Today was all about JD Beach at VIRginia International Raceway as the two-time MotoAmerica Supersport Champion put a smile on everybody’s face when he earned his first career AMA Superbike victory with a 3.7-second win in the Championship of Virginia.
A week after winning his first career AMA Grand National Flat Track at the Super TT in Arizona, Beach went out and did it again, winning a race he’d been dreaming about since he was 16 years old. Beach’s day was made even more emotional for three reasons: Today marked the anniversary of his good friend Ethan Gillim’s passing 12 years ago; Beach became the first rider to win a Superbike National and a Flat Track National in the same season since his good friend and hero Nicky Hayden accomplished the feat in 2002; and his best friend and housemate Hayden Gillim also won the Supersport race earlier in the day.
Beach was impressive in a race that started in iffy conditions but ended in bright sunshine and on a dry racetrack. Once he got past early leader Kyle Wyman, who had fitted rain tires to his KWR Ducati in the hopes that the track wouldn’t dry, and his old Supersport rival Garrett Gerloff, Beach put his head down and opened a four-second gap. He maintained that lead to the finish, besting Gerloff by 3.759 seconds and riding a wave of emotion that will last him until Road America in four weeks.
“It just feels like the stars just aligned this whole week,” Beach said. “For me to get my first win last week, and to get this win today with Hayden (Gillim) winning the 600 class, it’s just amazing. These guys are so fast. I looked up to Toni (Elias). He’s won the Moto2 World Championship, and Garrett (Gerloff) has kicked my ass so many times. Even with how this track was today, I was having flashbacks because he (Gerloff) lapped me when we had rain tires here. So, to beat him here, it’s just amazing. I just got to thank my team, the whole Attack Estenson Racing team. They believed in me. They gave me a shot on this bike when nobody else would. It feels good to get the win, but it feels good to reward them too. We’ve still got a lot of races to go. These guys aren’t going to let up. We’re going to keep fighting. We’ve got two dirt track races and then I’m going to Road America, so it will be fun.”
Beach compared the flat track win last week to the Superbike win this week.
“They’re both amazing,” he said. “The desire to win last weekend was like a childhood goal. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid you’re like, I want to be a firefighter or whatever. For me when I was a kid that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a dirt tracker. I wanted to win races, and I still do. To win this Superbike race is something I’ve looked forward to my whole adult life, since I was 16. So, they both feel amazing, but this has a little bit of a sweeter feel to it. To do it on the day that I did it and for the last person to do it (Nicky Hayden), it’s amazing.”
Gerloff was emotional in defeat and also fought back tears during the victory celebration as he was disappointed in the fact that this was one he thought he could have won.
“We all know we give our lives to this,” Gerloff said. “It just sucks to have a win slip through my fingers again. I felt good and was right there. I felt like I had the pace to win, but JD got back around me. I just made one mistake after the next, after the next. It’s my own fault. It’s nobody else’s fault. The bike was really good. I felt like I had good pace, like I said. That’s really what got me. My guys work so hard to give us the best bike possible, me and Cameron (Beaubier). So, when another Yamaha wins it just really sucks, for me at least. But seriously, congrats to JD. He was riding super good. I was hoping we could be battling at the end like the old days, but congrats to him. I know it’s an important day for the whole Gillim family and for JD also. So that’s awesome that he got that win. But I really want mine, so I’m going to fight until I get it. I just want to go straight to Road America. I just want to keep going. Looking forward to that.”
Third place went to Toni Elias, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider holding back three others to the finish to earn the final podium spot. It was also good for his championship aspirations as his closest rival Cameron Beaubier, who won yesterday’s EBC Brakes Superbike race at VIR, crashed his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 and didn’t score any points.
“We start to see that the track was coming dry,” Elias said in reference to choosing his tires for the race. “I said, ‘okay, let’s do slicks.’ But then with the wet setting, or with the dry setting. Dry setting, slicks, and let’s go. Was good. I felt good since the first corner, but honestly, I was not thinking to win this race. So, Cameron (Beaubier) was there. I just passed him… I stayed there and then if he pushed, I would push. If not, I would stay. So everything was good. Everything went in the right strategy. I tried to be smart, to stay on the bike, finish the race, take the points. Was not very important to finish third or fourth. Especially when I see Cam out. Congratulations to JD for his victory. I think P9 (his starting position) was no good, but after everything we must be very happy. My team is working amazing, so we are in a really good situation. Let’s see.”
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fourth, the South African nipping at Elias’ heels in the closing laps but coming up just short at the finish. Right behind those two came M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, the Kentuckian barely holding off Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen. Petersen ran as high as fourth in what was essentially a four-rider battle for the final podium spot.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin finished a disappointing weekend with a seventh place to go with his non-finish on Saturday. Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders, FLY Racing’s David Anthony and Wyman rounded out the top 10 with those three gambling on different variations of rain/slick tires.
As mentioned earlier, Beaubier crashed out of the battle for third and he now trails Elias by 24 points, 126-102. Beach is third in the series point standings with 78 points, six points clear of Gerloff. Lewis rounds out the top five with 62 points.
Supersport – Gillim Bounces Back
In Sunday’s Supersport race, which was declared wet due to raining falling at the start, Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha’s Hayden Gillim made amends for the eyebrow-raising crash he had in Saturday’s race by coming back strong and winning by more than nine seconds.
Second place went to MP13 Racing Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, who improved by one podium on his comeback third-place result in Saturday’s race. The four-time AMA Superbike Champion hopes to race again at MotoAmerica’s next round at Road America, if he and his wife, who owns the team and is Hayes’ crew chief, can find the necessary funds to continue.
Third place in Sunday’s race went to M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider Sean Dylan Kelly, the Floridian competing in his rookie season in the MotoAmerica series.
“I took some ibuprofen, and once the adrenaline kicks in, that helps, too,” Gillim said. “All day Sunday, I wasn’t trying to sit around and just be still. I needed to keep everything moving, my knee especially. After yesterday, I needed a good day. I needed to finish. Luckily it rained so I didn’t have to strain as much on my shoulder, and my knee that was hurting. The team built me a new bike last night because I completely demolished that thing yesterday. Those guys worked their butts off. I think they were here until 12:30 in the morning and then they had to get up and come right back to the track. So, this was for them. Yesterday was my team owner Josh Bronfman’s birthday, so this is for his birthday. It’s a late birthday present for him. Today is the anniversary of my little brother’s passing, so to do that on this day is pretty amazing. It was such a fun race. (Sean Dylan Kelly) got off to a great start and I was like, ‘this kid… I swear.’ Every time. Then I was able to get by him and I just saw a few laps in a row plus zero, plus zero, plus zero. I could see Josh’s (Hayes) board coming up at the exact same time I was coming by. So I knew it was him. A couple times I wanted to just kind of look back and be like, ‘Let’s go!’ He had me shaking in my boots a little bit. I know how good he is in the wet. I know he’s been retired for a year and a half now, but I know the guy’s still got it. It was just really cool to be able to keep a guy like that behind me. It’s really cool to race with him. I wish we could have diced it up a little bit, but I’m glad we didn’t have to. He’s a little bit smarter than me, probably, by this point as far as racecraft and everything goes. I didn’t want to get into a duel like that.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Jones And Honda Win
In Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, changeable weather conditions played a major role in the contest and the outcome. The race started with light sprinkles and the riders on slick tires, but it was readily apparent that grip was an issue as several bikes went down. A red flag stopped the proceedings, the riders and teams switched to rain tires, and the race was restarted. By then, the sprinkles turned to copious rain, conditions that favor riders who are smooth on the throttle and brakes.
Cameron Jones, aboard the lone Honda competing in the Junior Cup class, emerged with the win. It was not only the first MotoAmerica victory for Jones, but also the first MotoAmerica victory, in any class, for Honda.
Second place went to RiderzLaw Finishline Machine Racing’s Jackson Blackmon, who actually took the checkered flag first aboard his Yamaha, but was docked a position because he mistakenly lined up in the wrong position on the grid for the restart.
Third place went to Pure Attitude Racing Kawasaki rider Trevor Standish, which made it three different motorcycle brands in the top three.
