This just in from VIR:
VIR Here We Come
Round three of the MotoAmerica Series is this weekend in Virginia
COSTA MESA, CA (May 8, 2017) – Two things have become abundantly clear after just two rounds and four races in the Motul Superbike class: the level of Superbike racing in the U.S. has never been higher; and a rivalry has started that takes us back to the heated days of Gobert vs. Mladin, Mladin vs. Spies, Young vs. Hayes. The result: A 2017 MotoAmerica Series that promises to thrill – both on and off the racetrack.
MotoAmerica Superbikes are coming to VIRginia International Raceway, May 12-14, for round three of the 2016 MotoAmerica Series.
Bring on the Championship of Virginia at VIRginia International Raceway this weekend, May 12-14.
The man at the top coming into round three at VIRginia International Raceway is Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias. The diminutive Spaniard has won three of the first four races, leads the Motul Superbike point standings by 26 points, and was also the protagonist in the off-track war of words with two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier in the post-race press conference at Road Atlanta.
It all started on Saturday at Road Atlanta. Beaubier made what Elias deemed a rough pass in turn 12 before riding on to victory, his first of the season. Elias basically promised retaliation and it came the next day, in race two on Sunday in Georgia. Elias moved over on Beaubier in the braking zone for turn 12 and then rode on to victory, his third of the season. The bad feelings between the two began right before the podium ceremony and spilled over into the post-race press conference. The rest is history and now the battle resumes at VIR for round three of the series, the Championship of Virginia.
Now the duo come to VIR as the only two to win a Motul Superbike race thus far this season with Elias winning three and Beaubier one. Although he hasn’t won a race yet, Elias’ Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden heads to Virginia tied for second in the championship with Beaubier with 69 points, 26 behind Elias. Hayden has been consistently fast and on the podium in three of the four races, with two second-place finishes.
Fourth coming into VIR is Helmet Sounds/Western Services/Meen Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, last year’s Superstock 1000 Champion moving to the Superbike class and making the most of it. Herrin was chomping at the heels of the factory Superbike men at Road Atlanta, running as high as second early in race one before finishing fifth. He was one better in race two, ending up fourth.
Bobby Fong gave the Superbike men fits in the opening round in Texas, ending up on the podium in race one on his Bazzaz Superstock 1000-spec Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki as the Superstock class runs together on-track with the Motul Superbike class. Fong is currently fifth in the Superbike Championship and is tied for the lead in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, the winner of race two at Road Atlanta.
Those two are just five points clear of Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African winning his first career MotoAmerica race in the first of two races at Road Atlanta. In addition to holding down the top three spots in the Bazzaz Superstock title chase, Fong, Lewis and Scholtz are also ranked fifth, sixth and seventh in the Motul Superbike Championship standings, respectively.
Believe it or not, four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes is mired back in eighth in the 2017 Superbike Championship, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing rider having suffered two crashes in the four races. In the opening race at Circuit of The Americas, Hayes was able to remount to finish 14th and score two points, but that wasn’t the case in race two at Road Atlanta. A day after earning his first podium of the season, Hayes had a high-speed crash at Road Atlanta that almost sent his Yamaha YZF R1 to VIR without needing the team’s semi. The bike cleared at least two fences before settling in the Georgian forest. Fortunately, Hayes escaped injury but is 64 points behind Elias. There’s plenty left in this season, however – with 16 races left to run.
Two Supersport races will also be held at VIR this weekend and thus far those races have been spectacular. After two rounds and three races (Supersport only raced once at COTA), only eight points separate the top three in the championship. At the top of the heap is Frenchman Valentin Debise, the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki rider winning his first race of the season and second of his MotoAmerica career in race two at Road Atlanta. He is four points clear of defending Supersport Champion Garrett Gerloff, the Texan winning race one in Georgia. Third place is held by 2015 Supersport Champion JD Beach, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammate to Gerloff having won the opener in Texas before posting two thirds at Road Atlanta.
Much like the Motul Superbike/Bazzazz Superstock 1000 class, Superstock 600 also runs on track with the Supersport class and thus far it has been dominated by M4 medAge Suzuki’s Nick McFadden. The Kentucky rider won the first two races of the season at Road Atlanta (Superstock 600 did not race in Texas) and comes to VIR with a perfect points tally of 50. That’s 14 points better than Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert and Aguilar Racing’s Jason Aguilar, with the two Californians tied for second in the championship after swapping second and third place finishes at Road Atlanta.
The KTM RC Cup also made its season debut at Road Atlanta and both races were also won by one racer – Benjamin Smith. The 16-year-old from Pennsylvania was perfect at Road Atlanta, beating his 17-year-old Quarterley Racing/On Track Development teammate Draik Beauchamp in both outings, though both races were close as the KTM Cup races always are. Third place in the title chase after the opening round is held by 14-year-old Alex Dumas, the Canadian posting third- and fourth-place finishes in the two races in Georgia. Tyler Wissel also scored his first career MotoAmerica podium with a third in race two.
The Supersport class has also been hotly contested with just eight points separating the top three – Valentin Debise (53), Garrett Gerloff (1) and JD Beach (95). Photos by Brian J. Nelson.
The 2017 MotoAmerica Series rolls into VIRginia International Raceway for round three of its 10-round series. Last year VIR was also held on the second weekend in May, but it was the fourth round of the series.
With his first win of the season coming in race one at Road Atlanta, two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier now has 20 career Superbike wins, which puts him in a tie for fifth on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with former AMA Superbike and World Superbike Champion Fred Merkel. Beaubier is eight wins behind former AMA Superbike and World Superbike Champion Ben Spies, the Texan sitting fourth on the all-time list.
When it comes to the history of the AMA Superbike Series, the active rider with the most victories is Josh Hayes, the veteran with 60 Superbike wins to his credit. Hayes won two races in last year’s MotoAmerica Series, including race one at VIR – his sixth on the 2.25-mile North Course. In 2015, Hayes collected victories in both races at VIR.
Hayes won race one last year at VIR with Beaubier taking race two over his Yamaha teammate. Roger Hayden was second and fourth in the two races with his teammate Toni Elias ending up with two third-place finishes in what was his first visit to the track.
JD Beach is the winningest Supersport racer in MotoAmerica history with the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion amassing 17 wins thus far in the series. Beach won eight races in both 2015 and 2016 and started this season with a victory in the series opener in Texas.
Defending Supersport Champion Garrett Gerloff can look back to last year’s races at VIR as a major reason he won the title, as two of Gerloff’s six wins in 2016 came in Virginia. Gerloff’s win in race one at Road Atlanta a few weeks ago was his ninth career MotoAmerica Supersport victory.
No matter who wins the KTM RC Cup races this weekend at VIR, they will be new to the VIR podium. Last year’s two races were won by Anthony Mazziotto III and he’s graduated to the Superstock 600 class for 2017. As for class champion Brandon Paasch, he’s made the move to the Supersport class.
The two Superstock 600 races last year were won by Michael Gilbert and Bryce Prince. Gilbert is back for another season in the class while Prince, who won the 2016 Superstock 600 title, has moved to the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 series.