BRASELTON, Ga. – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias has a knack for dominating the opening round of the MotoAmerica Series – no matter where it’s held.
In his first two years, most attributed that to his speed at the Circuit of The Americas where he is a perfect four-for-four. Turns out, the defending MotoAmerica Superbike champion just likes to win the first round because he did that again this weekend during the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta, coming away with a clean sweep of the two Motul Superbike races as the series started in Georgia for the first time.
On the heels of his dry win yesterday, Elias came back Sunday in the rain and hunted down Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, stalking the two-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion and passing him on the inside into turn one to start the 17th of 18 laps. He then put his head down and rode a perfect lap to beat Beaubier to the finish line by 1.639 seconds for the 18th win of his Superbike career.
“It’s been a perfect weekend for us,” Elias said. “I didn’t expect to win a wet race. It’s been since 2001. So, it was really important for us. The wet condition is always difficult. The bike was good at the beginning, but I needed more confidence. Cameron (Beaubier) and Roger (Hayden) helped me to find my pace, and at the end of the race, I was able to go a little bit more. Many thanks to my team. They did a really great job, in the wet and dry, during this winter, and I am happy. There are a lot of fast guys, and we will have to fight a lot, but we will be consistent.”
Beaubier was second and fairly pleased with his effort, considering he had three crashes this weekend, including one in the rain Sunday morning. Beaubier took over at the front when Elias’ Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden crashed out of the lead on the ninth lap in the chicane. Beaubier held the lead until Elias went by.
“I was just happy to get through the race without falling down like I did pretty much every session this weekend,” Beaubier said. “First of all, a big thanks to my guys for patching up my bike, time after time. The crash this morning wasn’t too bad, but the crash on Friday, it beat some stuff up. Big thanks to them. I’m happy to get out of here with a second place, and to salvage what I could from this rough weekend. I’m excited to go to COTA. At the beginning of the race, I was pretty nervous going into it after falling over this morning, and with so much standing water in the first section.
“I just slowly got going, and Herrin came past me and Toni came past me, Rog (Hayden), and then, I started figuring things out, getting comfortable, and got in behind Rog, who was riding really good until he hit the stream (of water) in 10 and fell down. So, I found myself in the lead, and I was kind of running wide here and there, and I saw my gap opening up, and I was kind of surprised to see that. The gap started closing up, and I was like, ‘Oh, here comes Toni.’ And, I just didn’t have anything for him. On the last lap, I was already riding pretty tight, and I was struggling with trust in the front tire. I’m just happy to be up here and get out of here and salvage some points.”
Yamalube/Westby Racing Mathew Scholtz had an eventful ride to third place, the South African forced off track to avoid the crashing Jake Lewis in turn one to start the race. After a run through the Georgia mud, Scholtz recovered and worked his way through the pack to finish on the podium for the second straight day.
Lucas Oil/KWR’s Kyle Wyman ended his weekend with a fourth-place finish after soldiering through the miserable conditions and bettering his fifth place from yesterday’s series opener. Hayden was able to remount from his crash to finish fifth.