Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias may not have led any of the practice or qualifying sessions at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but he led the only thing that paid points today as the Spaniard raced to his sixth EBC Brakes Superbike win of the season in the Championship of Monterey.
Elias won a battle between himself and the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing duo of Garrett Gerloff and Cameron Beaubier, the Texan getting the better of his three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion teammate Beaubier to finish second, and .778 of a second behind Elias.
With Elias winning and Beaubier finishing third, the points gap has grown to 35 points, 226-191, heading into tomorrow’s second of two EBC Brakes Superbike races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“It’s been a really nice day,” Elias said. “Yesterday we tried many ways to understand what we need here. We know from earlier years, but every year is different. So today we put everything together. From the first lap, it was so good. I was super confident for the race. I know Cameron (Beaubier) had an incredible few laps here because every time he go in, he was struggling on the first lap, being super quick on race tires. That was our strategy. We tried to stop that. In the first lap I passed four riders.
“I’m happy. My team did an amazing job. My family is here. My son is here. It’s his first race ever for him. Thirty-five points now in the lead of the championship, but as you all know, you can’t get too comfortable. Mistakes can happen. You’ve got to stay calm. There’s still many, many races to go. Today has been a really good race but doesn’t mean anything tomorrow. These guys will improve some details. The championship is so long, and many things will happen. My championship lead had some advantage riding in one race in MotoAmerica, and then in the corner of the race I crashed. So, I lost almost everything. But we are increasing it again, so that’s good. Let’s keep doing every race like this, keep going, working like this. We are doing a great job.”
Gerloff finished on the podium for the eighth time this season and for the seventh race in a row. It was also his third runner-up finish of the year as he searches for his first career Superbike win.
“That was the most frustrating part, just seeing him pull me in the first section and me catching the back of him the last three (sections),” Gerloff said. “And not being able to make any ground. That was frustrating, but I felt like I had a really good race. I felt good battling with these guys and the first couple laps we were definitely putting it in there every other corner. You don’t want to get in the back of these guys because they’ll eat you up. I was just trying to stay towards the front. I’m pretty happy. This guy (Elias) is going quick. I feel pretty strong for tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
Beaubier was visibly disappointed with third place and his ninth podium finish of the season.
“To be honest, it was a pretty frustrating race there at the beginning,” Beaubier said. “I knew I had a really good pace all weekend. My team and I have been working really hard yesterday and this morning. I felt like I had such a good bike underneath me. We got a little time now on race tires in practice, and for whatever reason I just couldn’t get down to anywhere close to where I was in practice. So that was pretty frustrating. I was just trying to find my way up front and try to put my head down, but none of these guys would let me. I felt (Josh) Herrin clip my right elbow. I looked over and he’s off the track. It was a wild race. Today wasn’t our day. Congrats to these guys. We’re going to go back and do our homework tonight and come back swinging tomorrow.”
Herrin crashed after making contact with Beaubier, the Georgian battling for the lead at the time.
Fourth place went to Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach, the Kentucky resident in the mix at the front until the closing laps. He finished 7.8 seconds behind Elias but was well clear of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, the Kentuckian racing to fifth all alone.
FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony was sixth, narrowly topping Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen. FLY Racing’s Sam Verderico, Superbike Underground’s Jeremy Coffey and Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders rounded out the top 10 finishers.
In addition to Herrin, Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, Uribe Racing’s Jayson Uribe and Cycle Gear/SC Project/KWR Racing Ducati’s Kyle Wyman all crashed out of the race. Uribe and Wyman went down together in turn two on the opening lap with Wyman suffering a suspected broken wrist.
Twins Cup – DeKeyrel Gets His First
In Saturday’s Twins Cup race, former MotoAmerica Supersport racer Kaleb DeKeyrel returned to the series after a couple of years away, and aboard his 1833CJKnows/Roaring Toyz Yamaha, notched his first career MotoAmerica victory. DeKeyrel started from 12th on the grid, but through patience and determination, he moved to the front and passed the current points leader Michael Barnes aboard his Quarterley Racing Ducati and the race leader at the time, Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki rider Alex Dumas. Dumas and Barnes ultimately finished in second and third, respectively.
“Qualifying obviously didn’t go so hot, so I knew we had to make some serious changes in order to be there for the race,” DeKeyrel said. “I put my head down last night. Was writing a bunch of stuff down, figuring a bunch of stuff out so, hopefully, we could come out here today and put on a show for the fans. We had an incredible bike for the race. I’ve got to give a huge shout-out to Roaring Toyz and 1833CJKnows for getting me out here. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be here.
“I drove over 110 hours just to make this race happen. But I also knew that the Yamaha was a great platform as far as handling and everything. So, I knew we would have a decent bike coming here. It would just be fine-tuning it for the track. But I’ve been training a lot. I’m training really hard with my buddy Garrett Gerloff, even though I haven’t been at the MotoAmerica races in a couple of years. I live down in Texas right next to him, so we’ve been training hard. I’m hoping I get more opportunities in the future to show my talent to the paddock.”
Stock 1000 – Lee Keeps The Momentum Going
Home cooking proved to be a benefit for Californian Andrew Lee as the Franklin Armory/Graves Motorsports Kawasaki rider won Saturday’s Stock 1000 race and extended his championship lead to 11 points over the day’s third-place finisher, Mesa37 Racing Kawasaki rider Stefano Mesa. Former World Superbike competitor Geoff May finished second in the race aboard his Ameris Bank Kawasaki.
Lee started from the pole with Mesa and May gridded right next to him on the front row, and the race was a battle from the get-go. As the laps wound down, Lee made strategic use of a few backmarkers and tiptoed through them to win by just under a second at the checkers.
“Coming into this weekend, I knew I had some momentum coming off of Utah, so I just wanted to really continue that,” commented Lee. “I knew it was going to be difficult with Geoff and Stefano right there behind me. I’m just happy I got to accomplish my goals this weekend. It was a really good battle. I knew coming through Rainey Curve that there were some lappers up-ahead going up over turn one, and I knew I had to get there before Geoff did. Coming into the last lap, there was a big group ahead of me. I was like, that’s going to be pretty intimidating. Thankfully, I got over the hill and got one backmarker in-between Geoff and me, and I made it down the hill and crossed the line first.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- David Anthony (Kawasaki)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- Sam Verderico (Yamaha)
- Jeremy Coffey (BMW)
- Max Flinders (Yamaha)
- Kaleb DeKeyrel (Yamaha)
- Michael Barnes (Ducati)
- Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha)
- Kris Turner (Suzuki)
- Jason Madama (Yamaha)
- Chris Parrish (Suzuki)
- Cooper McDonald (Yamaha)
- Curtis Murray (Suzuki)
- Joseph Blasius (Suzuki)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Geoff May (Kawasaki)
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki)
- Andy DiBrino (Yamaha)
- Sebastiao Ferreira (Kawasaki)
- Miles Thornton (Suzuki)
- Doug Frenchak (Kawasaki)
- George Myshlyayev (Kawasaki)