Former Flat Track Canada National Champ Doug Lawrence is just about ready for his first National of the season, round two of the American Flat Track National Championship, coming up this weekend in Georgia. Lawrence will compete in the Harley-Davidson Atlanta Short Track presented by Hellbender Harley-Davidson at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock on Saturday, April 7.
“Atlanta, round two, was always part of the plan,” explained Lawrence prior to his next trip south. “We’re warmed up, and getting back in the game. This should be a good track for us, a forgiving track, it’s round and slippery, so that should work for us. The stage is set to get back on the pace.”
After skipping most of the American Flat Track series last season, this year Lawrence plans to compete on the tour full-time for the next couple of months.
“For Atlanta, it will be one motorcycle only, and that is our Harley-Davidson XR750,” confirms Lawrence. “We always had the plan to use the XR for the half miles, and then move to our new Kawasaki at the big (mile) tracks.”
Last month, Lawrence and his tuner/father Doug Sr. went south for the traditional warm-up events, bringing both their established XR and brand new Ninja twins. That program was a success, so now they are ready to get back on the premier Flat Track tour.
“We had two days with the Kawasaki testing at Savannah, and then raced the XR. Then we went to Volusia and raced the Kawasaki, and we were satisfied with the progress overall from those events.
“We had slow starts racing the XR, but we worked up good enough to get third, we were really going good on my kind of track, behind Brad Baker (Indian) and Kenny Coolbeth (Indian). As far as the slow start, my excuse is that it is tough to come off the bench!”
“At Volusia, we maybe should have ridden our XR, but we needed to race the Kawasaki, learn about that bike, so I knew going in that would be the harder plan. We were getting there with the Ninja, getting faster, and the shorter 15 lap race actually helped us.”
“We defiantly would have done really well with the XR at Volusia, but that wasn’t a goal. We got a 4th and a 6th with our Kawasaki, and we are getting there with the chassis and the handling in terms of set-up. Our whole mission for the trip south was accomplished, the lap times on the XR750 were fast, we are right there, where we need to be.”
“With the Kawasaki, we were about .2 of a second behind Jared Mees (Indian FTR750 mounted National Champ), so that is a positive. I’m not planning to race the Kawasaki on the Half Miles, it is there for the Mile races.”
“At Atlanta this weekend, the goal is obviously to make the Main event,” considers Lawrence. “With the new format down there, you only really have one shot to make it into the feature, and you can’t risk any kind of issue.
“Things have changed with the American Flat Track tour, and it will take some adjustments,” continues Lawrence. “People are riding all the time, practicing, where as ten ears ago, people were busy working on their bikes. Now the top guys have paid mechanics to look after their twins. It’s tougher now, and you have to be mentally stronger.”
“Things are really serious now, everyone is in this to make a living,” continues Lawrence of the revamped National Tour. “It is different to before, and the little guy doesn’t really get much play. I’m going to be that little guy who makes it out of the Heat race, who makes his mark. I respect these guys, and I want to be part of all of this.
“We will have to see how we make out with our new plan in this new atmosphere. After this weekend, we have a short break and then we are on the road for five races. J.R. Addison will be taking my bikes across the country, we will share expenses.
“After the big Springfield AFT National (May 26/27), the next weekend is the Flat Track Canada National at Welland, and we will take our single to that if everything works out. And I’m still trying to work out a program for Mopar CSBK, maybe a 600cc program for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August.”
Among the supporters for Lawrence on the American Flat Track tour in 2018 are Town Moto, John Briggs, American Harley-Davidson, Arai Helmets, Full Bore, Side Boots and MotoNation.
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 22:03
On day two of Yamaha Motor Canada’s American spring Press event, the assembled Canuk scribes headed out on a cool and overcast morning aboard the 2018 XSR700 liquid-cooled twin. This “Sport Heritage” model is based on the successful MT-07 (and the previous FZ-07), using the existing engine, frame and slightly revised KYB suspension.
