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Scholtz makes MotoAmerica Superbike History in the rain at Barber

Mathew Scholtz of South Africa made history at Barber Motorsport Park’s final 2017 MotoAmerica round, the Honda Championship of Alabama, with a win for the Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 team.  In a much delayed race with major drainage and traction issues, "“second tier” Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class racer Scholtz (the newly-crowned class Champ) hung on to some wild slides to take the overall, as well as his class, win.

Earlier, Scholtz had crashed in spectacular style heading onto the front straight, a victim of a suddenly increasing rain storm, just as the race was stopped.  After a lengthy, hour-plus delay, the race was re-launched for a third time over 12 laps, rather than the originally-scheduled 21.

Scholtz took the lead from the re-start ahead of Champ Toni Elias on a Yoshimura-Suzuki, but soon veteran Josh Hayes took control on a Monster Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike.  But eventually Hayes was caught by the Broaster Chicken Honda of Jake Gage as well as Elias and Scholtz. 

Gage crashed out of second and the battle for the lead with two laps to go, the Scholtz survived a moment or two out of the saddle to take the win, Elias second (first Superbike) with Hayes (second in Superbike) third overall.  Gagne set the fastest lap of the race.

“I looked back on the second last lap and saw Jake was right there,” explained Scholtz. “So I was just trying to hold him off, focusing on getting the drive so no one could pass me.  I was a little over eager, but I survived, and now I’m really over the moon.”

Pole sitter Roger Hayden (Yoshimura-Suzuki) opted not to take part due to concerns with track conditions, specifically sealer, and third-on-the-grid Josh Herrin pulled into the pits on his Yamaha after the sighting laps.

Veteran Jason DiSalvo was fifth overall and third in Superbike with the WD40-backed BMW – only three of the Feature class bikes made it to the finish!

Hayden Gillim was fourth overall on the “Cycle World” Suzuki, second in Superstock, while Danny Eslick earned sixth overall with his TOBC Racing Yamaha in Motul Superbike, and third in Superstock 1000.

 Mopar Canadian Superbike ace Kenny Riedmann had a rough day, starting with a practice fall Sunday morning due to a technical issue with his Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.  Then in the second start for Superbike, he went down in the rain before the race was stopped at the end of the opening lap.

In the final Superbike portion, Riedmann worked through the pack to net a solid ninth overall, sixth in the Superstock category, even though he was nursing a damaged shoulder.    

In the final-ever event of the KTM RC Cup, Quebec’s Alex Dumas wound up sixth at the finish after a wild, sometimes 12 bike strong, slipstreaming battle at the front.  A three bike crash coming out of the final turn on the last lap mixed-up the results, with new KTM Champ Benjamin Smith winning from Gavin Anthony and Sean Ungvarsky.  Next year, the KTM series will be replaced in MotoAmerica by a Lightweight class open to all manufacturers.

“Five wins this season was awesome but this one was really, really special,” said victor Smith.  “These guys were flying, I am so glad I pulled it off and got the Championship.  Overall it was a fantastic season, I have learned so much, the whole series is fantastic, I can’t thank KTM enough.  We’ll go over to Spain and show what we can do.”

MotoAmerica rookie Dumas winds up third overall in the Championship, and also earns a trip to the RC Cup World KTM final event held in conjunction with the World Superbike event in Jerez, Spain, next month.  After a crash in Saturday’s opener, former title contender Dumas ran as high as fourth and as far back as eighth in the lead pack over the course of the race.    

Newly crowned Kawasaki Ninja 300 Spec series National Champ Xavier Paradis’ rough weekend in Alabama continued, the teen-ager crashing in the morning warm-up aboard the “Roadracing World” magazine backed wild card KTM RC Cup entry.  In the 11-lap race, Paradis was running at the back of the lead group early when he suffered a spectacular fall in the final turn, ending his first career event in the U.S. after almost-five laps.

In Supersport and Superstock 600 combined class action, Alberta’s Braeden Ortt scored his second podium spot of the weekend, earning third on the Tuned Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. New Champ Jason Agular took the run away win on the Riderzlaw Yamaha, Nick McFadden second.

“I had some rear grip issues, and a weeper came up on the track,” explained Ortt, referring to track drainage issues caused by recent heavy rains associated with Hurricanes.  “Over some of the hills the bike was a real shit show, but really there were no major issues, and everyone is battling this heat.

“Conner Blevins (fourth finisher on a Kawasaki) and I really went back and forth,” continued first-year MotoAmerica rider Ortt.  “I saw where he was slower, and I finally made a tight but safe pass in the second-last corner.  It was still tight right to the end.

“We lost the pace of the guys ahead a little bit, there were a few close calls, and we faded back from the leaders.  In the end it worked out.  I don’t know what was going on the first half of the season, but I’ve figured it out – it was a great season, really enjoyed it, and we’ll be making some announcements soon.     

Ortt’s sponsors include Shoei, Cortech, Wolf Custom Homes, Graves Motorsport ands FT-ECU.

In the premier Supersport 600 division, recently-crowned Champ Garrett Gerloff shook off his Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha team-mate J.D. Beach to take the win, and speculated on the podium that he would leave the category after five seasons.  M4 Ecstar Suzuki’s Valentin Debise placed third.   

2017 Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National Champ Tomas Casas sat out Sunday action at Barber, after crashing during Saturday’s 600 class event with the Parts Canada/Dunlop-backed Yamaha YZF-R6.  Casas, who injured his shoulder, was at the track with his arm in a sling, and took advantage of his enforced break to take his team to the famous local motorcycle museum.

Sunday, 17 September 2017 19:23 Published in News


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


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