GRANTSVILLE, Utah – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias lost a boatload of points when he crashed out of race two at Road America two weeks ago.
However, he made almost all of them back up Saturday with a thrilling victory in race one of the MotoAmerica Championship of Utah at Utah Motorsports Campus.
In a race that featured as many as eight riders in the lead pack for nearly the duration, Elias emerged from the pack to win by 1.9 seconds after dropping as far back as seventh early in the race.
His Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 got better as the race wore on and Elias was where he needed to be when it counted, earning the 29th victory of his MotoAmerica Superbike career – a mark that moves him to fifth on the all-time win list.
“This morning for the second qualifying I never felt this problem,” Elias said of his slow start. “I start the race and the second lap I start to lose the front too much. I didn’t expect that. So I was thinking to do a very calm pace for the first 10 laps, being in second position but I couldn’t. Josh (Herrin) passed me. Garrett (Gerloff) passed me. JD (Beach) passed me like lightning. Mat (Scholtz) was attacking me like an animal in the jungle. So, I tried to stay on the bike calm, waiting. I was thinking, ‘if this continues, I’m done today. I have to accept they will go.’ But after 12, 13 laps everybody slowed down the pace, everybody started to slide. Me too, but I felt comfortable. When my rear tire started to slide, started to spin, we released the stress on the front tire, so then I felt much more comfortable.
“Garrett helped me a lot passing JD, because I could pass both in one corner. Amazing because I honestly couldn’t pass anyone,” Elias noted. “I was there like fifth. But then everything was quick. I arrived so quick. I pass Cameron and was very close that one, but also was good to get the rhythm. Then I arrived quickly to Herrin and I passed him in the first corner. Never expect to pass anyone in this corner and I was able to. I didn’t expect Garrett at the end, but he did a good job. He passed me, I overtake him. Everything was pleasing. This track is so difficult to pass. It was everybody in one group. Really difficult race, but at the end I didn’t expect to open that little gap, but helped me a lot to stay out of the trouble.
“This race was really important, especially after the disaster in the last corner at Road America.”
Once Elias worked his way to the front, he was able to pull a slight gap over those fighting behind him. In the end, the battle for the final podium spots went to Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Garrett Gerloff.
Defending three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion and pole-sitter Beaubier ended up fourth after leading the early laps.
Elias now leads the title chase by 21 points over Beaubier, after coming into the weekend just nine points ahead of Beaubier thanks to his Road America race-two debacle.
Rickdiculous Racing’s Hayden Gillim came away with his fourth Supersport win of the year in race one at the Utah Motorsports Campus on Saturday, with the Kentuckian coming out on top of a race-long battle with his championship rival, Bobby Fong.
Fong, on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, gave Gillim all he could for the 14 laps of the 2.2-mile East Course but came up .101 seconds short.
Gillim now leads Fong by 12 points in the championship standings.
Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr’s Rocco Landers won his sixth race in seven starts in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup race on Saturday at UMC.
The Oregonian fought through from a poor start to beat Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Dallas Daniels by just .142 seconds.
For Daniels, it was his sixth podium of the year and his fifth runner-up finish to Landers.