ALTON, Va. – Sunday was all about J.D. Beach at Virginia Int’l Raceway as the two-time MotoAmerica Supersport champion earned his first AMA Superbike victory with a 3.7-second win in the Championship of Virginia.
A week after winning his first American Flat Track main event at the Super TT in Arizona, Beach followed it up with his first AMA Superbike triumph. Beach’s day was made even more emotional for three reasons: Sunday marked the anniversary of his friend Ethan Gillim’s passing 12 years ago; Beach became the first rider to win a Superbike National and a Flat Track National in the same season since his friend and hero Nicky Hayden accomplished the feat in 2002; and his best friend and housemate Hayden Gillim also won the Supersport race earlier in the day.
Beach was impressive in a race that started in iffy conditions but ended in bright sunshine and on a dry racetrack. Once he got past early leader Kyle Wyman, who had fitted rain tires to his KWR Ducati in the hopes that the track wouldn’t dry, and his old Supersport rival Garrett Gerloff, Beach put his head down and opened a four-second gap. He maintained that lead to the finish, besting Gerloff by 3.759 seconds and riding a wave of emotion that will last him until Road America in four weeks.
“It just feels like the stars just aligned this whole week,” Beach said. “For me to get my first win last week, and to get this win today with Hayden (Gillim) winning the 600 class, it’s just amazing. These guys are so fast. I looked up to Toni (Elias). He’s won the Moto2 World Championship, and Garrett (Gerloff) has kicked my ass so many times. Even with how this track was today, I was having flashbacks because he (Gerloff) lapped me when we had rain tires here. So, to beat him here, it’s just amazing.
“I just got to thank my team, the whole Attack Estenson Racing team. They believed in me. They gave me a shot on this bike when nobody else would. It feels good to get the win, but it feels good to reward them too. We’ve still got a lot of races to go. These guys aren’t going to let up. We’re going to keep fighting. We’ve got two dirt track races and then I’m going to Road America, so it will be fun.”
Beach compared the flat track win last week to the Superbike win this week.
“They’re both amazing,” he said. “The desire to win last weekend was like a childhood goal. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid you’re like, I want to be a firefighter or whatever. For me when I was a kid that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a dirt tracker. I wanted to win races, and I still do. To win this Superbike race is something I’ve looked forward to my whole adult life, since I was 16. So, they both feel amazing, but this has a little bit of a sweeter feel to it. To do it on the day that I did it and for the last person to do it (Nicky Hayden), it’s amazing.”
Third place went to Toni Elias, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider holding back three others to the finish to earn the final podium spot. It was also good for his championship aspirations as his closest rival Cameron Beaubier, who won Saturday’s EBC Brakes Superbike race at VIR, crashed his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 and didn’t score any points.
Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fourth, the South African nipping at Elias’ heels in the closing laps but coming up just short at the finish.
In Sunday’s Supersport race, which was declared wet due to rain falling at the start, Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha’s Hayden Gillim made amends for the eyebrow-raising crash he had in Saturday’s race by coming back strong and winning by more than nine seconds.
Second place went to MP13 Racing Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, who improved by one podium on his comeback third-place result in Saturday’s race. The four-time AMA Superbike Champion hopes to race again at MotoAmerica’s next round at Road America, if he and his wife, who owns the team and is Hayes’ crew chief, can find the necessary funds to continue.
In Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, changeable weather conditions played a major role in the contest and the outcome. The race started with light sprinkles and the riders on slick tires, but it was readily apparent that grip was an issue as several bikes went down. A red flag stopped the proceedings, the riders and teams switched to rain tires, and the race was restarted. By then, the sprinkles turned to copious rain, conditions that favor riders who are smooth on the throttle and brakes.
Cameron Jones, aboard the lone Honda competing in the Junior Cup class, emerged with the win. It was not only the first MotoAmerica victory for Jones, but also the first MotoAmerica victory, in any class, for Honda.
In MotoAmerica Twins Cup, defending champion Chris Parrish notched his first win of the season aboard his Ghetto Customs Suzuki. With the victory, Parrish also took over the championship lead from round one double race winner Michael Barnes, who won the pole at VIR but had a mechanical issue in the race that caused him to pit, and he was unable to rejoin the contest.
RBoM Racing Suzuki rider Curtis Murray finished second as a follow-up to the second- and third-place results he notched in round one at Road Atlanta. He’s hopeful that he can make it to round three at Road America.
In Sunday’s VIR race-weekend-concluding Stock 1000 race, Team Norris Racing’s Michael Gilbert got the win in a dominant performance aboard his Kawasaki. He got a great jump off the line and led the event from start to finish.
MESA37 Racing’s Stefano Mesa, who normally focuses on club racing in WERA, followed up his third-place result in round one at Road Atlanta with a second place at VIR.