ALTON, Va. — Josh Hayes holds the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship point lead as the series heads to Virginia Int’l Raceway for this weekend’s Yamaha Superbike Challenge of Virginia.
Four-time AMA Superbike champion Hayes holds a four-point advantage over his Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha teammate Cameron Beaubier despite having not won a race this season.
“It’s been quite a few years since I’ve raced six times and not won a race,” Hayes said. “I have been steady, which has put me into the points lead, but honestly what’s more important to me personally is winning races, so I’ve got to figure out how to do that. If you win races, the championship comes into play anyway.”
If Hayes is to get back to winning, VIR offers up a pretty good opportunity for him to do so.
“I have a pretty good history in the last 10 or 11 years of being able to figure out how to win some races at that racetrack,” Hayes said. “We stopped going there for a few years and I definitely missed it. In 2009, I doubled at the end of the season there and I doubled there in multiple classes in 2007 and 2008 and it was crucial to my championships. Last year I had a good run there in really hot conditions. It’s a track that’s always been a lot of fun for me and I enjoy being there and I’m looking forward to getting back there. I feel like it’s one of my better chances to get some race wins and a good place for me to get back on the right track of winning some races.”
Beaubier has two non-finishes but three straight wins coming into VIR. The defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion comes to Virginia on a hot streak after having won the last three races.
Like Hayes, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden comes to VIR without a victory thus far in 2016. But, again like Hayes, his season has been one of consistency with four podiums in the six races thus far. The New Jersey round, however, is one that Hayden would like to forget as he came out of the Garden State with just seven points after finishing ninth in race one and crashing out of race two.
Fourth in the championship is held by Spaniard Toni Elias, the former Moto2 World Champion who started his 2016 campaign with three straight wins.
With 13 points separating the top four in Superbike, the top three in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class are also closely knit with just 15 points between series leader Claudio Corti and third-placed Bobby Fong. Between them sits Josh Herrin.
Corti had his best weekend of the season in the rain of New Jersey, the Italian putting his HSBK Aprilia RSV4 RF on the Superbike podium in both races and leaving with a perfect points tally of 50 in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship. Corti leads Herrin and his Wheels In Motion/Meen Motorsports Yamaha by nine points and Latus Motors Racing Kawasaki’s Fong by 15 points. Those three riders have won all six races thus far in 2016 (Corti 3; Fong 2; and Herrin 1).
The closest of the championships in 2016 is Supersport with Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff and his teammate JD Beach separated by just two points as the series arrives at VIR. And Frenchman Valetin Debise is just a further six points behind.
Gerloff started the season off with three straight wins before giving way to Beach in race one at New Jersey. In race two at NJMP, it all went wrong for Gerloff with the championship leader crashing out of the race (along with Beach and Cameron Petersen) and not making the restart after suffering a knee injury. The race was won by Petersen on the restart with Debise second and Beach third and that allowed the chasing pack to close the gap on Gerloff, who returns to action this weekend, in the title chase.
With two wins in four races, Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince leads the Superstock 600 points tally coming into VIR. But HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Dakota Mamola made in-roads into that points lead in New Jersey with his first-career MotoAmerica victory coming in race two on Sunday after Prince had won race one on Saturday. Now the pair are separated by just nine points with Andy DiBrino a further 20 points behind in third.
The KTM RC Cup racers will have their fifth and sixth races of the year at VIR with the series (and Superstock 600) getting started a round later than Superbike and Supersport. With two wins in the four races, AXcess Racing’s Brandon Paasch holds the series points lead over his rival Anthony Mazziotto III.