Yamaha have taken the workhorse twin and given it a circular makeover. The theme of the retro redo is expressed with the retro round headlight, tail light, instruments, exhaust canister as well as a restyled gas tank and short tail section, complete with leather accent on the tail.
This new XSR gets a new removable tail sub-frame section, a give-away that this bike will be the Yamaha 700 twin of choice for custom-oriented builders. Based on a Euro model, the XSR has front turn signals mounted on extenders to meet North American requirements – maybe the first part that will get revamped!
Yamaha showed a few accessories that suit the handsome XSR700, including a mini wind screen, radiator guards, small beige leather saddle bags and swing arm spools for a race/service central stand. All looked right at home with the 1970s-styled 698 cc Twin.
Yamaha see the XSR as a potential step-up model, for newer riders looking for more machine. Riders who want an around-town, versatile commuter will also like the XSR, and the traditional, upright riding position (and wider handlebar) offers good comfort and visibility for traffic work.
The round instrument pod is clearly marked and easy to use, but sits well down in my six-footer’s field of view, while the key is located in at the very front of the bike, a bit of an odd spot. The seat is somewhat high and fairly soft, OK for a couple of hours but not ideal for touring.
An iffy morning gave way to a gorgeous afternoon, and the roads north east of Nashville are among the best for sports riding. The XSR was in it’s element, the slightly stiffer chassis set-up a defiant improvement in terms of stabilizing the bike in aggressive riding situations.
The liquid-cooled vertical twin is a strong mill, and while it revs out to 10,000 RPM, power peaks at nine grand, so there is no need to chase the over-rev. Good power comes into play around 5,550 RPM, and the Dynojet Dyno indicates a maximum output of 67.9 horsepower, with a solid 47.4 foot/pounds of torque to entertain as you drive out of turns and get ready to work the smooth-shifting six-speed.
However, these good specs do not do the Yamaha justice. This is a machine that reminds me of the first couple of versions of Suzuki’s all-round vee-twin SV650, a willing and safe platform for rider’s looking to build and sharpen their skills. The XSR700 might not be an R series SuperSport, but it is plenty of fun for sporty activity.
At more than one thousand dollars more than the strong MT-07 offering, the XST700 might not be the best choice for everyone. However, if you enjoy the performance and are drawn by the looks, you won’t be disapointed.
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 23:16
Yamaha Motor Canada launched their 2018 Star Venture TC and Star Eluder big twins this morning in Nashville, Tennessee, with northern media taking advantage of cool but dry conditions on some exceptional secondary roads. The two new 1854cc air-cooled vee-twins are built in Japan and share underpinnings, but the Venture TC is billed as a “Transcontinental Tourer,” the bagger Eluder the stripped-down sibling.
The engine is based on the performance-oriented Raider, but revised for smoother power delivery and more versatile, low-RPM rideability, with a claimed 126 ft-lbs of torque. Cams are new, the crank is now single pin, the counter balancers are updated and the six speed transmission now has two overdrive gears. The engine gets new cases, a hydraulic, assisted slipper-clutch and dry sump oiling with a lubricant tank in the sub-frame, as well as an oil cooler.
The Mikuni fuel-injection has 45mm throttle bodies, with a YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) ride-by-wire throttle. The adoption of YCC-T allows for various rider modes, including Traction Control (a first for this style of machine), two throttle modes (Sports and Touring) and Cruise Control.
The twin muffler design features a distinct big twin sound, and Yamaha music pitched in the fine-tune the audio track.
Paired alternators are mounted low at the front of the engine cases, powering the heated seat, backrest and grips, audio and 7-inch LCD infotainment systems, as well as the Sure-Park system. Sure-Park allows low speed (1 km/hr) maneuvering, forward and backwards, powered by a lever-actuated electric motor – not the starter.
The chassis has a steel frame with rubber engine mounts, and a detachable alloy sub frame. The seat is narrow at the front and low at 695cm, and works with the low C of G to provide the big bike with surprising maneuverability and agility at speed.
We checked out the handling once we cleared heavy morning city traffic and tackled the perfect pavement and sweeping turns of the Backbone Ridge. Both twins handle well and are stable and predictable for machines of their size, but you might not call them nimble!
