MONTEREY, Calif. – Garrett Gerloff fulfilled a life-long dream Sunday in the Championship of Monterey, as the 23-year-old Texan won the first MotoAmerica Superbike race of his career in front of a record crowd at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
In what was his 32nd career Superbike race in his sophomore season in the class, Gerloff was dominant. The two-time Supersport champion was second off the start behind Toni Elias, made the pass early, and was never headed, pulling away to a 4.449-second win.
With Gerloff, who earned his second career Superbike pole position on Saturday, riding off into the sunset, the battle for second was just that.
The protagonists were Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias and Gerloff’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Cameron Beaubier, and the pair exchanged body blows to the bitter end with Elias coming out on top by just .326 seconds after 23 laps of the 2.2-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“It feels so good,” Gerloff said of his first win. “I was telling the TV earlier, I know it’s just a race win and these guys get wins all the time and I used to, but I haven’t for a while. There’s been a lot of emotions the past year and a half, getting used to the Superbike and everything. These guys haul ass everywhere. It’s tough, stiff competition out there.
“It’s been a long road. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. To finally get it and to do it here even more in front of the World Superbike guys and everything, it’s just something that I’ve wanted for so long, something that’s been on my bucket list forever,” he added. “When I started racing, I was watching the MotoAmerica guys, AMA guys back in the day. That was one of the things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. To finally say that I got just one win, it just feels awesome. I’m ecstatic, for sure.”
The second-place finish for Elias may not have been a win on the day, but it was as far as the championship goes, as he now leads Beaubier by 39 points, 246-207.
Gerloff, meanwhile, is third in the series standings with 181 points after his first career Superbike victory.
Beaubier was third for the second day in a row after controlling most of practice and qualifying. Fourth place went Elias’ Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Josh Herrin, the Georgian in the mix for second place early in the race before fading back to the clutches of Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach.
Herrin was able to beat Beach to the line by some two seconds.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz rebounded from a race crash yesterday to finish sixth today, the South African holding off Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne at the finish.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis was eighth with Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen and Uribe Racing’s Jayson Uribe rounding out the top 10 finishers.
To wrap up the weekend, the Supersport class took to the track for their one scheduled race at the MotoAmerica Championship of Monterey, and it was a good one, especially for M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong.
The California rider got a great jump off the front row at the start, and also got the holeshot over Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha rider Hayden Gillim. Fong was never headed in the race, and Gillim ultimately crashed out unhurt, which contributed to Fong taking the victory over second-place finisher PJ Jacobsen.
The win vaulted Fong into the Supersport Championship lead with an 18-point advantage over Gillim in second.
Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race was another dominant performance by Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr. Farr Kawasaki rider Rocco Landers, who started from the pole and led from start to finish to notch his seventh win out of nine races so far this year.