Beaubier Bounces Back, Elias Crashes Out in MotoAmerica at Sonoma Raceway
Today's race in the Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma is further proof that it truly ain't over till it's over. With most series observers, including Cameron Beaubier, thinking the 2019 MotoAmerica EBC Brake Superbike Championship was a foregone conclusion after Beaubier crashed out of Saturday's race and championship leader Toni Elias won, suddenly it wasn't.
That's because Elias crashed out of Sunday's race early and Beaubier rode to victory, his fifth in the last six Superbike races at Sonoma Raceway, and his third of the season. And just like that, the championship is back on with Yoshimura Suzuki's Elias leading Beaubier and his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 by 34 points with three rounds and six races left in the title chase.
With fast-starter Beaubier leading, Elias crashed out of second place on the third lap. From there it was yesterday's race winner Garrett Gerloff giving chase to Beaubier, the Texan putting up an admirable fight until losing front tire grip that forced him to slow his pace. That allowed Beaubier to cruise to a 5.281-second win, pocketing the 25 championship points that come with it.
"It just feels really good to get a win today after crashing three laps in yesterday, especially just after kind of being in a rut lately, I feel like," Beaubier said. "I feel like we've been really fast. We've had really good pace the last few tracks we've been to, but we just haven't been able to put races together. So that one felt really, really good in front of the hometown crowd and stuff like that. At the beginning, I saw 1.2 on my board two laps in and I just kept my head down and kept drilling, kept drilling. I knew Toni (Elias) and Garrett (Gerloff) were going really fast this morning and all weekend. So, I just kept my head down, kept my head down, and I opened up a little gap. Then I kind of settled down a little bit. Then I saw it kind of start closing. Garrett started closing on me, so I started pushing and making a couple mistakes, running wide here and there. I was like, 'Man, I'm going to do something stupid. I'm going to crash doing this.' So, I just kind of backed it down a little bit and just made sure I hit my marks. I ended up going a couple tenths faster. But he kept me honest all the way up until seven to go or something like that. I saw plus 3.5 on my board and I was like, 'Let's just take this home.' It feels really good. Obviously, it's unfortunate I crashed yesterday. I thought it was pretty much all over points-wise going into today. I think it was good for me,though, because I just went out with the intention to win. Don't go ride careful or nothing like that. Just put your head down and go race. Go race to win. I felt like I rode loose. I felt like I rode good. We're back in it."
Gerloff had a solid weekend at Sonoma and leaves Northern California with a win and a second place.
"My team gave me an awesome bike today," Gerloff said. "I really felt good on it. Wasn't too different from yesterday. Yesterday I ran the softest front compound there was, and it ended up shredding on me at the end of the race. I tried the little bit harder compound this morning and just hated it. I didn't like it. I was hoping that with the higher temperature today and stuff that the soft would maybe go a little bit longer, and I think it did but just not the whole race. It sucks. I wish I could have adapted a little bit better to the green tire this morning, but we just didn't want to take the chance. I felt good at the beginning of the race. Ran off in the chicane on the fifth lap or sixth lap, which helped him (Beaubier) get out a little bit farther in front. Just did everything I could to try to kind of reel him back in. Felt like I was, to a certain extent, but then with like nine laps to go, my front was just so gone that I had trouble just turning the bike into the chicane and the last corner. Just really heavy braking front load corners. That was it. Kind of sucks, but we learned a lot this weekend. It was still a good weekend. First and second is not too bad. It's cool that we're right there in the championship, more or less. It feels good. Just try to keep taking steps forward. I'm really excited for Pittsburgh. It's a track I really like. See how it goes there."
Third place on Sunday went to Josh Herrin, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider making up for yesterday's first-lap crash.
"It feels good," Herrin said. "It sucks coming in being on a factory team and seeing these guys that are expecting a win and not doing good. Not to say that third is great, but I think all of us could say at the team that it feels pretty good today. This weekend hasn't been good at all. A lot of people have been struggling, besides these two. Like I said, it feels really good. I'm happy to be up here. Hopefully Pittsburgh treats me a little bit better and we can be fighting up there with these guys at least. That would feel really good if we could at least see them at the end of the race. Thanks to the entire team for putting in all the work. I know it sucks being out in the heat and then having to repair a bike all night, so thank you to Jimmy, Frenchie, Ollie, Davey, all the guys, Scott, for putting in the work. Congrats to these guys. I look forward to going to Pittsburgh."
As much as he gained in Saturday's race, Elias lost in Sunday's.
"We made a little change to the front fork," Elias said. "I was feeling comfortable because I went with the medium tire and I was expecting a great race from mid-race to the end. I was in a good rhythm behind Cameron (Beaubier). I didn't feel like I was pushing. I didn't feel like I made a mistake or braked too late, but maybe with the change I did in the front, it was too hard and I just lost the front in one of the bumps. I'm sorry for the team, but I want to look in a positive way. We still have a 34-point lead. It's not 59 like it was yesterday, but it's still 34. We still have six races and we'll see what happens."
Fourth place went to Westby Racing's Mathew Scholtz, the South African finishing third on Saturday. Scholtz battled with Herrin for most of the race and also had Attack Performance Estenson Racing's JD Beach nipping at his heels for the duration. Beach ended up just over a second behind in fifth place, a day after the Kentuckian finished fourth.
Scheibe Racing BMW's Jake Gagne was sixth, some four seconds ahead of Omega Moto's Cameron Petersen. FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports' David Anthony rebounded from a crash in yesterday's race to finish eighth. Superbike Underground's Jeremy Coffey and FLY Racing's Sam Verderico rounded out the top 10.
