Cameron Beaubier put on a clinic today in the first of two Motul Superbike races in the Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing rider continuing to be unbeatable at Sonoma Raceway as he won his third race in a row at his home track. And he did so again in dominating fashion, crossing the line 7.2 seconds ahead of the battle for second.
Beaubier battled with Attack Performance/Herrin Compound’s Josh Herrin for a lap before getting in front and staying there. After five laps, Beaubier led by a tick over five seconds and he stretched that to eight seconds before easing off and maintaining a seven-second gap to the end of the 22-lap race.
The win was the sixth of the year for Beaubier and the 30th of his Superbike career. It was also his third Motul Superbike win in three starts at Sonoma Raceway.
“Yesterday from the first lap we felt good,” Beaubier said. “I feel like we picked up where we left off here last year. We got a really good test here over the winter and I was able to do some good times, even with the track being as cold as it was. It just gave us the confidence going into this race. I just feel like everything is going pretty good. I just want to keep this ball rolling. Going into the race, I knew that I had a little bit of time on the guys. I just wanted to get out and put my head down and push from the first lap. That wasn’t the case. (Josh) Herrin snuck up the inside going up into two and I was like, ‘oh man!’ He was riding really tough, really good the first lap. I knew I had to get into the lead and just try to put my head down because I felt like I had a good pace. It all went to plan. Halfway through the race I kind of lost focus, blew the chicane, went through the dirt. I almost did the same thing like five laps later. I’m not really used to riding out front like that. Normally it’s a tough battle to the finish. I like winning like that, that’s for sure. Hats off to my guys. I feel like the big rear tire is definitely helping us right now on the Yamaha, especially for my style because I ride on the side of the tire a lot and the tire just has a bigger contact patch on the edge of the tire, and that’s how the Yamaha I feel like rolls through the track. I feel like we’re in a good spot. This track works really good for my bike. I feel like this track suits my style, similar to Toni (Elias) in Texas. I just hope to finish the weekend strong tomorrow and move on.”
The battle for second went to Herrin, the Georgian besting Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias by just over a second with those two running in formation for the duration.
“Like Toni said, you have to always be ready, always be confident in yourself and try and make a fight,” Herrin said. “So at the beginning, I just tried to race as hard as I could. That’s what I’m good at. So my strategy was just to try and get in front and maybe cause it to slow down and have everybody battle. Like I said on the podium, Cameron (Beaubier) had a pace that no one could touch this weekend, so that’s just the strategy we have to take if we want to win. I tried and succeeded for a lap, and then he was gone. Then I just tried to hold off Toni. It was hard for sure. I was pushing the whole time because I didn’t know if he had anything left in the tank, if he was pushing as hard as he could. I know that I was watching his board because I could see the gap to (Gerloff) Gerloff in fourth. So that kind of helped me with my strategy because I could see that Gerloff would catch and then drop, so we were kind of doing the same pace. If I didn’t make a mistake I would probably gain a tenth or two on each lap. I was grateful to come in second and get some points after Utah. Just having a fun weekend. I think the racing has been great all year.”
Elias will continue to make changes to the Suzuki in an effort to be closer tomorrow, he said. Adding that he’d also made a bad tire choice.
“Even if the reality is tough, always you start the race for win and trying different things to surprise or stop or make the step in the last moment, but it was not like this. I was suffering like before. We did everything. We modified many things. For us it’s really hard with this new tire. Of course, it’s a good tire, but less behavior for Suzuki riders. At the beginning of the race I knew I had to fight for the second position. I chose soft tires. Was good for the beginning but dropped quickly. When I was ready to fight at the end, the tire was gone on the last laps. It’s not what I want, but after that crash (in Utah), it’s a good result for us. Let’s continue. The season’s still long. We’ll see.”
Fourth place went to Garrett Gerloff, the Superbike rookie keeping Herrin and Elias honest for most of the race before finishing 6.8 seconds behind on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis finished fifth for a seventh time on the season, the Kentuckian chasing Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Cameron Petersen when the South African pulled into the pits with a foot injury. That left Lewis to a lonely fifth.
The fight for sixth went the distance with Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden surviving a few off-track excursions to hold off the charging Danny Eslick, the Scheibe Racing BMW rider just .340 of a second behind at the finish line.
Lucas Oil/KWR’s Kyle Wyman was a lonely eighth with Omega Moto’s Geoff May and Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Jayson Uribe finishing 10th.