“I tried catching (Blackmon) about midway through the race, and every time I would start pushing, it would feel like the front end was sliding just a little bit for me,” Jones said. “I looked back and there was a big gap. So I thought, ‘Let’s settle down and see if we can get a podium and bring the thing home.’ I had no idea that there was a penalty with (Blackmon’s starting position on) the grid. I was happy to bring home a second. I was coming down pit lane and everyone was holding up the “one” finger for me. I got ecstatic. I was as excited as could be.”
Twins Cup – Parrish Shines
In MotoAmerica Twins Cup, defending champion Chris Parrish notched his first win of the season aboard his Ghetto Customs Suzuki. With the victory, Parrish also took over the championship lead from round one double race winner Michael Barnes, who won the pole at VIR but had a mechanical issue in the race that caused him to pit, and he was unable to rejoin the contest.
RBoM Racing Suzuki rider Curtis Murray finished second as a follow-up to the second- and third-place results he notched in round one at Road Atlanta. He’s hopeful that he can make it to round three at Road America.
Third place went to AP MotoArts Yamaha’s Draik Beauchamp, who became the first former KTM RC Cup and Liqui Moly Junior Cup rider to score a podium finish in one of MotoAmerica’s other race classes.
“It was a great day,” Parrish said. “I can’t thank my crewmembers Beth, Travis, and Brad enough, for being here, standing in the rain, and doing all this mess. We had three of what seemed like short on-track sessions with just one race. Starting out the weekend, the motorcycle wouldn’t even turn. I was way in the back, and finally made some adjustments. Just made some wild-hare adjustments before this race and they worked perfectly. That motorcycle was so fast. It handled so well. Just awesome all around. Great bike. I want to thank Matthew Spicer for buying the tires I won on today. Curtis and I have raced together so long and we just know how to race each other. I think we touched a few times, unintentional, but that’s just racing. I’m glad we both got on the podium. Glad to be here with Draik. I’m glad he’s here. Thank you MotoAmerica for having this race class, and just thank you to everybody. My brother at Downtown Auto Care, he’s putting the engine in my van so we can go to the west coast.”
Stock 1000 – Gilbert!
In Sunday’s VIR race-weekend-concluding Stock 1000 race, Team Norris Racing’s Michael Gilbert got the win in a dominant performance aboard his Kawasaki. He got a great jump off the line and led the event from start to finish.
MESA37 Racing’s Stefano Mesa, who normally focuses on club racing in WERA, followed up his third-place result in round one at Road Atlanta with a second place at VIR.
Third-place finisher Travis Wyman made a strong challenge for the lead in the closing laps of the race, but a near-highside on the final circulation around the track moved him back to the final spot on the podium.
“My whole plan was to try to get out front,” said Gilbert. “I know that I’m really good with consistency and I wanted to try and wear these guys down. I heard them back there so I knew my plan wasn’t quite working. I figured it was probably one or two of them. I could hear them and I kind of felt there were areas where they were maybe going to try. I’ve kind of been struggling on the brakes all weekend, so I just blocked those areas. It sounds like there was a mistake behind me. Fortunately, we were able to just bring it home and get the W.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
- Max Flinders (Yamaha)
- David Anthony (Kawasaki)
- Kyle Wyman (Ducati)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
- Xavier Zayat (Yamaha)
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha)
- Max Angles (Yamaha)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Ashton Yates (Yamaha)
- Braeden Ortt (Kawasaki)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Cameron Jones (Honda)
- Jackson Blackmon (Yamaha)
- Trevor Standish (Kawasaki)
- Dallas Daniels (Kawasaki)
- Joseph LiMandri Jr. (Kawasaki)
- Damian Jigalov (Kawasaki)
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki)
- Teagg Hobbs (Kawasaki)
- Dominic Doyle (Kawasaki)
- Isiah Burleson (Kawasaki)
- Chris Parrish (Suzuki)
- Curtis Murray (Suzuki)
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha)
- Robert Fisher (Yamaha)
- Joseph Blasius (Suzuki)
- Ned Brown (Suzuki)
- Chris Bays (Suzuki)
- Jerry Reeves (Suzuki)
- Daniel Adams (Suzuki)
- Kris Lilligard (Yamaha)
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki)
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Ryan Jones (BMW)
- Bradley Ward (Kawasaki)
- Rhett Norman (Yamaha)
- Bryan Land (Kawasaki)
- Greg Ludt (BMW)
- John Dunham (Yamaha)