In the 10 MotoAmerica Superbike races held at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in the five-year-old MotoAmerica era, only two riders have tasted victory – Cameron Beaubier and Toni Elias – with those two tied with five wins apiece. Thus, if one of those two wins a race and the other doesn’t in the upcoming two HONOS Superbike races in Braselton, Georgia, July 31-August 2, that tie will be broken. And if they are both beaten, the streak will be over.
Beaubier got a two-race head start on Elias at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the four-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion racing to two wins in 2015 while Elias was still in Europe. In 2016, Elias showed up and followed up his two race wins in the series opener at COTA with a race-one win at Road Atlanta on his Yoshimura Suzuki. Beaubier, however, won race two.
The following year will go down as the “I have long memory” race when Beaubier and Elias got together, and Elias ran off track and Beaubier rode to victory. The two had a war of words in the post-race press conference after the second race and it was the real beginning of a rivalry between the series’ two best Superbike racers to date. With Elias winning race two, Beaubier led the war of wins four to two.
Since 2017, Elias has had the most success at Road Atlanta, the Spaniard and his Suzuki winning three of the last four races to tie Beaubier with five wins apiece. To recap, it’s Cam, Cam, Toni, Cam, Cam, Toni, Toni, Toni, Cam, Toni. Phew.
Now it’s time to see if that continues as the series holds its third round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta this coming weekend.
In the past, it’s been a given that those two riders would run at the front. Not the case this season as they arrive in Georgia on opposite ends of the spectrum. Beaubier and his Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha YZF-R1 will start Friday’s practice with wins in three of the first four races, with all four being held at Road America in Wisconsin. And Beaubier looked to be heading to win number four when he made a mistake, hit a notorious bump in turn one and crashed out of the race. Still he comes to Road Atlanta as the championship points leader.
As round three gets ready to begin, Elias is so far out of championship contention he can’t see it with binoculars. The former Moto2 World Champion is 11th in the title chase after four races, 53 points behind Beaubier after a dreadful start to his season. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Elias started the season without earning a point in round one, the Spaniard a victim of a tossed chain in race one and a crash in race two. In round two, things improved with Elias finishing fourth in race one. But then it went bad again when he was knocked down in race two after a collision with Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz for fourth. Elias dusted himself off, remounted, finished seventh and then had words with Scholtz after the race. After four races last year, Elias led the championship with 90 points. This year he has 22 points. But, as everyone in the paddock will tell you, you can’t count the Spaniard out. His lap times thus far in 2020 have been faster, but his results have not. He’s hoping his reversal of fortune begins in Georgia this weekend.
By virtue of three podium finishes in four races, Beaubier’s new teammate Jake Gagne sits second in the title chase – nine points behind the defending four-time series champion. Gagne finished second to Beaubier in race two of Road America 1 and was in position to win his first career Superbike race when Beaubier crashed out of race two in Road America 2, but he couldn’t find a way past M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong in the closing stages of the race.
Fong is off to a flying start in his Superbike debut season, the non-defending MotoAmerica Superport Champion earning his first career HONOS Superbike victory in Wisconsin. Fong is third in the championship, 17 points behind Beaubier and eight behind Gagne and has inserted himself in the battle for the title.
Fong is just two points ahead of one of the surprises thus far in the 2020 MotoAmerica season – KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman. If the season continues to go the way it has, it will take a plastic surgeon to remove the smile from Wyman’s face as he’s visited the podium twice with third-place finishes in the last two races at Road America on his Ducati Panigale V4 R. Prior to that he was fifth and fourth in the opening two battles.
Fifth place in the title chase is held by Scheibe Racing BMW’s Josh Herrin, the Georgian who now calls Southern California home, earning a podium in the second race of the year in just his second start on the BMW S 1000 R. Herrin and the team have been working hard on the BMW to get him more comfortable and it will be interesting to see how the effort pays off at a racetrack that’s much different than Road America.
Scholtz’s season started with a bang with a second-place finish in the very first race of the year at Road America. He followed that up with a crash in race two but came back to form in the next two races with fifth- and fourth-place finishes. He is 31 points behind Beaubier but just two markers behind Herrin.
Although we are only two rounds and four races into the HONOS Superbike season, FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony is another rider who has gotten off to a good start to his season. The Australian is seventh, eight points behind Scholtz and nine ahead of Celtic HSBK Racing’s PJ Jacobsen, the New Yorker missing race two of Road America 2 after a morning warm-up crash left him injured. He will be back in action at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Altus Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen, who like Jacobsen is doing double duty in the HONOS Superbike and Stock 1000 classes, is ninth in the Superbike title chase – just one point clear of Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders.
Both of the two MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike races will air live on FS1 this coming weekend from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Road Atlanta Superbike Notes…
With his three wins in the first three rounds of the 2020 MotoAmerica Series, Cameron Beaubier now has 41 HONOS Superbike victories to his credit. The 41 wins puts him third on the all-time win list behind Mat Mladin (82) and Josh Hayes (41). The next active rider on the list is Toni Elias with the Spaniard tied with Miguel Duhamel for fourth on the all-time list with 32 wins.
History lesson: The very first AMA Superbike race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta was held in 1980 and that race was won by four-time 500cc World Champion Eddie Lawson. The first-ever AMA National motorcycle race at Road Atlanta was held in 1971 and was won by Kel Carruthers.
Riders from six different countries and eight different states will line up at Road Atlanta in the HONOS Superbike class with the U.S., Spain, South Africa, Great Britain, Brazil and Australia all represented. As for the states, California leads the way with four riders from the Golden State, then Georgia (3) and New York (3).
Garrett Gerloff earned pole position at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta last year with his lap of 1:23.844 during Superpole. Gerloff’s best lap bettered that set by Toni Elias with Mathew Scholtz rounding out the front row for the two races last year. Gerloff’s best was a new motorcycle lap record at Road Atlanta.
As for the races last year, Beaubier and Elias split wins with Beaubier beating Elias in race one by 2.7 seconds and Elias topping Mathew Scholtz by 1.8 seconds with Beaubier third. The fastest lap from the two races, Beaubier was the only rider to dip into the 1:24s with his best lap in race one, a 1:24.882, bettering his 1:24.887 from race two.
Geoff May will make his 2020 MotoAmerica debut at Road Atlanta and the Georgian will do double duty as he races in both the HONOS Superbike and Stock 1000 classes on his Disrupt Racing CCFOfficeSolutions.com Kawasaki ZX-10R.