MotoAmerica Battles Continue At Sonoma Raceway
Going into last year’s two MotoAmerica Motul Superbike races at Sonoma Raceway, the average margin of victory for the previous 12 races was just 1.03 seconds. Then Cameron Beaubier went and blew that number out of the water with his crushing victories in the two races by 6.44 and 7.22 seconds, respectively.
MotoAmerica Battles Continue At Sonoma Raceway
That’s how dominant the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing-backed Beaubier was a year ago at what he considers one of his two home racetracks. And he needed to be because he came into the MotoAmerica Championship of Sonoma some 80 points behind Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias, the Spaniard already well on his way to the 2017 MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Championship – a title Beaubier owned for the previous two years.
But that was then, and this is now.
With round seven of the 2018 MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Championship now upon us this weekend with the Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma, Beaubier comes in holding the hot hand after having won five of the last six races. He will also make the short drive to the racetrack in Northern California’s wine country with a 49-point lead over Elias as he tries to win his third MotoAmerica Motul Superbike title. Toss in the vivid memory of his two wins a year ago and you can see the challenge the others face in stopping Beaubier as the second half of the season rolls on.
Going into the previous round at the Utah Motorsports Campus, Beaubier had won four straight. But then he lost race one to Elias and suddenly it looked like the fickle pendulum of momentum had switched back over to Elias. The next day, however, it was all in Beaubier’s court again as he not only won but got a real bonus as Elias helped him out by doing the one thing he couldn’t afford to do – crashing and not scoring a point. Thus, Beaubier leads by 49 going into Sonoma, 248-199, with four rounds and eight races left on the schedule.
“We have a good points lead now going into Sonoma, but Toni (Elias) had a good points lead earlier in the season,” Beaubier said. “It shows that you have to keep fighting because this thing isn’t over until we finish the final round at Barber. We had a great weekend at Sonoma last year and I’m confident that we can do the same this weekend. My team has been awesome as always and we will get to the track on Friday and start working hard to have things perfect for the two races.”
If Elias has any hope to cling to, it’s that he knows he can still win races. After all, he won five of the first six races to start the season. And he won 10 races a season ago, including both races at New Jersey Motorsports Park (in Beaubier’s injury induced absence), which is one of the remaining four rounds. Put it this way: Until someone has a bigger points lead than the points available, the championship is still anybody’s. And right now, there are still 200 points up for grabs.
South African Mathew Scholtz comes into Sonoma third in the Motul Superbike Championship after taking the spot back from Attack Performance/Herrin Compound Yamaha’s Josh Herrin when the latter crashed his R1 in Utah during Sunday morning’s warm-up session and the bike was beyond repair. Scholtz, meanwhile, rode his Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha to sixth- and fourth-place finishes in Utah to take over third again, albeit by just a single point. Other than Beaubier and Elias, Scholtz is the only other Motul Superbike rider to taste victory this year.
So Herrin dropped to fourth in the title chase, 97 points behind Beaubier, and is hoping to have a repaired motorcycle to race this weekend in Sonoma.
Beaubier’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Garrett Gerloff is fifth, the Texan earning his fourth podium of the season in race two in Utah. Gerloff is 20 points behind Herrin and 21 behind Scholtz in the battle for third.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis put his GSX-R1000 on the front row of the Utah Superbike race, the Kentuckian ending up with fifth and fourth-place finishes. Lewis is nine points behind Gerloff and could also move into the top three with a strong finish to his season.
KWR’s Kyle Wyman is seventh in the title chase, nine points ahead of Scheibe Racing BMW’s Danny Eslick. Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden is ninth, the veteran having announced that he will retire at season’s end, with Australian David Anthony rounding out the top 10.
The 2018 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship has been all JD Beach thus far with the Monster Energy/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha rider winning seven of the nine races this year and holding down a massive 82-point lead in the series point standings. Beach’s season hasn’t been perfect, but it’s close to that as he finished second in the two races that he didn’t win.
Beach leads Rickdiculous Racing’s Hayden Gillim, the Kentuckian having won race two in the opening round at Road Atlanta back in April. Gillim has two race crashes, which have hurt his points total. While he’s well behind Beach, he’s 38 points clear of third placed Cory West.
West has also crashed twice, with his two crashes coming in the two most recent rounds at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Utah Motorsports Campus. His two miscues have allowed the youngsters behind him to gain ground, with M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden just one point behind the veteran in fourth place. Tuned Racing’s Braeden Ortt, who earned his second podium finish of the season in Utah, is only seven points behind McFadden.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise is sixth, just two points behind Ortt and 11 points from third-placed West. Debise is the third rider in the series to have tasted victory and it came in his comeback race from injury at Road America in the beginning of June.
Quicksilver/LEXIN/Hudson Motorcycle’s Richie Escalante, KWR’s Bryce Prince, YCRS’s Anthony Mazziotto III and Altus Motorsports’ Miles Thornton round out the top 10 heading to Sonoma Raceway.
