Five down. Five to go. That’s the story heading into his weekend’s Championship of Monterey as the 2019 MotoAmerica Series begins its second half of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The MotoAmerica Series will again join forces with the World Superbike Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, July 12-14, but the difference this time around is that for the first time all five MotoAmerica classes will take to the famous racetrack in the hills east of Monterey – EBC Brakes Superbike, Supersport, Liqui Moly Junior Cup, Twins Cup and Stock 1000.
As MotoAmerica embarks on the second half of the season, the man they are all chasing is Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias. The Spaniard has won five EBC Brakes Superbike races thus far and has finished on the podium nine times in 10 races. His lone hiccup is his last-lap crash in race two at Road America. All that adds up to a 26-point lead over his championship rival Cameron Beaubier, 201-175, with five rounds and 10 races remaining in which to squabble.
Last year, the Championship of Monterey was the fifth round of the series and Beaubier came in with a two-point lead over Elias. The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1-mounted Beaubier then went out and won both races at Laguna to leave Monterey with a 29-point lead over Elias.
To begin the climb back into this year’s championship, Beaubier needs a similar effort this coming weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. And he’s perfectly capable as he’s won four of the last eight MotoAmerica Superbike races at the track.
Beaubier’s first half hasn’t been as impressive as Elias’ but he knows he’s heading into events that have been historically strong for him. Thus far, Beaubier has won twice and finished on the podium a total of eight times in the 10 races. Like Elias, Beaubier has a race crash, but he’s also finished off the podium one other time when he was fourth in race one at the Utah Motorsports Campus.
Beaubier is 39 points clear of his teammate Garrett Gerloff, the Texan trailing Elias by 65 points in his sophomore season of EBC Brakes Superbike racing. Gerloff has seven podiums to his credit, including six in a row, as he seeks his first career Superbike victory.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin arrives in Monterey with two race wins to his credit. Unfortunately, those are his only two podium finishes, and his inconsistency has him fourth in the standings and 17 points behind Gerloff. Last year Herrin did double duty and raced in both the MotoAmerica and World Superbike races, but this year he will focus his efforts on the two EBC Brakes Superbike races.
JD Beach, the man who replaced Herrin on the Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha, will try his hand at double duty and will race the team’s Yamaha YZF-R1 in both the MotoAmerica and World Superbike rounds. Beach is fifth in the series point standings, just eight behind Herrin. The two-time MotoAmerica Supersport Champion won his first Superbike National in race two at VIRginia International Raceway, joining Elias, Beaubier and Herrin as the fourth man to win a Superbike race thus far in 2019.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz has two second-place finishes so far in 2019 and that has the South African sixth in the championship – just three points ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis. Lewis is consistent as always, the Kentuckian scoring points in every race including four fifth-place finishes. Lewis is the only rider in the top 10 to score points in all 10 races this year.
FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony is eighth, just one point better than Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen and 11 points better than KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman, the New Yorker in his first season on the Ducati Panigale V4R. Wyman is just two points ahead of Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne and eight points clear of Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders.
This year’s Supersport Series has all the makings of a classic championship battle with Rickdiculous Racing’s Hayden Gillim and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong separated by just seven points as the series arrives in Monterey. Gillim has four wins to Fong’s three and the two are fresh off splitting wins in two thrilling races in Utah.
Hudson Motorcycles’ Richie Escalante is third in the series, 35 points behind Gillim after scoring points in all eight races so far. Escalante is just four points ahead of HSBK Celtic Racing’s PJ Jacobsen, the New Yorker the only rider other than Gillim and Fong to win a race in 2019. Jacobsen is just a single point ahead of ultra-impressive rookie Sean Dylan Kelly, Fong’s teammate on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki. The recently turned 17-year-old Kelly has four podium finishes in his first eight MotoAmerica races.
Although Ninja400.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr-backed Rocco Landers has a 21-point lead in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup Series, the races have been anything but boring. With his six race wins, Landers leads series rival Dallas Daniels, 175-154, but Daniels and his Quarterley Racing/On Track Development Kawasaki arrives at Laguna fresh off his first Junior Cup race win in Utah. He also comes to Monterey having finished second five times – the last three of which were by a combined .260 of a second. Kevin Olmedo, meanwhile, has also shown the speed to run at the front with the Altus Motorsports rider third in the series standings with five podiums.
Quarterley Racing’s Michael Barnes holds down an 11-point lead in the Twins Cup Championship, the two-time winner leading Draik Beauchamp and his lone victory, 86-75. Just nine points cover the next three in the championship – Copoulous/RBoM Racing’s Curtis Murray, defending champion Chris Parrish (Ghetto Customs) and class rookie Alex Dumas (Roadracing World Young Guns).
The closest points battle in the MotoAmerica Series so far is in the Stock 1000 class where defending champion Andrew Lee leads Stefano Mesa by just two points, 99-97. Lee has ridden his Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki to two wins with Mesa winning one race on his Mesa37Racing Kawasaki. Team Norris Racing’s Michael Gilbert has also won a race and sits third in the standings, 32 points behind Lee, and 12 ahead of Weir Everywhere Racing BMW’s Travis Wyman. Ameris Bank’s Geoff May sits fifth, the Georgian the fourth race winner in the class.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Notes
With his two victories on the season, Cameron Beaubier now has 34 career AMA Superbike wins which puts him third on the all-time win list for the class. Toni Elias, with five wins this season so far, has 30 career wins and has jumped all the way to fifth and is just two wins behind Miguel Duhamel, the French Canadian who is fourth on the all-time Superbike win list.
Four riders have won EBC Brakes Superbike races this season: Elias (5), Beaubier (2), Josh Herrin (2) and JD Beach (1).
Josh Herrin earned pole position for last year’s EBC Brakes Superbike races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the Georgian riding the Attack Performance/Herrin Compound Yamaha YZF-R1 to a 1:22.980 in Superpole on the 2.2-mile track. Cameron Beaubier was second fastest with a 1:23.265 and Danny Eslick was third on the Scheibe Racing BMW with a 1:23.824.
Cameron Beaubier had the fastest race laps last year, the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion lapping at 1:24.527 in race one and 1:24.472 in race two. Beaubier rode to victory in both races in 2018.
JD Beach beat Valentin Debise and Hayden Gillim to win last year’s Supersport race at Laguna. Beach went on to win his second MotoAmerica Supersport title in 2018 and has made the jump to the EBC Brakes Superbike Series for 2019.
Last year’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race was won by Alex Dumas, the Canadian rider who would eventually take the series title. Dumas beat his KTM teammate Sean Ungvarsky by 2.3 seconds. Last year’s Twins Cup race was won by Jason Madama over Chris Parrish.
For the 2019 Championship of Monterey, the Stock 1000 class will race for the first time.
MotoAmerica President and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey won two AMA Superbike races at Laguna Seca (1983 and 1986) and three 500cc Grands Prix (1989, 1990 and 1991). MotoAmerica’s rider representative Doug Chandler has also tasted success at Laguna, winning two Superbike races (1996 and 1997) as well as two Supersport races in April and July of 1998.
Cameron Beaubier and Toni Elias are the only current riders in the Superbike class to have tasted Superbike success at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. In addition to winning four Superbike races here (one race in both 2015 and 2016, two in 2018), Beaubier has also won three Daytona SportBike (now Supersport) races on the Monterey Peninsula. Elias won both Superbike races en route to his 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.