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Hayden Sets Early Superbike Pace for Suzuki at Barber MotoAmerica Finale

The opening day of the Honda Championship of Alabama presented by Genuine Broaster Chicken included the final combined Provisional Pole session for Motul Superbike and Bazzaz Superstock 1000cc machines prior to Saturday’s SuperPole session.  In a busy day in the final 2017 event of the MotoAmerica National series, Yoshimura-Suzuki’s veteran Roger Hayden was quickest with a time of 1:25.97 on the works GSX-R1000 Superbike.

Former Series Champ Josh Herrin, filling in for the injured Cameron Beaubier on the works Monster/Graves Yamaha team, has a strong second outing on the works YZF-R1, placing second best with a lap at 1:26.28.

The top Superstock entry for less-modified 1000cc machines in the second, Friday afternoon session was South African Mathew Scholtz on a Yamaha, third quickest at 1:26.408.  Scholtz has already won the Superstock title for Westby Racing outfit.  Newly crowned overall series Champ Toni Elias was sixth best on the seconds factory Yosh-Suzuki.

Kenny Riedmann made his first career entry in the Superstock category with his Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja, and wound up 16th overall in the red flag-interrupted afternoon 1000cc session.   Mitch Card, another rising Canadian Pro start racer, was scheduled to compete in the same category as Riedmann with his Yamaha YZF-R1, but a last minute issue with his racing licence meant Card could not enter the MotoAmerica event.

The top 12 riders will advance to the 15-minute final session to establish the front of the Feature race grid, late tomorrow morning, using special soft Dunlop “Q” tires.  The first of the two 1000cc races is scheduled for 3:30 tomorrow, but there have been some delays due to rain seeping through the usually-pristine track surface.  There has been considerable rain in the Birmingham area recently, a left over effect of Hurricane Irma.   

Qualifying for the KTM Cup spec series for single cylinder machines was rescheduled for tomorrow due to the various water control issues with the track.  15-year-old French-Canadian class rookie Alex Dumas is riding a four race win streak in the KTM class, and has a serious shot at the Championship in the final two races this weekend.  Dumas was sixth fastest in the morning session, having run as high as first before he suffered a late crash in his first outing at the track.  He was uninjured.         

Newly crowned Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National Champ Tomas Casas had an encouraging first day as a MotoAmerica competitor, placing his Parts Canada/Dunlop supported Yamaha Canada R6 seventh overall in the “second tier” Supersport and Superstock 600 afternoon Practice with a lap at 1:34.6.

MotoAmerica Series regular Braeden Ortt of Alberta on a Tuned Racing Yamaha R6 was 11th quickest in the Group One session, turning a lap at 1:31.6.  Fastest overall in the combined two 600cc classes was newly crowned Champ Garrett Gerloff aboard a Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha R6 at 1:28.18.

“I’m gaining confidence with the bike on this track,” confirmed a cheerful Casas at the end of a very warm day at Barber Motorsport Park.  “The bike feels good settings wise, and the adjustments we have made so far have helped.

“I need to work more on the blind corners, and the braking areas, there is so much going on with this track,” confirmed 18-year-old Casas of the hilly, 16 turn venue.  “Some of the turns I’m still lacking confidence; that really affects your lap time on a blind section of this track.

“If I can pick up some corner speed, I know I’ll gain some confidence,” continued the 2018 Pro Middleweight Canadian number one plate holder.  “The I can really focus on riding with other people and picking up some pointers; so far I have been by myself.  That will be a focus of Qualifying tomorrow.

“Overall, it was a lot of fun for my first day.  My goal is to make it all the way through the weekend, not to crash, to ride all the time in every session and race and get the greatest opportunity to learn.  I want to stay within my limits.”

The first 600cc class race for Ortt and Casas is schedule for 2:25 tomorrow afternoon, with the initial KTM spec race including title contender Dumas slated for the end of the day Saturday at 4:35.        