Power is ample, but fourth gear is best for spirited riding. The Sport mode offers great throttle response, but the Touring mode is less aggressive for general use. The soft rev limiter comes in around 4,500 RPM, but with so much mid-range, it isn’t necessary to spin the big twin all the way in every gear.
Both bikes are predictable when hustled, and only the eventual drag of the reinforced floor boards manages the fun. Suspension control is solid, and the linked brakes are powerful, predictable, and don’t affect turning angle even when applied when leaned over.
The Venture is very well appointed, but the long floor boards are somewhat spoiled by the left side rocker shifter that limits foot position. The Eluder benefits from a lower (80 pounds) weight, but doesn’t get the heated grips, Sure Park and the adjustable wind protection, and has only half of the storage.
Venture air flow is well managed with a good envelope of stable air for the pilot. On the Eluder, even with the slightly taller optional screen, the wind blast increases and turbulence is also an issue – but the Eluder is not the touring version.
The riding position is comfortable, with room to move to vary pressure points. Passenger accommodations are above average, with adjustable floor boards. Both versions work, but the Venture is the versatile workhorse.
Monday, 26 March 2018 23:16
When we reached Doug Lawrence early (very early!) on Tuesday, March 6, he is heading south for the traditional launch of the flat track racing season. The 32-year-old former Flat Track Canada National Champ is in a van with his father, taking their twin cylinder “framers” to Georgia and then Florida.
“We’re going to South Carolina for a Wednesday Practice Day, on their three-eighths of a mile track,” starts Lawrence, who is letting Doug Sr. handle the driving on this leg of the trip. “Then we head to Savanah, Georgia for another three-eights mile facility and another Test Day. On Friday, we race the opening AMA All-Stars round at Savannah, the series that is a step below the American Flat Track National tour.”
“Then it’s on to Volusia Speedway Park in Florida for another All-Star round. We’ll be back in Canada on the 17th, and then we will announce our 2018 sponsorship package. Right now, I can confirm that my long-time supporters John Briggs and Town Moto are on-board.”
Lawrence has some choices to make in terms of equipment, and one of the goals of the trip will be to develop their years-in-the-making, Big A-framed Kawasaki 650 Ninja Twin. As well, their established and successful Harley-Davidson XR750 will be available, and likely be the preferred option, at least initially, on the short ovals. For the first time, Lawrence is not bringing any single cylinder racers with his for his spring journey south.
“I think the Harley will be better at first, but the goal is to get up to speed with the Kawasaki. We have a couple of engine packages available for the Kawasaki, different set-ups. We want to get the most out of each package, and ride the bike that works the best for the specific track conditions.
“We’re uncomfortable with the idea of using the Harley a lot,” admits the junior Lawrence, referring to the rare, collectable and costly to run air-cooled v-twins. “We don’t want to waste the XR750. The bigger tracks will suit the Kawasaki for sure, it will be more reliable and have better acceleration off the corners. The cornering speed is higher with the Harley, but the Kawasaki works better in a pack situation.”
Lawrence has achieved significant success on American-based Kawasaki liquid-cooled twins, riding for other teams, during the past few seasons in the U.S.
“I’ve had a few offers to ride for American Teams, but to be honest, these opportunities appeal but the machinery would not be as good as our bikes. I know what it takes to win, and the key is preparation.”
Talking about the opposition at the major races south of the border, Lawrence explains that “the Indians will be good again in American Flat Track, there could be as many as ten Indians in a Main event, but the new privateer bikes will take some figuring out.
“My goal is to get up to the pace, and that shouldn’t take too long,” continues the racer known as Fresh. “We’re not going to do the opening American Flt Track round, the Daytona TT, but we are aiming for the second event a month from now at Atlanta. That track is ‘D shaped,’ another three-eighths mile layout, and this year will be the second year Atlanta is a National.
“My initial plans for this year involve a focus on the States, as well as some races in Canada, places like Welland and Ohsweken. Right now I have eight races of American Flat Track circled on the calendar, and then we will see how it is all going.
