For the second time this season, MotoAmerica lands on the world stage as it shares Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the World Superbike Championship for round six of the 10-round 2017 MotoAmerica Series, the Honda Championship of the Monterey Peninsula, this coming weekend, July 7-9.
With the series just passing its halfway point in Utah two weeks ago, things are heating up and it’s go-time for a lot of the riders in the series. None more so than two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha rider falling 48 points behind championship leader Toni Elias and his Yoshimura Suzuki after crashing out of race one and finishing third in race two.
We’re in a little bit of a hole in the championship, but I can’t think of a better place to be going than Laguna Seca to get the ship righted, Beaubier said. I’ve had good success there in the past and it’s always fun racing on the same weekend as World Superbike. All I can do at this point is win races and that’s my plan. I have a great team behind me and we will keep fighting together and get ourselves back in this thing.
Fortunately for Beaubier, there’s plenty left to play for 10 more Motul Superbike races, including the two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and 250 points. And such is the strength of the championship that a bad day for any of the top men could mean a sixth- or seventh-place finish. Not a guaranteed second.
But there is simply no denying the dominance of Elias at this point in the season. Case in point: Last year the Spaniard won six races in his rookie season of racing in MotoAmerica. After the first five rounds there have been 10 races and Elias has won six of them, already matching his win record for a season ago.
Thus he has the points lead by 30 over his consistent teammate Roger Hayden. And, as previously mentioned, he leads Beaubier by 48 points. Fourth place is held by Josh Hayes, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion 99 points behind Elias.
The man who sits fifth in the title chase is also the man who leads the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship Mathew Scholtz. Scholtz and his Yamalube/Westby Racing R1 won race two in Utah after finishing second to Bobby Fong in race one. With Fong’s crash in race two, Scholtz has 17 points on M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and 26 points on Fong.
The main drama in Utah came in the Supersport class when championship leader JD Beach crashed into his teammate Garrett Gerloff as the two battled for victory in race two. Although they were able to remount, neither scored points. Those all went to M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, the Frenchman winning his second race of the season.
The two Yamaha men still control the championship with Beach leading Gerloff by one point, 172-171, heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Debise gained some ground but is still 48 points behind in third.
The Superstock 600 class remains unpredictable after four rounds. At round one at Road Atlanta, Nick McFadden was the man to beat, sweeping to wins in both race. At round two in Virginia, it was all Michael Gilbert with two wins. Round three at Road America was dominated by Connor Blevins and at round four it was Jason Aguilar on the top step of the podium in both races.
The result: Just 10 points separates the top three in the championship with fourth place 31 points behind and still in contention. The top three: Aguilar (135 points), Gilbert (126 points), Blevins (125 points) with McFadden (104 points) fourth after coming back from collarbone surgery to finish a brave fifth and third two weeks ago in Utah.
The KTM RC Cup has also been a bit topsy-turvy, though Benjamin Smith has been the most consistent in the group and that’s why he’s your championship leader by 29 points over Jackson Blackmon. Blackmon and Smith have both won the same amount of races (three apiece), but Blackmon missed the first round at Road Atlanta while recovering from a broken arm. Blackmon’s 3-1 tally in Utah moved him ahead of Draik Beauchamp, who crashed in race one and didn’t take part in race two, and into second in the title chase. Beauchamp thus falls 48 points behind his Quarterley Racing teammate Smith.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Fast Facts
With his two victories at the Utah Motorsports Campus in round five, Toni Elias now has six wins in the Motul Superbike class this year. Last year, Elias won his sixth race in the 18th and final race of the season. With his 12 career MotoAmerica Superbike victories, Elias has moved all the way up to 15th on the all-time AMA Superbike win list. Elias is tied for 15th with MotoAmerica rider representative Doug Chandler and is just one behind Doug Polen and Blake Young.
Four riders have won Motul Superbike races this season: Elias (6), Cameron Beaubier (2), Roger Hayden (1) and Josh Hayes (1).
Toni Elias earned pole position for last year’s two Motul Superbike races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Spaniard lapping at a best of 1:23.619 during Superpole to best Cameron Beaubier by just .004 of a second. Roger Hayden also made the front row with his 1:23.860.
Beaubier turned the tables on Elias in race one last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by beating the Spaniard to the line by .300 of a second after 20 laps of the 2.2-mile race track on the Monterey Peninsula. Beaubier’s teammate Josh Hayes was third, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion 1.8 seconds behind the battle for victory.
In race two, Josh Hayes came away with the win, besting Beaubier by just .257 of a second with Elias 1.6 seconds behind Hayes in third place.
Josh Herrin and Claudio Corti split wins in last year’s Bazzaz Superstock 1000 races, which are run in the Motul Superbike class but are scored separately.
JD Beach destroyed the competition in last year’s Supersport race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the 2015 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion winning by 6.8 seconds over Valentine Debise. Defending MotoAmerica Supersport Champion Garrett Gerloff was third. Bryce Prince, meanwhile, was a runaway winner in the Superstock 600 class over Richie Escalante.
Last year’s KTM RC Cup was far from a runaway with the top three finishers within .265 of a second of each other. Ashton Yates took the win by .046 of a second over Brandon Paasch with Anthony Mazziotto III third, .265 behind.
MotoAmerica president and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey won two Superbike races at Laguna Seca (1983 and 1986) and three 500cc Grand Prix (1989, 1990 and 1991). MotoAmerica’s Doug Chandler has also tasted success at Laguna, winning two Superbike races (1996 and 1997) as well as two Supersport races in April and July of 1998.
Hayes and Beaubier are the only current riders in the Superbike class to have tasted Superbike success at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In addition to winning two Superbike races here (one race in both 2015 and 2016), Beaubier has also won three Daytona SportBike (now Supersport) races on the Monterey Peninsula. With his sixth Superbike win coming last year, Hayes is the winningest Superbike racer of all time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
With its seven wins thus far in 2017 (six for Toni Elias, 1 for Roger Hayden), Suzuki now has a class-leading 188 AMA Superbike wins to its credit. Honda is second on the all-time win list with 116 victories while Yamaha sits third with 103 wins.
Of the active racers in the Superbike class, Josh Hayes leads the way with 61 Superbike wins. He also has 83 victories across all classes in his career. Hayes’ all-time Superbike win total puts him second on the all-time list behind Mat Mladin’s 82 Superbike victories. Hayes’ 83 victories across all classes puts him just three wins behind Miguel Duhamel on the all-time list.