What The Teams Said: Looking Back At Road America

Bobby Fong won bis first career MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike race on Sunday at Road America. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

The following is from Suzuki…

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki returned to Road America for Round 2 of the 2020 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing season where they scored four podium finishes, capped off in spectacular fashion by Bobby Fong’s maiden MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike class victory. In addition, Altus Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen and Roadracing World Young Guns Rocco Landers both grabbed impressive victories over the weekend on their Team Hammer built Suzuki machines; Petersen won the Stock 1000 on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 while Landers took the Twins Cup win on his Suzuki SV650.

The 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport champion built upon the impressive pace he flashed aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the opener and translated it into a highlight packed follow-up weekend. On Saturday, Fong qualified second for the twin premier-class finals and raced to an unchallenged second. He took another step forward on Sunday, ultimately rewarding the team with a victory.
 
“It’s been a pleasure riding for M4 ECSTAR Suzuki,” said Fong. “They gave me an opportunity to ride this Superbike and showcase my talents and show what I can do against the big boys and now it’s paying off. We’ve just got to keep the ball rolling.”

Teammate Toni Elias endured another eventful weekend, but it was a big step up from his zero-points opener. The 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike champion appeared to have taken a podium position in Saturday’s Superbike Race 1, but was later assessed to have overtaken under yellow-flag conditions on the final lap. As a result, he was docked a position and awarded fourth in the official results. On Sunday, the Spainard was again in podium contention before being knocked off his machine by another rider. Elias remounted and raced his way to a hard-earned seventh.

In addition, Petersen, who rides for Suzuki’s dealer effort Altus Motorsports, clinched a win on his Team Hammer built Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the Stock 1000 class. Petersen showed good pace on the high-speed Road America track and is eager to add to his points standings.

Landers grabbed his first Twins Cup victory on Sunday aboard the Roadracing World Young Guns/Sportbiketrackgear.com Suzuki SV650 built by Team Hammer after topping qualifying with a new class record lap of 2:27.452. Landers is looking forward to adding another win to his young career throughout the season.

Sean Dylan Kelly, who earned the team’s sole podium result in the opener, stepped his game up in the MotoAmerica Supersport class. ‘SDK’ took full advantage of the capabilities of his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600 to secure the first pole position of his MotoAmerica career. He then backed that up with a pair of runner-up results, each one a step closer to the win than the last.
 
“It was a fun race,” said Kelly. “We definitely showed a lot of fight and had some nice passes for the lead. We’re taking it race by race, but at the end of the day, we want the championship and that means taking as many points as possible.”

Supersport teammate Lucas Silva remained steady, notching up seventh- and eighth-place finishes on the weekend.

Alex Dumas made huge strides of his own in his second weekend in the Stock 1000 category after previously winning national titles in the Junior Cup and Twins Cup classes. After both qualifying and finishing seventh in his literbike debut, the French Canadian qualified fifth and finished fourth in his second go on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000, battling for the podium throughout.
 
Suzuki and its riders will look to capitalize on its renewed momentum when the series resumes for Round 3 at Road Atlanta on July 31-August 2.

The following is from Bradley Ward…

Bradley Ward leaves MotoAmerica’s second visit in a month to Road America in Wisconsin thirteenth position overall in the 2020 MotoAmerica Superbike standings after finishing fourteenth and twelfth in the weekend’s two twelve lap races.

In contention for the top ten in the opening encounter, the #57 suffered a shredded rear sprocket after clipping the outside kerb at Canada Corner. Despite a valiant effort to nurse his FLY Racing ADR Motorsports Kawasaki ZX-10R home, the British rider was forced to pull in with a lap to go, the vibrations making it impossible for him to continue. He was classified P14 under the regulations so bagged two points for his efforts.

Sadly, in Sunday’s second race Bradley was unable to show his true potential after an off-track excursion in the opening laps saw him plummet backwards through the pack. Working his way steadily back into contention, he crossed the line twelfth adding another four points to his season tally.

Bradley Ward:“The opening day didn’t go to plan. Conditions were perfect but I was only able to complete two and a half laps and coming out of Turn 2, I changed from second to third gear and the bike locked up. I ran straight on and was able to keep it upright through the gravel. Initially I thought the chain had come off, so I pulled the clutch in managed to get it stopped. The chain was still there and there was no noise from the motor, but it was clear after further inspection that we needed to swap engines. Then the rain came so we just did three laps to make sure everything was ok and parked it. FP3 went a lot better. We had a new motor and new tyres and improved my lap time considerably considering I had lost most of day one and had little track time. Race 1 was at the back of the grid because they took the times from Q1 which is when the motor let go which meant I was second to last! I made a reasonable start and was dicing with Michael Gilbert, Corey Alexander, Max Flinders and Wyman (Travis). I was in eleventh, holding my own and feeling pretty good to be fair when coming out of Canada Corner I clipped a kerb after the bike slid sideways and the chain jumped the sprocket which completely wrecked it. All of the teeth started dropping off. I had to nurse the bike home, but it became unrideable, so I pulled in with a lap to go. Luckily, I was still classified as a finisher so scored a couple of points, but it wasn’t the best way to end the first race. A good sleep and I was raring to go for Race 2. I had to start at the back again, but I made a good start and was running tenth or eleventh and lining up to pass Max Flinders down into Turn 5. I was going 5-6mph faster than I would usually as I was in the slipstream and ran out of road on the brakes. I was dead last but managed to pick my way back through the pack to twelfth. Not a great weekend overall, it was pretty tough. We learned a lot and I went quicker than I had before so it’s steps in the right direction even though it’s not where we should be. I’m taking the positives and already looking forward to the next round in Atlanta.”

