Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias won his third race of the season today in the Championship at Road America, the fourth round of the 10-round MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike Championship held in changing conditions in Wisconsin.
Elias came out on top of a battle that featured as many as seven riders at times and whittled down to four riders by the end of the race. At the finish line, Elias was .253 of a second ahead of his championship rival Cameron Beaubier to pull 29 points clear of the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory racing rider with six rounds and 12 races left in the title chase. Elias has 151 points to Beaubier’s 122.
Elias also earned his second pole position of the season earlier in the day during Superpole, doubling his amount of poles from a season ago. The win was the 28th Superbike victory of Elias’ career and it moved him into a tie with Ben Spies for fifth on the all-time list.
Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff was a shadow third, just .787 of a second behind Elias. He was some two seconds clear of Elias’ teammate Josh Herrin, the Georgian in the mix until the final laps when he and Elias nearly clashed, and Herrin got the worst of it. Herrin was visibly upset after the race, gesturing at his teammate on the cool-down lap. Herrin ran wide on the final lap while trying to beat Gerloff and slipped to fourth.
“We finished the race and he was super mad at me,” Elias said of Herrin. “You can understand if someone is mad with a good reason, but the reason was we were doing the same thing and we were playing the same game. If you are frustrated because I pass you and you ran wide, I ran wide too, but it’s the last lap and we brake as we could. I didn’t want to make him do a wide line or lose some positions. I’m sorry about that, but I can’t accept the way he come to me and start to yelling like this. Hey, man, calm down. No, it’s not like this. We are playing the same game. Sorry. It’s like this. Another day I will receive. It’s okay. I will shut up my mouth, but we didn’t even touch. Nobody went to the ground. Nobody ran off the track. So, sorry but this is racing. I was trying to defend my side and I don’t feel I did anything wrong. So that’s why verbally or with signals I was trying to defend myself after the race. But we did a good job as teammates. He helped me a lot for the first five or six laps. After we start to battle who arrive first in the finish line for the last five laps in case of red flag in the race. It was not only the last lap; it was the previous five laps when we start to pass each other. Then we found a lapper. I’m happy. We are doing a great job, but everybody is so fast. It’s so competitive, so close, and anything can happen. Let’s see tomorrow. I hope to have a good race tomorrow.”
Beaubier had started slowly and was shuffled well back in the lead pack before getting comfortable and moving forward.
“It was difficult,” Beaubier said. “It was tough. It was kind of an odd race. One lap we’d be down in the 2:13, 2:14 range and then the next was 2:17 or 2:18. Just going off feel, really, whoever was in front. I think both of us saw Herrin get loose one time going into turn two. I was like, ‘whoa, I don’t want to do that,’ type of thing. I was just kind of judging off the guys in front of me, because we pretty much saw mist all the way through mid-race. Then the last couple laps it wasn’t really an issue. I got shuffled back there pretty good at the beginning and just put my head down once I got by. Got a little more comfortable. To be honest, at the beginning I was not comfortable at all after crashing this morning and stuff like that. I’m happy to be on the podium. It’s not a win. It is a little bit of a bummer just because I love this track and my bike works good here. I feel like this is a really good track for me, but we’ve always got tomorrow. Hats off to this guy (Elias) and also Garrett (Gerloff). They were riding really good, same with Herrin and JD (Beach). I think JD might have had a little problem with his bike or something. It was a good, tough race. I’m ready to go tomorrow.”
For Gerloff, it was podium number four as he still seeks that elusive first EBC Brakes Superbike win. He also didn’t get the message that it was the last lap.
“There was just so much going on,” Gerloff said. “There were four or five guys there so everybody’s board was in front of the other one. It just slipped my mind. I knew it was at least two laps to go, so I was trying to put myself in a good spot. But I just didn’t know that it was the actual last lap. It didn’t matter. I was still giving it my all. It was an interesting race. It started off, everything seemed pretty good. We started going and the rain started to come down around halfway. I remember going into turn three and was kind of back in there. Then I came back, and the rear just started coming around on me. Not the best feeling, but you don’t want to lose sight of these guys. The last couple laps were dry. Everything feels pretty good with the bike. There are just a couple things that we’re going to try to face for tomorrow. But I feel good. The team and I are working awesome together. Looking forward to maybe a little more straightforward race tomorrow.”
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fifth, some four seconds behind Herrin and racing alone as he had a 4.3-second lead on his South African countryman Cameron Petersen on the Omega Moto Yamaha YZF-R1.
Seventh place went to JD Beach, the Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha rider in the mix at the front until his bike shut off with a few laps to go. Beach was able to get it going again, but then ran into clutch issues and slipped back to seventh.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne was eighth with FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony ninth. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis rounded out the top 10.
