The size of the monkey on Roger Hayden’s back was more gorilla than chimpanzee, but he tossed that aside with a brilliant ride in the first of two MotoAmerica Superbike races on a steamy Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park to win his first race of the season and his first in three years. And then he followed it up with a close second-place finish to his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Toni Elias, losing out by just .126 of a second in race two for his fifth runner-up finish of the season.
Hayden’s victory in race one was impressive as he was hounded throughout by Elias, but withstood the pressure to beat the Spaniard to the line by .210 of a second.
“I’m just really happy to get this win, finally,” said Hayden, who last won at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2013. “It’s been a long time. I’m glad my family’s here. My dad and my mom and brothers and a bunch of people from home, so it makes it a little more special. My guys (his crew), they need this win too. We all want to win. We were all getting tired of getting second all the time, so it’s good for them.”
For Elias the win in race two was his fourth of the season and it ended a win-less drought that dated back to Road Atlanta in May. The Suzuki one-two finishes on Sunday in the Honda Superbike Showdown of Alabama were also the first since the Yoshimura pairing started the season with three of them in a row for the Suzuki team.
“We needed to improve the traction,” Elias said. “We did today in the last moment. I’m happy. We are doing a really great job. And finally a mistake in the first race and Roger (Hayden) did a great, great race. But I didn’t want a mistake for the second, and leading all the time, only two laps. And finally I tried to give my 100 percent the last two laps and win this race. It worked. I’m happy to have this feeling again. To win again is nice.”
Elias dedicated his victory to Luis Salom, the Spanish Moto2 racer who lost his life last weekend in the Catalunyan Grand Prix.
MotoAmerica Superbike Champion and points leader Cameron Beaubier ended the day with two third-place finishes on the Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha. In race one, Beaubier ran off in turn one and completed lap one buried in the pack, but he turned in an heroic ride to climb back to third, ending up almost nine seconds behind the Suzuki duo after closing to within four seconds at one point.
In race two, Beaubier matched the pace of the two Suzukis, but could never make a pass. He chased them across the line just .841 of a second behind for his second third-place finish of the day.
“Yeah, I was struggling pretty bad driving off the corners with them and that was making it to where I would just catch up on the brakes,” Beaubier said. “I wasn’t able to put a wheel in on those guys. But, honestly, normally I’d be pretty bummed with a third place, but I feel like they had a little bit of pace on me definitely today, so it is what it is. I’m looking forward to moving on to Miller (Utah Motorsports Campus). It’s a track I like and it’s closer to home.”
For the second straight race, Hayden posted the quickest lap – a 1:25.606, which was faster than the 1:26.639 from race one.
The two third-place finishes actually extended Beaubier’s points lead over teammate Josh Hayes, the four-time Superbike Champion finishing fourth in both races. Beaubier now leads the title chase by 13 points over Hayes, 208-195. Hayden, meanwhile, made a big jump and now trails Hayes by just a single point with Elias five points further behind. That means the top four are now separated by only 19 points with three rounds and six races remaining.
In the three-round Honda Superbike Showdown, meanwhile, Beaubier leads by four points over Hayden and Elias, 82-78. Hayes is fourth with 58 points. The winner of the series within a series will win a brand-new 2016 Honda Civic Sedan.
Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin finished fifth in both Superbike races and that earned him victory in both Bazzaz Superstock 1000 races. It also gives him the championship points’ lead over Bobby Fong by 18 points, 218-200. Fong and his Quicksilver-sponsored Latus Motors Racing Kawasaki finished sixth in both races and second in the Superstock 1000 class. The pair both took advantage of Claudio Corti’s off-day in Alabama, the HSBK Aprilia-mounted Italian crashing out of race one before finishing eighth in race two (and fourth in class).
“That was definitely a really hard two races,” Herrin said after race two. “Your fitness definitely got tested for sure. That was more about who could last in the end than it was who had the pace for sure. I felt like giving up with like six or seven laps to go and just letting Bobby (Fong) catch me, and then sitting with him like I usually do. I almost fell back into my old rhythm. But to be honest I saw all my friends and family sitting up on the grass hill and just cheering at the fence. It just made me push that little bit more. I always hear Supercross guys and NBA people say that that really helps and I never really believe it because you’re so focused, but if you can pay attention to people on the side of the hill when you’re going that fast… I think it really does work. It helped out a lot for sure. I’m really lucky that I’ve got friends that are willing to travel and come pump me up at the races. Big thanks to them and my whole team for working hard all weekend.”
