This just in:
Birmingham, Alabama (September 17, 2017) – Mathew Scholtz made history on a rainy Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, the Yamalube/Westby rider becoming the first rider to win a Motul Superbike race on a Superstock-spec 1000. Scholtz, with his first career AMA Superbike win, also became the first South African to take victory in the 41-year history of the series.
The race was wet and wild and it took three starts to get it completed. The first start was a dry race that was stopped when a light rain began. The second start was called a wet race but was aborted after just one lap when heavy rains and puddles caused Scholtz to crashed on the front straight. The third time was the charm and Scholtz didn’t let his first high-speed slide through the water slow him. He reeled in fast starter Josh Hayes, passed him and then held off the last-lap advances of Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Jake Gagne until Gagne crashed out while on Scholtz tail on the final lap. That allowed newly crowned MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Elias to finish second and four-time AMA Superbike Champion Hayes to take third.
“On the final lap, I looked back and saw that Jake (Gagne) was maybe one second back and I was just trying to hold tight lines,” said Scholtz. “I had no idea that Jake had actually crashed and thought that he was right on me the entire time. I was focusing on getting a good drive that last lap and nearly tossed it away twice. I couldn’t be happier taking the overall win today since this means so much to the Westby Yamaha guys and I think they’re over the moon with what we accomplished.”
Scholtz crossed the line just 1.01 seconds ahead of Elias and the Yoshimura Suzuki to win the Honda Championship of Alabama, presented by Genuine Broaster Chicken.
“The track was good on the final restart except for the sealer in certain areas that made it really slick and scary to ride,” said Elias. “The team did a good job to give me a competitive bike, but for me, I just lacked some confidence in the conditions. I’m happy with this second position even though I would have liked to have a little bit more. We have to enjoy this moment a little bit, but we will need to continue to work because many riders are going fast and will be coming for me.”
Hayes ended up 4.3 seconds adrift on the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory YZF-R1.
“In the beginning of the race, experience or whatever, I kind of felt like I knew where things were,” said Hayes. “We had that red flag and that actually was a good thing for me since we had a technical issue with the bike. There was a little extra water on the track for the restart and I think that helped me early in the race, but once it began to dry the guys behind me seemed to have a little bit more. I think Mathew (Scholtz) and Toni (Elias) were a little bit more comfortable running on that lean angle. I just gave it my best with where I felt comfortable running at.”
Fourth place went to Cycle World Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim, the Kentuckian finishing second in the Bazzaz Superstock class behind Scholtz, who in the process of winning the Superbike class won his 10th Superstock race of the season.
Team WD-40/Scheibe Racing’s Jason DiSalvo had his best result of the season, riding the team’s BMW to fifth place. Sixth, and third in the Bazzaz Superstock class, went to TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick.
Hudson Motorcycles/Helmet Sounds’ Bryce Prince, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, Strugess Cycle Kawasaki’s Kenny Riedmann and Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Yesterday’s winner Roger Hayden elected not to race in the wet conditions. Ditto for Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Josh Herrin, the fill-in rider for the injured Cameron Beaubier leading the dry portion of the race prior to the first red flag.
Elias, who wrapped up the title last week in New Jersey, ended the season with 410 points after finishing first or second in every race except for two non-finishes. Hayden, despite sitting out Sunday’s race, finished second in the title chase with 322, 67 more than Beaubier.
Hayes managed to hold off Scholtz for fourth in the final standings, 223-216.