Friday, 15 September 2017 18:30 Published in News


Elias Wins NJ Race as Beaubier Takes MotoA SBK Title

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.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 17:17 Published in News


Hayden Edges Hayes In New Jersey Thriller

Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden won a close one at New Jersey Motorsport Park, holding off the Monster/Graves Yamaha of four-time Champ Josh Hayes on the last lap to win the penultimate Superbike race of the 2016 MotoAmerica Championship Series.

These two battled throughout the 25 lap event, joined early by reigning Champ and Superbike points leader Cameron Beaubier on the second works Yamaha YZF-R1.  Late in the race, Spanish ace Toni Elias caught up to the leading trio, and Beaubier eased off to guarantee a solid finish in fourth.  Beaubier leads Hayes by 22 points with just one race, later this afternoon, left to run.

Elias didn’t have quiet enough time to join the fight for first, a tight battle that went right to the finish line.

“I did think a win was a possibility, I had the pace in Q but I crashed,” explained Hayden of his troubles on Saturday.  “I’ve been workin’ hard and I’ve been trying to win those races that I am close in.  I went out this morning on an old tire and felt I had the pace.”

“I tried to lead more, still wasn’t sure if I had the pace.  On the last lap, I didn’t know if I would make turn one, I had things locked up!  I’m rally happy for the team; we’ve been so close so many times.  I’ve been racing Josh my whole career and he always get the best of me, so that was really good.  I know Josh hates loosing, Toni too, so I expect it to be even harder in the next race.”

The title is a long shot for Hayes, but the second-in-points racer is still working for another Championship number one plate.

“I really hoped our good pace at the start would break things up a little bit, but we all stayed close,” explained Hayes of his early race lead over Hayden.

“Then Cam (Beaubier) got by and I let him try to see if he had the pace, but he didn’t.  That let Roger get away, and I was mad at myself, thought maybe I could take advantage, but that didn’t work.”

At the start of the last lap Hayes “was getting a good run, gave it the best run that I can, made a few mistakes – I don’t think it woulda mattered, so I have to take second.  I think I learned a lot and that will really help in race two. I have one goal today, and I’m not going to be very nice – I have one plan to try for the Championship.”

“They were running fast from the start and they were gone,” explained Elias.  “Then I started to make up, and then at the end I arrive for the last few laps.  I’m waiting for the second race, I’m feeling really good and we are recovered from yesterday.”

Fifth went to the Kawasaki of Bobby Fong, also first overall in the less-modified Superstock class.  Jake Gagne placed sixth overall, in his Superbike class Yamaha, while seventh overall and second in Superstock belonged to South African Matthew Scholtz on his Westby Yamaha.

Sunday, 11 September 2016 14:03 Published in News


Hayden Fastest In New Jersey as Sneyd and Coelho Qualify for 600 Race

Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 pilot Roger Hayden was quickest in the morning warm-up session for this afternoon’s two final Superbike Feature races of 2016 in the MotoAmerica Championship Series.  After a troubled SuperPole session on Saturday, dominated by Yamaha entries, the last pre-race SBK track sessions at New Jersey Motorsport Park suggest a more diverse pair of races this afternoon.

Hayden, youngest of the famed trio of Hayden brothers from Kentucky, set the pace with a best lap at 1:21.6, comparing well to his Saturday best lap of 1:21.3 (fourth on the grid) set on special Q slick rear Dunlop rubber.

Pole for today’s races belongs to Josh Hayes on the works Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha YZF-R1, and he was second quickest in the warm-up at 1:22.3.  Third best was the second works Suzuki of Spanish ace Toni Elias, recovering from a Qualifying crash to turn a best lap of 1:22.5 around the 12 turn, 2.25 mil long New Jersey venue.

Mathew Scholtz continued his impressive weekend, fourth best in the warm-up on the Westby Racing/Yamalube entry, at 1:22.613.  In the “class within a class” Superstock division of MotoAmerica, Scholtz was the fastest entry. 

