Landers And Kelly Win Season Finale At Laguna Seca

Rocco Landers won the Liqui Moly Junior Cup race in the MotoAmerica Series finale on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

The 2020 MotoAmerica Series came to a close on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with Liqui Moly Junior Cup and Twins Cup Champion Rocco Landers taking two wins on the day, while Sean Dylan Kelly put it all on the line to beat his rival and 2020 Supersport Champion Richie Escalante in a thrilling Supersport finale.

Supersport – Kelly Over Escalante In Thriller

After winning Saturday’s Supersport race one, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly said in the post-race press conference that he wanted to finish off the year strong and get the double win with a victory on Sunday’s race two. And that’s exactly what he did.

Starting from the pole, Kelly gave up the lead to HONOS Kawasaki rider Richie Escalante, who had already clinched the 2020 class championship at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weekends ago. But Kelly was far from satisfied with being in second. He and Escalante engaged in a race-long battle that continued all the way to the final corner of the final lap. Escalante ran a little wide in the turn and opened the door for Kelly to take the lead and then the win.

Escalante finished second and Celtic HSBK Racing’s JD Beach, who was racing in MotoAmerica for the first time all season and was aboard a Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha, finished third.

“It was my first double-win this year, and that was obviously the goal after winning yesterday,” commented Kelly. “I came really determined to Laguna saying that I definitely wasn’t going to leave this place without at least one win. After getting it yesterday I was like, this is my best opportunity to make it a double. So honestly really, really happy about today’s race. I gave everything I had. It was a really nice race, a long race up there with Richie. I know JD was close a few laps. It was kind of back and forth. At one point we had a little bit of a gap, but I think Richie and I, just after so many passes, he caught up again. I was honestly expecting JD to get by me at one point because I know how strong he is in the last sector which I saw yesterday. It was really nice to have JD here, as well. Clearly going very quick from the beginning. Just nice to be able to fight again from the start of the race to the end, which is what I think we were missing yesterday after his issue. Just really happy to give the fight that we did today and see a last-lap, last-corner win. One of the best feelings ever, especially to make it a double.”

Twins Cup – Landers’ Eighth Win

In Sunday’s Twins Cup race, class champion Rocco Landers had his work cut out for him. The SportbikeTrackGear.com RoadracingWorld.com Suzuki rider started from fourth on the grid, didn’t get a good jump off the line, and was shuffled back to fifth. Meanwhile, Dominic Doyle got past polesitter Cooper McDonald and took the lead aboard his Robem Engineering/Plastic Surgery Racing Suzuki. Doyle swapped the lead with 1-833-CJKNOWS Accident & Injury Law Yamaha’s Kaleb De Keyrel. On lap eight of 13, Landers, who had been moving up through the pack, took the lead and maintained it till the checkered flag. Doyle moved into second place, and De Keyrel into third to complete the final Twins Cup podium of the year.

“It’s been an awesome year,” said Landers. “My SportBikeTrackGear.com RoadracingWorld.com Suzuki team worked hard all weekend and all year making a great bike. I think it’s the best bike on the grid, for sure. At the beginning of the race, I had a bit of a bad start, back in fifth or sixth, I think. In turn one, I was actually pretty far back. I was having trouble getting by Jackson (Blackmon). I eventually got by him. Then, I was having trouble getting by Cooper, then I got by him. I was on a bit of a struggle bus in the beginning of the race. I kind of waited for my tire to come in, and when it did, I was able to get by Cooper, catch up to (the leaders) and I think I put in the fastest lap of the race. Once I got by Dominic, I tried to hit my marks and do as well as I possibly could and run as clean laps as I could. Towards the end, I started running into a little bit of tire wear. Straight up, I didn’t expect to win that race. I thought one of them was going to come by me at any second going down the front straight into the last lap, the last turn. I’m stoked. This is awesome.”

Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Landers Again

In the final Liqui Moly Junior Cup race of the 2020 season. Rocco Landers completed another perfect weekend by adding a win on Sunday to his Twins Cup victory earlier in the day and his triumph in Junior Cup race two.

Starting from second on the grid, Landers got the holeshot aboard his Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R/Dr. Farr/WonderCBD Kawasaki and was never headed in the 13-lap event. He finished a little over three seconds ahead of BARTCON Racing Kawasaki’s Dominic Doyle, who moved into second place on lap two and stayed there all the way to the checkers. Finishing third was Celtic HSBK Racing Kawasaki’s Sam Lochoff, who overtook MotoAmerica newcomer Max Toth on the final lap to secure the final spot on the podium.

“It went great, perfectly, according to plan,” Landers said when asked to self-evaluate his race. “I was trying to get as good of a first lap as I possibly could. Unfortunately, Dominic made a couple errors on the first lap and fell back a little bit. I was looking forward to having a good race with him, but we’ll take what we can get. It was an awesome race. It’s been great racing with these guys.”