Last year at this time Toni Elias came into the penultimate round of the MotoAmerica Series at New Jersey Motorsports Park with a 79-point lead over his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden and an 85-point lead over his then-injured rival Cameron Beaubier. The championship, for all intent and purposes, was over.
Now the tables have completely turned as two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Beaubier arrives at the Championship of New Jersey with a 56-point lead over Elias and appears headed for a third Motul Superbike Championship.
It’s difficult to tell if Elias has conceded the 2018 Motul Superbike Championship or not. After all, there are still 100 points up for grabs.
“For the team, the championship is honestly easy (now),” Elias said of Beaubier’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing team after the Pittsburgh round. “It’s like the situation I had last year. It’s the one who has to risk is me. So, let’s do it and we’ll see what happens. Let’s see what happens in New Jersey. Let’s try to improve a little bit more. Let’s prepare also things for next season because we will have to be ready.”
Elias and Beaubier both struggled in iffy conditions in race one at Pittsburgh International Race Complex two weeks ago and it was the first time all season that the Motul Superbike podium didn’t include one of the two championship rivals. Elias was fourth and Beaubier fifth. The following day, normalcy returned with Elias barely beating Beaubier after inarguably the best last-lap battle of the season.
Both men come to NJMP with seven wins apiece on the season. The other two men to win Motul Superbike races in 2018 are Attack Performance/Herrin Compound Yamaha’s Josh Herrin (race one at Pittsburgh) and Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz (race one at Circuit of The Americas).
Elias comes into NJMP with the confidence gained of not only winning race two in Pittsburgh, which he doesn’t count as one of his favorites, but also having swept both Motul Superbike races at NJMP a season ago. But, he also knows that Beaubier, his biggest rival, didn’t compete at NJMP last year after suffering a shoulder injury in race two at PittRace.
With Beaubier and Elias separated by 56 points, those two are the only ones with a mathematical chance of winning the championship. Herrin is next, but he trails Beaubier by 101 points so his concern is of holding down third in the series standings – a spot he currently owns by 38 points over Scholtz.
Beaubier’s Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff is fifth in the series standings, 13 points behind Scholtz after matching his rookie Superbike season best of second in race one at Pittsburgh. It was Gerloff’s fifth podium finish of the season.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis also has the opportunity to move up in the standings with two good weekends in the final two races at NJMP and Barber Motorsports Park. Lewis is sixth in the standings but is only 24 points out of fourth and 11 points from fifth.
KWR’s Kyle Wyman comes to New Jersey Motorsports Park hoping to have the kind of performance that he had a season ago when he finished second in race two – by far the best Motul Superbike performance of his career. Wyman battled for the victory in the second race a year ago with both Roger Hayden and Elias, and came up just 1.94 seconds short of what would have been a first career Superbike win. Wyman knows NJMP well and he could be a factor again this year.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden isn’t having a Hayden-like season in what is his final year of racing. But there are two more races left and both of those are at racetracks where the Kentuckian has performed well. Case in point: Last year he was beaten to the flag by Elias in race one by just .039 of a second. Hayden is eighth in the series standings, tied with Scheibe Racing BMW’s Danny Eslick, and 12 points behind Wyman.
Fly Street Racing’s David Anthony is 10th in the Motul Superbike standings, 36 points behind Hayden and Eslick and 11 points clear of Bobby Fong, who will ride the Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda again at NJMP and at the season finale in Alabama.
Monster Energy/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha’s JD Beach needs to only score two points at NJMP to wrap up the 2018 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship. Beach has had a season to remember, the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion and all-time leader in MotoAmerica Supersport wins, coming to New Jersey with 10 wins in 13 races and a 98-point lead in the series standings. Beach’s season has been such that his fourth-place finish in race one at PittRace two weeks ago was the first time he’d finished off the podium all season.
The closest racer to Beach is his friend and Kentucky neighbor Hayden Gillim, the Rickdiculous Racing rider arriving at NJMP with 11 podiums that include a win in round one at Road Atlanta in April. To say he’s hungry for victory would be an understatement.
The third Supersport rider to taste victory is M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman scoring his second win of the year in race one at PittRace. In race two, however, Debise had a big crash and he will come to NJMP a bit bruised and beaten.
