Elias Delivers In Tight Pittsburgh Fight

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Toni Elias (24), Cameron Beaubier (1) and Josh Herrin battle for position during Sunday's MotoAmerica Superbike event at Pittsburgh Int'l Race Complex. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Toni Elias (24), Cameron Beaubier (1) and Josh Herrin battle for position during Sunday's MotoAmerica Superbike event at Pittsburgh Int'l Race Complex. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

WAMPUM, Pa. – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias thought he had two chances of winning the second EBC Brakes Superbike race in the Championship of Pittsburgh – slim and none.

By the time the dust settled around him, he was at the front of the field and en route to his seventh win of the MotoAmerica season.

More importantly, Elias left Pittsburgh Int’l Race Complex with a 35-point lead in the championship after two days of racing on a track that he considers one of the more difficult for him and his Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Elias ended up beating his rival Cameron Beaubier by just .340 of a second after 18 laps around the 2.7-mile course, handing Beaubier his second straight second-place finish on the weekend.

“It’s been the worst race of the year, talking about rhythm, talking about being comfortable, talking about being relaxed and not breathing,” Elias said. “It was so difficult. I didn’t find the rear grip and the right traction since lap one, and everybody passed me. All the riders I fight with, they passed me. So (Garrett) Gerloff left, (Jake) Lewis left, Cameron (Beaubier) left, every rider was leaving. Then everyone start to (make) mistake. The one who did a mistake was the reason I could pass him. I couldn’t get Cameron. Started to fight a little bit with him, but honestly when I passed him, he had some mistake. Then I had a mistake in the first corner. For the last five laps, I was behind him. I was following him, but today was good enough to win. I think if I was leading the race on the last lap with him, he could pass me easily anytime he wanted.

“So, I’ve been lucky. Today I’ve been super lucky. With the team we are doing all we can. We pass two difficult (tracks) for us – Sonoma and this one. But we win, so that’s great. I didn’t expect this. The changes I did, we did for today, I choose them but looks like with the cold temperature everything works well so I was super confident, but it didn’t work for me. It was a disaster. So, I’m not going to use that again. I will change totally for the next races. It’s too early (in the championship). We keep the same advantage, so let’s continue like this.”

On Saturday, Beaubier lost out to his teammate Garrett Gerloff by .326 of a second, thus losing both races by a combined margin of .666 of a second.

If the margins of victory were difficult for Beaubier, so too was the fact that he came to Pittsburgh 34 points behind Elias and he leaves 35 points behind.

For Gerloff the second race had a much worse outcome, the Texan suffering a mechanical failure while leading on the second lap. The non-finish puts a massive dent in Gerloff’s chances of earning his EBC Brakes Superbike title as he now trails Elias by 56 points with two rounds and four races left on the calendar.

Third place went to Elias’ Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Josh Herrin, the Georgian rebounding from his first-lap crash on Saturday and his seventh-place finish after remounting from his crash with Jake Lewis.

Fourth place on Sunday went to M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Lewis, the Kentuckian making up for yesterday’s crash that took him and Herrin out on the first lap. Lewis was less than a second behind Herrin at the finish after leading several laps early in the race. Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fifth.

Sunday’s Supersport race two was arguably the event of the day with championship leader Bobby Fong coming back from a big crash in Saturday’s race one and very nearly winning the race aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki.

Fong’s teammate Sean Dylan Kelly just barely nipped him at the line to get the double win on the weekend. Third place went to Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha rider P.J. Jacobsen, who finished second on Saturday.

In Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr Kawasaki rider Rocco Landers won his 10th race out of 13 thus far in the season, and he did so with another one of his patented performances where he took off from the pole position and started immediately building a gap. Saturday’s race one winner Kevin Olmedo finished second aboard his Altus Motorsports Kawasaki, and MonkeyMoto/AGVSport/Blud Lubricants Kawasaki rider Jackson Blackmon got his second podium finish of the year in third.

Stock 1000 championship leader Andrew Lee stretched out his advantage on Sunday with his fifth race win of the season and his fourth victory in a row aboard his Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki. Meanwhile, Lee’s two closest competitors in the point standings, Stefano Mesa and Michael Gilbert, crashed into each other and out of the race.

Last year’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion Alex Dumas needed a few rounds in the Twins Cup class to acclimate to his bigger motorcycle, and in the latter half of this season, the 16-year-old French rider has come on like gangbusters. In Sunday’s weekend-concluding Twins Cup race, Dumas got his third win in a row and sixth-consecutive podium aboard his Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki.