Sunday At Barber: The Teams Talk About The Season Finale

It was a heart-breaking weekend at Barber Motorsports Park for Toni Elias.

The following is from Yoshimura Suzuki…

The 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike season finale will go down as one of supreme disappointment for Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing. Toni Elias, who led the standings nearly the entire season, and had a 16-point advantage coming into the event, suffered a challenging weekend, chasing bike setup all along the way. He managed a podium on Saturday with third, and a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s race, but it wasn’t enough. Elias ended the year second in the standings, losing the title chase by only five points.

In spite of ending the year with a stinging of a loss, Yoshimura Suzuki had a lot to be proud of in 2019. Elias can be proud of the fact that he scored a series-leading seven wins on the season. Teammate Josh Herrin pitched in with two additional wins, giving the team a total of nine wins this year.

Elias also etched his name in the record books this year, moving into a tie for fourth with Miguel Duhamel on the all-time MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike wins list with 32-career wins.

The Suzuki GSX-R1000 and its Superbike predecessors remain the all-time wins and championship leader in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike Championship history.

Elias displayed his characteristic class even in defeat.

“First of all, I want to congratulate Cameron Beaubier and Yamaha,” Elias said. “They did an amazing end of the season and they deserve this win. For me it is not nice – it’s hard and sad. It will take some days to digest this loss and accept it. We tried hard. We did everything we could. The whole team gave 200 percent. We tried to find grip where there was no grip. I also want to say thank you to my teammate Josh Herrin. He tried to help and did a great job, but it was not enough.

“I’m very proud of my team, every single person. It’s very difficult for them as well, but we must accept that we tried our best and be content with that fact.”

Herrin did an outstanding job in Saturday’s race supporting his teammate as they both battled hard for positions. The former AMA Superbike Champion reflected on the season finale.

“Yesterday was an easier race,” Herrin explained of Saturday’s race one. “We were able to get in a good position and control the race as much as possible. Today I chose a softer tire than everybody else and it chewed up and I wasn’t able to stay with them. I did what I could to help the team in the championship and unfortunately it didn’t go our way. Hopefully we get the opportunity to come back next year, now that we have data with me on the bike from all the tracks, I’m confident we could make a stronger showing.”

Suzuki Motor of America’s Vice President of Motorcycle/ATV Sales and Marketing, Kerry Graeber echoed the sentiments of both riders. “Obviously we’re terribly disappointed to lose the championship, especially since it was within our grasp,” commented Graeber. “That said we’re very proud of our team and the incredibly rich history of the Yoshimura Suzuki partnership. Don Sakakura sets a standard of excellence that is reflected in every member of the team. I and Suzuki are honored to be partners with the Yoshimura organization and the record-setting level of success we have enjoyed together over the many years.”

2019 marked the 41st season of the Suzuki and Yoshimura Superbike partnership. With the nine wins this season, Suzuki adds to its record in All-Time MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike wins reaching 212 victories since the series launched in 1976.

JD Beach finished fourth in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.

The following is from Attack Performance Estenson Racing…

JD Beach’s race two ended early with a crash in challenging conditions at Barber Motorsports Park, on Sunday, September 21. Although not the end to the year he was hoping for, the Attack Performance Estenson Racing rider finished his debut MotoAmerica Superbike season fourth in the standings.

Beach was looking to build on his top-five finish in race one. Unfortunately, in race two he was struggling to find grip in the hot, greasy conditions on the newly paved track in Leeds, Alabama. He improved from 10th to eighth on the start and was able to maintain that spot for most of the race until he lost the front in turn 16 before the halfway mark.

In spite of the error, Beach was able to finish the year fourth in points with four podiums and a win at VIRginia International Raceway. The dirt track/road racer now sets his sites on the American Flat Track season finale, this weekend, September 28, at the Meadowlands Mile.

