The 2019 MotoAmerica Series began a month ago at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, but most of the riders in the series will tell you that the championship begins in earnest this coming weekend at VIRginia International Raceway with the Championship of Virginia, May 4-5.
For the EBC Brakes Superbike Series, VIR makes up the third round of that championship as the Superbike men ventured to Circuit of The Americas the week after Road Atlanta to share the Texas round with the MotoGP World Championship. For the other four classes, VIR is round two. For all five classes, VIR is where the championships really begin to take shape.
In the EBC Brakes Superbike class, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias has shown once again that no one starts the season with the same vigor as the Spaniard. Always a fast-starter, Elias has kicked the door down on the 2019 season with two wins and two second-place finishes in the four races. That gives him a 13-point cushion over Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, who is actually delighted with his start given that his seasons normally start slower. The three-time and defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion won the first race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, finished third in race two and fared better than normal in Texas with second- and third-place finishes.
Beaubier will be seeking some redemption at VIR as he lost out to Elias last year in both races, saying later that it was the most frustrating weekend of the year. In the first of two races, Beaubier led for 21 of the 23 laps with Elias passing him in turn one with two laps to go to ultimately beat his rival by just .114 of a second. In race two, Elias did all the leading with a charging Beaubier making a mistake in turn one (his bogey corner in 2018) with two laps to go that let Elias out of his grasp. Beaubier kept fighting, turned in the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, but came up a head-shaking .546 of a second short.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin didn’t have the weekend he was looking for in his debut with his new team at Road Atlanta, but he made up for it at COTA with his first win of the year (in race two) combined with a fourth-place finish in race one. Still, Herrin finds himself in a pretty big hole – 41 points behind his teammate Elias in the championship. Herrin puts VIR as amongst his favorite tracks and he will be looking to claw his way back into the title chase.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz comes to VIR fourth in the title chase, four points behind Herrin. Scholtz had a good weekend to open the season in Georgia, but his weekend in Texas was a bit rough with a best of seventh in race one. He is just five points ahead of JD Beach, who has shined thus far in his first season of MotoAmerica Superbike racing, and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis. Beach finished third, fourth and fifth in his first three races before suffering a mechanical problem in race two at COTA that led to a non-score with Lewis a consistent as always seventh, sixth, sixth and fifth.
Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff has been fast but unlucky thus far in 2019 and you get the feeling he’s on the verge of his first career EBC Brakes MotoAmerica Superbike win. A disastrous Road Atlanta put him on his heels (after earning his first career Superbike pole position) but he was third and fourth in the two races in his home state of Texas. Gerloff is seventh in the title chase, tied with FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony, and 54 points behind Elias.
Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen sits ninth in the championship in his debut season with the team while more is expected from Kyle Wyman as he continues to develop his new Ducati. Wyman needs time with the bike and the two weeks since COTA will likely prove valuable to his KWR Ducati team. Wyman is 10thin the standings as MotoAmerica heads to VIR.
Bobby Fong joined the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team in the off-season and also switched from the Superbike class to Supersport. So far, the change has reaped him rewards. Fong heads to VIR with a 14-point lead in the title chase after finishing second and first in the two races at Road Atlanta. He leads last year’s championship runner-up Hayden Gillim, the Kentuckian winning race one in Atlanta before slipping to 10thin race two. PJ Jacobsen made his MotoAmerica debut in Georgia, the New Yorker finishing sixth and second in the two races. He is third in the title chase, just a point behind Gillim and a point ahead of Hudson Motorcycles – HB Racing’s Richie Escalante and three better than M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rookie Sean Dylan Kelly.
The Liqui Moly Junior Cup class has some catching up to do after Rocco Landers simply decimated the field at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Landers handily won both races in Georgia on his Landers Racing Kawasaki and he’s 10 points clear of Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Dallas Daniels. South African Dominic Doyle is third and 23 points behind Landers.
The Twins Cup class belonged to Quarterley Racing’s Michael Barnes at Atlanta, the racing veteran winning both races on his Ducati Monster 797. He is 14 points clear of defending series champion Chris Parrish and his Ghetto Customs Suzuki, the pairing tied for second with RBoM Racing Copulous Built’s Curtis Murray.
The Stock 1000 class only raced once at Road Atlanta and what a race it was with defending class champion Andrew Lee and his Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki barely beating Team Norris Racing’s Michael Gilbert by just .130 of a second.
Cameron Beaubier put his Yamaha on pole position for last year’s two EBC Brakes Superbike races at VIR. The Californian lapped at a best of 1:23.790 on the 2.250-mile course, besting Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias by .150 of a second. Mathew Scholtz filled the front row with his 1:23.985 on his Westby Racing Yamaha.
Toni Elias won both Superbike races at VIR last year, the Spaniard besting Beaubier by .114 of a second in race one and by .546 of a second in race two. Scholtz was third in both races. The fastest lap of the weekend in the two Superbike races went to Beaubier in race two – a 1:24.068 on the final lap.
JD Beach won both Supersport races last year en route to taking his second MotoAmerica Supersport title. Beach beat Hayden Gillim and Richie Escalante in race one and then topped Braeden Ortt and Cory West in race two. Beach is now in the EBC Brakes Superbike class, riding an Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha YZF-R1. Alex Dumas, who has moved on to the Twins Cup class for 2019, won both of the Liqui Moly Junior Cup races at VIR last year. Xavier Zayat was the Twins Cup winner a year ago with Travis Wyman winning the Stock 1000 class.
With his victory in race one at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Cameron Beaubier continued to build on his win total. The three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion now has 33 career AMA Superbike victories, which puts him third on the all-time Superbike win list behind Mat Mladin and Josh Hayes. With his two wins thus far this season, Toni Elias now has 27 AMA Superbike wins, which puts him just a win behind Ben Spies and fifth on the all-time list. The only other active riders on the win list are Josh Herrin (7) and Mathew Scholtz (2).
The first-ever AMA Superbike race at VIRginia International Raceway in 2001 was won by the late Nicky Hayden, the 2002 AMA Superbike Champion and 2006 MotoGP World Champion backing that up with a second victory at VIR in 2002.