MotoAmerica Starts Its Second Half In Utah
Utah Motorsports Campus Set For Round Six
COSTA MESA, CA (July 18, 2018) – On paper, the fast layout of the Utah Motorsports Campus should favor defending MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Champion Toni Elias and his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden. After all, the pair finished first and second in both races last year at the circuit on the outskirts of Salt Lake City on their new GSX-R1000s, with Elias sweeping to his second and third career wins at UMC.
But if we just went by the paper, there’d be no need to have races.
As the series arrives in Utah for the Championship of Utah at Utah Motorsports Park, the second half of the 2018 MotoAmerica Series begins after half a season of awesome racing and high drama. And, unlike last year, we get to Utah with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier leading the MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Championship after completely turning his season around in the last two rounds and four races. He comes to Utah with four straight wins and a 29-point lead in the championship. He’s also a former Superbike race winner at UMC, with a victory in race one in 2016.
“We struggled a little bit at Utah last year and, in the past, it hasn’t been one of the best tracks for us,” said Beaubier in the week leading into the race. “It hasn’t been terrible. I’m definitely going to start my weekend there like I do every other weekend and see where we are at. Our bike is definitely quite a bit different than it was there last year. I will go in with an open mind and see what we have. Utah’s been a good track for him (Elias) the last few years and we will need to be on our A game and do the best we can at Utah. I want to take advantage of the races and the racetracks that suit our R1. If Utah is not one of them, I will be as smart as I can and move on.”
Although he’s 29 points behind and coming off a rough patch in his season, Elias draws confidence by returning to a track where he’s had a lot of success. He also knows that four races ago he had a 35-point lead in the championship before things flipped upside down at Road America and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“We did a little test in Fontana (Auto Club Speedway) and everything seems like back to normal,” Elias said. “Not 100 percent, but very close. I think we have a good base to start everything in Utah and start to feel the front (end) again. I crashed a lot when the tire (Dunlop’s newest version of its KR451 N-Tek, which is larger in circumference) arrived, but the front (feeling) is back. Normal feeling is back so I am happy. Now Cameron (Beaubier) has pretty much the advantage I had before. He is strong and so ready and very consistent, but 20 something points is not enough to relax. I will be there to reduce this distance and we have time enough. This is my goal, so let’s do it.”
The man who sits third in the Motul Superbike title chase coming into UMC is Attack Performance/Herrin Compound’s Josh Herrin. Herrin is 68 points behind Beaubier but has been a factor in the last four races with three second-place finishes. His only hiccup was a crash in race two at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca while running second to Beaubier. Herrin has also tasted Superbike success at UMC as he won race one there in 2013, the year he won his lone AMA Superbike Championship.
“I think we should be close enough,” Herrin said when asked about winning races at Utah. “We’ll see how the power is at Utah compared to the other teams. We are there for the wins. In the past two rounds, four races, we had the bike to win. I just messed up on all of them.”
Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz started the season like gangbusters, finishing second and third at the opening round at Road Atlanta before winning in the rain in round two at Circuit of The Americas in Texas. He struggled at Road America but seemed to find his way again at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca where he finished fifth and fourth in the two races. The South African comes to UMC fourth in the series standings, six points behind Herrin and 31 points ahead of fifth-placed Garrett Gerloff, the Texan racing in his rookie season of Superbike with the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing team.
The rest of the top 10 in the Motul Superbike class are tightly knit with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis just three points behind Gerloff. Then comes SC Project/KWR’s Kyle Wyman, 13 points behind Lewis.