It was a bad day for the South African contingent as Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz crashed twice early in the race and failed to finish, joining countryman Petersen on the non-finishers list.
Beaubier’s points lead in the Motul Superbike Championship is now 58 points over Elias, 273-215. Herrin’s runner-up finish combined with Scholtz’ non-finish moved him back to third in the title chase, 102 points behind Beaubier and 44 points behind Elias. Scholtz is fourth, just eight points ahead of Gerloff.
Supersport – Beach Takes His Eighth
In Saturday’s Supersport race, championship leader JD Beach launched his Monster Energy/Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 from third position on the starting grid, got the holeshot, and looked to have the measure of the field. But polesitter and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider Valentin Debise, along with Rickdiculous Racing/Yamaha’s Hayden Gillim hung tough through the majority of the race. Gillim and Beach battled it out for several laps with Gillim making it past Beach, if only for a short time. Beach moved back into the front, and Debise eventually got past Gillim. The trio took the checkers in that same order with Beach the winner, Debise about two and a half seconds back in second place, and Gillim completing the podium in third. Beach now leads the Supersport Championship by a gaudy 91 points.
After celebrating on the top step of the podium, Beach talked about his early race battle with fellow Kentuckian Gillim.
“I think we’re both really good about (racing close to each other),” Beach said. “Racing is racing. Whatever happens on the track, that’s racing. I think, for us, it’s a little bit different because we go back to the same house. It’s fun doing that with Hayden. We’ve done it since we were kids, so it’s good. It was definitely a hard race. Hayden was pushing me the whole time. I knew (Valentin) Debise was there. This track is hard to be consistent. It’s slick, it’s bumpy, it’s off-camber. There’s hills, all kinds of stuff. And wind. The wind was bad today. We definitely have a little bit of work to do on my Monster Energy/Yamaha Extended Service/Graves bike. It was still working really good, though.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Yates On Top
Sonoma Raceway is a technical track, with lots of turns, changes in elevation, and tight corners. It’s a rider’s road course that challenges even the best racers, including racers who are local to the area. That situation factored into the outcome of Saturday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race as championship-leader Alex Dumas crashed out of the lead aboard his KTM Orange Brigade/JP43 Training RC390R, and local rider Cory Ventura, aboard his MP13/Yamaha YZF-R3 and in second place right behind Dumas, also crashed in the same corner. This flung the door wide open for polesitter and Yates Racing rider Ashton Yates, who put his Kawasaki Ninja 400 into the lead and took the win in the 12-lap event. AGVSPORT America/MonkeyMoto Yamaha R3 rider Jay Newton finished second, and RiderzLaw Racing’s Jackson Blackmon was third, putting a second Yamaha R3 on the podium.
“I figured it was going to be a pretty close race before (Dumas and Ventura crashed),” Yates said after his third win of the season. “After that happened, I was happy to stay on the bike after (I had a) little moment, too. I just put my head down and tried to do as many quick laps as I could. I broke away from, I think it was, Kevin (Olmedo) that was with me. I was happy to see I made a gap and just (put it on) cruise control all the way to the finish line.”
Twins Cup – Tigert Dominates
In Twins Cup, a class that has proven to be a showcase for fast club racers from near each of the venues that the MotoAmerica series visits, Spears Racing/Suzuki’s Jeffrey Tigert, who has raced a lot of laps around Sonoma Raceway, won by a little more than three and a half seconds over second-place finisher and Ghetto Customs/Suzuki rider Chris Parrish, who extended his championship lead to 34 points. Third place went to Ruthless Racing/Yamaha’s Darren James, the Canadian traveling south from his home in Vancouver to race at Sonoma.
“This feels really good,” Tigert said. “It is a homecoming. My first race here was 20 years ago on a twin. It’s a special place for me. I’m living in LA now, so I don’t get up here like I used to. To be able to come up here and ride in MotoAmerica with you guys in a class that is suited for a guy like me that’s not riding much and don’t have a lot of money to build a bike, really my hats off to you guys for creating a class and platform for guys like us that still want to ride. This is a great class. I’m up here with some impressive competitors.”
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Valentin Debise (Suzuki)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Ashton Yates (Kawasaki)
- Jay Newton (Yamaha)
- Jackson Blackmon (Yamaha)
- Kevin Olmedo (Yamaha)
- Toby Khamsouk (Yamaha)
- Jeffery Tigert (Suzuki)
- Chris Parrish (Suzuki)
- Darren James (Yamaha)
- Jason Madama (Yamaha)
- Justin Filice (Suzuki)