The following is from Aguilar Racing…

Jason Aguilar picked up his first double points finish of the 2020 MotoAmerica Supersport season at Road America this past weekend, converting fourth on the grid to a double fourth position finish in the latest round of the championship.

Starting strongly and moving into third at the start of the restarted Race 1 on Saturday, Jason was in podium contention until he overshot at Turn 5 on lap two. Able to recover, he regained his composure and was quickly back into P4, able to stretch a comfortable gap over his pursuers. With the podium out of reach he rode a sensible final third of the race, finishing fourth at the flag.

Sunday’s race ran the full eleven lap duration. Another great start saw the #96 hit the front on the opening lap, the first time he had led a MotoAmerica Supersport race, before keeping with the leading trio in the early stages.

His pace was such that he opened a significant gap over the fifth and sixth place riders and with the podium in sight throughout, he had plenty to focus on. The leading three slowly eased away but not by much meaning Jason crossed the line to take a well earned second fourth position finish of the weekend and elevate himself to fifth overall in the standings ahead of Round 3 of the series at Road Atlanta next month.

Jason Aguilar:“The opening session of the weekend we were trying something new but unfortunately the chain came off. In qualifying one I was hard on the brakes and I felt something snap. I thought we had blown another motor but thankfully after an inspection back at the pit it wasn’t. The team did a great job to overcome the electrical issues and we had no issues at all during Q2 which was nice, and it meant that I could finally have a full day on track after the problems on Friday. I got stuck with some traffic in final qualifying, so I came in and changed tyres, albeit a bit earlier than I had wanted to. I was able to move momentarily onto the front row but just dropped back at the very end. It wasn’t the end of the world starting from the second row, I knew what I had to do. I actually made a good start when it came to the race which was a first for me. I was in the mix for third and then they red flagged it which I was a little bummed about. I was finally with the lead guys and now I had to do it all over again. I regrouped and made another great start on the restart. I got around Richie (Escalante) initially and third into the first corner. I was with the lead group but ran into turn five a bit too hot on lap two and dropped to fifth after surviving a big stoppie. I was able to get back into fourth relatively quickly and just got my head down. I put in a few good laps but realised that I wasn’t going to catch the top three, so I put it on cruise control and rode it in for an easy fourth place finish at the flag. I knew I had the pace, but I made a mistake and it is what it is. The main thing is that I showed I can run with the lead group, so the plan was to not change anything and push again in Race 2. I am usually really bad at starts but I was able to get another good one and had the fastest first lap of the race of anyone! I was second into Turn 1 and was able to draft SDK for the lead into Turn 5. He got me back right away which kind of messed up my drive a little and then Richie (Escalante) came past which messed me up again so Paasch (Brandon) also got by me. It sucked to get shuffled back like that but once I settled down my pace was good, and I was able to run with them for a little bit. I made a couple of mistakes but was able to close them back down. I was within 1-2 seconds of the podium for almost the whole race, but I had a few slides and although I really wanted the podium, I knew we needed the points so I backed it off a little. I feel we made some good progress and I was a lot more competitive. We are doing some great things here with the bike and the team is really working well. We go to Atlanta giving everything we’ve got and trying to win some races. Thanks to everyone for the support especially those that are now following me on Twitter!”

Mathew Scholtz finished fourth in Sunday at Road America.

The following is from Westby Racing…

In motorcycle road racing, riders feel more comfortable at certain racetracks, and motorcycles perform better at certain racetracks. Such is the case with the riders and motorcycles of Westby Racing.

Superbike rider Mathew Scholtz will be the first to tell you that, while he loves most everything about Road America—especially the fans—it is a track that has vexed him ever since he started racing in America in 2016. He’s had some very good results, like his second-place finish in Superbike race one last month. He’s also had his share of tipovers at Road America. On Sunday, Mathew finished fourth, one position better than the fifth he recorded on Saturday, to complete a decent weekend at “America’s National Park of Speed.” But, for him and the team, they hoped for better results.

Starting from fourth on the grid, Mathew battled with Kyle Wyman and Toni Elias. While going through Road America’s chicane on lap eight, Mathew saw an opportunity to pass Elias on the inside, and he made his move. The slight opening closed quickly, however, and Mathew’s and Toni’s bikes touched, which caused Toni to crash. Mathew continued on while Toni got back aboard his bike and re-joined the race.

