Gerloff Stars In The Sonoma Heat

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Garrett Gerloff (31) en route to victory Saturday at Sonoma Raceway. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Garrett Gerloff (31) en route to victory Saturday at Sonoma Raceway. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

SONOMA, Calif. – Garrett Gerloff collected his second MotoAmerica EBC Superbike victory Saturday in a dominant performance at Sonoma Raceway.

Meanwhile, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias took a giant step towards winning his second MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike title Saturday in the Championship of Sonoma.

The day belonged to Gerloff. Hot off his win in race two at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca a month ago, the Texan bested Elias by 10.3 second to take his second EBC Brakes Superbike race win.

Elias’ second-place result, bolstered by his main championship rival Cameron Beaubier’s crashing out on lap two, has given Elias a 59-point lead in the championship heading into Sunday’s second EBC Brakes Superbike race, 266-207.

Gerloff was quick all day, ending up the second fastest qualifier behind his teammate Beaubier, the three-time series champion who had won the last four Superbike races held at Sonoma. Gerloff didn’t waste much time in taking the lead from Elias after Beaubier crashed out of the lead on the second lap – just moments after passing Elias.

In addition to taking his second win, Gerloff also took big gains in the title chase and is now just a single point behind Beaubier in third place with 206 points.

“I’d definitely like that,” Gerloff said when asked if he was going to win the rest of the races. “I’m not going to complain. Cameron (Beaubier) definitely had pace on all of us, I think. I felt pretty good with used tires. I was close to his pace, but I think he still had a little bit on us. But he looked a little antsy in the beginning and was trying to pass Toni (Elias) right away. I saw the crack where he crashed on. I saw that in the track walk last night. So, I’m glad I did that and was able to kind of see that. After that, I just tried to ride with Toni a little bit and see where he was good and strong. He was riding really well. I just found a spot on the inside of the carousel in turn six. My R1 feels awesome. I feel like I can put it anywhere that I want. So when he went a little wide, I just was able to go right to the underside of him. Then just tried to put my head down and do clean, consistent laps which wasn’t easy because the track temp was way higher than it was this morning.

“I felt like the first practice was actually the best the track was. Then it just got a little bit slicker and slicker every time we went back out. Even in the race I was just trying to keep it on two wheels because I tore my front (tire) a little bit and it was tough just getting around the right handers. At least we were able to do the full race distance and learned a lot of stuff for tomorrow. We’ll plan accordingly and see how it goes.”

Third place today went to Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African besting Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s J.D. Beach. Fifth place went to Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne in his best finish of the season.

Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders had his best Superbike finish in sixth. Ditto for FLY Racing’s Sam Verderico, who finished seventh in the race that featured an exorbitant amount of non-finishers.

The non-finishers included Beaubier, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin, Ducati Richmond/KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman, FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen.

After the Supersport race was red-flagged because of a crash on the first lap, it was re-started, and Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha rider Hayden Gillim went to the front and hung on to a narrow lead to capture his fifth win of the season. Second-place finisher and current championship leader Bobby Fong closed the gap to Gillim as the laps wound down and brought his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki home in second.

As a result, Gillim closed the points gap to 13 behind Fong. Third place went to Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha rider P.J. Jacobsen.

In Liqui Moly Junior Cup race one, Ninja400R.com/Norton Motorsports/Dr Farr rider Rocco Landers won his eighth race out of 10 so far this season, and though he notched the victory in dominant fashion, it was not without drama.

The Californian had a couple of moments during the nine-lap event where he and his Kawasaki were not in sync, but the talented 14-year-old maintained his composure to take the checkers by a little over one and a half seconds over second-place finisher Kevin Olmedo aboard the Altus Motorsports Kawasaki. Third place went to Feel Like A Pro/RiderzLaw Racing’s Marc Edwards, the local rider also aboard a Kawasaki.