“Today was a rough day and not how I wanted to finish the year off on the Superbike. From the start of the race, I just didn’t feel great. The grip for me wasn’t the best and I was moving around a lot. I had a couple issues mid race and lost the lead group. Then in the last right hander, when the turn tightens up, I just got a tiny bit of too much front brake and lost the front. I’m not hurt or anything and I was able to push the bike back. I just feel bad for the team. The team has done an amazing job and it’s been a lot of fun this year. Like I said, it wasn’t how we wanted to finish the season but it’s been a great year with a win and some podiums.”

Jason Aguilar finished his Superport season off strong at Barber.

The following is from Aguilar Racing…

Jason Aguilar was looking to end the season on a positive note at Barber Motorsports Park. With injuries, personnel changes, data and setup issues, affecting Jason most of the season, things were starting to look up. The team was making consistent progress and Jason was starting to feel more comfortable on his RiderzLaw/Aguilar Racing Yamaha R6. Earning a 5th place qualifying position in the 2nd qualifying session, Jason had the pace for a good finish. However, a mistake in Race 1 cost Jason several positions, and he was only able to salvage an 8th place finish.

Jason Aguilar “I changed to a new clutch last round and it really helped my starts. While I got a good launch, I bumped elbows with a rider going into Turn 1 that threw me off my line, and then got my front chopped off by another rider in Turn 2 that set me further back. Then, when I was starting to move up midway through the race, I tucked the front in Turn 1, fell off the side of the bike, ran off track, but somehow saved it and got back on track. I have no clue how I saved it, but I am grateful for my luck.”

Race 2 did not start much better with Jason dropping back to 11th after getting roughed up in the first 2 turns again. However, once Jason got past some of the riders in front of him and had some clear track, he set off after the next group of riders and was reeling them in by half a second per lap. That would have allowed him to capture a 5th place finish if it had not been for a red flag stopping the race with several laps to go. The race ended early denying Jason a Top 5 finish.

Jason Aguilar “I had good race pace and was running the pace of the podium finishers on my last lap and had more to give, but my race got cut short due to a red flag. It is too bad, I really wanted a good finish for the team. They worked so hard this season. We learned a lot. We never had time to test this season as I was scrambling to put a team together and secure sponsorship. Now that the team personnel are set for next season, we can start preparing for next season as soon as I get home. I can’t wait for 2020 to start. Thank you to all the sponsors that stepped up to make this season possible, and we are planning an outstanding 2020 season already.”

Bobby Fong (50) earned his sixth win of the 2019 season in MotoAmerica Supersport Race 2 at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo by Brian J Nelson.

