LEEDS, Ala. – Inclement weather struck the Birmingham area on Tuesday morning, creating a wet Barber Motorsports Park and not a lot of track activity in the early sessions of the first day of MotoAmerica preseason testing.
Things cleared for the afternoon and it was business as usual with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Toni Elias barely besting four-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier in the final session to top the Superbike timesheets on the opening day of the two-day MotoAmerica preseason test.
Elias was fastest on the day by virtue of his 1:25.371 on his 21st and final lap of the final session to best Beaubier, the Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha rider not going on track until the last session and even then only doing seven laps. Beaubier’s best was a 1:25.992.
For comparison’s sake, the best race lap in the 2019 MotoAmerica season finale at Barber Motorsports Park was set by Beaubier in race one with a 1:23.871.
“Well, it’s a long time without riding the bike,” Elias said. “Since the last race here, it’s been great. We did some laps in Talladega two days ago. Was great to have the feeling back, but it’s a new team. We need to understand each other, whether my request. I’m also open to listen to their solutions. But we need to find a way to do everything together and everyone agree to make the solid moves. That’s a relationship and takes some time to arrive to the perfect point. Anyway, just is the first day and it’s the beginning. But from the problems I had during the last years with this bike and the problems I suffered at the last race here, I’ve been very focused and very determined to give the information to find a different solution. We tried very different things and it worked. It worked in wet. It worked in dry. But it’s just the first day. It’s not clean. Yamaha guys have much more miles than us, much more work in advance. So, it’s going to be difficult. Probably tomorrow they’ll be faster than us. It’s good and feels good after five months arrive here and kind of lead the first day in both conditions. So pretty happy.”
KWR Ducati Team’s Kyle Wyman ended the day third, the racer/team owner having a good opening day to his season with a lap that was .925 of a second off Elias’ best.
Altus Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen was a surprise fourth, the South African – like Beaubier – also sitting out the wet sessions but jumping to fourth fastest when it counted. Petersen lapped at 1:26.667, .331 of a second slower than Wyman and .352 faster than Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne, the Californian rounding out the top five.
Sixth fastest on day one was FLY Racing’s ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony. Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, filling in for the injured Mathew Scholtz on the Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1, was seventh fastest. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong was eighth with Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders and Celtic HSBK Racing’s P.J. Jacobsen rounding out the top 10 on opening day.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Josh Herrin crashed in the second of four sessions and sat out the rest of the day with an injured right shoulder. Herrin said he will attempt to ride tomorrow.
The Supersport class was led by M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly, the Floridian lapping at a best of 1:30.263 to lead Celtic HSBK Racing’s Brandon Paasch by .711 of a second. Kelly’s M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate Lucas Silva was third fastest with his 1:31.711.
“Really good day one,” said Kelly in his first ride since breaking his tibia/fibia two months ago. “Happy to be back, first of all. Nice to jump back on my Team Hammer 600 and nice to be working with the guys again. Good feeling with the bike. Just been working at it. We’ve been trying out some different things. Haven’t really focused too hard on a fast lap or anything. I’ve just been out there and getting the confidence up. That’s important for day one. Just happy to be back and looking forward to tomorrow. We’ll definitely be testing out some more stuff and seeing how we continue.”
The Liqui Moly Junior class was led by Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Benjamin Gloddy, the New Hampshire resident lapping at 1:40.6321 on his Kawasaki Ninja 400.
“This morning I didn’t go out for the first session,” Gloddy said. “I didn’t want to risk anything in the first with the wet. Then it kept raining all day, so the second session I just decided to go out and was able to lead that session towards the end and came on top with P1 at the end. I didn’t go out for the third session, either. Just it was half dry, half wet. I didn’t want to ruin a set of rain tires. Just decided to stay in. Then we went out for the fourth session and came in and ended up being P1 on an almost completely dry track.”