Saturday From VIR: What The Teams Said

Jake Lewis finished fifth in yesterday’s first EBC Brakes Superbike race at VIR.

The following is from Team M4 ECSTAR Suzuki…

Team M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis backed up his first top-five MotoAmerica Superbike result of the 2019 season — scored last time out at the Circuit of the Americas — with another top-five on Saturday at Virginia International Raceway.

Lewis continued his determined push to the front of the field as he continues to recover from a lingering leg injury, again flashing the speed and skill necessarily to eventually fight for the podium.

Just as he did in Texas, the Kentuckian held station on the tail end of the lead pack aboard his Team M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000 during the opening half of the race before slowly fading into his own race.

Lewis has steadily picked up momentum as the season has taken shape, improving or maintaining the previous finish each time out. In chronological order, his 2019 results have been seventh, sixth, sixth, fifth, and fifth.

As a result, Lewis now ranks fifth in the MotoAmerica Superbike championship standings, just two points behind third.

After the race, Lewis said, “Today’s race wasn’t too bad. I got a good start compared with the last few races and the pace was pretty good in the beginning. Since I’ve been injured, I haven’t been able to train as much as I would like. I was pretty worn out so I brought it home in fifth and got some more good points. We ran strong early so I am encouraged that we are making progress.”

Meanwhile, Team Hammer’s Supersport duo of Bobby Fong and Sean Dylan Kelly suffered through a deeply disappointing Saturday at VIR after opening the season in such sensational form.

Despite qualifying eighth on his Team M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600, Kelly was unable to make the start for Saturday’s race. The unfortunate combination of a late qualifying crash, a delay in getting the bike back, and extremely limited time to make repairs before the start of the race ultimately kept him off the grid.

Fong, however, leapt into the race lead after qualifying fifth and starting on Row 2. And the Team M4 ECSTAR Suzuki pilot would stay in the lead for the first six laps of the race.

But Fong suffered a vicious highside and was thrown over the front of his bike moments after starting lap 7. The Californian had the wind knocked out of him in the violent tumble, and in the time it took for him to recover his breath and his bearings, the race was red-flagged.

Despite being medically cleared to rejoin the race by three doctors in the track medical center, Fong was declared unfit by Race Direction and not allowed to grid up for the restart.

Even with the setback, Fong remains third in the Supersport title fight and within 10 points of the championship lead.

Due to the two-day weekend’s condensed schedule, the Twins Cup and Stock 1000 competitors each took part in just a single practice session on Saturday.

Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki’s Alex Dumas was eighth fastest (1:35.143) and Autovest Suzuki’s Joseph Blasius 14th (1:37.000) aboard their Suzuki SV650s in the Twins Cup session. Team M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Felipe MacLean was 13th (1:32.417) on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the Stock 1000 practice.

The entire Team Hammer contingent will be on the grid and gunning for top results as the Virginia International Raceway weekend concludes on Sunday.

Mathew Scholtz led the opening laps of Saturday’s EBC Brakes Superbike race at VIRginia International Raceway.

The following is from Westby Racing…

It was an up-and-down Saturday for the two-rider Westby Racing team at the MotoAmerica Championship of Virginia, the two-day event taking place at VIRginia International Speedway.

 On the upside, the team’s new rider Sam Lochoff, who competes aboard the #57 Yamaha YZF-R3 in MotoAmerica’s Junior Cup class, took top honors for the tuning-fork brand when he finished a solid fourth and just off the podium in Saturday’s race one. Sam qualified in sixth position earlier in the day, and he was able to improve two spots at the end of the 12-lap race.

 “I had an extremely good start to the race,” Sam said. “On the first lap, I was in third place, and then, we were battling left and right throughout the whole race. On the third corner, my foot slipped off the footpeg, and I lost the tow from the rider in front of me, so I focused on riding the pace of the riders from fifth to eighth. The rider in third then crashed out, so I began battling for third again. Rocco (Landers, the race winner) came past all of us and I tried to stay in his draft, but I couldn’t, so I maintained my pace and stayed in fourth till the finish line.”

On the downside, Mathew Scholtz, pilot of the #11 Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1, slid off the track on just the second lap of the afternoon’s Superbike race. Earlier in the day, Mathew had qualified third-fastest in Superpole, giving him a front-row start in the race. The grid position served him well as he rocketed off the line and immediately into the lead.

 Despite crashing out of the lead, however, Mathew was encouraged by the fact that he was able to lead a dry race, which is a milestone in the 2018 MotoAmerica Rookie of the Year’s still-developing career.

 This was the first race event that MotoAmerica has had a two-day schedule, so today was really busy,” Mathew said. “In the first practice, we made a swingarm-angle change. Ever since we switched to the taller rear Dunlop tire (last year beginning at Road America), we’ve been struggling with getting the bike to turn. The swingarm-angle change made a huge difference in the feel of the bike, and the handling improved a lot similar to the way it felt before we switched to the taller rear tire. So, that was a big, big step forward for us. Our race pace was really good, consistent and fast, and I was happy to qualify on the front row in Superpole.