The following is from Team Hammer…

One day after securing the sixth AMA Pro/MotoAmerica National Championship of its illustrious history, Team Hammer added a seventh to its long list of accomplishments as Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki’s Alex Dumas put the finishing touches on his successful MotoAmerica Twins Cup title campaign in the final race of the 2019 season at Barber Motorsports Park.
Despite entering the day with an imposing points lead and having the option to cruise around for points, Dumas earned the title in impressive fashion. The talented Canadian teenager twice took the holeshot on his Team Hammer-tuned Suzuki SV650 in the once red-flagged and restarted race and promptly went wire-to-wire at the front despite battling a tight four-rider pack for the win.
Although he took the checkered flag first, Dumas was later assessed a one-second penalty for weaving during the final sprint to the stripe. That decision dropped him back from first to third in the final race results, which was still easily enough to earn him the 2019 class crown. Even without being credited with Sunday’s triumph, Dumas earned five victories on the year and finished on the podium in the final eight races of the 11-race championship.
Dumas said, “The beginning of the season didn’t go how we planned and Team Hammer responded by just making my bike faster and faster all year. And now we have the #1 bike.
“I really want to thank team owners John and Chris Ulrich for this opportunity in the Twins Cup. I also want to give a huge shout out to the whole Team Hammer crew who worked so hard on the bike. I’m a little bummed to end up third today, but that was my mistake. I apologize for that.
“I’m extremely happy about this championship; it really means a lot to me. And I think we’re going to come back even stronger in 2020.”
After locking up his championship on Saturday, 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport champion Bobby Fong was free to push the limits and again demonstrate his pace on his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki in Sunday’s finale.
That pace saw him leave the field in his wake as he lapped almost four tenths faster than his pole time. As a result, Fong broke free from the start and piled up a multi-second advantage in his favor. However, the Californian crashed avoiding a lapped rider with five laps remaining.
That late incident brought out a red flag and the race was ultimately called complete. The official results credited Fong with his final victory of the season. As a result, he ended his remarkable championship campaign with six wins and 14 podiums in a year in which he never took the checkered flag lower than second in any given race.
“I’m happy to get the win,” said Fong. “I felt I was the fastest guy out there today. The pressure was off having locked up the championship on Saturday. I was able to race my own race and I felt good doing my own thing. I crashed when I missed my line getting through lapped traffic and it brought out the red flag. The rules are the rules and we got the win. Sometimes, these things go against you a little bit like they did for us at Daytona and VIR but they went our way today. I’m happy for our team and it is good to close out the year this way.”
MotoAmerica rookie Sean Dylan Kelly officially ended up fourth in the race results despite celebrating on the podium. He also finished fourth in the 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport standings on the strength of two wins and seven podiums.
Kelly said, “We made a pretty big step compared to yesterday. We were struggling all weekend long and crashed in FP1, which didn’t help. We’ve been working really hard.
“I want to thank my crew chief and the whole M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team for all that work and all their patience. They’ve been amazing this year. We picked up a number of podiums and met our goal with a couple of wins in the middle of the season.
“As a rider, we always expect more. But overall, this is my first season and the objective was to learn and I think we learned quite a lot. Every weekend was something new. We have some work to do over the winter, but I learned a lot this season and I’m super grateful for the opportunity.
“It was also great to have Bobby as a teammate. He was doing some incredible lap times out there. I was running almost a second faster than yesterday, and he was just going away from us at the front.”
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis concluded the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike campaign with a eighth-place result aboard his GSX-R1000 on Sunday. The Kentuckian closed out the season ranked seventh in the premier class with seven top-five results on the year.
Autovest Suzuki’s Joseph Blasius also picked up a top ten for Team Hammer on Sunday with a ninth-place finish in the Twins Cup race. Blasius had surgery to repair a broken right wrist and a broken left metacarpal just three and a half weeks ago but closed out the season with an impressive ride that showed his toughness and dedication. He ended the season seventh in the Twins Cup standings with a podium and four top-fives.
Mathew Scholtz finished his season on the podium for the Westby Racing team.

The following is from Westby Racing…

The 2019 MotoAmerica season concluded on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, and in the final Superbike race of the year, Mathew Scholtz piloted the #11 Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike to a third-place result, which completed an all-Yamaha podium and brought his tally to 13 top-five finishes out of a total of 20 races this season.

For Mathew and the Westby Racing team, it was a triumphant return to form after a difficult Saturday. In the 15-minute Sunday morning warmup, Mathew was the fifth fastest Superbike rider, which gave the team a much-needed boost heading into the afternoon’s Superbike race two.

Starting from the middle of the third row on the grid, Mathew got a good jump off the line and moved up to fifth on the first lap. He then got shuffled back to ninth, but he went to work and methodically made his way back up to fifth. After the halfway point of the 21-lap race, he moved up to fourth, and then, one lap later, into third, which he maintained all the way to the checkered flag.

“It was definitely good to finish up with a podium,” Mathew said. “Spirits were really low yesterday. The boys were really pumped. I’ve had an up-and-down season. Started off, I wouldn’t say terribly, but nowhere near where we thought. I feel like, the last couple of races, we’ve come on well. Just thank you to the Westby guys. They’ve been working hard. I’m just really happy to be back up here racing. We haven’t signed a contract yet, but 2020 is basically down for us. Just happy to be back here. After last year, things went pretty well but just the normal checkbox on the Yamaha getting everything ready. The Yamaha factory guys stepped up the pace at every single track. They were in a class of their own the last couple races. So I feel like, today, if I maybe could have tagged on with them, I could have followed them, so that gives me huge confidence for next year that we can at least challenge for race wins occasionally. I think that’s the goal for us. To everyone watching back home–my friends, family, my fiancée, everyone–it’s been a dream come true racing here.”

