S/Indian Motorcycle’s Troy Herfoss continues to impress with the Australian winning his second Mission King Of The Baggers race of the year at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on a sunny Saturday.

Herfoss, who earlier in the day won the three-lap Mission King Of The Baggers Challenge, sat behind Harley-Davidson Factory Racing’s Kyle Wyman for four of the eight laps before making a pass on the championship points leader and taking the victory, albeit by just .615 of a second.

Third place went to RevZilla/Motul/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson’s Hayden Gillim with the Kentuckian earning his first podium finish of the season in the fifth Baggers race of the year.

Herfoss’s win over Wyman cut a 10-point lead in half and the pair are now separated by just five points.

“It is a really enjoyable track. Like I keep saying, it’s a lot to learn, but the Indian Challenger has got a great base setting. I can roll out and I don’t have to think about the bike. I can learn the track. It’s just really important to be patient at the moment. The first session I was a little bit frustrated after the P1 session. I just feel like I sort of peaked in the middle of the session and then I was probably a little bit closer than I thought I would be in the first few laps, and then I got out and got excited. As we all know, these bikes are so big, you can’t over-ride them. So, that was a bit frustrating. I just had to reset there. It probably halted progress for us. It’s funny. I’m sitting here with a Challenge win and a race win and I’m criticizing myself. It’s such a long year. Kyle (Wyman) just seen me for three laps, and the race continues. These guys are both watching me in the races. I crossed the line first in this one and there’s 13 races to go. They know a bit more about me and I know a bit more about them. It will just be like a chess match all year the way it’s going. When I signed up for this there was a lot of DNFs, and consistency would win it. This year it’s like raw speed and consistency is what you need. It’s an elite championship, and all these guys, especially the guys next to me here are putting in a big effort, and so am I.”

Motoamerica Support - Road Atlanta - Sunday Morning
Avery Dreher crashed out of the lead in the Junior Cup class, handing victory to Matthew Chapin. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Junior Cup – A First For Chapin

Saturday’s racing started off with MotoAmerica’s entry-level riders, who always put on a great show in the Junior Cup Championship. There are a lot of new faces in Junior Cup this year as several riders have moved up to other race classes. However, Bad Boys Racing’s Avery Dreher, who is also racing in the BellissiMoto Twins Cup Championship, is defending his 2023 Junior Cup Championship. And, for a while, it looked like the rider of the number-one Kawasaki was going to win the race. Unfortunately, after extending his lead to a comfortable distance, he made a mistake and crashed out. That left a gaggle of riders to fight for the win, and fight, they did.

BARTCON Racing’s rookie rider Matthew Chapin prevailed with the first win of his young career by .072 of a second over polesitter Ryan Wolfe, who notched his first career podium aboard his Wolfe Racing Kawasaki. Third place went to New York Safety Track Racing’s Yandel Medina for the second podium of his career.

“I was stuck in the back of the pack the whole time,” Chapin said. “People were just dive-bombing me. I couldn’t really get anything done. But I knew if I was patient, I could get the draft because I’m a lot smaller than everybody else. I don’t weigh lot, so I knew I could draft into the line. I passed Ryan up the inside at the end. He came back on the outside, and I think it was in turn 11, I passed him back up the inside for the win. I’m so pumped right now. Words can’t even express it. I’m so pumped.”

Motoamerica Support - Road Atlanta - Sunday Morning
Rocco Landers (97) won the BellissiMoto Twins Cup race on Saturday, giving the Suzuki GSX-8R its first victory. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

BellissiMoto Twins Cup – Suzuki’s First With the GSX-8R

The Suzuki GSX-8R has joined the fray in the highly competitive BellissiMoto Twins Cup Championship, and in race one, RevZilla/Motul Vance & Hines Suzuki rider Rocco Landers brought home the bike’s first MotoAmerica win by .769 of a second over Rodio Racing – Powered By Robem Engineering Aprilia rider Gus Rodio. Rodio was followed across the finish line by his teammate and third-place finisher Alessandro Di Mario.

