Toni Elias Masters Tricky Laguna Seca

Toni Elias lifts his son, Toni Elias Jr., on the podium after winning the first of two EBC Brakes Superbike races Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Toni Elias lifts his son, Toni Elias Jr., on the podium after winning the first of two EBC Brakes Superbike races Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

MONTEREY, Calif. – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias may not have led any of the practice or qualifying sessions at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but he led the only thing that paid points Saturday as the Spaniard raced to his sixth EBC Brakes Superbike win of the season in the Championship of Monterey.

Elias won a battle between himself and the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing duo of Garrett Gerloff and Cameron Beaubier, the Texan getting the better of his three-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion teammate Beaubier to finish second, and .778 of a second behind Elias.

With Elias winning and Beaubier finishing third, the points gap has grown to 35 points, 226-191, heading into Sunday’s second of two EBC Brakes Superbike races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“It’s been a really nice day,” Elias said. “Yesterday we tried many ways to understand what we need here. We know from earlier years, but every year is different. So today we put everything together. From the first lap, it was so good. I was super confident for the race. I know Cameron (Beaubier) had an incredible few laps here because every time he go in, he was struggling on the first lap, being super quick on race tires. That was our strategy. We tried to stop that. In the first lap I passed four riders.

“I’m happy. My team did an amazing job. My family is here. My son is here. It’s his first race ever for him. Thirty-five points now in the lead of the championship, but as you all know, you can’t get too comfortable. Mistakes can happen. You’ve got to stay calm. There’s still many, many races to go. Today has been a really good race but doesn’t mean anything tomorrow. These guys will improve some details. The championship is so long, and many things will happen. My championship lead had some advantage riding in one race in MotoAmerica, and then in the corner of the race I crashed. So, I lost almost everything. But we are increasing it again, so that’s good. Let’s keep doing every race like this, keep going, working like this. We are doing a great job.”

Gerloff finished on the podium for the eighth time this season and for the seventh race in a row. It was also his third runner-up finish of the year as he searches for his first Superbike win. His teammate Beaubier settled for third.

Fourth place went to Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s J.D. Beach, the Kentucky resident in the mix at the front until the closing laps. He finished 7.8 seconds behind Elias, but was well clear of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, the Kentuckian racing to fifth all alone.

Josh Herrin crashed after making contact with Beaubier, the Georgian battling for the lead at the time.

In addition to Herrin, Mathew Scholtz, Jayson Uribe and Kyle Wyman all crashed out of the race. Uribe and Wyman went down together in turn two on the opening lap with Wyman suffering a suspected broken wrist.

In Saturday’s Twins Cup race, former MotoAmerica Supersport racer Kaleb DeKeyrel returned to the series after a couple of years away, and aboard his 1833CJKnows/Roaring Toyz Yamaha, notched his first MotoAmerica victory.

DeKeyrel started from 12th on the grid, but through patience and determination, he moved to the front and passed the current points leader Michael Barnes aboard his Quarterley Racing Ducati and the race leader at the time, Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki rider Alex Dumas. Dumas and Barnes ultimately finished in second and third, respectively.

Home cooking proved to be a benefit for Californian Andrew Lee as the Franklin Armory/Graves Motorsports Kawasaki rider won Saturday’s Stock 1000 race and extended his championship lead to 11 points over the day’s third-place finisher, Mesa37 Racing Kawasaki rider Stefano Mesa. Former World Superbike competitor Geoff May finished second in the race aboard his Ameris Bank Kawasaki.