With what can only be described as a spectacular start to the 2019 MotoAmerica Series last weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, round two is here in the form of the MotoAmerica Championship of Texas that will run in conjunction with the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
The weekend’s action for MotoAmerica revolves exclusively around the premier EBC Brakes Superbike Series as the other four MotoAmerica classes – Supersport, Liqui Moly Junior Cup, Stock 1000 and Twins Cup – get the weekend off before rejoining the Superbikes at VIRginia International Raceway, May 4-5.
To look forward we must first look back to the EBC Brakes Superbike Series opener just a few days ago at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The racing was as advertised – intense, extremely competitive and spectacular.
The man who came out of it with the most championship points is the man who normally emerges from race one with the most points: Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias. But, alas, he wasn’t perfect.
In Saturday’s first race, Elias had the save of the season thus far and was able to hold on to second place despite the near catastrophe. But he was beaten by Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, who of late hasn’t gotten his seasons off to the best of starts. Beaubier, who didn’t make it to Superpole after having mechanical issues during qualifying, started from the fourth row and was nothing short of impressive as he fought through to the lead.
Beaubier ended up 2.7 seconds in front of Elias who was just .001 ahead of Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha’s JD Beach, the two-time MotoAmerica Supersport Champion making his EBC Brakes Superbike debut one to remember.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz survived grip issues to finish fourth, one spot better than FLY Racing’s David Anthony, the Aussie enjoying a great start to his season. KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman made the most of his Ducati debut with a sixth-place finish, the New Yorker narrowly ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis. Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne was eighth in his return to the MotoAmerica Series with Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen and Ameris Bank/CCFOfficeSolutions.com’s Geoff May rounding out the top 10.
Sunday’s race was won by Elias but not without another six-rider battle at the front in the early laps. Eventually it came down to Elias vs. Scholtz and Beaubier, but the latter two were balked by a lapped rider with two laps to go which allowed Elias to escape. The Spaniard beat Scholtz by 1.839 seconds with Beaubier just a tick behind in third.
Beach turned in his second-straight solid effort, the Kentuckian ending up fourth and ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin. Herrin had crashed out of Saturday’s race while leading the six-strong pack at the front.
Lewis was sixth, besting Anthony by some six seconds. Then came May in eighth and Gerloff in ninth. Gerloff had a brutal weekend, despite looking to be the man to beat after capturing his first career MotoAmerica Superbike pole position. On Saturday, Gerloff crashed out of the lead pack and on Sunday he was again with the top men when his front fender started flapping in the wind. By the time Gerloff tried removing it on the fly before eventually stopping to remove it, he was well back in the pack. He soldiered on to gain some points that may prove valuable later in the season. Petersen rounded out the top 10 finishers.
That brings us to Texas for round two with Elias coming into the place where he’s only lost once in the last six races at COTA. He also comes in with the championship points lead, 45-41, over Beaubier. Scholtz is third in the title chase with 33 points, four more than Beach. Anthony rounds out the top five after one round with 20 points.
No matter how he fared at Road Atlanta, Elias would still be the favorite at Circuit of The Americas. In his first season of MotoAmerica racing, Elias swept what was then the season opener at COTA. The following year he did it again. Last year, he was finally beaten, in the wet, by Scholtz. But you get the picture… Elias and his Suzuki have proven to be virtually unbeatable when he’s in front of his friends in the MotoGP paddock.
Beaubier’s results at COTA, meanwhile, have been mixed. In 2015, Beaubier finished second to teammate Josh Hayes in race one and then won race two – for what would be his lone victory at COTA thus far. In 2016, he crashed in race one and finished fourth in race two; in 2017 he was eighth in race one (after crashing) and fourth in race two; in 2018, he was third in race one and second to Elias in race two. But Beaubier has also proven with his three championships in four years that COTA isn’t the be-all-end-all as far as the title chase goes.
Both of the MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike races will air on Fox Sports 2 this weekend as well as on MotoAmerica’s live streaming and on-demand home, MotoAmerica Live+. The NBC Sports show “Inside MotoAmerica” will air the following weekend.
The very first MotoAmerica Superbike race at Circuit of The Americas was won by Josh Hayes, the now semi-retired four-time AMA Superbike Champion who ranks second to Mat Mladin on the all-time AMA Superbike win list. Mladin, who is scheduled to be spectating at COTA this weekend, has 82 wins. Hayes has 61.
Cameron Beaubier and Toni Elias continue to climb up the all-time AMA Superbike wins list. Beaubier is now third on the list, his recent win in race one at Road Atlanta moving him out of a tie with Miguel Duhamel. Beaubier now has 33 wins to his credit. With his win in race two at Road Atlanta, Elias now has 26 career wins which puts him sixth and just two wins behind Ben Spies.
Elias gave Suzuki its 204thAMA Superbike win with his victory in Road Atlanta, and Suzuki is the all-time leading manufacturer in Superbike wins.
Toni Elias sat on pole position for last year’s MotoAmerica Championship of Texas, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider lapping at 2:09.192 to top his then-teammate Roger Hayden. Beaubier was .786 behind Elias and started from the third spot on the front row.
As stated earlier, Elias and Mathew Scholtz split wins last year with Scholtz’s win coming in a Texas rainstorm on Sunday a day after Elias won on Saturday in the sunshine. The fastest laps were obviously set in Saturday’s dry race with Elias the only rider to break into the 2:09s in the race with the former Moto2 World Champion lapping at 2:09.939.