Andrew Lee did the double in the season finale, winning both Stock 1000 races.

The following is from Andrew Lee Racing…

Andrew Lee signed off from 2019 with a career first double at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, winning both races from Pole Position to underline why he is a two-time MotoAmerica Superstock Champion.

A good start in the opening race saw Lee slot into second where he settled into a comfortable rhythm. Seemingly content to follow, Lee looked as though he had the pace to run at the front but was content to follow until lap eight, where he made his move to lead across the line. Pulling the pin immediately, the recently crowned two-time MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 Champion opened up a healthy advantage to win for the seventh time in 2019, his sixth race victory on the bounce, after posting several fastest laps.

Buoyed by his Saturday win the #1 was confident of ending the 2019 season on top, and after running second for several corners on the opening lap of Sunday’s thirteen lap encounter, Lee made his move to make it a double win at the Barber Motorsports Park, his seventh consecutive race win and his eighth of the season.

Lee rounded out a triumphant 2019 season with an overall points advantage of 75 points and looks ahead to 2020 where he hopes to be lining up on the Superbike grid!

Andrew Lee: “Oh man what a year! I had a really good opening race after starting from Pole. I made the pass for lead about half race distance but had a big moment. Luckily, I saved it. I finished the season on top and made it seven in a row, eight for the year. It’s been an incredible year, My Franklin Armory Graves Kawasaki have been kicking butt, both at the track and back home. Moving into next year we have some real momentum, but I am just so grateful for all of the opportunities that I have had this year. I will keep training in the off season and hope that it all comes together for 2020. It’s a brilliant feeling to get my first career double and retain the MotoAmerica Superstock title. Thanks to everyone!”

Kyle Wyman ran near the front all weekend in the season finale.

The following is from KWR…

Kyle Wyman and the KWR Ducati Team closed out the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike season with a top-5 finish at Barber Motorsports Park this past weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. Wyman bounced back from a 7th place finish on Saturday to battle for fourth spot all the way to the line in Sunday’s final race of the season.

Wyman had a strong start on Friday, posting the 5th fastest time overall on his KATO Fastening/Ducati Richmond Panigale V4 R, carrying momentum from a successful run at New Jersey Motorsports Park just two weeks prior.

“Going into Barber I was feeling more confident from our past few weekends on the bike,” Wyman said. “We’ve made our biggest steps forward over the past few weeks, as my wrist has healed and we’ve made smart decisions on which way to go with the chassis of the Ducati. Fifth overall at Barber to start Friday was exactly what we needed to set the tone for the weekend.”

Wyman qualified 6th fastest in Superpole, securing a spot on the second row of the grid for the third round in a row. The good starting spot would pay dividends, as the Ducati rider got an excellent start in race one to battle in the lead group early on. After a mistake and subsequent drop in pace mid-race, Wyman could only salvage a 7th place finish out of his good start.

“Saturday’s race was a big step for us, despite what the end result looked like,” Wyman said. “We took a lot of positives from our race in that we battled hard with the lead group for the first half of the laps, and learned a lot about what it takes to keep the Panigale close to the front for race distance.”

For race two, the KWR team focused primarily on electronics changes to help Wyman manage the rear tire life mid-race and hold a better lap time to the end of the 21-lap event. Another good start put Wyman in a top-5 spot early on. Wyman lost ground on the top five riders mid-race, but not enough to put him out of the fight. He clawed his way back up to 4th spot to engage in a last-lap battle with then points leader Toni Elias. Elias got the best of Wyman with three corners to go, and was only 0.135 seconds ahead of the Ducati rider at the stripe.