“Our plan is to do the initial sweep out West in the U.S., and then regroup during the break and see what makes sense. In Canada, we’re looking toward the possible all-Twins feature class in 2019 with Flat Track Canada, and the goal is to come up with a sensible plan with sensible budget numbers.
“Recently, it has taken at least two or three bikes to win the National Championship in Canada, and the Twins class would match us up with what is going on south of the border, and control some cost factors. This would also allow more young Canadian racers to compete in the States, too.
“For me, I aim to do less but be more focused, be happy with my overall effort and confident in the direction. I want to get back to where I’ve been in terms of success, and I can do that.
“I still plan to roadrace at the Mopar CSBK rounds if I can, but those plans are still in the works and I don’t want to spread myself too thin. It will be a weird year, it will be busy early in the States, and then we will make plans for the rest of the season based on how things are going.
Lawrence aims to open his 2018 National Tour in a month at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia, April 7. From there, he aims to head west to Texas, California and Arizona.
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:13
The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame held their annual Induction Banquet and Reunion at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel on November 4, with a crowd of over 250 riders, racers, Hall members, fans and industry types on hand to enjoy the festivities. The 12th annual event was sponsored by Husqvarna, with additional support from Joe Rocket, BMW Motorrad Canada, Honda Canada, Flat Track Canada, Yamaha Canada and event founder Bar Hodgson Productions.
Top racer honored at the event was Steve Beattie, the 2016 Flat Track Canada National Champ who suffered a major injury at the end of last season at Ohsweken, and then worked in the pits last summer for the KTM Canada National Motocross program with friend and neighbor Cole Thompson. Beattie has also had success in the U.S. as a chassis tuner and rider coach for top American Flat Trackers Jared Mess and Brad Baker, as well as winning an AMA National himself.
“I think I’m kind of young to be up here,” cracked Beattie when he took the stage after his Audio-Visual introduction. From there, Beattie suggested he’d had a tough career since he didn’t start racing until he was ten, shortly after heading out to buy a bicycle with his dad and returning with a Suzuki 80 dirt bike.
“I have lots of people to thank, especially all my family, and specific people like Jon Cornwell and (fellow inductee) Kurt Beiger,” said the always-jovial Beattie. “I really have to thank my wife Michelle, because if she had stuck to her guns the first time I broke my neck, I would never have done enough to get into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.”
Beattie admits to five major neck injuries during his career, forcing at least a couple of retirements, and explains his tolerance for, and ability to forget, pain are major factors in his many successes in a wide variety of two wheeled sport and competition. His first major retirement in 2006 lead to the creation of his chassis set-up business, 26suspension.
Legendary motorcycle builder and tuner Mike Crompton started off by saying that when people have asked how he gets away with being busy with bikes and racing, his wife Kim has always encouraged him to participate and take advantage of the opportunities available.
“In the end, we always have a great time and come back with lots of stories to tell,” confirmed Crompton, who has built title winning machinery for George Morin, Art Robbins, Michel Mercier, Miguel Duhamel, Jordan Szoke in the glory days of the works CSBK Kawasaki program, as well as a host of others.
Crompton explained that is was a great honor to be inducted at the same time as fellow super tuner/builder Nick Kemp, since “he was always a go-to guy when we needed something fixed in a hurry, or if something was wrecked, and we could weld it, or rebuild it, or make another one or a redesign, whatever it took.”
“I have other great friends here tonight who were always there for me like Harald Surian, always part of a top notch fantastic team, and Jon Cornwell (already in the Hall of Fame) who was always a big help and always there when I needed him.
Crompton spoke of his time with Suzuki Canada, Team Manager George Morin, ace racer Michel Mercier (now all in the Hall of Fame) and the mid-1980s, first generation Suzuki GSX-R750 Superbike.
“Michel rode with his heart, an incredible racer and an incredible athlete. But it could be frustrating, and at times we were racing three different motorcycles over a weekend, and there were some incidents.
