Toni Elias Leads The Superbike Standings Into UMC
COSTA MESA, CA – June 20, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Toni Elias. War of words. Josh Herrin takes out Elias. Margin of victory .005 of a second.
Those are the storylines from the first four rounds of the 2017 MotoAmerica Series as the home of the AMA Superbike Championship rolls into the Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC) on the outskirts of Salt Lake City for round five and the Championship of Utah.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias leads the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship by 14 points as the series reaches the halfway mark.
| Photo: Brian J. Nelson
At round one in Texas it was all Elias, the 2010 Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner sweeping both races at Circuit of The Americas for the second straight year. At Road Atlanta, the storyline focused on the post-race press conference war of words between Elias and two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier. As the series moved to VIRginia International Raceway there was more drama with Herrin taking out Elias as the two battled for the lead in race one. In Wisconsin, race one came down to Beaubier beating Elias by just .005 of a second at Road America.
So what’s next? If last year was any indication, we can expect two close Motul Superbike races in Utah as the margin of victories in the pair of races was .171 and .120 of a second, respectively, with Beaubier beating his teammate Josh Hayes in race one and Elias beating Beaubier in race two.
Elias comes to Utah Motorsports Campus with the championship lead in the Motul Superbike class, the Spaniard having finished first or second in every race except for his crash with Herrin in race one at VIR. He’s armed with a new Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and he’s returning to a circuit he calls one of his favorites.
“Of course, we will suffer on the first day like always because we have to set up everything with the electronics, but it is one of my favorite tracks in the championship,” Elias said of his expectations for UMC. “It doesn’t mean we have to win, but we will try. We will continue to try more than 100 percent. Except for the crash in VIR, the other positions always first and second. I’m really happy about that and I’m hoping not too many mistakes and continue to work well with the team. I think it will be a fun weekend.”
Elias’ lead is 14 points over Beaubier, the defending champion, the only rider other than Elias to win more than one race (race one at Road Atlanta, race one at Road America), and 20 points over his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden.
Behind them comes four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, the veteran with a rather large chasm to make up as he already has two non-scoring races on his tally. Hayes is 78 points behind Elias, but there are five rounds and 10 races left to run.
Bobby Fong has his Quicksilver Latus Motors Racing Kawasaki in fifth, the Californian putting his ZX-10R on the Motul Superbike podium twice so far this year. Two non-finishes, however, have dropped Fong out of the points lead in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class as that points lead now sits in Mathew Scholtz’s lap, the South African having won race two at Road America to lead Fong by six points heading to Utah, 146-140. Jake Lewis, who won race one at Road America on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, is just two points further adrift in third place. TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick and Cycle World Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim round out the top five as they head to the halfway mark at UMC.
As it’s been all season, the battle for the Supersport crown is tight with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach separated by just four points. Each rider has three wins to their credit as they arrive in Utah, with Beach on a four-race win streak at Utah Motorsports Campus after having swept both races there for the past two seasons.
The only other rider to have won a Supersport race so far this year is M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman having won race two at Road Atlanta earlier in the year. Debise, however, had three bad races in a row and that slotted him down to fourth in the title chase – 15 points behind Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis. Solis and Debise trail Gerloff by 53 and 68 points, respectively.
Excel Machine Racing’s Connor Blevins took over the points lead in the Superstock 600 Championship at the last round in Wisconsin, the Oklahoman taking full advantage of the injuries suffered by season-long leaders Michael Gilbert and Nick McFadden to win both races at Road America. Blevins is now 10 points clear of Gilbert with Aguilar Racing’s Jason Aguilar third, 11 points behind Blevins. McFadden slipped to fourth after suffering a broken collarbone at Road America. The Kentuckian, who won the first two Superstock 600 races at Road Atlanta, is 19 points behind and arrives in Utah fresh from surgery to repair his injury.