RiderzLaw/KWR’s Bryce Prince is coming off his best weekend of racing at PittRace, the Californian scoring two third-place finishes. Prince is fourth in the standings, eight points clear of M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden and 11 points clear of TSE Racing’s Cory West.
Another championship that could be decided this weekend in New Jersey is the Liqui Moly Junior Cup. KTM Orange Brigade/JP43 Training’s Alex Dumas holds down a 64-point lead heading into NJMP and could be champion on Saturday if he increases that lead to 75 points after race one. The more likely scenario would be him leaving Jersey with a points lead of 50 or more after race two on Sunday. At that point, he would be crowned as the first-ever Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion prior to the series finale in Alabama.
Dumas’ season has been spectacular, with the 16-year-old French Canadian winning eight races so far with 10 podiums in 13 races.
The rider who is hoping to stop Dumas is Yates Racing’s Ashton Yates, the Georgian 64 points adrift with three wins and seven podiums. Yates hurt his chances of keeping his title hopes alive when he crashed out of the lead in race two at PittRace and Dumas went on to victory.
MP13 Racing’s Cory Ventura sits third in the series standings, just seven points behind Yates. Ventura has come alive of late with three podiums in the last three races, including his first win at Sonoma Raceway in round seven.
With Dumas riding a KTM RC390R, Yates riding a Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Ventura aboard a Yamaha R3, all three brands currently racing in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup class occupy a spot in the top three in the championship.
The Stock 1000 class championship is also about to be won by RiderzLaw Racing’s Andrew Lee, the Californian 42 points ahead heading into NJMP with just two Stock 1000 races remaining. If Lee leaves Jersey with a lead bigger than 42 points, he will be crowned champion.
Weir Everywhere Racing’s Travis Wyman is second with his two wins matching Lee’s win record. Lee, however, has finished second in the four races he didn’t win and that’s the difference. Wyman is 27 points ahead of Chad Lewin on the Lewin Estates Yamaha. Lewin and Shane Richardson are the other riders to have tasted Stock 1000 class victory champagne in 2018. New Zealander Richardson is just three points behind Lewin.
The Twins Cup Championship is just that again after the Pittsburgh round – a championship. Ghetto Custom’s Chris Parrish looked to have things going all his way heading into PittRace, but he ran out of gas in the race and that allowed Syndicate/AP MotoArts’ Jason Madama to win his third race of the season. It also puts him just nine points out of the lead with two races remaining, including Saturday’s race at NJMP.
New Jersey Motorsports Park Fast Facts…
With his seven wins this year, Cameron Beaubier now has seven on the season and 31 in his AMA Superbike career. Beaubier could match his high-water mark of eight wins (in both 2015 and 2016) with a win this weekend in NJMP. Beaubier is fourth on the all-time Superbike win list with 30 victories, just two shy of legend Miguel Duhamel.
Toni Elias also has seven wins this year, which gives him 23 over the course of his three-year MotoAmerica career. That ranks him sixth on the all-time AMA Superbike win list.
Roger Hayden earned pole position at NJMP last year, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider lapping at 1:20.378 during Superpole.
Elias did the double at NJMP last year, the Spaniard topping Hayden and the now retired Josh Hayes in race one before topping Kyle Wyman and Hayden in race two.
Garrett Gerloff dominated the two Supersport races last year in New Jersey, the Texan winning both races by big margins en route to taking his second Supersport title in succession. Gerloff beat Valentin Debise and JD Beach in race one and Beach and Debise in race two. Gerloff is now in the Motul Superbike Series, racing a Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1.
Alex Dumas won both KTM RC Cup races at NJMP a year ago, the French Canadian topping Cory Ventura by just .775 of a second and .145 of a second, respectively, in the two races. Sean Ungvarsky was third in race one with Benjamin Smith third in race two. Smith would ultimately win the championship in the class that is now the Liqui Moly Junior Cup class, which is open to all manufacturers unlike the spec-class KTM RC Cup. Dumas and Ventura are currently first and third in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship with Smith now racing in the Supersport class.
Michael Gilbert and New Jersey’s own Anthony Mazziotto III won the two races in the now defunct Superstock 600 class last year at NJMP. Both Gilbert and Mazziotto now compete in the Supersport class.