The 2018 MotoAmerica Series resumes this weekend with the Championship of Virginia at VIRginia International Raceway, just 12 days after round two at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas and 19 days removed from the series opener at Road Atlanta in Georgia, as the calendar shows that there’s no rest for the weary in the early portion of the schedule.
In reality, only the Motul Superbike class has held two rounds as the premier class in the MotoAmerica Series joined the MotoGP World Championship in Texas by itself. The other classes – Supersport, Junior Cup, Twins Cup and Stock 1000 – will race in their second round this weekend while the Superbikes line up for round three at VIRginia International Raceway.
The Motul Superbike class has been everything expected of it and more thus far in its first year without the Superstock 1000 class infused into its grid. In two rounds (four races), there have been two different winners, there have been wet races and there have been dry races. And all have been dramatic.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s defending MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Champion Toni Elias leads the way as the series lands at VIR this week. The Spaniard has won three of the first four races and finished just off the podium in fourth place in the one that he didn’t win – the extremely wet race one in Texas. Elias holds a 17-point lead in the series heading into Virginia.
Second place in the series is Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the 2017 Superstock 1000 Champion winning race one at COTA and finishing just off the podium for the first time in 2018 in race two in Texas.
Two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier hasn’t won a race yet in 2018 but he’s been on the podium three times and he’s shown speed at both rounds. Beaubier is 25 points behind Elias as he comes to one of his favorite tracks on the calendar. Beaubier likes VIR and so do the Yamahas so he heads to Virginia looking for a sweep of both races to move closer to Elias in the championship standings.
Considering he showed up to the first race without his Superbike, Josh Herrin has done an admirable job of keeping his season intact. Herrin scored 16 points at Road Atlanta on what is basically his track bike and then came away with the big haul of 33 points at COTA when his Attack Performance/Herrin Compound Yamaha Superbike finally showed up ready to race.
Herrin, who is fourth in the series standings at this point, is just one point clear of Beaubier’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Garrett Gerloff. Gerloff earned his second podium finish of the season when he finished third in race two at COTA.
It’s difficult to fathom the poor start to the 2018 season that 2017 VIR race-one winner Roger Hayden has gotten off to. Hayden has failed to finish two of the four races thus far and sits 11th in the championship standings – 68 points behind his teammate Elias.
Things couldn’t get any closer than what they are in the Supersport class as that battle will resume at VIR this weekend. Rickdiculous Racing’s Hayden Gillim and Monster Energy/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha’s JD Beach are tied in points after the pair split wins and second-place finishes at Road Atlanta. It will be interesting to see if Gillim can keep his hot hand from Atlanta.
Unfortunately, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise is still on the injured list and won’t make his 2018 debut at VIR as originally thought. His place will again be taken by veteran Cory West, who performed admirably in his absence at Road Atlanta and sits third in the championship point standings.
The Liqui Moly Junior Cup will take to the track for its second round at VIR and it will do so with some tweaks to the technical rules that aim to keep parity in the class. At Road Atlanta, the Kawasakis and KTMs had an obvious speed advantage over the Yamahas and MotoAmerica has taken steps to bring that gap closer through some technical changes to the rules.
Rules or no rules, Ashton Yates left Road Atlanta with the points lead in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup class, the Georgian finishing second and first in the two races – including a truly dominating performance in the soaking-wet race two. Yates leads KTM-mounted Sean Ungvarsky, 45-36. Third place in the standings is held by Jamie Astudillo, the female racer earning her first career MotoAmerica podium on Sunday in Georgia.
The Stock 1000 class made its debut at Road Atlanta with three different brands of motorcycles sharing the podium. Travis Wyman rode his Weir Everywhere Racing BMW S 1000 RR to victory in the lone Stock 1000 race at Road Atlanta, besting the Kawasaki ZX10R of Andrew Lee Racing’s Andrew Lee and the Big ‘Un Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Timothy Bemisderfer.
The Twins Cup entry list has grown some 129 percent over the Road Atlanta round as the series gains momentum as it heads to VIR in what so far has turned into a Suzuki SV650 vs. Yamaha FZ-07 war. Chris Parrish won the series opener in Georgia on his Ghetto Customs Suzuki SV650 over Altus Motorsports’ Jason Madama’s Yamaha. Curtis Murray finished third on his RBoM 180 Racing SV650.
There will be five RBoM Racing entries on the grid for the VIR round with Xavier Zayat, Matt DiLorenzo, Gino Angella and Dustin Ducote joining Murray on the team’s SV650s.
The second winningest rider in AMA Superbike history – Josh Hayes – sat on pole position at VIRginia International Raceway a year ago, the veteran who is now serving as a rider coach for Yamaha earning pole with his 1:24.226 during Superpole. Hayes was joined on the front row by Josh Herrin and Cameron Beaubier with the top eight all circulating in the 1:24s during a heated Superpole session.
The two veterans of the MotoAmerica Series came away with wins last year in the Motul Superbike class with Roger Hayden and Josh Hayes splitting wins. For Hayes it was his 61st career win in the premier class. The Supersport races were also split between two riders – Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff, who has since moved on to the Motul Superbike class, and JD Beach. The two Superstock 1000 races were won by Bobby Fong.
Last year the KTM RC Cup races (now Liqui Moly Junior Cup) saw Draik Beauchamp and Jackson Blackmon swap victories in the two races. In the now defunct Superstock 600 class, Californian Michael Gilbert swept both races.
Who is the winningest active Superbike rider in MotoAmerica? Cameron Beaubier. The two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion (2015/2016) has won 21 MotoAmerica Motul Superbike races – eight in both 2015 and 2016 and five in 2017. Next best is Toni Elias with 19 wins – six in 2016, 10 last year and three already this year. Roger Hayden has nine AMA Superbike wins to his credit.
There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that Suzuki will reach the milestone of 200 Superbike victories in 2018. Toni Elias gave the brand its 197th win at round two in Texas, putting them three wins shy of the mark. Honda is second on the all-time Superbike win list with 116 victories, while Yamaha’s 108 (Mathew Scholtz gave Yamaha its 108th win in race one at COTA) wins puts them third.
When the series left VIRginia International Raceway last year after its third round, Toni Elias led Cameron Beaubier in the Motul Superbike Championship by 10 points with Roger Hayden another point behind in third place.