Class Leaders Close In On Their Championships
Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha Cameron Beaubier won his 13th race of the year on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama, a day after winning his 12th of the MotoAmerica season and the 50th of his stellar AMA Superbike career. Sunday’s victory was similar to his other 12 wins with Beaubier jumping out front off the line, storming away at an unmatchable pace, and then maintaining that lead to the finish. At the line he was 5.125 seconds clear of second-place Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, who earned his 10th podium of the season and moved to just one point behind Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne in the battle for second in the HONOS Superbike title chase. Gagne was in the battle early but ran into clutch trouble that slowed him to an eventual fifth-place finish. Bobby Fong rode his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki to third place, the Californian getting back on the podium after a three-race hiatus from the top three. Fong closed on Scholtz at the end of the race, eventually finishing less than a second behind the South African.
In the press conference Sunday, Beaubier reflected, “Obviously, my game right now is just to try to get out front early and try to take advantage of the good rubber and try to manage my gap if I have one… My gap started going down and Matty (Scholtz) started catching me a little bit. I just kept trucking along and brought it home. It’s been amazing. It’s just crazy. It’s crazy the year I’ve been having and just how fun and how hard the team is working.” As we’ve stated before, all season the Superbike class has witnessed two phenomena- Cameron Beaubier putting on a race clinic, and the real on-track battles happening behind him.
In Supersport, Richie Escalante has begun putting on a similar show, battling early and often with rivals Sean Dylan Kelly and (usually) Brandon Paasch before running away from the pack. After Kelly got the hole shot to turn 1 in Sunday’s race, Escalante put his head down, rode clear of his rivals, built a lead, and took the checkered flag by nearly nine seconds over Kelly, who finished second. Paasch, who was nearly 10 seconds behind Kelly, finished third. Said the Mexican rider, “Thanks to my team. My crew chief and my mechanic gave me a very good bike this weekend. They’re all working hard to give this very good package, so we’ll continue. Two rounds more, four races more. The championship is not finished. Keep working and be ready for Indy.”
Sunday’s Stock 1000 race 2 was another command performance by Altus Motorsports Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen, for the weekend and the season. Petersen started from the pole and built a big lead until the race was red-flagged by a crash and restarted with a six-lap sprint to the checkers. In an effort to build another gap, Petersen was at the front again, but a mistake almost put him out of the race. The South African used his knee and elbow to lever the bike off the tarmac, and he continued on to take the checkers and record his seventh victory of the season with a comfortable gap of nearly five-and-a-half seconds at the finish line.
Stated Petersen, “My dad is here this weekend, and he came up to me yesterday and said that was probably the best he’s ever seen me ride. So, that means something to me. Just another great weekend. The race I had here last year was kind of the same. I came here and for whatever reason I just ride well on this track. When the team puts a machine like that underneath you each weekend, it’s fun. When you’re having fun, you go fast. I can’t thank them enough.”
The race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park concluded with Sunday’s Twins Cup race two, and Rocco Landers took a perfect four-for-four on the weekend as he followed up his two victories in Liqui Moly Junior Cup with two victories in the two-cylinder class. And, as he has with the season championship in Junior Cup, Landers very nearly wrapped up the Twins Cup title, as well. He is now only one point away from getting his second #1 plate.
The MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing series moves on to “The Brickyard,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway next, October 9-11.
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*Race report provided by Paul Carruthers and Sean Bice of MotoAmerica
*Photos provided by Brian J. Nelson and our own Dean Phelps
Oh, and here’s a great shot Dean snapped of our friend Max Flinders, our featured Superbike rider this year. Just because. *Note the Road Dirt sticker on the fairing.