VIR Preview: Two Down, Seven To Go

The two Superbike races at Road Atlanta were both held in the rain. Roger Hayden (95) got the jump on the field in race one and was battling for victory when he crashed.

With the debut season of MotoAmerica now two rounds old, it’s likely too early to come to any real conclusions about where things will be seven rounds later in September when the racing concludes. But there are some things that are clear when it comes to the preseason favorites in the race for the MotoAmerica Superbike crown: Cameron Beaubier is at the top of his game in what is his sophomore season of Superbike racing; Josh Hayes has taken a few punches to what is a pretty stiff chin; and Roger Hayden has been punched to the point of having wobbly knees.

What that all amounts to is a great storyline for the third round of the MotoAmerica Superbike series as it heads back to Virginia International Raceway, May 17-19, for the MotoAmerica Mid-Atlantic AMA/FIM Road Racing Championship. The race will mark the return to VIR for Superbike racing for the first time since 2010.

Will Beaubier continue to win? Will Hayes put his teammate back in his place as the junior member of the Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha squad? Will Hayden recover from two race crashes at Road Atlanta to claw himself back into championship contention for Yoshimura Suzuki?

Cameron Beaubier (6) won both of the Superbike races on a wet Sunday. Joshua Day (00), meanwhile, had his first outing on the Westby Racing Yamaha R1 and won the first Superstock 1000 race.

After two rounds (and four races) in Texas and Georgia, Beaubier is three for four. After starting his season with a runner-up finish to teammate Hayes in the wet at Circuit of The Americas, Beaubier hasn’t been beaten. He won in the dry in race two at COTA, despite the best efforts of Hayes in the final corner, and he easily won both races in the wet at Road Atlanta. Hayes finished second in one of those two races, but crashed out of Sunday’s second race, scoring zero points. That means Beaubier leads the four-time AMA Superbike champion by a whopping 30 points heading to VIR.

Third place in the Superbike standings is held by rookie Jake Lewis, the 2014 Daytona SportBike (now Supersport) runner-up. Although this is his first season in the premier Superbike class, Lewis looks like anything but a rookie on the second Yoshimura Suzuki. He’s compiled 60 points, with the majority of those coming at Road Atlanta. Lewis finished third and second in those two races – in treacherous conditions – and came out of Georgia looking like a seasoned veteran and not the 19-year-old newbie that he is.

Then comes Bernat Martinez, the Spaniard who wasn’t even a certain starter at the first round coming through to earn his first career Superbike podium in race two at Road Atlanta. He is fourth in the standings, nine points behind Lewis.

Dustin Dominguez tries to hold back the advances of Elena Myers at Road Atlanta.

Elena Myers is 21 years old, owns her own team, and races at the very top level in the MotoAmerica Series – Superbike. She’s been ultra-consistent thus far in 2015 with her two sixth-place finishes at Road Atlanta moving her to fifth in the standings.

And what of Hayden? Top dog at Yoshimura Suzuki, the youngest of the Hayden racing family came to Road Atlanta with the bit between his teeth and he promptly put the GSX-R1000 on pole position. Then he looked set to battle for victory in race one before crashing out and making things easy for Beaubier. The next day, victory looked nearly certain as he led the field by five seconds. Then disaster struck again with his second race crash of the day. He’s seventh in the series and 63 points behind Beaubier.

The Superstock 1000 class, which runs with the Superbikes but is scored separately, looks to get heated with the arrival of Joshua Day to the Westby Racing team. Day had his first outing on the team’s Yamaha YZF-R1 in race one at Road Atlanta and won the race, taking full advantage of Red Bull RoadRace Factory’s Jake Gagne’s crash. Gagne bounced back to win race two, his third win of the four-race-old season, while Day crashed out. Tyler O’Hara, meanwhile, is second in the point standings with two trips to the podium at Road Atlanta via two second-place finishes behind Day and Gagne. Aprilia-mounted Dustin Dominguez is third overall after two podiums in Texas.

The Supersport championship is wide open with three different winners in three races (there was only one Supersport race at COTA). Those three are Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach, and Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin. And those three hold the top three spots in the title chase with Gerloff’s lone victory and two second-place finishes putting him at the top with 65 points – eight better than Beach, who earned his debut win in the rain at COTA. Herrin is third with 54 points with his victory coming in race one at Road Atlanta.

Fourth is held by M4 Suzuki’s David Anthony, the Aussie 10 points clear of RoadRace factory’s Ben Young.