Supersport – Gillim’s Third Of The Year
Supersport polesitter Hayden Gillim grabbed his third victory of the season aboard his Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha, and in what has been a consistent theme in MotoAmerica’s middleweight class, the win did not come easily. Gillim had to fight off a fierce challenge from M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammates Bobby Fong and Sean Dylan Kelly. Fong finished second while Kelly finished third, which was the rookie Supersport rider’s third podium result of his season.
“I wanted to try and get away, separate the group,” Gillim said. “I was able to do that, but Bobby ran me back down, and then Sean. I sat behind Bobby for a little bit because I knew I couldn’t pull away. So there was no point in me just going and burning up my tires, pitching the bike away or anything like that. I waited for the last lap and then Sean got up in there. It was a fight. It was tough. It was a really fun race. I was just happy I was able to stay in there.
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Landers!
In Liqui Moly Junior Cup, early-season over-dog Rocco Landers notched his fourth victory in five races over his rival Dallas Daniels, who has finished second in all four of the races that Landers has won.
Landers, who started from the pole aboard his Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr Kawasaki, got the holeshot, with Daniels close behind aboard his Quarterley Racing/On Track Development Kawasaki. The pair of Ninja warriors battled each other throughout the entire seven-lap sprint, and with Daniels was in the lead on the final lap. Landers made a perfect draft pass around Daniels on the run up the hill to the finish line to take the checkered flag in dramatic fashion.
Meanwhile, Altus Motorsports Kawasaki rider Kevin Olmedo was in a battle with BARTCON Racing/Farrell Performance Kawasaki rider Damian Jigalov, and Olmedo prevailed to round out the podium in third.
When asked about his strategy to make a last-lap pass on Daniels, Landers said: “I was just going corner to corner. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just like, let’s see what’s going to happen. Just do what we can. I was able to pull that move off, and here we are.”
Stock 1000 – May Day
Saturday’s Stock 1000 race saw the return of former factory Superbike contender and World Superbike rider Geoff May to the top step of the podium. It had been 11 years since the Georgian had won an AMA-sanctioned road race, and he was understandably emotional in the winner’s circle. May, who was aboard a Kawasaki sponsored by his “day-job” employer Ameris Bank, for whom he is a mortgage banker, held off MESA37 Racing’s Stefano Mesa to get the win. Third place went to Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki’s Andrew Lee.
“It’s amazing to be back,” May said. “I’ve been club racing. I’ve probably been racing more than you would if you were just doing MotoAmerica, racing about every two weeks in club racing. Taking some Kawasaki money and even BMW money. I was content with that for a while, thinking I’ve had my time. I’ve had my career. I had a good run. I did very well for a long time. After World Superbike everything kind of changed. The series was in a transition period. It’s harder to find sponsorship. The way that you used to get rides back in the 2000s was just by beating people. People had to hire you because if they didn’t hire you, they were going to get beat by you and then they weren’t going to get any TV time. That whole way went away. When social media came around it was more about how many likes you have and what kind of presence you have on social media. So the way I made a career and a living in road racing went away. After 16 years at that point my wife was like, ‘You know, Geoff, it’s over.’ Thank God she told me that because I wasn’t going to wreck. I went and got my mortgage license after I set up for Westby and it didn’t work out. I was like, okay, it’s over. Joined the real world and the workforce and started a new career. Then Kawasaki in ’16 came out with a bike and I was like, ‘Look! I can do this; I can race again. There’s actually money. There’s contingency. I can go win money racing bikes.’ She’s like, ‘If you can win money, you can race.’ We worked real hard for a long time in racing and I made a lot of money back when it was good, and there was no way I was going to just throw it away to go chase a dead dream. Thankfully with Kawi and also BMW the contingency allowed me to rekindle my career. Then this year with MotoAmerica in the stock class, I saw what MotoAmerica is doing and it’s like that but another level, and it is in line what I do with Ameris Bank, and they like it too. I’m trying to bring an outside industry sponsor into what I love to help. I want to see this sport grow. I’m going to race as long as I can. It might be this year. It might be ten more years. I don’t know. But I want to see this sport grow, and so I’m trying to bring money into the sport and ideally build my own team, a bring a team into the paddock. We’ll see what happens. Everything is going on track right now. Everything looks good. I’m really happy with everything MotoAmerica is doing. The TV is fantastic. I was begging for that 10 years ago. All of us were. The golf channel can make golf look amazing. Why can’t we show what motorcycles are actually doing? And you guys finally did it. It’s something that you can invest in going forward, I believe.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki)
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Dallas Daniels (Kawasaki)
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki)
- Damian Jigalov (Kawasaki)
- Dominique Doyle (Kawasaki)
- Geoff May (Kawasaki)
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki)