PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN J NELSON
SONOMA, CA, MAY 4 – Y.E.S. Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff was chasing his first Sportbike win when he came to Sonoma Raceway for the second round of the Superbike Shootout this weekend. And he got that win today, the victory ending the young Texan’s 19-month winless drought that dated back to his Supersport win at the final race of the 2012 season at Nola Motorsports Park in New Orleans.
Gerloff topped Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong and Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince in the eventful race.
While the previous Pro Sportbike race at Auto Club Speedway was a Fong domination, Gerloff and company were not going to let that happen again. So while Fong took the holeshot, GEICO Honda’s Jake Zemke, Gerloff, Team Hammer’s Joe Roberts and Prince gave chase.
It didn’t take Gerloff long to get by Zemke and make a run at Fong, who was starting to pull a lead on the rest. It also didn’t take long for Gerloff to be all over Fong. On lap seven, he out-braked Fong going into the last turn and made it stick to take the lead.
Behind Gerloff and Fong, a close battle for third was being waged. Zemke was leading it, but the rookie Roberts was nipping at his heels. And joining that train was Team H35’s Benny Solis, whose hard-charging efforts were making up from a poor start.
In the end those efforts all went up in a cloud of dust as the leader of the train, Zemke, highsided in turn 3A and Roberts and Solis were too close behind to not end up on the ground behind him. Prince narrowly missed the melee and moved into third. Fortunately, all three riders were sore but uninjured in the crash.
Meanwhile, Gerloff had a few close calls with running off track, mistakes that ultimately allowed Fong to retake the lead with four laps to go.
Mistakes or not, Gerloff was still there and he wasn’t giving up the win without a fight. With two laps to go, Gerloff went for it in turn six but didn’t make it stick until turn eight. On the last lap, Gerloff put his head down and ran his best lap – the fastest of the race and .134 of second faster than his pole-setting lap.
“That last lap I just put my head down and did my cleanest lap of the race and didn’t make mistakes,” Gerloff said. “Just a good last lap and I’m glad I pulled it out for the Y.E.S. Monster Energy Graves Yamaha team.”
In fourth came Gerloff’s teammate JD Beach. Behind Beach were two privateer Yamahas – ridden by Chad Lewin and Michael Gilbert. Finishing seventh was Cycle News’ test rider and Northern California native Tom Montano. Stephen Rue, Jason Catching and Darren James rounded out the top 10.
2014 Superbike Shootout
Pro Sportbike Results
1. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
2. Bobby Fong (Triumph)
3. Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
4. JD Beach (Yamaha)
5. Chad Lewin (Yamaha)
6. Michael Gilbert (Yamaha)
7. Tom Montano (Triumph)
8. Stephen Rue (Honda)
9. Jason Catching (Suzuki)
10. Darren James (Yamaha)