Italian ace Claudio Corti struggled on Saturday, but in the warm-up was fifth best aboard the HSBK Aprilia RSv4, also a Superstock class bike.  Last month, Corti earned a pair of second place finished in Mopar CSBK National action at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, ON.

MotoAmerica Superbike Championship points leader Cameron Beaubier, another Saturday crasher, turned only three laps in the warm up with his works Yamaha, and was ninth best.

The two Canadians on hand both made it into the afternoon’s Superstock 600 round.  In this morning’s Last Chance Qualifier ten lap race, Jeff Sneyd made up for yesterday’s frustrations, netting a strong second overall.  Sneyd is a former Canadian National Superbike Feature race winner, coming back to racing after a 15-year retirement.  Sneyd rides a recently purchased Black Sheep Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja.

On Saturday, Quebec’s Alex Coelho qualified well aboard his Liqui Moly Kawasaki, only to suffer engine issues early in the opening race.  Coelho placed second overall in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National class in his rookie Pro season,

After a busy evening of paddock repair, Coelho made it out to race, and although the machine was not 100%, once again qualified for the Final 600 race with a fourth place finish.  The top five machines from this morning’s LCQ transferred to the final event.  

Sunday, 11 September 2016 11:18 Published in News


Non Flat Trackers Test in Vegas

With the arena’s track preparation complete and the Airfence in place, non-Flat Track Superprestigio of the Americas competitors got a couple of hours of surface testing and practice on Thursday evening, November 19 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

On Friday evening, November 20, the 13th and deciding round of the 2015 American Flat Track Championship takes place at the same venue, while the next night features the inaugural Yamaha-sponsored Superprestigio of The Americas. 

Both events take place on a custom built, indoor hockey rink-sized (about .10 of a mile in length) track at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.

Non flat track racers taking part in the discipline-crossing first ever North American Superprestigio event will be at a disadvantage, partly because they do not regularly compete on dirt ovals and mostly because they are not part of the AMA Pro National wrap-up on Friday night.  So a little test and tune was a welcome and much appreciated surprise.

With most of the top flat trackers watching from the sidelines, the non-oval group showed well, and demonstrated that the surface should be good for competition.  Track designer and Flat Track legend Chris Carr made big efforts to ensure that passing was possible, and the initial, non-competition outing on the Orleans oval showed promise.

Maybe the fastest, unofficially, of the Pros to try the track was Larry Pegram on the Foremost Insurance Honda single.  Out of work since the works Buell team dropped out of World Superbike early in 2015 due to issues with the parent company, former flat track star Pegram was in confident form.

Attracting the most attention was a charging Roger Lee Hayden aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki RMZ450, with most of the riders trying to follow every time Hayden took to the course for one of the many brief sessions.  Back in 2002, Hayden and his two brothers, Tommy and Nicky, swept the AMA Pro National Short Track podium in Springfield, Ill.

Top European was MotoGP ace and 2012 Moto2 World Champ Toni Elias of Spain, 32. A veteran of the Spanish Superprestigio that started the us vs them flat track spectacular craze, Elias looked quick and fairly consistent, shaking of a couple of minor tumbles on the stop-and-go layout.

Action for the Flat Track Experts starts on Friday at 3 PM local time, with two hours of timed practice.  After that, there will be Heat and Semi races for the GNC1 and GNC2 categories.  Canadian interest will focus on newly crowned Flat Track Canada Champ Doug Lawrence aboard the John Briggs Motorsports/Town Moto Honda. 

The Inside Motorcycles web site will feature coverage of the Lawrence effort both nights.

On hand to watch the test, Lawrence explained that he was “impressed with the track, they seem to have really done a good job preparing the surface – it has plenty of moisture, and that should help over a night.”

“They’re trying to make it so you can pass, race each other.  I don’t know if what we watched tonight will be what we see in the races tomorrow night, but right now those guys know more than we do.”     

Thursday, 19 November 2015 22:53 Published in News