Seven points are all that separates Cameron Beaubier from year-long championship leader Toni Elias as the 2019 EBC Brakes Superbike Championship reaches a crescendo tomorrow at Barber Motorsports Park.
Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Beaubier did what he needed to do to keep his championship hopes alive on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Alabama, the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion taking his fifth win of the season while everything fell into place behind him.
Beaubier knew he needed to win, and he did. He also knew he needed help. And he got it with his teammate Garrett Gerloff finishing second. And, finally, he needed Elias to struggle, which he did, finishing third with his teammate Josh Herrin riding shotgun to the Spaniard in the final laps.
Beaubier’s win combined with Elias’ third place narrows the margin to seven points, 349-342, with just tomorrow’s finale remaining in the championship. If Beaubier wins on Sunday and Elias finishes third or worse, Beaubier will earn his fourth series title.
“The start of the race, from the first lap, I thought it was going to go pretty well,” Beaubier said. “I got a good start. I was really happy with my start. I looked up at the board and I saw 31 at first, then I saw 2. Then I think I was distracted or something and I got in really, really late to turn 10 out on the back part of the track. I almost ran out of track. I didn’t want to ask too much of the front just because the harder tire, it’s only four lefts (left-handers) on the track or something like that. I didn’t want to ask too much of it too early in the race. That sent me back to third. Me and (Josh) Herrin were just playing games with each other. Stuffing each other here and there. Every time I think that I would go up the inside of him, I would open the next corner and he’d be right back there. He’s very tough to race. Pretty crafty with his passes and stuff. Once I broke him, Garrett (Gerloff) was almost three seconds out in front. I did everything I could to reel him in. I was really happy to see the lap times I was able to put down on the R1. I think I did a couple laps faster than what we qualified at. Like Garrett said, it’s a testament to our team for working so hard. I definitely want to keep this number-one plate on the bike so bad for myself and for Yamaha and everyone that supports us. I’m just going to keep going and fighting until it’s over. Whatever happens happens. I snuck up inside of Garrett and I put my head down on the last few laps. I rode tight lines the last couple laps, especially the last couple corners. I’m going to go and put everything out there tomorrow and see what happens.”
Gerloff led the majority of the race until he was caught and passed by his teammate.
“I was giving it everything I had and, obviously, Cameron (Beaubier) was ripping off really good laps today, catching back up to me,” Gerloff said. “When he got around me, I felt good. I felt like the Yamaha R1 had some pace, but he rode good the last couple laps. It just wasn’t my day.”
The Texan said he was well aware of what was going on behind him as he was watching on the Jumbotron.
“For sure it’s kind of nice because over there we’ve got the TV coming off the back straightaway, so I can kind of see what’s going on,” Gerloff said. “I see the tower, so I know who’s where. I knew what was going on with him and Herrin at the beginning of the race. I saw all of that. Then I saw him coming back up to me. I’m just trying to ride my race in the end but be smart also. I think our bikes are on point, really strong laps late in the race. Props to the team for how well they’ve set up our bikes and how hard we’ve been working this year.”
Elias was disappointed with third place but hopeful of better things to come tomorrow. He knows that to earn the title, third place isn’t going to be enough. On Saturday, the former Moto2 World Champion was a distant third – 18.8 seconds behind Beaubier and just .033 of a second ahead of Herrin.
“Yeah, I had a lot of struggles,” Elias said. “I almost crashed 10 times, but there was someone there holding me on the bike. The day is not the best day in terms of talking about the race and talking about the points for the championship. Increases the points, still seven points ahead. It’s getting close. If tomorrow happens what happened today, we will lose the championship. But I don’t need another race like today. I give all my heart. Definitely will be better than today. Let’s do it. Let’s work hard. Let’s use all our experience and fight to the end.”
Behind Herrin came Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach, the Yamaha rider closing in on the Yoshimura duo in the final laps and coming up just short at the finish after starting the race from the fourth row.
Sixth place went to Jake Gagne, the Scheibe Racing BMW rider just ahead of KATO Fastening/Ducati Richmond/KWR’s Kyle Wyman, who was some two seconds clear of Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen. FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony and Weir Everywhere Racing’s Travis Wyman rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Supersport: Fong Crowned!