The second of two Supersport races at Barber Motorsports Park was a thriller with Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha’s JD Beach winning for a second day in succession. Beach fought through from fifth place in the early laps to take the lead with the top four in a bitter dispute for the lead. Once he got there, Beach stayed there, but he was hounded throughout and passed once by this teammate Garrett Gerloff. In the end, however, Beach prevailed for this third win of the season and a doubleheader sweep at Barber.
“I don’t know if it was a clean sweep,” Beach said. “My riding wasn’t super smooth today. I made a lot of mistakes and I kind of got off to a bad start, but I just knew I needed to stay calm because it’s a long race and just keep a steady pace going and just try to get by guys when there’s a spot to get by them. It was so much fun racing with Valentin (Debise) and then Cameron (Petersen) and Joe (Roberts) and Garrett (Gerloff). We were all racing hard and we made a lot of passes.
“For me, being on the bike, it was exciting. Even when somebody ahead of me passed I was like, ‘man, that was a good pass! I don’t know if I can do that.’ But it was a good race. It’s been a tough start of the year, but we’re just going to keep working at it. I’ve got nothing to lose. All the weight’s on Garrett’s shoulders now. He’s got the points lead and if he messes up it’s a big problem for him. If I crash out of the race, second don’t matter. So we’re just going to keep pushing and hope Garrett makes a mistake sooner or later.”
Gerloff missed out on victory by just .485 of a second with Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts finishing third for his third podium of the year. Roberts barely beat M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valentin Debise to the line by just .014 of a second. Debise’s teammate Cameron Petersen rounded out the top five finishers.
Sixth place went to Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis Jr. with Bryce Prince finishing seventh overall to earn his sixth Superstock 600 victory of the season. Tuned Racing’s Prince now holds down a massive 93-point lead in the Superstock 600 Championship over HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Dakota Mamola.
Beach cut into Gerloff’s lead, but the Texan still leads the championship, 230-197. Debise is third with 168 points with Petersen fourth and Roberts fifth.
The second KTM RC Cup race of the weekend was won by Anthony Mazziotto III, the New Jersey resident coming out on top of a four-way battle to the finish with Ashton Yates, Brandon Paasch and Jody Barry. The top four were separated by just .391 of a second just a day after Paasch had scored a runaway four-plus second win on Saturday. It was Mazziotto’s fourth victory of the season in the spec-bike class.
Paasch continues to the lead the championship point standings by 10 over Mazziotto, 205-195.
SUPERBIKE RACE 1: 1 Roger Hayden (Suzuki); 2. Toni Elias (Suzuki); 3. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha); 4. Josh Hayes (Yamaha); 5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha); 6. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki); 7. Matthew Scholtz (Yamaha); 8. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha); 9. Hayden Gillim (Suzuki); 10. Jake Lewis (Suzuki).
SUPERBIKE RACE 2: 1. Toni Elias (Suzuki); 2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki); 3. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha); 4. Josh Hayes (Yamaha); 5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha); 6. Bobby Fong (Kawasaki); 7. Danny Eslick (Yamaha); 8. Claudio Corti (Aprilia); 9. Matthew Scholtz (Yamaha); 10. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha).
SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1. Cameron Beaubier (208/6 wins); 2. Josh Hayes (195/1 win); 3. Roger Hayden (194/1 win); 4. Toni Elias (189/4 wins); 5. Claudio Corti (108); 6. Josh Herrin (107); 7. Bobby Fong (98); 8. Hayden Gillim (82); 9. Danny Eslick (66); 10. Taylor Knapp (56).
SUPERSPORT RACE 2: 1. JD Beach (Yamaha); 2. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha); 3. Joe Roberts (Yamaha); 4. Valentin Debise (Suzuki); 5. Cameron Petersen (Suzuki); 6. Benny Solis Jr. (Honda); 7. Bryce Prince (Yamaha); 8. Richie Escalante (Yamaha); 9. Michael Gilbert (Yamaha); 10. Conner Blevins (Kawasaki).
KTM RC CUP RACE 2: 1. Anthony Mazziotto III; 2. Ashton Yates; 3. Brandon Paasch; 4. Jody Barry; 5. Alejandro Gutierrez; 6. Benjamin Smith; 7. Renzo Ferreira; 8. Nolan Lamkin; 9. Jackson Blackmon; 10. Jose Serne.
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