Josh Herrin (2) leads Garrett Gerloff (31) and JD Beach (95) in their Supersport battle on Saturday at Road Atlanta.

Two Bazzaz Superstock 600 races have been held thus far with both of those taking place at Road Atlanta. So far, Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts has had his way, winning both events in iffy conditions. His perfect 50 points leads Kyle Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman by 14 points. Mexico’s Richie Escalante is a fighting third with 33 points.

Seven of the current MotoAmerica riders have tasted success at VIR. Hayes has three Superbike wins to his credit at the Danville, Virginia, facility, in addition to two in Supersport and two in the now-defunct Formula Xtreme class.

Herrin is the next most successful at VIR with three victories in the Daytona SportBike class, which is now MotoAmerica Supersport. Hayden has also had success at VIR, winning the Supersport class way back in 2005.

The other three MotoAmerica riders with wins at VIR are Hayden Gillim (2008 Red Bull Rookies Cup), Joshua Day (2009 Supersport), and Bobby Fong (2010 Daytona SportBike). Gillim and Fong currently compete in the Supersport.

Joe Roberts dominated the Superstock 600 class at Road Atlanta, winning both races.

If you were paying attention you probably noticed one name missing from that list: Cameron Beaubier. That’s because the 22-year-old Californian has never turned a wheel at VIR.

“This will be my first time there,” Beaubier said. “Maybe it’s a little hit nerve-wracking knowing that they’ve (his rivals) been there quite a bit in the past. But I’m just going to go there and do my thing. My team has been working really hard at the shop to pull some more power out of the new R1. I’m excited for it. I’ve heard really good things about the track, and I’m just going to try and learn it as quickly as I can and get on pace with those guys as soon as I can. I’m hoping for some good weather and the rain stays away from us for this one.”

Fortunately for Beaubier, his young Yamaha teammate, Garrett Gerloff, has been staying at his house in Northern California and he came armed with on-board video from his 125cc days racing at VIR. “I’ve been able to see where it goes and that sort of thing,” Beaubier said. “I’m sure once we get to the track Rick Hobbs (his crew chief) will get me a printout of the gears and all that data from a few years ago. I’ll be good. I’ll figure out where I’m going.”

The two Superbike races at Road Atlanta were both held in the rain. Roger Hayden (95) got the jump on the field in race one and was battling for victory when he crashed.

With the debut season of MotoAmerica now two rounds old, it’s likely too early to come to any real conclusions about where things will be seven rounds later in September when the racing concludes. But there are some things that are clear when it comes to the preseason favorites in the race for the MotoAmerica Superbike crown: Cameron Beaubier is at the top of his game in what is his sophomore season of Superbike racing; Josh Hayes has taken a few punches to what is a pretty stiff chin; and Roger Hayden has been punched to the point of having wobbly knees.

What that all amounts to is a great storyline for the third round of the MotoAmerica Superbike series as it heads back to Virginia International Raceway, May 17-19, for the MotoAmerica Mid-Atlantic AMA/FIM Road Racing Championship. The race will mark the return to VIR for Superbike racing for the first time since 2010.

Will Beaubier continue to win? Will Hayes put his teammate back in his place as the junior member of the Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha squad? Will Hayden recover from two race crashes at Road Atlanta to claw himself back into championship contention for Yoshimura Suzuki?

Cameron Beaubier (6) won both of the Superbike races on a wet Sunday. Joshua Day (00), meanwhile, had his first outing on the Westby Racing Yamaha R1 and won the first Superstock 1000 race.

After two rounds (and four races) in Texas and Georgia, Beaubier is three for four. After starting his season with a runner-up finish to teammate Hayes in the wet at Circuit of The Americas, Beaubier hasn’t been beaten. He won in the dry in race two at COTA, despite the best efforts of Hayes in the final corner, and he easily won both races in the wet at Road Atlanta. Hayes finished second in one of those two races, but crashed out of Sunday’s second race, scoring zero points. That means Beaubier leads the four-time AMA Superbike champion by a whopping 30 points heading to VIR.

Third place in the Superbike standings is held by rookie Jake Lewis, the 2014 Daytona SportBike (now Supersport) runner-up. Although this is his first season in the premier Superbike class, Lewis looks like anything but a rookie on the second Yoshimura Suzuki. He’s compiled 60 points, with the majority of those coming at Road Atlanta. Lewis finished third and second in those two races – in treacherous conditions – and came out of Georgia looking like a seasoned veteran and not the 19-year-old newbie that he is.

