Brian J Nelson

The Year That Was: 2017 Utah Motorsports Campus

We Revisit Round Five Of The 2017 MotoAmerica Season From Tooele, Utah.

Paul Carruthers

If Toni Elias’ championship rivals didn’t know they were in trouble heading into Utah, they most definitely knew when the Utah Motorsports Campus faded into the distance in their rearview mirrors on the way out.

Despite making a debacle out of turn one on the opening lap of the first of two Motul Superbike races in the Championship of Utah and ending the lap in 11th place, Elias was still able to pick his way through the field to ultimately take the lead for the first time on the 12th of 17 laps. From there he rode to victory, his fifth of the season. It was a win that demoralized his rivals as it showed that he could win in spite of a horrendous opening lap.

A day later, Elias took the easier route, beating his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden to the line by just .459 of a second for his sixth win of the season and a 30-point lead heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

That 30-point lead was also over Hayden, the Kentuckian finishing second in both races. The Yamaha boys, meanwhile, were on the podium with four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes taking third on Saturday with teammate Cameron Beaubier third on Sunday.

fong

Bobby Fong battled with the Superbike leaders in race one and that earned him victory in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class.

Beaubier, however, suffered a costly crash on Saturday (a day after chucking his R1 down the road on Friday), the two-time and defending MotoAmerica Champion trying to make hay while the sun shone with Elias’ opening-lap blunder, but it all went bad as he crashed out of the lead on the second lap. Beaubier departed Utah with a 48-point deficit to Elias. Hayes was fourth in Sunday’s race two.

“It was a really good weekend, especially yesterday when I made the mistake (in race one), but still won the race,” Elias said after his sweep of the two races. “I think it is a thing we didn’t expect, but it was good.”

Fourth place in race one went to Bazzaz Superstock 1000 winner Bobby Fong on the Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki. On Sunday, Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz took the win, this third of the season, and it gave him a 17-point lead in the title chase. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis finished second with Saturday’s winner Fong crashing out of the race.

JD Beach came to the Utah Motorsports Campus riding a four-race win streak at the fast-and-flowing track near Salt Lake City. On Saturday, he went out and made that five wins in a row in Utah and it gave him the championship points lead over his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports teammate Garrett Gerloff for the first time in 2017. M4 ESTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise finished third, after holding Gerloff at bay early in the race.

On Sunday, the Supersport race featured high drama at the front when Beach tried to dive up the inside of Gerloff on the final lap. It all went horribly wrong as the pair both went down in the process. Beach claimed full responsibility for the incident and both moved on without coming to blows. That left Debise free and clear to score his second win of the season. 

beach

JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff raced close again in the Supersport races. On Sunday, it was a bit too close as they crashed out together.

The Superstock 600 race on Saturday was won for the first time by Aguilar Racing’s Jason Aguilar, the Californian moving to within two points of series leader Connor Blevins. A day later, Aguilar won again and took over the points lead. Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert also had a good weekend in Utah with two second-place finishes.

The KTM RC Cup featured a first-time winner on Saturday in the form of 15-year-old Cory Ventura, the Californian besting Benjamin Smith and Jackson Blackmon by .021 of a second and .061 of a second, respectively. On Sunday, Blackmon turned the tables on the other two to score his third win of the season by .169 of a second over Smith.

Third place in the second of two KTM RC Cup races went to Toni Elias' protégé Francesc Perez, the Spaniard finishing on the podium in just his second MotoAmerica race. Perez topped Saturday winner Ventura in their race-long battle.

Smith remained atop the championship point standings in the RC Cup, leaving Utah with a 29-point lead over Blackmon.

Cory Ventura (center) won his first-ever MotoAmerica KTM RC Cup race in race one at UMC.

blacmon