Gerloff and Beach do the same in Supersport Race 2 at Road Atlanta
Sunday was a day filled with both solid podium finishes and lots of drama for Yamaha’s Factory Superbike Team and Factory-Supported Supersport Team as two-time and defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier finished third aboard his #1 Yamaha YZF-R1 in Superbike Race 2 and Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach finished second and third, respectively, aboard their brand-new Yamaha YZF-R6 machines in Supersport Race 2.
A similar battle developed quickly in Sunday’s Superbike race as it did in Saturday’s Superbike race, with both Cameron and his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes in the front group that also included Toni Elias and Roger Hayden.
On Lap Five, Josh tucked the front of his bike going into turn one and fell down. He slid unhurt to the airfence on the outside of the turn, but his #4 R1 wasn’t quite as lucky as it cartwheeled over two rows of fences, past a couple of trees, and through a heavy thicket of vines. As Josh described it, “I saw the bike smoking, so I ran out to get it because I didn’t want my beautiful R1 to burn up! I had to stomp out a couple of small fires caused by the hot (brakes) that started to catch the grass and weeds on fire. In 20 years of racing at this track, I’ve never crashed in turn one before, and I’ve never launched a bike completely out of the racetrack. So, I guess there’s first time for everything.”
Meanwhile, back on the racetrack, a different kind of conflagration was developing, which was a carryover from yesterday’s Superbike Race 1. Cameron found himself in another dogfight with Hayden and, even more so, with Elias.
During the battle, Cameron recorded the fastest lap of the race, but on the final lap, he just wasn’t able to get close enough to either Suzuki rider to make a final pass on them, so he brought his R1 Superbike across the finish line in third, with the thought in his mind that it’s only the second round of the MotoAmerica season, and there is a lot of racing left before the 2017 Championship is decided.
“I got a decent drive up the hill coming into the final corner, and I went to brake on the outside.” Cameron said. “(Toni) moved over on me hard, and I knew it was (payback) from yesterday. I don’t feel like I did anything wrong (yesterday), so, to me, that was unwarranted. If he’s not going to respect me, then I’m going to have a problem with that. I haven’t really lost any respect for him, but I am going to race him hard because I want to win.”
2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Standings
- Toni Elias 95
- Cameron Beaubier – Yamaha 69
- Roger Hayden 69
- Josh Herrin – Yamaha 43
- Bobby Fong 36
- Josh Hayes – Yamaha 31
In Sunday’s Supersport race, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach faced the same challenge from Valentin Debise as they did in Saturday’s race. It’s clear that Garrett, JD, and Debise will be dicing with each other at the front of the pack throughout the season, and in this second Road Atlanta matchup of the weekend, Debise prevailed, while Garrett followed up his Saturday race victory with a second-place finish on Sunday, while JD was again third.
“I want to win the races, and make passes,” JD said. “But, this track hasn’t been one of my strong ones. So, all in all, I’m happy with my results this weekend. I’m looking forward to going to some tracks where I feel like I’m better. We learned some stuff about the bike here at Road Atlanta that I think will help us as the season continues.”
Garrett said, “My bike felt good, and I felt like I could run the pace today without too much difficulty. Valentin (Debise) was riding well, and it seemed like it was going to come down to the last lap between us, which it did. I tried to outbrake him, but he got past me, and I just didn’t have an opportunity to pass him back before the checkered flag. I want to win and keep putting this brand-new R6 on top of the box. It’s a great bike, and I’m looking forward to (the next race at) VIR. Every track that we go to, I find more things that this new bike can do better than the old one did.”
2017 MotoAmerica Supersport Standings
- Valentin Debise – Suzuki 65
- Garrett Gerloff – Yamaha 61
- JD Beach – Yamaha 57
- Benny Solis – Honda 37
- Brandon Paasch – Suzuki 33
As Garrett alluded to, Yamaha’s Factory Superbike Team and Factory-Supported Supersport Team will be back in action in two weeks as the MotoAmerica Championship travels to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the race at VIRginia International Raceway on May 12-14.
For more Yamaha racing news, results, photos, and videos, visit YamahaMotorsports.com/Racing. Also, check out “YamahaMotorUSA” on your favorite social-media site.