Toni Elias Rules Road America

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Toni Elias (24) raced to victory Saturday at Road America. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Toni Elias (24) raced to victory Saturday at Road America. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias won his third EBC Brakes Superbike race of the season Saturday in the Championship at Road America.

Elias came out on top of a battle that featured as many as seven riders at times and whittled down to four riders by the end of the race. At the finish line, Elias was .253 of a second ahead of his championship rival Cameron Beaubier to pull 29 points clear of the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory racing rider with six rounds and 12 races left in the title chase.

Elias has 151 points to Beaubier’s 122.

Elias also earned his second pole position of the season earlier in the day during Superpole, doubling his amount of poles from a season ago. The win was the 28th Superbike victory of Elias’ career and it moved him into a tie with Ben Spies for fifth on the all-time list.

Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff was a close third, just .787 of a second behind Elias. He was some two seconds clear of Elias’ teammate Josh Herrin, the Georgian in the mix until the final laps when he and Elias nearly clashed, and Herrin got the worst of it.

Herrin was visibly upset after the race, gesturing at his teammate on the cool-down lap. Herrin ran wide on the final lap while trying to beat Gerloff and slipped to fourth.

“We finished the race and he was super mad at me,” Elias said of Herrin. “You can understand if someone is mad with a good reason, but the reason was we were doing the same thing and we were playing the same game. If you are frustrated because I pass you and you ran wide, I ran wide too, but it’s the last lap and we brake as we could. I didn’t want to make him do a wide line or lose some positions. I’m sorry about that, but I can’t accept the way he come to me and start to yelling like this. Hey, man, calm down. No, it’s not like this. We are playing the same game. Sorry. It’s like this. Another day I will receive. It’s okay. I will shut up my mouth, but we didn’t even touch. Nobody went to the ground. Nobody ran off the track. So, sorry but this is racing.

“I was trying to defend my side and I don’t feel I did anything wrong. So that’s why verbally or with signals I was trying to defend myself after the race. But we did a good job as teammates. He helped me a lot for the first five or six laps. After we start to battle who arrive first in the finish line for the last five laps in case of red flag in the race. It was not only the last lap; it was the previous five laps when we start to pass each other. Then we found a lapper. I’m happy. We are doing a great job, but everybody is so fast. It’s so competitive, so close, and anything can happen. Let’s see tomorrow. I hope to have a good race tomorrow.”

Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fifth, some four seconds behind Herrin and racing alone as he had a 4.3-second lead on his South African countryman Cameron Petersen on the Omega Moto Yamaha YZF-R1.

Supersport polesitter Hayden Gillim grabbed his third victory of the season aboard his Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha, and in what has been a consistent theme in MotoAmerica’s middleweight class, the win did not come easily.

Gillim had to fight off a fierce challenge from M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammates Bobby Fong and Sean Dylan Kelly. Fong finished second while Kelly finished third, which was the rookie Supersport rider’s third podium result of his season.

In Liqui Moly Junior Cup, Rocco Landers notched his fourth victory in five races over his rival Dallas Daniels, who has finished second in all four of the races that Landers has won.

Saturday’s Stock 1000 race saw the return of former factory Superbike contender and World Superbike rider Geoff May to the top step of the podium. It had been 11 years since the Georgian had won an AMA-sanctioned road race, and he was understandably emotional in the winner’s circle.

May, who was aboard a Kawasaki sponsored by his day-job employer Ameris Bank, for whom he is a mortgage banker, held off MESA37 Racing’s Stefano Mesa to get the win. Third place went to Franklin Armory/Graves Kawasaki’s Andrew Lee.