“Suzuki were great to deal with, but they always insisted the bikes to be blue, and I one time when I was at Suzuki, I asked if we could switch to the red ones, and they wanted to know why. So I told them – I can see them coming out of the sky easier!”
Once the laughs died down, Crompton also wanted to recognize the famous Ontario Honda race Shop in downtown Toronto on Queen Street, and owners Murray Brown and the late Ricky Andrews, a real beehive of activity that supported a wide range of endeavors from the 1970s through the 1990s.
“The best thing with the motorcycles is always the friendship and the camaraderie that goes along with racing. My father-in-law once said that I have the most fascinating array of friends and associates, and I think he meant that in a good way.”
Kurt Bieger, former racer and top Flat Track builder and Tuner, explained that when he started in competition, he crashed a lot. “One of my best friends, and old Brit, asked me why I crashed so much, and I told him the tires just were not good enough!”
“It took me some time to figure out that I had to slow down a little bit. I gradually figured that out, and then, when I got hurt, I started letting other people race my machines so they wouldn’t just sit.”
“In closing, I want to say that It’s hard to explain why anyone spends hours and hours alone working on their race bikes. We’re trying to figure out how to put the combination of bike, rider and track together, day by day. I’m happy to be up here, I’m proud to be part of this group, and thanks everyone.”
Famed Announcer Pat Gonsalves opened his remakes by explaining that he briefly considered having his alter-ego, Guyanese announcer Huntley Williams, speak on his behalf. This took some in the crowd way back, since Gonsalves hadn’t worked that character into his race coverage since the late 1970s at Shannonville Motorsport Park.
With a career spanning many types of motorsports in a variety of countries, both on the P.A. and television, Gonsalves admitted that he has never “met a microphone I didn’t like. This evening is truly special, and I want to thank the group of racers that nominated me for the Hall including Kathleen Coburn, Alan Labrosse and Bernie Ryan.”
“I am filled with gratitude for my career announcing, now at 40 years and counting. Harry McCluney hired me to work with the Canadian Road Racing Club at their events at Mosport when I was at Ryerson in 1972, and I eventually worked at Shannonville for John Nelson when it opened in 1976, and started announcing at Daytona International Speedway in 1977.”
The next event for the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame will be the 2018 Banquet and Reunion scheduled for November 17 at the Delta Burnaby Conference Centre in British Columbia.
Sunday, 05 November 2017 01:09
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
Alberta’s Braeden Ortt had another strong MotoAmerica effort at Barber Motorsports Park, placing seventh overall and third in class in the combined Supersport and Superstock 600 race at the Honda Championship of Alabama. Riding a Tuned Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 with special Canadian flag paint job, Ortt ran near the front and worked his way up make the Superstock class Podium in the penultimate race of the American National motorcycle roadracing tour.
“We brought this Canada bike to our last round, and I’m super glad to put it up on the podium,” explained Ortt, completing his first year on the American tour. “This is for all our Canadian supporters.”
Meanwhile another top teen-aged Canadian, newly crowned Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike National Champion Tomas Casas, had a frustrating outing on his Parts Canada/Dunlop supported Yamaha Canada entry. After technical issues in Qualifying, Casas won the Last Chance race, making it onto the back of the Superstock grid.
In the race, Casas charged through to a potentially solid position, only to suffer a big crash in the Museum section of the track mid-race. Casas got up from the fall but was sent to Medical for an evaluation, and his title-winning Yamaha was badly damaged in the single bike incident.
JD Beach won the Supersport and overall race for the Monster Energy works Yamaha Team, with M4 Suzuki’s Valentin Debise almost ten seconds back for second overall. Garrett Gerloff on the other factory Yamaha diced with Beach early, ran off track, then charged back to earn third and clinch the Supersport series championship.
Jason Aguilar earned the win in “second 600 class.” Superstock, with the Riderzlaw Yamaha, and holds the Championship points lead with only tomorrow’s race left to run.
In the Motul Superbike and Bazzaz Superstock event for 1000cc machines, pole sitter Roger Hayden survived two re-starts to earn the win, holding off the Monster Yamaha of Josh Herrin by just .7 of a second. Herrin made a big push with two laps to got, but a near-crash (dramatic front end tuck!) slowed his challenge.