Benjamin Smith leads the KTM RC Cup Championship heading to UMC, the 16-year-old from Pennsylvania leading his Quarterley Racing/On Track Development teammate Draik Beauchamp by 13 points. Smith has three race wins to his credit with Beauchamp having a single victory.
Third in the series standings is held by a third Quarterley Racing teamster, Jackson Blackmon. Blackmon, who turned 16 the week prior to UMC, is 30 points behind after missing the first two races with an off-season training injury. Blackmon has won two of the last three races and will likely be a factor by season’s end.
In addition to MotoAmerica’s five classes, the Utah Motorsports Campus round will also feature a stop of the Utah Sport Bike Association Series and the Sidecar Racing Association will also be bringing its Sidecars to UMC.
Backed in: JD Beach (95) wrestles his Yamaha into turn five at Road America with his teammate and championship leader Garrett Gerloff (1) just behind him.
| Photo: Brian J. Nelson
Utah Motorsports Campus Notes
The two Superbike races at the Utah Motorsports Campus a season ago were two of the closest of the year. In the first of the two races, Cameron Beaubier beat his Monster Energy/Yamalube/ Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes by .171 of a second. And race two was even closer with Toni Elias topping Beaubier by just .120 of a second.
As for close races, they don’t get any closer than race one at Road America three weeks ago with Cameron Beaubier beating Elias to the line by just .005 of a second.
Former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner Toni Elias earned pole position in his first visit to the Utah Motorsports Campus last year. Elias lapped at a best of 1:49.613 during Superpole.
With its five wins thus far in 2017 (four for Toni Elias, 1 for Roger Hayden), Suzuki now has a class-leading 186 AMA Superbike wins to its credit. Honda is second on the all-time win list with 116 victories while Yamaha sits third with 103 wins.
Little Known Fact: JD Beach is the winningest rider in the brief history of the MotoAmerica Series. The Kentucky resident has 19 Supersport wins, which leads the 18 Superbike-win mark of Cameron Beaubier. Jake Gagne is third on the list with 13 wins, with those coming in his Superstock 1000 Championship winning year in 2015.
Beach swept to victories in both Supersport races a year ago at UMP. Beach beat his Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff in both races with Benny Solis earning his first MotoAmerica podium in race one. Frenchman Valentin Debise was third in race two. Last year’s two wins gives Beach four in a row at UMC heading into this year’s two races.
Bryce Prince and Richie Escalante split wins in the Superstock 600 class a year ago at UMC. Prince has moved up to the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class with Escalante not racing in 2017.
Last year’s two Bazzaz Superstock 1000 races were won by Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin, the Georgian who ended up taking the title. This year, Herrin has moved to the Superbike class with the Helmet Sounds/Western Services/Meen Motorsports team.
The two KTM RC Cup races at UMC last year were close-fought battles as always. The wins went to Brandon Paasch and Aaron Yates. Both riders have moved up for 2017 with Paasch competing in the Supersport class while Yates moved to Superstock 600.
Of the active racers in the Superbike class, Josh Hayes leads the way with 61 Superbike wins. He also has 83 victories across all classes in his career. Hayes’ all-time Superbike win total puts him second on the all-time list behind Mat Mladin’s 82 Superbike victories. Hayes’ 83 victories across all classes puts him just three wins behind Miguel Duhamel on the all-time list.
The winningest Superbike racer of all time at Utah Motorsports Campus is retired Texan Ben Spies. Spies won five races in Utah during his career, including his first-ever Superbike race at UMC in 2006.
For complete 2017 MotoAmerica Media Resources please visit – bit.ly/MotoAmericaMedia2017
MotoAmerica is the North American road racing series created in 2014 that is home to the AMA Superbike Championship. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time 500cc World Champion, two-time AMA Superbike Champion, and AMA Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey, ex-racer and former manager of Team Roberts Chuck Aksland, motorsports marketing executive Terry Karges, and businessman Richard Varner. For more information on MotoAmerica, visit www.MotoAmerica.com. Also make sure to follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram