MotoAmerica Press Office
Attack Performance/Herrin Compound Yamaha’s Josh Herrin showed once again that if the conditions are iffy, he’s a difficult man to beat.
Herrin mastered the conditions today in a very wet Championship of New Jersey at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the Georgian backing up his victory from a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh with a textbook display of wet-weather riding that earned him a second Motul Superbike victory on the season. The win was the sixth of his AMA Superbike career and his first in the rain.
In typical Herrin fashion, he started quickly but was surprised after the first lap to have the lead that he did.
“I was scared,” Herrin said. “Warm-up lap, I was scared. Start of the race, I was scared. We got a really good start and I came across the start/finish line thinking I was about to get blasted by everybody. I looked back, which I never do, and saw a big lead. I was thinking, ‘well, maybe somebody is passing me on the right.’ I looked, no one was there. So it was weird. Both Pittsburgh and here were two races where at the start of the race I was sitting on the grid like a little baby complaining about having to race in the conditions that we’re racing in, and somehow I just pulled something out of my ass and go. I don’t know where it came from, but it was there and I’m not going to complain about it. I had a lot of fun. I hope it’s dry tomorrow because we had good pace on Friday. Cam (Beaubier) beat us on Friday, but I just felt so good. I want to prove that we can run up there in the dry. Richard (Stanboli, his crew chief and team owner) and all the guys at Attack have been working so hard all year. We’ve been behind the eight-ball straight from the start of the year. It just feels really good to get a win for them, even if it’s in the wet. I want to do it in the dry and just give it to them.”
Herrin beat Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz by 37.1 seconds with the South African backing off the pace at the end of the race when he saw the gap he had on Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier.
“I didn’t have the (tire) warmers on so I kind of knew the first three or four laps would be sketchy, but then I got past Cam (Beaubier) and Toni (Elias),” said Scholtz, who earned his second pole position of the season in the morning in Superpole session. “Josh (Herrin) was pretty far up. He pulled his usual trick of going out flying and he has a fire lit under his arse. So I tried to catch him. I had a few huge, huge moments. The bike just didn’t feel the same as the one in practice and in Superpole, so maybe we have to go back and look at what we did. But I’m just very happy to be back up on the podium. Kind of got to the halfway point of the season after being the top privateer guy and challenging the factory guys every single round to barely finishing in the top five, six. So I think we’ve been making the bike better suiting of the Dunlop tire, but I think that the wetter conditions suit me. I lived in Europe for four or five years and got a lot of practice there.”
Beaubier was some 18 seconds adrift of Scholtz and in championship-winning mode, which meant he wasn’t taking any chances. Especially after having a big highside crash in the wet Superpole session. With Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias crashing out of third place, Beaubier has his hands on the title with a 72-point lead and only 75 points left on the table. He will likely earn his third MotoAmerica Superbike Championship in tomorrow’s second Motul Superbike race at NJMP.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this nervous going into a race,” Beaubier said. “The conditions are bad. I had crashed earlier and the last time I was out there I was laying on the ground in Superpole. So I just didn’t know what was going to happen in the race. My crash wasn’t a crazy crash. It wasn’t very big or nothing, but we ended up having to change the motor because the throttle got stuck wide open, just to be safe. So hats off to my guys for busting their butts and getting that changed in-between Superpole and the race, because there’s not a ton of time. Maybe a couple hours. But everything looked perfect. I felt like I got off to a decent start the first lap. I was somewhat close to (Josh) Herrin and then he pulled a pretty big gap there in the last section. I couldn’t do anything. Then Toni (Elias) came by. Then I could hang with Toni for a while, then I saw on my board I had three seconds or something like that to fourth, and that was Matty (Scholtz). I was like, ‘okay, we’re in a good spot.’ Then all of a sudden I come around the last lap and it was plus 0. I’m like, ‘what the heck?’ Matty comes blowing by both of us, and then he just left us. So, I kind of tippy-toed around from there. I was trying to go but I just couldn’t. I was sliding around. I think we made a little mistake. We went out on a tire in the race that we scrubbed in Pittsburgh. I think it might have hurt a little bit of something. I’m really not sure. I could be crazy too, I don’t know. I just didn’t have the grip I felt like I had in the first two practices, nowhere near. So, it’s definitely something that we need to keep in the back of our head, but I smell that championship, that’s for sure. We’re a few points out. I’m just going to do everything in my power to play it safe tomorrow and try to wrap this thing up.”
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden passed Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Cameron Petersen on the final lap for fourth. It was Petersen’s best finish of the year in fifth, just .116 of a second behind the Suzuki. Such was Herrin’s performance that Petersen was the last rider on the lead lap.
Cambr/KWR’s Kyle Wyman finished sixth, well clear of Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing's Garrett Gerloff. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis crashed, remounted and finished eight with Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders ninth. Scheibe Racing BMW’s Danny Eslick was 10th.
Beaubier now leads Elias by 72 points, 345-273, after his 15th podium finish of the season. Herrin is third, 20 points behind Elias. Scholtz is fourth, 43 points behind Herrin and 24 points ahead of fifth-placed Gerloff.
“I was pushing and catching (Mathew) Scholtz for second place,” Elias explained of his crash. “I was trying to gain extra points in the championship and ended up just pushing too hard.”
In Saturday’s Supersport race, Monster Energy/Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha’s JD Beach clinched the 2018 Championship with his second-place finish and 12th podium in 13 races. For the Kentuckian, it was the second MotoAmerica Supersport Championship of his career.
Rickdiculous Racing’s Hayden Gillim notched the win on a wet NJMP track for his second victory of the season, and Quicksilver/Hudson Motorcycles’ Richie Escalante completed the Yamaha podium sweep.
“I’ve been working my butt off this year,” Beach said in reflecting on his championship year. “It’s been really good. We’ve been lucky at times and good at times. We put the whole year together. Today was stressful. One of my goals going into this year was to win in the rain. I really wanted to win the race, but once Hayden (Gillim) got by me, I knew that was out the window. So, I was just trying to finish the race. It was the longest race of my life. Being in the wet already takes forever. I was just counting out laps. We got to halfway and I was like, ‘we’ve got 10 laps to go?’ It feels amazing. We definitely still have some more racing to go. I still want to try and get some more race wins, so I’m kind of enjoying this for now but will get back to work tonight and really enjoy it after the season’s over.”
Gillim was happy with the victory, his second of the year and first since Road Atlanta in April.
“The race win at Road Atlanta was really good, and it was a win in the wet again for me today,” Gillim said. “Honestly, I want the races to be dry right now because I really want to beat these guys in the dry. The races are so good in the dry, it’s hard to not want to do that. It’s hard not to want it to rain, too. I’ve always done really well in the rain. It was a tough one today. JD (Beach) got a rocket-ship start like he always does. It’s tough to pass in the wet, especially at a track like this. It definitely was a little bit colder in the race, so the tires didn’t have as much heat, so we were slipping and sliding a whole lot more. It took some time to figure it out, but I was able to get by JD and then at that point it was just trying to stay focused. It’s so hard in the rain to stay focused. One little thing, you see a bird fly by and you get all distracted because you’re just going what feels like so slow. It was good. I was happy to get back up here for the whole Rickdiculous Racing team. It’s been a long time coming. Hopefully, we can go for it again tomorrow.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup
The wet conditions played a huge factor in Saturday’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup race as the championship leaders all crashed out unhurt, including points leader Alex Dumas. The attrition started early and often as polesitter Ashton Yates also crashed his Yates Racing Kawasaki on the opening lap. KTM Orange Brigade/JP43 Training rider Dumas was in the catbird seat and in the lead group, poised to wrap up the championship based on merely finishing the race. However, the French Canadian went down in the wet and postponed his title celebration for at least another day.
Meanwhile, the MonkeyMoto/AGVSPORT racing team swept the podium aboard their Yamaha R3s, with Kevin Olmedo taking the win, Marc Edwards finishing second, and Jay Newton coming home third.
After his first-career MotoAmerica Supersport win, Olmedo, who is from El Salvador, said: “I saw that on the track it’s slippery but on every lap I saw that I feel good. I tried to carry more corner speed, and I saw that the track is good in the rain. So for my first time on this track I feel pretty good. I want to say thank you to my family, too. I want to say thank you to AGVSPORT, also Graves Motorsports, MonkeyMoto.com, and all the sponsors that gave me this opportunity to ride here.”
In what was arguably the best race of the day, Saturday’s Twins Cup feature event concluded in a photo finish with Turner’s Cycle Racing’s Kris Turner edging out LWT Racing’s Brian McGlade for the win by .003 of a second, with both riders aboard Suzukis. Syndicate/AP MotoArts’ Jason Madama, who crashed early on in the 14-lap event, remounted his Yamaha and raced all the way back up to third. Championship leader Chris Parrish also crashed his Ghetto Customs Suzuki and remounted, but he only managed to finish seventh. As a result, Parrish now leads the point standings by just two points with one race left on the schedule to decide it all.
“I came out of turn nine, and I was in the lead, and I was like, there’s no way that they’re going to be able to pass me to the finish line from here,” Turner said. “I went into the last turn, and I thought, ‘We’re gold, there’s no way.’ I was so excited and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him and I was like, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding?’ We were looking at each other after the finish line and thinking, ‘Who won?’ I’m not in the points chase. I’ve got nothing to lose. I kind of got a bad start, and I saw the other guys go down in the first turn, so I just kind of put my head down and I came through the second turn in third place. I almost crashed four or five times, and it wasn’t skill that saved those crashes. It was all luck. I had a lot of fun, though. It’s been a long time since I last raced in the rain. I want to thank my dad. I wouldn’t be here without my dad.”