Toni Elias completed his first MotoAmeica race season in style, holding off his Yoshimura-Suzuki team-mate Roger Hayden in a wild 25 lap battle to win the final event of the season at New Jersey Motorsport Park. Spanish ace Elias lead much of the race, gradually pulling away from Yamaha’s Josh Hayes and getting into a big fight with partner Hayden for the win.
Heading into the final turn, Elias bobbled and opening race winner Hayden dove under the leader, only to run wide on the exit – Elias won by a very slim margin of 0.186 of a second.
A frustrated Hayes placed third, and also came up short in his effort to regain the Superbike title. Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha team-mate Cameron Beaubier held the points lead, but dropped out with engine issues. However, four-time Champ Hayes needed to win, so 2016 number one Beaubier earned his second straight overall American crown.
Fourth overall and winner of the Superstock division was Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja mounted Bobby Fong, regaining form for the end of the year. Fong now heads to Europe to ride in a World Endurance event in France next weekend.
New Superstock Champ Josh Herrin was fifth overall, second in his category. Italian wild man Claudio Corti charged through the pack to earn sixth with the Houston Superbike Aprilia.
“I did not think you could ever pass in that last corner,” started Elias. “Then Roger passed me, he really put two balls on the table. I did not know what was going to happen.”
“I felt better than yesterday, and my pace was comfortable from the beginning of the race. I would like to fight more for the Championship, Cameron was very intelligent in the Championship, and of course I lost 47 points in one day of the Championship in April in New Jersey.”
Elias started the season as a substitute rider, winning his first race in Texas and five more, and then stayed with the series all season. From the New Jersey Podium, former World Champ Elias explained that he would like to continue with the MotoAmerica tour in 2017: “I want to continue to battle with these guys, soon there will be eight or ten guys who can win.”
“It was a good race, I was enjoying watching Josh and Toni go at it, and I know it’s not easy to beat Toni,” commented Hayden. “I thought it might work out there at the end, I tried to get him where he wouldn’t expect it, he came back under me and it could have been a mess, so it’s good to put Yoshimura Suzuki riders first and second. I feel like I made a step this year.”
“I was keeping an eye out for Cam, and I thought he really already had this Championship,” explained Hayes from the third step of the Podium.
“It is all in good fun, and I was gutted for Cam. I know the panic you can feel when you are not in control of the situation. That was probably pretty scary, and I believe that Cam earned and deserved the Championship – the boy just out-classed me. I’m happy for Yamaha to go one-two, and I have another year to switch that up.”
“Man, to get so close to something, and then almost have it stripped away from you, it just shows you how much you want it,” admitted Champion Beaubier. Throughout the race, Beaubier was playing it safe, knowing he only needed a ninth place finish, but then his bike began to smoke and forced a DNF.
“I honestly didn’t know how many laps were left,” said Beaubier of his trackside retirement. “I don’t ever want to root against my team mate, but when I saw Toni and Rog in front of Josh, I wasn’t bummed! There were so many emotions, I was so pissed off, and then this big swing to joy. The bottom line is that it was all pretty dramatic.”
In another Championship challenge between factory Yamaha racers, J.D Beach won the battle but his Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 team-mate Garrett Gerloff won the Supersport war. Beach edged a slowing Gerloff by 9.784 seconds, meaning Gerloff took the Title by four points.
Canadians in the combined Supersport/Superstock 600 event had a reasonable run, with Jeff Sneyd getting a good start on his Kawasaki, eventually earning 24th overall. Alex Coelho struggled with engine issues, but made it to the finish in 28th.