 “In the race, I got the best start of my life, and I passed (polesitter Garrett Gerloff) going into the first turn. Then, it was ‘ride for your life, Charlie Brown.’ I came around the first lap in the lead, and I had pulled a gap of almost half a second at the front. But, unfortunately, I crashed at the top of the hill. It was good to actually lead a fully dry Superbike race. Until today, every time I’ve led a race, it’s been because we were racing in wet conditions. So, today was the first time I’ve led a full Superbike field in the dry. And, even though I crashed out, it gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow. It kind of shows that we are now a force to be reckoned with for race wins.”

 Sunday’s Junior Cup Race 2 is at 1:10 PM Eastern and Superbike Race 2 is at 3:00 PM Eastern.


JD Beach finished fourth in race one at VIR yesterday.

The following is from Attack Performance Estenson Racing…

The pace was hectic with an all-new two-day format, but JD Beach continued to make progress in his debut MotoAmerica Superbike season, finishing fourth in a challenging race one on Saturday, May 4, at VIRginia International Raceway.

Although Beach didn’t get his signature holeshot in the race, he was right there in the mix of the lead group aboard his Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha YZF-R1. It was a battle for fourth with the dirt track/road racer ultimately losing position, albeit not far behind the “Factory Four”.

The heat of the afternoon made for some challenging conditions but he put his head down and kept it. Around lap eight, Beach was able to retake fourth and hold onto it to score his fourth top-five finish in 2019. While the weather forecast looks ominous for tomorrow’s race two at VIR, Beach and the team look to continue their forward progress rain or shine.

“It was a crazy day because we were on track four times. It was real packed, but it ended up being a good day. We started out quick. The bike was good. I think for the race we struggled a little bit with the front tire. I don’t know if it was the setup we had or if it was just the track temp coming up a lot for the race. It’s kind of hard to say. I was struggling a lot. I felt like I was going to lose the front at every turn. It made for a tough race. We closed the gap a little bit to the front guys, but not as much as I would have liked. Every time we get on the bike and every race we do, we’re getting quicker and we’re getting closer. We’re definitely moving forward. We just have some more work to do, but I think the steps that we are taking are good.

“Wet or dry tomorrow, I don’t really care. I think the little bit of time that we’ve had on the bike in the wet, the bike felt great. For me, I prefer to race in the dry just because it’s a little bit more fun, but if it’s wet, dry, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to race either way, so it’ll be fine.”

MotoAmerica Superbike race two at VIR will be aired on FS2 Sunday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can also stream all the action live on MotoAmerica Live+ starting at 10:15 a.m. ET.

Jake Gagne ended up a fighting sixth in Saturday’s EBC Brakes Superbike race at VIR.

The following is from Scheibe Racing BMW…

Jake Gagne finished sixth in Race 1 of the MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike Series on the Hayes Brakes equipped Scheibe Racing BMW S1000RR at VIRginia International Raceway. This event is the first time MotoAmerica has shortened an AMA/FIM North America Road Racing Championship event weekend to two days, leaving little room for error to get laps and experience with the track in before the races.

Steve Scheibe, of Scheibe Racing, was happy with Jake’s results. “He’s been injured and we’ve had a couple problems building consistency. A minor event caused a DNF in the second race at Road Atlanta where he was running very strong. At Circuit of the Americas, he hit a wet patch on the track, and fell before the first race so we never got going there. Then here, during qualifying for Superpole, the chain derailed after a violent headshake event after going over some curbing.”

Jake came into this weekend recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in a training incident in January.

“I’m still nursing my leg a little bit. I’m a little sore, but honestly a lot better off than I was in Atlanta and Texas. I can’t really ride the bike yet how I want to ride it with full input through my feet. Getting there though, slowly but surely, and now I have two weekends off to recover before Road America.”

“It was a little bit weird going straight to the race.” Gagne noted. “We’ve had a minimal amount of time with this bike on this track, and I’m happy we made progress. I felt comfortable right away. The bike felt nice, nice and fast, nice and smooth. I got a good understanding of it for a full 23 laps, and we have a good idea of some of the things we need to work on and improve. It was a smooth race for me. I didn’t want to do anything crazy, we just wanted to bring it home nice and clean, to start and finish some races to build some momentum.”

Scheibe is optimistic. “I’m happy that despite everything that’s happened, we’ve been able to regain forward movement and that we were able to get 6th. I can project that to even better things ahead, so I’m excited.”

Scheibe Racing, founded by Steve Scheibe in 2001, is a Wisconsin based MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North America Road Racing Championship team.