LEEDS, Ala. – The MotoAmerica Series season ended on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park with a Motul Superbike race that was both a fitting finale and one of the best of the season.
When all was said and done, it was Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias taking his ninth win of the season, but not without a frantic final two laps by Motul Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier, with the three-time champion coming up just .333 of a second short at the finish.
The win was the 25th of Elias’ MotoAmerica Superbike career. He will start the 2019 season just three behind Ben Spies, who is fifth on the all-time list.
“Honestly, I was thinking to open a gap, but at the end he (Beaubier) was there doing incredible lap times in the last part of the race,” Elias said. “Today was fun. It was fun because all of us,we didn’t think about anything – just go push over the limit. We show each other today was not any jokes. Some elbows, some hard-braking areas. Was fun. We enjoyed it. Finally, I won but also I could lose. But I’m lucky to finish the championship in this way. Yesterday I able to manage second position in the championship. Good job this year for Josh (Herrin). Incredible job for Cameron (Beaubier). He deserves the number one.
“This morning I was joking about this afternoon I want his number one out. I want to put that my number to start on Tuesday. I will be happy in two years with that number again,” continued Elias. “It’s been a nice year. Difficult. I learned a lot. My team, too. Thanks, because even in the difficult times, we are a family, we are a group. I feel all the time the support. They work like animals. That for me, win or lose, is the best. Thanks Roger Hayden for his career, but more to be a great human. He is an amazing teammate. We are friends. Now one day will be my time, but today arrive his time. Now time to go rest, to enjoy the family, create family, travel, as he said. I wish him all the best and Dana (Hayden’s wife). He comes from an amazing family. Nicky, Tommy, all the sisters. Amazing people. I’m very lucky to meet them. Thank you.”
Elias had his hands full for the duration with Attack Performance/Herrin Compound Yamaha’s Josh Herrin early, then Beaubier late as the three diced it up for the entire race. Beaubier made a mistake in turn five with two laps to go which allowed Elias to pull out a lead.
The newly crowned champion put his head down and turned in two stellar laps to pull Elias back in, but it was too little too late, and Beaubier was forced to settle for what was his 16th podium finish of the year.
Hayden ran off track on the opening lap of the final race of his career and spent the rest of the race making up for it. He ended up finishing eighth, honored on his final run down the front straight to the finish line with crews from every team lined up against the pit wall and cheering him on.
In Supersport, Saturday’s winner Hayden Gillim won again on Sunday aboard his Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha, but it wasn’t easy.
Monster Energy/Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha’s JD Beach, the already crowned Supersport champion, gave Gillim all he could handle, and the two even came together on the final lap.
Ultimately it was Gillim getting the better of Beach to take the checkers for the second time on the weekend. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise just beat Bryce Prince at the line for third.
In Liqui Moly Junior Cup, it was yet another balanced podium as riders from three different brands were represented, with KTM Orange Brigade/JP43 Training’s Alex Dumas winning his second race of the weekend and his 10th of his championship season.
BARTCON Racing Kawasaki rider Damian Jigalov scored his second podium result of the season with a second-place finish, while MP13 Racing’s Cory Ventura completed a double-podium with a third after finishing second on Sunday.
Already-crowned Stock 1000 champion Andrew Lee continued his winning ways when he notched his third victory of the season aboard his RiderzLaw Racing Kawasaki.
Lewin Estates Yamaha rider Chad Lewis was second, and New Zealander Shane Richardson rode his Woolich Racing Kawasaki to third place for his third podium this season.