Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias thought he had two chances of winning the second EBC Brakes Superbike race in the Championship of Pittsburgh – slim and none. But Elias is Elias and by the time the dust had settled around him, he was at the front of the field and en route to his seventh win of the 2019 MotoAmerica Series.
And, more importantly, a 35-point lead in the championship after two days of racing on a track that he considers one of the more difficult for him and his Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Elias ended up beating his rival Cameron Beaubier by just .340 of a second after 18 laps of the 2.7-mile Pittsburgh International Race Complex, handing Beaubier his second straight second place finish on the weekend. On Saturday, Beaubier lost out to his teammate Garrett Gerloff by just .326 of a second, thus losing both races by a combined (and devilish) margin of .666 of a second.
If the margins of victory were difficult for Beaubier so too was the fact that he came to Pittsburgh 34 points behind Elias and he leaves Steel City 35 points behind.
For Gerloff the second race had a much worse outcome, the Texan suffering a mechanical failure while leading on the second lap. The non-finish puts a massive dent in Gerloff’s chances of earning a first EBC Brakes Superbike title as he now trails Elias by 56 points with two rounds and four races left on the calendar.
Third place today went to Elias’ Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Josh Herrin, the Georgian rebounding from his first-lap crash on Saturday and his seventh-place finish after remounting from his crash with Jake Lewis.
Elias didn’t hold back in admitting that he was very fortunate to come out of PittRace with a victory.
“It’s been the worst race of the year, talking about rhythm, talking about being comfortable, talking about being relaxed and not breathing,” Elias said. “It was so difficult. I didn’t find the rear grip and the right traction since lap one, and everybody passed me. All the riders I fight with, they passed me. So (Garrett) Gerloff left, (Jake) Lewis left, Cameron (Beaubier) left, every rider was leaving. Then everyone start to (make) mistake. The one who did a mistake was the reason I could pass him. I couldn’t get Cameron. Started to fight a little bit with him, but honestly when I passed him, he had some mistake. Then I had a mistake in the first corner. For the last five laps, I was behind him. I was following him, but today was good enough to win. I think if I was leading the race on the last lap with him, he could pass me easily anytime he wanted. So, I’ve been lucky. Today I’ve been super lucky. With the team we are doing all we can. We pass two difficult (tracks) for us – Sonoma and this one. But we win, so that’s great. I didn’t expect this. The changes I did, we did for today, I choose them but looks like with the cold temperature everything works well so I was super confident, but it didn’t work for me. It was a disaster. So, I’m not going to use that again. I will change totally for the next races. It’s too early (in the championship). We keep the same advantage, so let’s continue like this.”
Beaubier had given it his all in the final two laps after his mistake in the chicane that sent him off track while it looked like he had the race in hand.
“At the start of the race I got shuffled back a little bit,” Beaubier said. “Made a couple moves, and then I saw Garrett (Gerloff) ran wide. It was kind of a jumble there at the beginning. Jake Lewis was pretty impressive the first few laps and dipped into the low 41s. I was able to kind of come back to him a little bit. I got in the lead and I felt pretty comfortable kind of doing my thing. First of all, it was a bummer that Garrett went out with whatever happened because he definitely had the pace on all of us this weekend. He was riding really impressive this weekend, setting the pace in every session. Yesterday he was really, really strong in the race. So, I knew today it was going to be tough going in. I saw myself in the lead. I saw Toni (Elias) ran a little wide in turn one. I just put my head down from there. I kept seeing plus 2 on my board, plus 3, and plus 0. Then I just kept digging, kept digging. I went into the little chicane and I think I just knifed the brakes pretty hard and the rear end, I don’t know if it slipped or what, but I was in just way too deep. I didn’t want to cut the track because I knew I would have had to give a position. But I made it worse. I jumped a curb, went through the grass, ended up going a second back or whatever I was. I was just so mad. Just put my head down and rode as hard as I possibly could to try to do something. But it was too late. It’s just been frustrating because my bike has been incredible here and Sonoma. I made that stupid mistake Saturday at Sonoma. Today I made that mistake. I just feel like I have a really good bike under me, but I’m just not clicking as a rider. That’s frustrating when you have before. Just one of those times. We’re just going to keep fighting. We’ve got two rounds left. I really enjoyed the last two tracks, New Jersey and Barber. Just going to keep digging. Congrats to these guys and see everyone in Jersey.”
Herrin was happy to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment.
“Me and Toni found the food and water today,” Herrin said. “It was a good race. Yesterday was a bummer but for some reason I wasn’t mad. I’m sure the team was disappointed, but after the bad luck at Sonoma, whenever I went in and moved over and hit Jake (Lewis) at Sonoma. Whenever I came sliding through the grass on top of his bike I was kind of laughing. When we got up, he was sitting there kind of bummed out and I’m like, ‘Get up! Let’s go! I don’t want to do this race by myself.’ His bike was all bent out of shape. I’m for sure happy to be up here. Of course, I want to be battling more at the front. I made a big mistake that cost me a little bit of time. I was a lot slower than these guys through the chicane. It was very hard to make up each lap. I couldn’t ever make up everything I lost, but I could make up a little bit in the first half. But then it would all happen again the second half every lap. So, it was very hard. The last few laps I just had nothing left on the right side of my tire. Just overcooked it a little bit, I think. But for being the soft (tire)… I think me and Lewis were the only ones on the soft tire. I raced it yesterday. The main reason that I got up and finished that race yesterday is because I knew I needed to see how the soft would work for today. It worked. Like I said, just couldn’t stick with them in the chicane.”