With the series heading to Pittsburgh International Race Complex in two weeks, Elias leads the title chase, 266-232, over Beaubier with Gerloff third on 226. Beach is fourth with 159 points, 11 better than Herrin.
Supersport - Jacobsen Gets It
In Sunday's Supersport race, Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha rider PJ Jacobsen notched his second win of the season after passing M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Bobby Fong late in the race. Fong, who is leading the championship, tried a couple of times to get back around Jacobsen, but he used discretion to maintain his second-place position rather than put valuable points in jeopardy. Bryce Prince put his Tuned Racing Yamaha on the podium in third.
"Right from the beginning with the bike I felt really good," Jacobsen said. "It was weird. In the beginning, everyone was running low 40s, high 39s. The pace was really slow. When that was happening, I felt really good. So, I just wanted to move to the front. I haven't been there so much, but I just decided I wanted to go to the front and just try to lead this thing until the end, and I just pushed as hard as I could. The team, Celtic HSBK Racing, gave me a great bike today. We made some changes overnight, really just with some gearing and a little bit of the suspension. It was working really good. I'm pretty pumped. Also, Jake Zemke helped me with some line choices. I was struggling in the esses with these guys yesterday. So, I think I got everything pretty right today."
Liqui Moly Junior Cup - Rocco. Again.
Sunday's Liqui Moly Junior Cup race-two podium was a carbon copy of Saturday's result. Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr Kawasaki rider Rocco Landers tallied his ninth win out of 11 races so far this season, but the 12-lap event was a battle between him and Altus Motorsports Kawasaki rider Kevin Olmedo, who led the majority of the laps.
Landers seemed to be biding his time, and on the final lap, he pounced and passed Olmedo for the lead, and ultimately, the win. Local rider Marc Edwards matched his third-place finish on Saturday with another third place on Sunday aboard his Feel Like A Pro/RiderzLaw Racing Kawasaki.
"I didn't have an exact plan as to what corner I'd pass him in, but the couple laps to the end, I just started trying to see what was going on, just tried to step back and think about it," Landers said. "I really wanted to see what I could do. On the last lap there, I was just following him a little bit. Coming up towards the end, I was like, 'I got a good run. Just see what happens here.' I came up on him and got by him. It was a very fun race. He was going so fast, and so was everyone."
Stock 1000 - That Man Lee
The weekend's Stock 1000 race saw local rider, defending class champion, and current points leader Andrew Lee get his fourth victory of the season with a dominant performance that saw him start from the pole, get the holeshot into turn one, and lead every one of the 14 laps to the checkers aboard his Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki. Michael Gilbert rode his Team Norris Racing Kawasaki to second place after getting by Ameris Bank Kawasaki rider Geoff May with just two laps to go in the race. May finished third to round out the podium.
"The Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki crew has been working really hard lately, getting a bike underneath me that I can go out there and ride to my full potential today," Lee said. "The bike was just feeling really great. I got a good start, and I knew these guys were going to be breathing down my neck. After qualifying, I felt like I had some pretty good pace underneath me. I was looking at the pit board and I was like, 'Man.' The grip wasn't great for me. I was just clicking my markers and getting lap in, lap out, just trying to stay consistent. I'm just happy to come away with three wins in a row. So, hopefully, moving forward we can keep it going."
Twins Cup - And Then There Were Three
The Twins Cup race saw a big shakeup in the championship after points leader Michael Barnes' Quarterley Racing Ducati had a technical issue, which took him out of the race lead, out of the race, and unfortunately, out of the championship lead. Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki rider Alex Dumas then took over the lead, put his head down, and stretched out a gap of more than 12 seconds by the time he took the checkers. Second place went to AP MotoArts Yamaha rider Draik Beauchamp, while Autovest Suzuki rider Joseph Blasius finished a close third.
The race result vaulted Beauchamp into the championship lead with 108 points, Dumas is in second with 107 points, and Barnes was shuffled down to third in the standings. But, he has 106 points, so only three points separate the top three title contenders.
"Michael (Barnes) passed me on the first lap coming into the last corner," Dumas said. "He was going pretty fast. I followed him for two or three laps until he had a problem. I didn't know if I could win. I was catching him at some places on the track where I was faster, and he was pulling a gap on me at other places. It was really hard to just keep up with him and stay behind him really close to make a pass. It was pretty much a lonely race at the end. I just took it home, and I'm really happy."
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Jake Gagne (BMW)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- David Anthony (Kawasaki)
- Jeremy Coffey (BMW)
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Joshua Hayes (Yamaha)
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha)
- Cory Ventura (Yamaha)
- Lucas Silva (Suzuki)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki)
- Marc Edwards (Kawasaki)
- Brenden Ketelsen (Kawasaki)
- Josh Serne (Kawasaki)
- Hunter Dunham (Kawasaki)
- Jackson Blackmon (Kawasaki)
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki)
- Jacob Stroud (Kawasaki)
- Toby Khamsouk (Kawasaki)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki)
- Geoff May (Kawasaki)
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Sebastiao Ferreira (Kawasaki)
- Asthon Yates (Yamaha)
- Mike Thornton (Suzuki)
- Gerog Myshlayev (Kawasaki)
- Bradley Ward (Kawasaki)
- Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha)
- Joseph Blasius (Suzuki)
- Kris Turner (Suzuki)
- Jason Madama (Yamaha)
- Curtis Murray (Suzuki)
- Daniel Adams (Suzuki)
- Cooper McDonald (Yamaha)
- Aaron Tulchinsky (Yamaha)
- Kris Lillegard (Yamaha)