“I knew I was decent in the first sector because the (Suzuki) just brakes and turns like a total dream,” Landers said. “I just tried to sit there and try to get by them and see if I could lead through the first sector and see what happened. Eventually I was able to. I wasn’t really looking back, but based off the fact that I didn’t have anyone come flying by me down the back straight, I figured it somewhat worked out. The bike is fast as heck as soon as you get it into sixth gear, but I knew I had to really work for it. Up until there, we’re working towards making that power happen. It’s sick to get a win in the third race on this thing, second weekend. The team works so hard, my whole crew. We haven’t started a session with the same setup we had the session before since we got on the thing. The progress that we’ve made is amazing. The thing is so much different than it was when we rolled it out of the truck at Daytona. But it’s going to be quite a season with these guys with how good they’re riding. We’ll see where it goes.”

Motoamerica Support - Road Atlanta - Sunday Morning
PJ Jacobsen (15) beat Blake Davis (22) to win the Supersport race on Saturday at Road Atlanta. Tyler Scott (70) crashed out of the lead. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Supersport – Jacobsen Gives Rahal Victory #1

With 44 riders entering to race in Supersport at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and several former Superbike riders joining the class for the 2024 season, we knew the competition level would be at an all-time high. Saturday’s Supersport race one did not disappoint as it was definitely one of the most exciting races of the day.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider Tyler Scott looked to have the race in hand, but he unfortunately suffered a big crash in the esses, which took him out of the race. At the front of the pack, N2 Racing/BobbleHeadMoto’s Blake Davis got his Yamaha in the lead, but Rahal Ducati Moto’s PJ Jacobsen overtook Davis and crossed the finish line just .103 of a second ahead of Davis.

Meanwhile, Mathew Scholtz, who had electrical problems with his Strack Racing Yamaha on Thursday and only managed to qualify 11th, knifed his way through the pack and actually led the race for a short time before bringing his bike home in third place for the final spot on the podium.

“First, I really want to just say thanks to the Rahal Ducati Moto Team, XPEL, and Roller Die,” Jacobsen commented. “Basically, Richie Alexander, everybody in the whole team for just turning things around since Daytona. It’s a brand-new team. Graham has done a great job, and so has Ben (Spies). I just really want to thank them for putting this whole program together and getting things even more on track from Daytona. So, it’s been really good to progress. We had some testing and stuff. The team is super organized. It’s a really good environment over there, so I’m really happy to be a part of what whole program.

“But getting into the race now, I was kind of nervous. First race of the year, and stuff like that. Everybody is super close here in pace. But I was trying to manage being in front for a while there, and then Tyler passed me, Blake passed me. Then I was going to sit behind them and see them do some work and see what they had. But, unfortunately, Tyler (Scott) crashed, and I was really nervous because he crashed, and he was kind of tumbling through, and I didn’t want to hit him. So, I had my hands up. I thought a red flag was going to come out, but unfortunately it didn’t. It was because the bike was in the middle of the track. So, it was kind of scary for everybody behind me, because I was the first one to approach that after Blake (Davis). I was just really worried about Tyler and his body kind of being right there. It was kind of sketchy. Hopefully he’s all right and everything. Tyler is a great kid. We’ve been trying the whole race and stuff. Bike was riding great. My teammate, Corey, was riding super, super great. Then (Mathew) Scholtz came past with two laps to go. I was like, ‘Man, this guy! What is he doing?’ I was like, ‘Okay, I got to turn it up again.’ I’m just trying to hang onto Blake here and now I’ve got Scholtz. So, it was good. I kind of knew some spots where Blake was struggling a little bit, and I knew if I didn’t get the draft like someone did on the inside of me on that last lap there that I would have had a go at Blake, and I knew kind of where to get him. So, when he passed me in 10A, I kind of knew that I could have had a really good go in the last corner in 12. I was going for it at that point. I was eyeing it up for a few laps in the middle of the race. It was a really good race, and everybody has been riding super good. I think Supersport is going to be pretty interesting this year. There’s a lot of fast talent in that class.”

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