With six wins to his credit in nine races, KTM Orange Brigade/JP43 Training’s Alex Dumas is the Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship leader heading into round seven, the French Canadian 43 points clear of Yates Racing’s Ashton Yates, the Georgian having won two races so far in 2018. Dumas’ KTM teammate Sean Ungvarsky is 13 points behind Yates on his KTM Orange Brigade/Ghilliman Racing RC390R.
Cory Ventura is the highest-ranking Yamaha rider in the series standings and the Union City, California, rider heads to his home race hoping to become the first Yamaha rider to win a race in the new Liqui Moly Junior Cup class. Ventura is eight points behind Ungvarsky and 10 points clear of fifth-placed Jay Newton on the AGVSport America/MonkeyMoto Yamaha.
Sonoma Raceway will host the Stock 1000 and Twins Cup races for the first time as the new classes made their debut in 2018. The Stock 1000 class is being led by RiderzLaw Racing’s Andrew Lee, the young Californian stringing together four second-place finishes in the four races held so far. That gives him a 21-point lead over two-time winner Travis Wyman on the Weir Everywhere Racing BMW S1000RR. Third place in the series standings is held by New Zealander Shane Richardson, the Kawasaki rider who won the class at Road America unfortunately is not entered in the Sonoma round. The other winner is Team Lewin Estates’ Chad Lewin, the racing realtor having won the last race at Utah in what was his first-ever MotoAmerica race. Lewin is back for more and hoping for two straight wins with a victory at Sonoma.
The Twins Cup Championship is being led by another rider putting together a consistent season of one-two finishes, Chris Parrish. The Ghetto Customs Suzuki-mounted racer from Tennessee has two wins and three second-place finishes in the five races and that gives him a 27-point lead over Jason Madama and his Altus Motorsports Yamaha FZ-07/MT-07. Madama has two race wins to his credit. Those two may face some pressure this weekend from Californians Jeffrey Tigert, Jason Catching and Justin Filice, the son of racing legend Jimmy Filice.
Sonoma Raceway Fast Facts
The first-ever AMA Superbike race held at Sonoma Raceway (nee Sears Point and Infineon Raceway) was won by Paul Ritter on a Ducati in 1977. Ritter came back a year later to win again before someone different won for the first time in 1979. That rider was Freddie Spencer, who would go on to win three World Championships. Ritter will be on hand this weekend at Sonoma Raceway doing book signings for his book “Racing The Gods.” This year marks the 40th anniversary of Ritter’s second win in 1978.
The all-time winningest Superbike racer at Sonoma Raceway is Australian Mat Mladin. Mladin won nine races at Sonoma, with all of those victories coming on Suzuki GSX-Rs.
MotoAmerica President and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey won his only Superbike race in Sonoma in 1983. Rainey also won Formula 1 (500cc GP bikes) and 250cc GP races at the Northern California facility.
Last year saw the return of AMA Superbike racing to Sonoma Raceway and both races were won by Cameron Beaubier. Beaubier beat Toni Elias and Josh Hayes to win race one; then came back the next day to win again over Elias and Hayes.
In addition to winning both Motul Superbike races in 2017, Beaubier also sat on pole position for last year’s two races after winning Superpole on Saturday. Beaubier’s best lap was a 1:35.220, which bested Mathew Scholtz and Roger Hayden with those two joining him on the front row.
With his win in race two at the Utah Motorsports Campus a few weeks ago, Beaubier moved out of a tie with Ben Spies and into fourth place all alone on the all-time AMA Superbike win list. Beaubier now has 29 wins to his credit, three shy of French Canadian Miguel Duhamel, who retired with 32 class victories.
Despite this being only his third year of racing in MotoAmerica, Toni Elias has made quick work of moving up the all-time win list in AMA Superbike racing. Earlier in the year, Elias became the fastest rider to reach the 20-win mark and he now sits at 22 wins, which puts him seventh all-time.
Three riders have won Motul Superbike races in 2018: Toni Elias (6), Cameron Beaubier (5) and Mathew Scholtz (1).
Who is the rider with the most career MotoAmerica victories? That would be 2015 Supersport Champion JD Beach. Beach has 28 victories in the MotoAmerica Supersport class and has at least five victories in all four years of the series. So far this year, Beach has seven wins. His next win will match his career highs for a season as he won eight times in both 2015 and 2016.
Last year’s Supersport races were won by Garrett Gerloff, who went on to capture his second straight MotoAmerica Supersport Championship. Gerloff beat JD Beach and Valentin Debise in both races.
Last year’s KTM RC Cup races (now Liqui Moly Junior Cup) were split between Benjamin Smith and Cory Ventura. Smith won the first race over Ventura and Ventura flipped the deck the following day to beat Smith.