VIRginia International Raceway has long been a frustrating venue on the MotoAmerica schedule for Cameron Beaubier. In the first eight races at VIR, Beaubier had rather amazingly only won one of them. Today that all changed with win number two, a dominant victory over Toni Elias, his rival who beat him twice here a season ago. This one, however, belonged to Beaubier, the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion beating Yoshimura Suzuki’s Elias by 3.5 seconds on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1.
Both Beaubier and Elias had difficult Superpole sessions on the first two-day MotoAmerica event of the season. Beaubier crashed so early in the session that his lap that put him second on the grid actually came on race tires – not very confidence-inspiring for those going slower than him on qualifying tires. Elias, meanwhile, had bike troubles and was ultimately stranded on the track for the majority of the time. He started the race from the third row after qualifying eighth. Pole position went to Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff, the Texan’s second of the season.
Beaubier didn’t start the race in the lead, but he was in second place when race leader Mathew Scholtz crashed out on the second lap. From there it was all Beaubier, the defending champion inching away to ultimately win by 3.5 seconds for this second win of the season.
“Just started off today feeling pretty good,” Beaubier said after the 34 thSuperbike win of his career. “I felt pretty comfortable on the R1 out there. We were able to get up to pace pretty quick. I feel like I’ve kind of struggled getting that pace here in the past. This one just feels really, really good. I know how fast these guys are at this track and this year. It felt really good to be able to win with a little bit of a margin. I’m sure tomorrow is going to be tougher. Both these guys are going to go back and it’s going to be a dog-fight tomorrow. Just in the past we’ve always been fast here. I feel like the R1 works pretty good here. I think I have one win to my name at this track in the past five years or something like that. That’s frustrating for a track that we know that we’re pretty strong at. This one felt really good. Got a couple things I might try in the morning depending on wet or dry. It’s going to be tough but looking forward to racing.”
Elias rebounded from his difficult day with second place, despite starting from the third row.
“Everything was good,” Elias said. The bike stopped and then it stopped again (in Superpole), but I finished second and saved some points for the championship. But we are happy. I started good. I think one of my best starts ever. In the first corner I was too cautious, and I gave up everything in the first two corners. I was in fifth or sixth position. I did my rhythm at the beginning and I felt comfortable with the second bike. Cameron (Beaubier)… his pace was faster than mine, so it was okay. Second position today was good for me. He did an amazing job. So, I take these 20 points.”
Gerloff was hot on Elias’ heels when he ran off in turn one, losing out on a chance to get second place.
“I felt good in the first part of the race, and then just as we started getting to around halfway, I just was really struggling,” Gerloff said. “Just stuff with the bike a little bit. So, I just started kind of fighting myself and the bike and that kind of wore me out. Then Toni (Elias) got around me and I made a mistake. Just kind of not my cleanest performance. It’s just good to finish the race. Last year I didn’t have a good first race. I didn’t finish either one of them, so it’s a lot better than it was last year when I ended up in the hospital. There are definitely some things that I want to change for tomorrow for the race. We have a direction to go, which is good. Sometimes you don’t really know which way to go, but I think we do. So, we’re going to do that, and we’ll see how she goes. Start loosening up a little bit and stay with these guys up front.”
Fourth place went to Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha’s JD Beach, some four seconds behind Gerloff and 13.2 seconds ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis.
Lewis, in turn, was way ahead of Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne, who had his hands full to the finish with FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony. Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen battled muscle-cramping to finish eighth with KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman and Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders rounding out the top 10.
Elias leads Beaubier by eight points going into tomorrow’s finale of the Championship of Virginia, 110-102, with Beach jumping ahead of non-finishers Josh Herrin and Scholtz and into third with 53 points. Lewis is fourth with 51 points and Herrin is now fifth on 49 points.
Supersport – Jacobsen’s First!
In Saturday’s Supersport race one, Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha rider Hayden Gillim crashed out early, and then M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong crashed out of the lead. The race was red-flagged and both riders were on the sidelines when the race was restarted.
The situation created a golden opportunity for Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha rider PJ Jacobsen whose two toughest competitors were out of the contest. At the start, Jacobsen got a great jump and began building a substantial lead, which he managed all the way to the checkered flag. When he crossed the finish line, the former World Superbike and World Supersport rider won by more than three seconds over Richie Escalante, who was aboard the Hudson Motorcycles – HB Racing Yamaha. It was Escalante’s best Supersport finish to date.