Mathew said, “For Sunday’s race, we put in the old motor that we had from the previous round because the new motor wasn’t pulling as well out of the corners, and it was making the engine-braking a little bit worse, so we went back to what we knew worked well for us. Sunday morning warmup was pretty difficult because we only had 15 minutes with used tires, but the motor change definitely felt better to me. In the race, I didn’t get the best start, but it was alright. I got in behind Toni and Kyle and, even though I made one or two mistakes in the first couple of laps, I closed the gap to them. Toni’s and Kyle’s bikes are a little bit quicker than mine, but I made a move on Toni in the chicane. It was unfortunately one of those things. He was committed, and I had already committed to the pass. We touched and he crashed, which I obviously didn’t mean to happen. I tried to catch Kyle with a couple of laps to go, but there just wasn’t enough time for me. I think what happened to Toni was a racing incident, and I apologize for that. I didn’t want to touch him. The team knows where we went wrong with the other engine and where we need to focus on making the bike better. We’re just really looking forward to racing at Road Atlanta in a month’s time. With me being a bigger guy, it really suits my riding style a lot better. The team has been working really hard, and it’s just very unfortunate how this weekend went because we were expecting better things. The next couple of tracks, for us, should be pretty good.”

Junior Cup rider Cody Wyman finished seventh in Saturday’s race one, and he had high hopes for a better result in race two on Sunday. Unfortunately, the characteristics of the Yamaha YZF-R3 are not as suited to Road America’s 4.048-mile, 14-turn course as most of the other bikes in the class. The long straightaways are daunting, so Cody has to rely on corner speed to maintain his momentum.

On Sunday, he raced hard with a group of riders a little further back in the pack just as he did on Saturday, but he wasn’t able to gain an advantage over them and he finished ninth.

“It was a tough weekend for us,” Cody lamented. “I really wanted to finish in the top five and get out of Road America with strong finishes. Unfortunately, my qualifying position didn’t give me a very good starting position. The leaders got away early, and I got stuck in a battle for sixth. A couple of riders in the group got away from me on the run to the finish line, and I ended the weekend with a ninth to follow up my seventh on Saturday. It’s not what I wanted, but I’m glad to move on to round three and a racetrack that I really like. Big thanks to my team, family, and sponsors for helping me get me through these first two rounds. I’m looking forward to competing again under the Westby Racing Yamaha banner.”

Next up for Westby Racing is round three of the MotoAmerica Championship, which will take place at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, on July 31 through August 2.

The following is from Yamaha…

Jake Gagne ended up second in Sunday’s HONOS Superbike race at Road America.

Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne bounced back from a tough race yesterday to finish second in race two at Road America on Sunday, June 28, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Unfortunately for Cameron Beaubier, a crash in Turn 1 ended his race early.

Gagne was fifth at the start but quickly moved into fourth and then made the pass for third in Turn 8 on the first lap. With Beaubier well up front, the 27-year-old was trying to chase down second. By lap four he was able to close the two-second gap and advanced to second after his teammate’s error. Gagne stayed on the competition for the rest of the race but was unable to make the pass and crossed the line second for his third podium of the season. He leaves Road America second in the championship standings, trailing his teammate by nine points.

It was looking like another repeat performance for Beaubier who grabbed the holeshot and started to build a gap on the competition. On the third lap he set the fastest lap of the race with a 2’11.436 and was looking to keep expanding his lead when he went over the infamous bump in turn one and tucked the front. The four-time Superbike champ tried to rejoin the race, but ultimately had to pull in to the pits with the bike not 100% after the crash.

Next up for the Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha Racing team is Round 3 of the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship at Road Atlanta, July 31 – August 2, in Braselton, Georgia.

Richard Stanboli – Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha Racing Team Manager

“Jake rode well to earn that second-place finish. The team made some good steps forward and Jake continues to build his confidence. I think he will be a strong challenger for the top spot as soon as the next event. Cameron has been in a class of his own and his 2020 R1 continues to give him the confidence he needs. Unfortunately the notorious turn one bump caught him out just as it has done to many riders in the past. Even with a DNF we leave Road America with a comfortable first- and second-place in the championship. We look forward to racing and seeing our fans at Road Atlanta.”

Jake Gagne – Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha Racing

“We made some good progress with the bike in warm up this morning and I figured a few things out. My start was much better today and I was running behind Bobby (Fong) and Cam. Unfortunately Cam went down in Turn 1 trying to make a break. From then on I just tried to keep close to Fong. There were some sections of track he was really pulling me, then I’d pull time back in others. It was close there at the end, but I just wasn’t close enough and brought it home in second. I’m really glad to get the R1 back on the podium and I’m pumped to get to Road Atlanta!”

Cameron Beaubier – Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha Racing

“The race today started with a good jump off the line and I was feeling good like yesterday, but unfortunately I tucked the front over the bumps in Turn 1. Other than that, I feel great on my bike. We will put it behind us and get going at Road Atlanta.”