Matthew Scholtz of South Africa was third overall, first in Superstock, aboard a Yamalube-backed Westby Yamaha. Jake Gagne recovered from a big practice cash to put the Broaster Chicken Honda into fourth overall, ahead of Danny Eslick on the TOBC Yamaha and Hayden Gillim in sixth on the “Cycle World” Suzuki.
Newly crowned MotoAmerica Champ Toni Elias of Spain was challenging in third place mid-race when he ran wide chasing Herrin, then falling into the gravel trap at low speed. Elias did remount, but opted to retire soon after the incident.
Canadian Kenny Riedmann was looking set for a top ten placing, working through the field on the Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja. However, Riedmann was forced to retire late in the race with a technical issue, listed as a DNF.
A full slate of National events is scheduled for tomorrow, with expected continued warm and humid conditions, including the final rounds for all three of the major National MotoAmerica classes.
Saturday, 16 September 2017 18:05
Alex Dumas was mathematically eliminated from contention for the KTM RC Cup Championship after a wild opening race of the final 2017 MotoAmerica weekend at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama. Aboard his JP43 Junior Team KTM single, Dumas started sixth and worked his way up to battle for the lead, only to crash mid-race in turn two. Dumas was uninured, and will race in tomorrow’s final MotoAmerica series event.
The crash meant that Dumas’ four race win streak was at an end, and he can not win the overall Championship for young guns aboard identical KTM motorcycles. He still holds third in the rankings, and the top three riders in the final American series standings will be invited to attend the KTM World Final in Jerez, Spain, next month.
Cory Ventura won the race to take over the KTM points lead, Sean Ungvarsky second from Benjamin Smith in a great six rider battle for the win. Smith is second in the standings behind Ventura, 249-240.
Canadian Kawasaki Ninja 300 spec Series Champion Xavier Paradis made his American debut in the same KTM race. The Canuk spec series title holder worked his way up to a solid 11th overall after crashing in Qualifying and starting at the back of the grid. Paradis earned the chance to compete as a wild card on a media bike entered by “Roadracing World” Magazine.
Reigning Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Canadian National Champion Tomas Casas had a busy morning, qualifying for the Supersport/Superstock 600 race but getting DQed following his morning session. Casas had an illegal inlet option in the air box of his Yamaha R6, a modification allowed in the Canadian Championships.
So Casas started from the back of the “Last Chance Qualifier,” needing a top placing to make the main event. He blasted into the lead and pulled away to win by 15 seconds and earn a spot at the back of the grid (29th overall!) in this afternoon’s race. Casas will need to win tomorrow’s LCQ race as well if he wishes to race in Sunday’s main event for 600cc middleweight machinery.
“Yeah, that was a bit of extra work,” smiled Casas on an overcast but very humid day at the beautiful barber facility. “That will be the biggest grid I’ve been on in a while. We’re working away at getting faster, making changes, and we’re making progress, bit by bit. If I can get going early in the race, I should improve some more.”
In Motul Superbike/Bazzaz Superstock SuperPole final qualifying, Roger Hayden continued his hot streak to earn pole for Yoshimura-Suzuki and the new-for-2017 GSX-R1000. Using the special Dunlop yellow-sidewall rear slick, Hayden turned a best lap at 1:24.091 in the final 15-minute session, hisx seventh Pole of 2017. Hayden was also fastest in the sessions leading into SuperPole, with a tour of the 16-turn venue at 1:25.97.
Newly crowned Superstock Champ Mathew Scholtz was second quickest on his Westby Yamaha R1 with a best lap of 1:24.19, Josh Herrin third on the works Yamaha superbike at 1:24.86, followed by newly crowned overall Champion Toni Elias of Spain on the second Yosh Suzuki with a best of 1:25.0.
This afternoon’s schedule includes the penultimate races for both the Supersport/Superstock class (2:25 PM local time) and the featured Motul Superbike/Bazzaz Superstock 1000cc divisions (3:30 PM).