In the penultimate Supersport race of the season, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider Bobby Fong led the 19-lap event from start to finish and clinched the 2019 championship in a dominant performance for the Northern California rider. At the finish line, Fong’s lead was nearly one-and-a-half seconds over Tuned Racing Yamaha rider Bryce Prince. Third place went to 2 Wheel Legal – Hudson Motorcycles Yamaha rider Richie Escalante.
Fong, who has been road racing professionally since 2006, was understandably both joyful and relieved to win his first championship.
“Honestly it’s unreal,” Fong said. “Sleepless nights. I’ve never been in this position before, so I didn’t know how to control it. My coach, Josh Hayes, had a shoulder I could cry on most of the time, so that was a big relief. I’ve never been under so much pressure. I felt like I was a kid again. Almost nauseous before the race and everything. I knew I had the bike underneath me to do it. This morning in qualifying, I knew that we had the pace, and I just had to ride smart and focus on hitting my marks. We rode a good, smooth race. These guys kept me on my toes the whole time. I’m just excited to go into tomorrow and not even think about the championship.”
Junior Cup: Who Else But Landers?
In Liqui Moly Junior Cup, 2019 class champion Rocco Landers raced his Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr Kawasaki to his 13th victory of the season. The result was very much in doubt, however, as BARTCON Racing Kawasaki rider Dominic Doyle gave Landers a run for his money in the middle-to-late portions of the race as the two riders swapped the lead a few times. Ultimately, Landers managed to get back around Doyle and make it stick as he took the checkered flag by .277 of a second. Third place went to Jackson Blackmon aboard his MonkeyMoto/AGVSport/Blud Lubricants Kawasaki.
“The race was really fun,” said Landers. “I was able to get a good start and a good first lap. Dominic was right there. The first few laps, I was trying to lead, see what we could do. Was running a great race. Then Dom got by me. I was just like, ‘What’s going to happen now?’ Then I went back by him. So, we were having a good race shaping up. Then as the laps wound down, I was just coming up with a game plan. He was riding super good. I went by, and he went back by me immediately. Then on the last lap, I just got a good draft and was able to get by him. I knew I wanted to lead him to the front straight to the checkered flag, and it worked out.”
Stock 1000: Lee’s Sixth Straight
Even though Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki rider Andrew Lee wrapped up his second consecutive Stock 1000 Championship two weeks ago at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the California rider just keeps on winning.
In the first of two Stock 1000 races at Barber Motorsports Park, Lee notched his seventh victory out of 10 races and his sixth in a row. The two-time class champ bested second-place finisher and Norris Racing Kawasaki rider Michael Gilbert by nearly three-and-a-half seconds at the stripe, with Mesa 37 Racing Kawasaki’s Stefano Mesa rounding out the podium in third.
“Ultimately, these guys have been giving me a good run for my money this weekend,” Lee said. “This is the east coast. I’m not really too familiar with this track. Both these guys in the past have been fast here. Coming into the weekend, the goal was to continue with the momentum that we’ve carried since Utah. So, after qualifying on pole we had a pretty good, happy setup on the bike. Got off to a decent start. Michael (Gilbert) got a good start on me. Halfway through the race I kind of picked a spot where I was going to try to pass him. I put my nose in there a few times, and a few of those times it was almost lights out for both of us. I think the goal after this is to bring both these boys to get some ice cream since it’s a little hairy and hot out there. Any suggestions on ice cream are greatly appreciated.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Jake Gagne (BMW)
- Kyle Wyman (Ducati)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- David Anthony (Kawasaki)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
- Cory Ventura (Yamaha)
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha)
- Braeden Ortt (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Dominic Doyle (Kawasaki)
- Jackson Blackmon (Kawasaki)
- Benjamin Gloddy (Kawasaki)
- Damian Jigalov (Kawasaki)
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki)
- Liam Grant (Kawasaki)
- Karen Ogura (Yamaha)
- Jacob Stroud (Kawasaki)
- Cody Wyman (Yamaha)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki)
- Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki)
- Ashton Yates (Yamaha)
- Miles Thornton (Suzuki)
- Bradley Ward (Kawasaki)
- John Dunham (Yamaha)
- Rhett Norman (Yamaha)
- Alan Phillips (Kawasaki)
- Jeffrey Purk (Yamaha)