Fourth place on Sunday went to M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, the Kentuckian making up for yesterday’s crash that took him and Herrin out on the first lap. Lewis was less than a second behind Herrin at the finish after leading several laps early in the race.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fifth, matching his performance from Saturday, some 10 seconds adrift of Lewis and three ahead of Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach, another who matched his result from the day before.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne was seventh on Sunday after finishing a season-best fourth on Sunday. He was on Beach’s tail at the end of the 18 lapper.
Eighth place went to Broaster Chicken/KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman, the New Yorker bouncing back from a crash in Saturday’s race. FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports David Anthony and Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Supersport: Kelly Does It Again
Sunday’s Supersport race two was arguably the event of the day with championship leader Bobby Fong coming back from a big crash in Saturday’s race one and very nearly winning the race aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki. Fong’s teammate Sean Dylan Kelly just barely nipped him at the line to get the double win on the weekend. Third place went to Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha rider PJ Jacobsen, who finished second on Saturday.
Even though he beat the ailing Fong at the checkers, Kelly was sympathetic to his teammate and said, “I can’t believe how much pain he was dealing with. I saw him yesterday after his crash, and I saw this morning how much pain he was in. Just huge respect, dude, 100%. I’m glad that we were able to get the 1-2 for the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team. Of course, I’m super pumped for myself and for my family and for everyone around me who helped me get this double-win weekend. It’s still kind of hard to take it in. Obviously, I think tonight I’ll be able to take it in a little bit. I just hope to keep it going like this and get to New Jersey feeling confident and strong and keep on with this pace.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup: Landers Bounces Back
In Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr Kawasaki rider Rocco Landers won his 10th race out of 13 thus far in the season, and he did so with another one of his patented performances where he took off from the pole position and started immediately building a gap. Saturday’s race one winner Kevin Olmedo finished second aboard his Altus Motorsports Kawasaki, and MonkeyMoto/AGVSport/Blud Lubricants Kawasaki rider Jackson Blackmon got his second podium finish of the year in third.
“It feels great to be able to bounce back to the podium,” Landers said. “Super, super, super stoked for these guys, too. I know they ran super hard. I was trying to get as much of a gap as I could the first couple laps, just see if I could manage that. I did decent times. Can’t thank everyone enough. It’s just super, super, super great for the team. We’ll see what we can do in New Jersey.”
Stock 1000: Lee, Again
Stock 1000 championship leader Andrew Lee stretched out his advantage on Sunday with his fifth race win of the season and his fourth victory in a row aboard his Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki. Meanwhile, Lee’s two closest competitors in the point standings, Stefano Mesa and Michael Gilbert, crashed into each other and out of the race.
Stock 1000 newcomer Ashton Yates, in only his second race in the class, challenged Lee for the win aboard his Vic Fasola Racing Yamaha, and finished second. Another class newcomer Corey Alexander, who raced in the Stock 1000 class at Road America earlier in the season, finished third on the Ride HVMC/Freeman Racing Kawasaki.
“First of all, it’s a shame to see those guys go down,” Lee said. “That’s not how you want to win a race. It looks like, judging by how close these guys were in the last stages, that it was probably going to be a really good race with those three. So, I’m a little bummed out about that, but Ashton and Corey really kept me honest that race. I was starting to drop off a little bit with the tire, and it just turned into management. My pit board said that they crashed out. So I didn’t know in what form, but I hope they’re all okay. Moving forward, it’s looking like my lead is 48 points. It’s a good margin, healthy. Hope to keep it up.”
Twins Cup: Dumas Nails It Down
Last year’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion Alex Dumas needed a few rounds in the Twins Cup class to acclimate to his bigger motorcycle, and in the latter half of this season, the 17-year-old French rider has come on like gangbusters. In Sunday’s weekend-concluding Twins Cup race, Dumas got his third win in a row and sixth-consecutive podium aboard his Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki. Quarterley Racing Ducati rider Michael Barnes looked to be headed for a second-place result until The Draik 77 Yamaha rider Draik Beauchamp seemingly appeared out of nowhere and beat Barnes to the finish line to take second and relegate Barnes back to third.
“I knew (Draik’s) strategy was to go out there and try to lead and take the gap at the beginning,” Dumas said. “The start was really important. I knew I had to get a good start and just lead the whole race. That’s what I kind of did. Draik passed me in turn three, and I followed him for a lap and managed to pass him and just kept on getting a gap on Michael and Draik to the end.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Josh Herrin (Suzuki)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Jake Gagne (BMW)
- Kyle Wyman (Ducati)
- David Anthony (Kawasaki)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
- Bobby Fong (Suzuki)
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Hayden Gillim (Yamaha)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha)
- Lucas Silva (Suzuki)
- Danny Eslick (Suzuki)
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki)
- Jackson Blackmon (Kawasaki)
- Damian Jigalov (Kawasaki)
- Hunter Dunham (Kawasaki)
- Dallas Daniels (Yamaha)
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki)
- Toby Khamsouk (Kawasaki)
- Benjamin Gloddy (Kawasaki)
- Isiah Burleson (Kawasaki)
- Andrew Lee (Kawasaki)
- Ashton Yates (Kawasaki)
- Corey Alexander (Kawasaki)
- Miles Thornton (Suzuki)
- Travis Wyman (BMW)
- Bradley Ward (Kawasaki)
- Brad Burns (Kawasaki)
- Corey Heflin (Yamaha)
- Jeffrey Purk (Yamaha)
- Jeremy Kolewski (Kawasaki)
- Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
- Draik Beauchamp (Yamaha)
- Michael Barnes (Ducati)
- Chris Parrish (Suzuki)
- Kris Turner (Suzuki)
- Darren James (Yamaha)
- Jason Madama (Yamaha)
- Curtis Murray (Suzuki)
- Cooper McDonald (Yamaha)
- Kris Lilligard (Yamaha)
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