Richie Escalante Gets Back To Winning

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Richie Escalante had his winning streak snapped by Sean Dylan Kelly on Saturday, but the HONOS Kawasaki rider reversed that result on Sunday. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Richie Escalante had his winning streak snapped by Sean Dylan Kelly on Saturday, but the HONOS Kawasaki rider reversed that result on Sunday. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

BRASELTON, Ga. – HONOS Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante suffered his first loss of the MotoAmerica Supersport season on Saturday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta at the hands of Sean Dylan Kelly.

On Sunday, Escalante wanted no part of Kelly and it showed. He battled early, but once he got into the lead he put the hammer down and disappeared into the distance.

For Escalante it was his fifth win in six races. With Kelly winning on Saturday, Escalante’s points lead was cut from 40 to 35 points. On Sunday, he got that margin back to 40 points as the series heads to Pittsburgh International Race Complex this coming weekend.

The three main protagonists from Saturday’s Supersport race one had an encore performance in Sunday’s race two, but this time, the winner was HONOS Kawasaki’s Escalante, who has won five of the six races thus far in the season. Saturday’s winner Kelly crossed the finish line second on Sunday aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, and Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s Brandon Paasch was again third.

Also similar to yesterday, the race was a battle in the early laps, with Escalante, Kelly, and Paasch tightly bunched together and going two- and sometimes three-wide into the corners. Each one of the trio led the race at various points, but as the laps wound down, Escalante solidly asserted himself at the front and took the checkers with a gap of more than six seconds. Kelly also stretched his advantage over third-placed Paasch and had a gap of more than seven seconds at the finish line.

“Today, my start was a little bit better but still finished in the first corner in third,” said Escalante. “I’m surprised we ran in the first laps really fast. I take a little bit gap so I said, ‘maybe I go.’ I tried to do my best, then Sean (Kelly) passed me on the brakes. He’s very, very hard right now in the braking. Then I concentrate. I need to pass very quickly when the tires are new. I tried to pass and then had very consistent rhythm. I’m a little bit surprised with my rhythm today. But I’m really happy for my team. HONOS Graves Kawasaki were working yesterday to give me a very good bike today. I’m really happy and ready for Pittsburgh in four days.”

After winning his first MotoAmerica race in Saturday’s Stock 1000 event, Ride HVMC Racing Kawasaki’s Corey Alexander kept his winning ways going and won again on Sunday. The New Yorker finished a little over a second ahead of rapidly rising youngster Alex Dumas, who finished second aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki. Third place went to local Georgia rider and former factory Superbike and World Superbike competitor Geoff May.

The beginning of the race looked like it would be dominated by Altus Motorsports Tucker Hagerty rider Cameron Petersen, but as was the case in Saturday’s race one, a technical issue took Petersen out of first place and eventually out of the race altogether, even though he did rejoin to ultimately finish 18th and two laps down.

In Sunday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race, Saturday’s race winner Rocco Landers did the double and took the checkers again, the Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R/Dr. Farr/Wonder CBD Kawasaki rider crossing the finish line with a just under a five-second advantage over second-place finisher Dominic Doyle aboard his BARTCON Racing Kawasaki. Third place went to Celtic HSBK Racing Kawasaki rider Sam Lochoff.

Landers got the holeshot in Sunday’s race and made a statement from the get-go. The defending class champion was never headed. Doyle and Lochoff, both from South Africa, traded spots a couple of times during the 11-lap contest, but the finishing order settled out as the laps wound down.