Garrett Gerloff is most definitely on a roll, the Texan riding his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 to his third victory in the last five races with the latest one coming on Saturday in the Championship of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
Gerloff came out on top of a race-long battle in the first of two EBC Brakes Superbike races with his teammate Cameron Beaubier, the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion ending up just .326 of a second behind Gerloff at the end of the 18-lap race. Championship points leader Toni Elias finished third on the Yoshimura Suzuki, the Spaniard ending up three seconds behind the two Yamahas.
Gerloff had already proven to be the fastest of the fast this weekend as he led every session except for Superpole, which went to Beaubier with a new lap record of 1:39.472 around the 2.7-mile Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Gerloff led early, pulled a slight gap and then gave it all back when he ran off the track in turn one on the fourth lap. But he was able to rebound, passing Elias and then battling with Beaubier for the duration.
With the two Yamahas finishing ahead of Elias, the championship tightened up. Elias now leads Beaubier by 30 points, 282-252, with Gerloff just a single point behind Beaubier.
“As soon as we pulled the bike off the truck, we had a pretty good setup,” Gerloff said. “Kind of funny – after the first session we decided to completely change the whole bike. Front end, triple clamps, front fork springs, rear shock, everything. It felt even better. So, it’s nice that we’ve kind of just been always making steps forward this weekend. The bike felt awesome in the race. I felt good on the first couple laps. Came around and saw my board with plus one. Looked back and just kind of got in a little hot, unfortunately. Just a fast straightaway. It’s got to be a little bit of a tailwind today, too. Luckily, I was able to keep it up on two wheels and get back on track behind these guys. Had to work to get back up to them and then was able to see what they were doing around the whole track. Then I was able to get past Toni (Elias). Was in behind Cameron (Beaubier) and knew I wanted to make a pass at some point. I found a spot and tried to lead a little bit. Then he got me back. It was fun dicing and racing. I just gave it everything I had the last couple laps to maybe try to pull a little bit of a gap or something. Just glad it worked out in the end. Life is good. I feel good. Ready for tomorrow. Try to do something similar.”
Beaubier was upbeat despite the close loss to his teammate, knowing that he’d chipped away on the gap to Elias.
“I obviously wanted to win, but second is good,” Beaubier said. “Garrett has been riding really, really good this weekend. He set the pace all day yesterday and this morning also. Going into the race, I knew it was going to be pretty tough. Honestly, the race obviously didn’t pan out like I wanted to. I made a mistake on the last lap that kind of disconnected me from his rear wheel. I wasn’t close enough to make a lunge anywhere. I learned quite a bit behind him in the last section today and that’s where I was struggling pretty bad all weekend. So definitely some stuff to look out for tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. All in all, it was good. We closed up some points on Toni (Elias). We’re moving forward, so it was good.”
Elias struggled to keep pace at a track he says favors the Yamahas. But he will make some changes and come back to fight another day.
“Absolutely we have to improve,” Elias said. “We have to try. But we never try things without knowing what we are doing. Now it’s so clear and also from my eyes what I see today, it’s very clear. I wish I had this idea this morning, yesterday. But we didn’t, so we work and fight with what we had. I think we did pretty good. We were pretty close at the end. We did a great job. Today these guys were so fast, and the pace was so strong. Garrett, this track is I think his favorite. He’s always so strong everywhere. But yes, we have to improve a little bit for tomorrow. I’m glad I didn’t crash because I came so close. Could be maybe like one race ago, but we took 16 important points for the championship, so very happy.”
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne had his best finish of the season, the laid-back Californian ending up fourth and just .804 of a second ahead of Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz.
Then came Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach, the Yamaha rider 7.4 seconds adrift of Scholtz and some 11 seconds ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin. Herrin had remounted from a crash with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis in the first corner on the very first lap.
Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen finished eighth with Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders and FLY Racing’s Sam Verderico rounding out the top 10.
Supersport: Kelly Gets His First
In Supersport, the 16-lap race was red-flagged when championship leader Bobby Fong highsided his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki out of the race. Fong was unable to make the 10-lap restart, and his teammate Sean Dylan Kelly got the jump on the field off the line. Kelly, who is a 17-year-old rookie in MotoAmerica, went on to notch his first career Supersport victory. As to who would finish second and third, the outcome was very much in contention until Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha rider Hayden Gillim and Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s PJ Jacobsen traded a little bit of paint on the run to the checkers. Jacobsen barely got the better of Gillim as the New Yorker got second over the Kentuckian.