“Sunday’s result was a culmination of our entire season on the new Ducati Panigale V4 R,” Wyman added. “My goal from the start of the season was to run consistently in the top-5 by the end. I feel like these last two weekends have been exactly what I had hoped for, and race two was the perfect way to close out the season. I would have loved to pull out 4th spot on the last lap, but Toni is a former Moto2 world champion and he knows how to get the job done.”

“As I look back on the season, it’s amazing how far we’ve come since Atlanta in April,” Wyman added. “We started with a bone stock bike, and developed it into a top-level Superbike, capable of competing with some of the best in the world. I’m proud of that fact and proud of my team for all the hard work they’ve put in to get us to this point. Our work starts now on 2020, and I can’t wait until our first round at COTA next year where we will be ready to fight for the podium.”

The KWR Ducati Team would like to extend their gratitude to the following weekend title sponsors who contributed in a significant way to the 2019 program — Excelsus Motorsports Graphics, Lucas Oil, SC Project USA, Inde Motorsports Ranch, Genuine Broaster Chicken, Cycle Gear, Ducati Richmond, Lion Fuel and KATO Fastening Systems.

Jake Gagne finished sixth in the first of the two Superbike races at Barber.

The following is from Scheibe Racing BMW…

The team was in good spirits heading into the final round of the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike Series at Barber Motorsports Park. The previous round at New Jersey had once again shown that the Hayes Brakes equipped Scheibe Racing BMW S 1000 RR is fast. Rider Jake Gagne was feeling like himself again as his ankle injury continued to heal and was looking forward to returning to Alabama.

“We were all pretty excited coming into Barber, I think we all had a pretty good idea the bike would like it here.” stated Gagne, after the two qualifying practice sessions on Friday which de-cided the nine riders advancing to the Superpole session on Saturday. In morning free practice, 1.26 seconds was all that separated the top ten riders as everyone in the field got used to the unique characteristics of the track surface and harder compound Dunlop tires. The 17-turn, 2.38 mile road course, which opened in 2003, recently underwent a complete repave to fix surface and drainage issues which introduced a few new variables for all the teams with the fresh, abra-sive surface. In the Superpole session, Jake achieved the best result of the season for grid posi-tion finishing the session in fourth. “That was cool, it’s fun to be up there closer to the front of the grid.”

The start of Race one saw a tight group at the front. “I got a pretty bad start and got used up from the second row and lost a couple positions.” After dropping back to seventh, he pulled the bike back up to sixth, with pace to continue pushing forward until an unusual electrical compo-nent problem caused the bike’s wheelie control to actuate inappropriately, and Jake lost touch with the lead group but held on to sixth.

Sunday morning the team bounced back and were excited to show the true potential of the BMW, completing the short morning warm up with the team’s fastest lap of the weekend, and third fastest lap of the session. “We were really happy going into the race. I think we knew we would be in the hunt.” He got his best launch of the season at the start in race two, and as the field came back into view of the paddock, heading down into the turn known as Charlotte’s Web, he was in third. On lap four, after being passed by eventual 2019 series Champion Cameron Beaubier, they both passed Josh Herrin to get back into third with the pace to stay there. Then catastrophe struck in turn 13 as the electronic throttle put the bike into “limp mode” forcing the bike to only go idle speeds. “I know we could have had a good race, but regardless, we mad a lot a progress so we have to take the positives.”

It was a good building year for the team. Starting out in Atlanta at the first race upping the game with a new pit setup to learn, a new additional primary sponsor with VP Racing Lubricants, and a new rider recovering from a serious injury – steady progress was made. “We started off slow, I was way behind on my injury and we didn’t get a lot of time on the bike in testing.” Jake slowly but continuously got healthier, and the team worked hard to get the bike dialed in. It was all fi-nally coming together at Barber, and while the last race was a devastating disappointment, it was still a good year. “It’s over now, but you wish you could just restart it and go racing again next weekend. That’s how it goes. We learned a lot and I’m happy with the progress we made.”

We’d like to thank our sponsors, partners, family, friends, and fans for all the support and for cheering us on. None of this would be possible without your contributions to the team. We’re looking forward to the 2020 season.