MotoAmerica Season Opener at Wisconsin’s Legendary Racetrack
In one of the first live sporting events on TV since COVID-19 brought changes to sporting schedules worldwide, MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing got underway at the fabled Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this weekend. With no fans present, and strict social distancing protocols in place for all teams, track and series personnel, and media representatives, the Saturday races launched amidst silent stands and grounds. Yet the races were carried across the globe, as MotoAmerica inked a deal to broadcast their races on Eurosport, exposing the American race series to a worldwide audience.
And fans the world over were treated to an adrenaline-pumping day of racing.
Four-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier snagged the holeshot at turn one, and never gave ground, only gaining, completely dominating the field from race launch to checkered finish. That, after dominating every Friday session, breaking the single lap record, taking pole position, then the win by 7.8 seconds over Mathew Scholtz and Jake Gagne.
Riding like the Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha R1M was on rails, Beaubier quipped post-race, “Just this off-season with Yamaha and Richard (Stanboli) at Attack putting their heads together, they kind of came up with an incredible package. We made a huge step I feel like, chassis, electronics-wise, a little bit motor. Everything’s just working. I feel so good on this thing… I’m definitely ready for things to get back to normal, though. It’s been a little strange not having fans and having to keep your distance with your team after you get a good result. I’m just so pumped to be racing. Everything’s good. Looking forward to tomorrow.”
There were three new winners in the four support classes at Road America today with PJ Jacobsen, Dominic Doyle and Richie Escalante scoring victories in the Stock 1000, Liqui Moly Junior Cup and Supersport classes, respectively.
Jacobsen, after much success on the world stage in World Supersport and World Superbike before returning stateside last year and taking the silver in last year’s MotoAm Supersport class, battled in Stock 1000 with South African Cameron Petersen, then snagging the lead and running away to a 4 second win at the finish astride his Celtic HSBK Racing Ducati.
In the Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, polesitter Dominic Doyle diced back and forth with 2019 defending champion Rocco Landers, finally taking a hard-fought win by a mere .078 of a second over the hard charging Landers.
In Supersport, HONOS team rider Richie Escalante notched his first career Supersport win with an impressive performance aboard his Graves Motorsports-built Kawasaki ZX-R. It was “Team Green’s” first Supersport victory in AMA-sanctioned road racing since Leandro Mercado’s win at Daytona in October 2009.
The most hotly contested race of the day was in Twins Cup, the final race of the day. What a nail-biter of a race. Rocco Landers, who was competing in Twins as well as Junior, looked to man-handle the field in the eight-lap event, but Kaleb DeKeyrel had other plans. DeKeyrel, riding a 1833CJKNOWS Yamaha, put a perfect draft pass on Landers, who was riding an American Racing/SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki, to take the win. The margin of victory for DeKeyrel was a scant .002 of a second over Landers. Meanwhile, Syndicate Racing/Apex Assassins Yamaha rider Jason Madama won an intense battle against Chris Parrish to finish third.
For all the strange adjustments during these times of COVID-19, the first sanctioned motorcycle race of the season in the world, certainly brought heart-pumping action to viewers across America and Europe.
Now, on to day two…
*photos by Dean Phelps and Brian J. Nelson