One of the big stories of the day was the return of four-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes to racing in MotoAmerica, his trademark number 4 emblazoned on his MP13 Racing Yamaha. With his wife Melissa Paris as his team owner and crew chief, Hayes finished on the podium in third.
“I kind of had a good plan there in the beginning,” Jacobsen said after his first MotoAmerica victory. “I was following Bobby (Fong). I said to myself, with 10 or eight laps left in the race, I was going to try to get out front and push and see what lap times I could run to pull a gap. Obviously, that didn’t work out with the red flag, so I tried to do the same thing in the restarted race and it worked out for me. With, like, six laps to go, I really just managed the gap. It worked out for us. The bike is really strong. I’m very happy with it. I improved myself and these guys improved a little bit, so it’s really good. I’m happy to be racing again with Josh (Hayes). He’s an animal out there. He comes back and puts it on the box, which is great. Richie (Escalante), as well. He’s really stepped up from last year. It’s good. It was a good race.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Landers, Again
After winning both Liqui Moly Junior Cup races in round one at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Landers Racing’s Rocco Landers had a new wrinkle in his race plan. He missed the start of the warmup lap for Saturday’s race and, by rule, had to start from the back of the 21-bike field. Despite the literal setback, the 14-year-old Californian was nonplussed by the challenge and, after the race went green, he proceeded to quickly and methodically work his way to the front of the field aboard his Kawasaki
Eventually, Landers got into a battle with Quarterley Racing/On Track Development rider Dallas Daniels, who started from the pole aboard his Kawasaki. The pair swapped the lead a couple of times on the final lap, with Daniels in front heading onto the front straight. Landers pulled out of Daniels’ draft and just nipped him by .023 of a second at the finish line to notch his third race win in a row.
Finishing third was Altus Motorsports rider Kevin Olmedo, who completed the Kawasaki podium sweep.
When Landers was asked what caused his tardiness in making the start of the race, he said, “It was kind of a weird situation. I was in my pit and I actually got the time of the race mixed up with the time pit lane opened. So, I was starting to get my gear on when I should have been heading out for the warmup lap.
“I was over at the exit of pit lane and I was like, ‘I’ve got to go. If I’m going to get a podium I have to go as hard as I possibly can. Then I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to the back of the grid.’ Then I went to the back of the grid and I was trying to visualize a straight line into turn one as much as possible and I made up around eight positions or so going into turn one on the front straight. I tried to make as good a first lap as possible. Made it up to ninth in the first lap and just continued to try to push through. Got into fourth, I think, in the woods. I saw them ahead of me and I was like, ‘They’re like five seconds ahead. I’ve got to go as hard as I possibly can to come close to catching them.’ Then I caught up to them. I passed Hunter (Dunham). He was riding super-well and then I got right past him. He dropped down a little there going through turn five. I was sad. Then going through later that lap I was able to get by him and almost got by him in turn one, then kind of stood behind him for that lap and then got by him the next lap. That was the white-flag lap. Then I got by him going into turn one that one lap, and he actually got by me again on the back section over there. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to go as hard as possible to see if I can maybe get past him over on the straight. That happened. Everyone was going super-fast.”
EBC Brakes Superbike
- Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
- Toni Elias (Suzuki)
- Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
- JD Beach (Yamaha)
- Jake Lewis (Suzuki)
- Jake Gagne (BMW)
- David Anthony (Kawasaki)
- Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
- Kyle Wyman (Ducati)
- Max Flinders (Yamaha)
- PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
- Richie Escalante (Yamaha)
- Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
- Bryce Prince (Yamaha)
- Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
- Braeden Ortt (Kawasaki)
- Lucas Silva (Suzuki)
- Nick McFadden (Yamaha)
- Joseph Giannotto (Yamaha)
- Ashton Yates (Yamaha)
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
- Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
- Dallas Daniels (Kawasaki)
- Kevin Olmedo (Kawasaki)
- Samuel Lochoff (Yamaha)
- Jackson Blackmon (Yamaha)
- Gauge Rees (Kawasaki)
- Joseph LiMandri Jr. (Kawasaki)
- Toby Khamsouk (Kawasaki)
- Gus Rodio (Kawasaki)
- Branden Ketelsen (Kawasaki)