Then comes Bernat Martinez, the Spaniard who wasn’t even a certain starter at the first round coming through to earn his first career Superbike podium in race two at Road Atlanta. He is fourth in the standings, nine points behind Lewis.

Dustin Dominguez tries to hold back the advances of Elena Myers at Road Atlanta.

Elena Myers is 21 years old, owns her own team, and races at the very top level in the MotoAmerica Series – Superbike. She’s been ultra-consistent thus far in 2015 with her two sixth-place finishes at Road Atlanta moving her to fifth in the standings.

And what of Hayden? Top dog at Yoshimura Suzuki, the youngest of the Hayden racing family came to Road Atlanta with the bit between his teeth and he promptly put the GSX-R1000 on pole position. Then he looked set to battle for victory in race one before crashing out and making things easy for Beaubier. The next day, victory looked nearly certain as he led the field by five seconds. Then disaster struck again with his second race crash of the day. He’s seventh in the series and 63 points behind Beaubier.

The Superstock 1000 class, which runs with the Superbikes but is scored separately, looks to get heated with the arrival of Joshua Day to the Westby Racing team. Day had his first outing on the team’s Yamaha YZF-R1 in race one at Road Atlanta and won the race, taking full advantage of Red Bull RoadRace Factory’s Jake Gagne’s crash. Gagne bounced back to win race two, his third win of the four-race-old season, while Day crashed out. Tyler O’Hara, meanwhile, is second in the point standings with two trips to the podium at Road Atlanta via two second-place finishes behind Day and Gagne. Aprilia-mounted Dustin Dominguez is third overall after two podiums in Texas.

The Supersport championship is wide open with three different winners in three races (there was only one Supersport race at COTA). Those three are Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach, and Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin. And those three hold the top three spots in the title chase with Gerloff’s lone victory and two second-place finishes putting him at the top with 65 points – eight better than Beach, who earned his debut win in the rain at COTA. Herrin is third with 54 points with his victory coming in race one at Road Atlanta.

Fourth is held by M4 Suzuki’s David Anthony, the Aussie 10 points clear of RoadRace factory’s Ben Young.

Josh Herrin (2) leads Garrett Gerloff (31) and JD Beach (95) in their Supersport battle on Saturday at Road Atlanta.

Two Bazzaz Superstock 600 races have been held thus far with both of those taking place at Road Atlanta. So far, Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts has had his way, winning both events in iffy conditions. His perfect 50 points leads Kyle Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman by 14 points. Mexico’s Richie Escalante is a fighting third with 33 points.

Seven of the current MotoAmerica riders have tasted success at VIR. Hayes has three Superbike wins to his credit at the Danville, Virginia, facility, in addition to two in Supersport and two in the now-defunct Formula Xtreme class.

Herrin is the next most successful at VIR with three victories in the Daytona SportBike class, which is now MotoAmerica Supersport. Hayden has also had success at VIR, winning the Supersport class way back in 2005.

The other three MotoAmerica riders with wins at VIR are Hayden Gillim (2008 Red Bull Rookies Cup), Joshua Day (2009 Supersport), and Bobby Fong (2010 Daytona SportBike). Gillim and Fong currently compete in the Supersport.

Joe Roberts dominated the Superstock 600 class at Road Atlanta, winning both races.

If you were paying attention you probably noticed one name missing from that list: Cameron Beaubier. That’s because the 22-year-old Californian has never turned a wheel at VIR.

“This will be my first time there,” Beaubier said. “Maybe it’s a little hit nerve-wracking knowing that they’ve (his rivals) been there quite a bit in the past. But I’m just going to go there and do my thing. My team has been working really hard at the shop to pull some more power out of the new R1. I’m excited for it. I’ve heard really good things about the track, and I’m just going to try and learn it as quickly as I can and get on pace with those guys as soon as I can. I’m hoping for some good weather and the rain stays away from us for this one.”

Fortunately for Beaubier, his young Yamaha teammate, Garrett Gerloff, has been staying at his house in Northern California and he came armed with on-board video from his 125cc days racing at VIR. “I’ve been able to see where it goes and that sort of thing,” Beaubier said. “I’m sure once we get to the track Rick Hobbs (his crew chief) will get me a printout of the gears and all that data from a few years ago. I’ll be good. I’ll figure out where I’m going.”

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