Saturday, 16 September 2017 14:35
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
The final event of the 2017 MotoAmerica National road racing Championship takes place this weekend at Barber Motorsport Park, and Quebec’s Alex Dumas heads south with the chance to win the KTM RC Cup Championship. The 15-year-old is coming off a remarkable, record setting four-race win streak at the most recent rounds last weekend at New Jersey and previously at Pittsburgh.
Dumas is second in the Championship standings after eight rounds with only the pair of Barber races left to run, one point behind co-Championship leaders Cory Ventura and Benjamin Smith, the KTM spec series points totals reading 224-224-223.
Showing impressive form in his first season on the American tour, Dumas is just one of several Canuks who could feature at the Alabama event.
Officially called the Honda Championship of Alabama presented by Genuine Broaster Chicken, the event is the tenth and final round of the MotoAmerica Championship and will include two races each for three MOPAR CSBK Canadian National stars.
Belfountain, ON. based Kenny Riedmann will compete aboard the same Sturgess Cycle/Liqui Moly Kawasaki ZX-10RR Ninja he took the second overall in the 2017 Canadian Superbike Championship behind BMW’s Jordan Szoke.
After spending most of the season on a Yamaha YZF-R6 battling Tomas Casas for the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike Championship, Ripley, ON’s Mitch Card will focus on the big bike classes at Barber. Card will switch to the Yamaha YZF-R1 he used during the final Superbike events of the season last month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Card earned 10th/11th place results on his 1000cc racer backed by Shoei, Dunlop, Vortex, Goderich Toyota, DP, Maclyn Dust Control, Bluestreak, Bickle, Dynojet and Liqui Moly.
Newly crowned Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike National Champion Casas, aged 18 from Peterborough, ON, will make his American racing debut at Barber, aboard his title-winning Yamaha R6.
“This will be a big step, my first race in the States,” admits Casas. “I’m really excited to get out there, to see what it’s all about. Sandy Noce from Dunlop said that the track is a little like Calabogie, a track with technical corners and not too much in terms of straight-aways. I’ve been watching videos to learn the track; mentally I think I have it fairly sorted out, but that’s not the same as racing on the bikes!”
Casas will be joining the “second” middleweight category in the MotoAmerica Series, the Superstock class run in conjunction with the premier Supersport division, also for 600cc class machinery. Currently, Braeden Ortt of Calgary, AB., is the only Canadian who contests the Superstock series as a regular, aboard the Tuned Racing Yamaha. Earlier this season, 17-year-old Ortt won a round at Sears Point, CA.
Assisting Casas at the venue will be his father, as well as former Casas team-mate and front-running National Superbike privateer Franklyn Dominguez. This duo will work in the pit lane for Casas during his on-track sessions around Barber’s popular 17 turn, 2.3-mile-long layout.
The Riedmann Management Kawasaki team is also expected to be help Casas, since racer and three-time Canadian middle weight Champ Kenny does not compete in the same class as Casas and therefore the two racers will not be on the track at the same time. Former racer and famed chassis consultant Jon Cornwell will also assist newly crowned Canadian number one Casas with set-up on his Yamaha Canada entry.
“I’m missing some High School but I’ll catch up,” continued Casas. “I’m trying to work ahead; I don’t want to do too much homework on the trip!
“I want to say a big thank you to the Riedmanns, they’re really making all this possible. The I have to thank Pro 6 and Dunlop, they’re looking after our tires. Also my new sponsors DP Brakes and ASM Motorsports. As well I have to include my solid regulars, Yamaha Canada, Parts Canada, Brooklin Cycle Racing, Blue Streak Racing, Vortex, Bickle Racing, Flexiglass, Human 2.0, Hindle Exhaust, Peterborough Cycle Salvage and HB Cycle.
“This is probably our last race of the season, for what we have planned,” says Casas. “There is some possibility we might go to the last round of the Dominican Republic Championship. But right now my focus is on Friday morning at Barber, and getting the best set-up right away to get ready for Qualifying.”
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 22:56