“Man, honestly it’s been pretty difficult all year just because it’s a new class for me, new jump onto the 600,” Kelly said. “So, it’s been just a learning year for me. Most tracks have been good for me. Every step of the way was just trying to figure out how I can improve myself, how I can improve every session. It’s kind of been like that. We had a pretty difficult couple weekends, the last ones, but this is the best way to break through. I’m extremely happy with this. It feels really good to be on top. We’ll just keep on learning every time we’re out. I usually like to stay behind the top guys so I can learn from them. Today was a little bit different. I felt like I had a pretty good pace on the used tires. It was a really nice fight at the end. I had to ride really defensive because I knew that the guys behind me were really fast in the chicane. So, I just tried to defend. I’m pretty shocked that it actually worked. I just want to thank my whole Suzuki team for making it happen and for believing in me.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup: Olmedo Gets It Done
In Saturday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, current championship leader and polesitter Rocco Landers got the holeshot, cleared off at the front, and looked to be headed for his 10th win of the season until he slowed dramatically towards the end of the race and rolled to a stop off the track, his Kawasaki experiencing a technical issue that put him out of the 10-lap event.
Altus Motorsports Kawasaki rider Kevin Olmedo, who was poised in second place, inherited the lead and pressed his advantage all the way to the checkered flag to notch his first win of the season and second career victory in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup class. Second place went to BARTCON Racing Kawasaki rider Dominic Doyle with third going to Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s Dallas Daniels. With Landers unable to finish the race, Daniels narrowed the gap to the championship lead by 16 points, though the lead is still 60 points.
“With the gap that (Landers) had at the front, I thought, ‘Well, I have to keep the pace and try to save the points in second place,’” Olmedo said. “After I saw Dominic behind me, I tried to push and keep the lap times. After that, I saw that we had a gap. Two laps from the finish, I saw then that (Landers) had up his hands up. So, I said, ‘Maybe it’s a mechanical problem.’ But I kept the pace and tried to save the points. I don’t push more because I know that if I push more, maybe I have a crash or something. I’m very happy.”
Twins Cup: Dumas Takes Over
In the first of two Twins Cup races scheduled for the weekend, 17-year-old Alex Dumas, aboard his Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki, got his third victory of the season and his fifth straight trip to the podium, which vaulted him into the championship lead with just five races left. Altus Motorsports Yamaha’s Draik Beauchamp got the holeshot in the race, and he and Dumas battled in the early going until Dumas took the lead and pressed his advantage to create a gap of nearly six seconds by the time he took the checkers. Beauchamp hung onto second place over Quarterley Racing’s Michael Barnes, who had a miraculous save after nearly highsiding his Ducati in the closing laps.
“The plan was to get a little gap at the beginning and try to manage it, but I didn’t have a good start and I got passed on the first lap,” Dumas said. “I was fourth or fifth, I think. So, I just put myself back to where I was and tried to make some passes. I ended up passing Draik, but I made a mistake in the last corner, so he passed me and I passed him back in turn one. I’m really happy about how my bike was. Really got to thank Team Roadracing World for my bike. I’m excited for tomorrow because I’m leading the points.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Jake Gagne (BMW)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- Max Flinders (Yamaha)
- Sam Verderico (Yamaha)
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha)
- Cory Ventura (Yamaha)
- Braeden Ortt (Kawasaki)
- Benjamin Smith (Yamaha)
- Lucas Silva (Suzuki)
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki)
- Dominic Doyle (Kawasaki)
- Dallas Daniels (Yamaha)
- Jacob Stroud (Kawasaki)
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki)
- Jackson Blackmon (Kawasaki)
- Hunter Dunham (Kawasaki)
- Benjamin Gloddy (Kawasaki)
- Teagg Hobbs (Kawasaki)
- Jamie Astudillo (Kawasaki)
- Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha)
- Michael Barnes (Ducati)
- Joseph Blasius (Suzuki)
- Chris Parrish (Suzuki)
- Darren James (Yamaha)
- Jason Madama (Yamaha)
- Cooper McDonald (Yamaha)
- Jerry Reeves (Suzuki)
- Kris Lilligard (Yamaha)
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