ALTON, Va. – Saturday at VIR featured qualifying for the premier MotoAmerica Superbike class, and when the heated 15-minute Superpole 2 session was complete it was four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes taking pole position for tomorrow’s two races at VIRginia Int’l Raceway.
JD Beach led almost every lap of the 23-lap Supersport final. Unfortunately, for Beach, it was Josh Herrin who led the lap that counted most. The last one. The win, Herrin’s second in four races, allowed the Georgian to claw his way back into early season championship contention as the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship got round three rolling under brilliant sunshine in Virginia.
It was Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Beach who led the field away at the start from pole position, with Herrin and his Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/MeenMotorsports Yamaha R-6 matching his every move. The two stayed locked together for the duration with Beach always in front, Herrin always his shadow in second place. But on the final lap, Herrin made his move, putting his R-6 up the inside of the similarly mounted Beach in turn 10 and leaving him no time for any sort of retaliation. At the finish line, Herring was a scant .100 of a second ahead of Beach.
“Road Atlanta was a different story,” Herrin said of his first win a month ago in Georgia. “I was really confident going into the race. Today, when JD [Beach] threw down that lap in qualifying and I couldn’t match it… to be honest, I was kind of worried going into the race. When I saw we were doing low 27s [1:27 lap times] and I’m sure a couple of laps he did high 26s, there was nobody showing me a wheel and we were all just comfortable there and waiting. Like I said before, there’s no points for most laps led anymore so there’s no point wasting my tire trying to battle with him and letting the guys behind us catch up. We’re both real aggressive riders and we’d pass each other back. I was trying to play it smart and get some points. If we could get him at the end, we’d celebrate, but if we didn’t we’d get some points.”
The championship leader coming in to VIR was Beach’s Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff. And it was Gerloff who still led the series after the first of two Supersport races, thanks to a gritty performance with the Texan racing with a badly broken pinkie finger on his left hand. The injury was a result of a crash on Friday, but Gerloff wrapped it up and stuffed it in his glove and went racing, besting M4 Suzuki/SportTrackGear.com’s David Anthony by just .200 of a second to finish third. Latus Motors Racing Triumph’s Bobby Fong was also in that battle for most of the race, eventually finishing fifth.
Gerloff’s effort kept him in the championship lead heading into tomorrow’s second race. Gerloff has 81 points, two more than Herrin’s 79. Beach is just another two points behind with 77 points.