Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias begins his MotoAmerica Superbike title defense this weekend, April 13-15, at the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Teammate Roger Hayden, who finished runner up in last year’s championship, is also looking for a strong start to the 2018 season on one of the circuits he grew up racing at with his brothers.
Both riders will be aboard the potent 2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the latest generation of the all-time winningest motorcycle in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike Championship history.
In addition to the start of a new racing season, Yoshimura R&D and Suzuki Motor of America are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their formal partnership. Launched in 1978, Yoshimura Suzuki became the all-time winningest team in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike Championship history. The pairing of Suzuki and Yoshimura has resulted in a series leading 14 championships and a remarkable 189 wins for the team.
Yoshimura Suzuki is coming off a highly-successful 2017 campaign, winning 13 of the 20 rounds and finishing first and second in the championship. Elias, scored 10 of those victories and even wrapped up the title before the final round!
The friendly Spaniard comes into the 2018 campaign with the No. 1 plate on his machine, which he said he understands is a big target.
“I know everyone is trying to knock me off the top spot,” Elias said. “The competition has stepped up and is even deeper this season with more strong teams and riders, but I am looking forward to the challenge. Our team works very well together and we will do everything we can to keep Yoshimura Suzuki on top.”
Roger Hayden was the MotoAmerica Superbike Superpole master in 2017, winning a series-leading seven Superpoles, in addition to his three race wins. Hayden was also a title contender all year. This year the popular Kentuckian is hoping to lift the championship trophy at the end of the 2018 season.
“I was right there in most of the races last year,” Hayden explained. “We’ve always had the speed in qualifying and to be able to run up front most of the race. This year I’m looking to improve my speed in the closing laps to give us an opportunity to win more races.”
In addition to watching great racing, longtime fans of the series will have even more of an incentive to be on hand this weekend. Two-time AMA Superbike Champion and Motorcycle Hall of Famer Wes Cooley will be a special guest at the Suzuki Championship as part of Yoshimura Suzuki’s 40th Anniversary celebration. They’ll also get to see his historic 1979 Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000 Superbike, the machine he rode to the 1979 AMA Superbike Championship.