|MILLVILLE, N.J. (September 10, 2017) – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias came from behind to win his 10th Motul Superbike race of the season in race two of the Championship of New Jersey, presented by K&N, a day after wrapping up the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.
Elias had a more difficult time of it on Sunday as he was struck on the foot with debris on the opening lap that forced him to fall back as far as seventh. Once the pain went away and he regained his composure, Elias did what Elias does and he methodically worked his way back into contention. Meanwhile, his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden was leading the race and holding off the persistent challenge of true privateer Kyle Wyman on the YCRS/Cambr/KWR Yamaha YZF-R1.
By the time the race came to the 20th of 23 laps, Elias was there. He passed Wyman and then went after Hayden, passing him going into turn one on the final lap and pushing Hayden wide and off the track. Wyman was the beneficiary of the move and he struck while the iron was hot and took over second, holding the spot to the finish for a career best MotoAmerica Superbike finish.
The win for Elias was his 10th of the season and the 16th of his career, which moves him in to a tie for eighth on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with his childhood hero Wayne Rainey, the three-time 500cc World Champion and president of MotoAmerica.
“Something hit my foot,” Elias said. “Some part from some bike, I don’t know what was there, but it hit hard and was painful. That made me lose a lot of concentration. After that, he (Kyle Wyman) passed me and then another three or four riders more. And then I calmed down and tried to pass Mathew Scholtz, but he was difficult to pass and I lose all this time. At the end when I found the clear way, I started to do a good pace (and) tried to come back. I didn’t know if I was able to have time to catch Roger (Hayden), but we did it. I didn’t know he was on the grass. That was not my goal. My goal was to win the race [and] pass him. He braked too late (and) I braked late too, and [I’m] sorry. I wanted to pass him, but not take him out. Well, one more win. The bike was better for me. I hope to continue like this until the end of the season. That is my goal. Today I felt I was able to ride more free, less pressure on my shoulders [with the title clinched]. It was nice to be able to win like this.”
Wyman had the race of his life on Sunday, running at the front from start to finish and ultimately taking the runner-up spot when Hayden ran off in turn one on the final lap. It was by far the team owner/rider’s best performance in the Motul Superbike class and it was one that was popular from one end of the paddock to the other.
“That’s the best race I’ve ever ridden,” Wyman said. “I just put my head down and got a really good start. I was third and Toni (Elias) went in, I’m not sure if he pushed Roger (Hayden) wide, but he (Elias) ran wide and from there I didn’t see him. I just followed Roger. I saw a plus one on my board the whole race, so I knew if it was tight behind me, and it maybe got a little bigger than that. There were actually points in the race where I felt I had a little bit of a run on Roger in a few different areas, but it wasn’t going to be beneficial for either of us to force the issue and have a big pack (behind) us, so I kind of just sat there. I don’t want to say that I was surprised, because I know what I’m capable of, but it’s kind of nice to be sitting there and feeling really good. About two-thirds of the way through the race the bike got a lot harder to ride and started pushing the front (and) losing the rear. The last couple laps when Toni was coming up, that was pretty much all I had just to stay where I was.
“Obviously, I’m just super elated. This has been a very, very long road from racing Harley’s and racing 600s, and not really having any success on 600s. I found the (Yamaha) R1 that I’ve fallen in love with now, and me and the team are all just working well together. Today was my day, and now I know I can do it. Hopefully, we can push hard from here and get one step further (for a win).”
Hayden was forced back to third after being pushed wide by Elias, but he accepted the spot for his 14th podium finish of the season.
“I felt a lot better today (and) we fixed some of the issues we had yesterday,” Hayden said. “We could increase the race pace more consistently, in the low (1:21 second range). I felt good and was trying to get away, but Kyle (Wyman) kept me honest the whole time. I saw Toni (Elias) was behind me (at the end) and I knew he was going to try something somewhere, and I broke as late as I could before the first turn and he got on the inside of me. I just had nowhere to go besides the grass, but luckily I saved it, brought it back, and ended up on the podium still. Definitely disappointing, but [I’m] also somewhat happy with my pace at the beginning of the race. Yesterday I struggled quite a bit, but today was much better.”
Broaster Genuine Chicken Honda’s Jake Gagne matched his best finish of the season in fourth place, giving him a 5-4 tally over the two-day Championship of New Jersey. He bested the two Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing duo of Josh Hayes and Josh Herrin, who was filling in for the injured Cameron Beaubier on the team’s YZF-R1.
Then came Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African not only taking victory in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class but also wrapping up the 2017 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 Championship in his first full season with team.
“After the 2015 season back home (in South Africa) I nearly hung up my boots because it was just costing my family too much money (to race),” Scholtz said. “In 2016 we took one more final dig at it and I won the championship back home, and then came over here. Fortunately, we ended up winning the championship and I couldn’t be happier. It’s like a dream come true for me. What I thought was going to happen in the first race (on Saturday) happened in the second race and I managed to just hang onto the Superbike guys to open up a gap, and I just maintained it from there. It pretty much just worked out perfectly. Overall, I’m really happy to bring the championship home. The Yamalube/Westby guys have had a real struggle the past few years and I’m really happy to bring the championship back home to them. They’re like a second family.”
Quicksilver Latus Racing Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong finished second a day after struggling mightily with handling problems with the ZX-10R. Fong was some six seconds behind Scholtz but nine seconds ahead of yesterday’s class winner Danny Eslick on the TOBC Racing Yamaha.
Fly Street/Motul Oils/ADR Motorsports’ Anthony West rounded out the top 10.
With his 17th podium finish in 18 starts, Elias leads Hayden by 93 points heading into next weekend’s season finale at Barber Motorsports Park, 390-297. Beaubier, who will also miss the Barber round, is third with 255 points.
Like Elias, Scholtz also has a point lead that can’t be beaten as he heads to Barber 75 points clear of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and 83 points ahead of Fong.