2019 MotoAmerica Grid Takes Shape

Brian J Nelson

MotoAmerica Press Office

Yoshimura Suzuki Confirms Elias-Herrin 1-2 Punch

Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing and Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., are proud to announce its MotoAmerica Superbike riders for 2019. Riding once again for the team this coming season will be Toni Elias, the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion and former Moto2 World Champion. Joining the team for the first time is Josh Herrin, the 2013 AMA Superbike Champion. The pairing of Elias and Herrin, both riding the legendary Suzuki GSX-R1000, will make for a powerhouse squad. It will mark the first time Yoshimura Suzuki has featured two MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike Champions under the same tent since 2008, when Mat Mladin and Ben Spies were teammates.

Elias is aiming to win back the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship in 2019. He’s coming off a solid campaign that saw him battle for the title most of the year and earn the distinction of scoring the most MotoAmerica Superbike wins of 2018. Elias, who won the championship in 2017 with Yoshimura Suzuki, has quickly become one of the all-time elites of the series in just three seasons with the team. In that three-year span, he’s been the winningest rider in MotoAmerica Superbike. He also became the fastest rider in history to reach the exclusive 20-win club. He comes into 2019 with 25-career wins.

“I am more than ready to start the 2019 racing season,” Elias said. “We ended last year on a high note with a victory in the final race and now we look forward to the challenge of battling again for the championship. I’m looking forward to having Josh as teammate. We’ve been tough competitors on the track, but also friends off the track. He’ll bring enthusiasm and experience, and this will be a big benefit for the entire team.”

Herrin, who takes over the seat vacated by Roger Hayden upon his retirement last year, joins Yoshimura Suzuki with 13 years of professional road racing in his background, which includes an AMA Superbike Championship in 2013 and a MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 title in 2016. Herrin also has world championship experience, having raced Moto2 in 2014. He was one of the leading riders in MotoAmerica Superbike last year, finishing third in the series and winning two rounds riding for an independent team. His jaw-dropping 37-second margin of victory in the rain at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Superbike Race 1, was one of the largest margins of victory ever in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike.

“It’s been a goal of mine to get back on a factory team since I won the Superbike championship in 2013,” Herrin explained. “I feel honored to now be a part of Yoshimura Suzuki with its long tradition of winning. I look forward to working side by side with Toni and the rest of the team. We’ll both be working towards the common goal of making the 2019 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 into a championship winner.”

Don Sakakura, President of Yoshimura Racing, is pleased to have such a strong lineup in 2019.

“Toni and Josh both bring a great deal of experience to the team,” Sakakura said. “They are passionate about winning, and we expect that they will push each other and the entire team to an even higher level of competitiveness.”

Suzuki is already the gold standard in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike. The manufacturer reached a major milestone last season, winning a record-setting 200th MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike victory last July. Elias added three more later in the season, bringing the total to 203 all-time victories for Suzuki at the end of 2018. Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing is also the all-time winningest team in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike history.

Elias and Herrin will both be racing to build on that winning legacy when the MotoAmerica season kicks off at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, on April 5-7.

Westby Racing Announces Two-Rider Line-Up

Westby Racing is proud to announce that, for the first time in the team’s storied history, they will feature a two-rider lineup in pursuit of the 2019 MotoAmerica Championship.

2018 MotoAmerica Superbike Rookie of the Year Mathew Scholtz has re-signed with Westby Racing for 2019, and the “Durban Dynamo” will be joined on the team by fellow South African Sam Lochoff, who hails from Cape Town.

While 26-year-old Mathew will compete aboard the #11 Yamaha YZF-R1 in his second full season in MotoAmerica Superbike, 16-year-old “Samurai Sam” will race a Yamaha YZF-R3 in MotoAmerica’s Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship.

Last year, Mathew took the win in Superbike race one at round two of the MotoAmerica Championship, and during the 10-round, 20-race season, he finished on the podium a total of eight times and was in the top five in 14 out of the 20 races on the 2018 MotoAmerica Superbike calendar. In addition, he won the season’s first Superpole at Road Atlanta and also notched a second Superpole at the penultimate round at New Jersey Motorsports Park. His season-long consistency netted him a fourth-place ranking in the Superbike Championship final points standings.

“I am over the moon to be back with Westby in 2019,” Mathew said. “I have to give a huge thank you to Tryg and everyone on the team for believing in me. The past two-plus years together have been amazing. We’ve shown that we are competitive at most tracks and are able to run up front and race with the best. For 2019, we have some new parts for the bike that should help us find those precious few tenths we’ve looking for. Racing in America has been a dream come true for me, and I am so happy to be in the MotoAmerica paddock.”

In 2018, Sam won both the FIM Supersport 300 European Cup and the Alpe Adria International Motorcycle Championship. He also competed in select rounds of the FIM World Supersport 300 Championship where he had a best finish of 18th at Misano, Italy.

Sam said, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to join the Westby Racing team for 2019 and compete in the MotoAmerica series. It’s going to be a great experience to race new tracks, and I’m hoping to exceed all expectations. I’m also very happy to be teammates with Mathew whose career and racing skills I’ve long admired.”

“2019 is going to be a big year for us,” commented Westby Racing team owner Tryg Westby. “For the first time, we’ll have two riders on our team, with Mathew racing at the pinnacle of MotoAmerica in Superbike, and Sam just starting out in MotoAmerica’s Junior Cup class. Both riders have already had a lot of success in their racing careers, and our entire team, including our sponsors, is looking forward to this upcoming season.”

Also commenting on the two-rider lineup, Westby Racing team manager Chuck Giacchetto said, “The entire team is looking forward to 2019. With two talented riders under the Westby Racing canopy, we’ll be working hard to help continue their success and also the success to which our entire team has become accustomed. We’ve got new electronics for Mathew’s Yamaha R1 Superbike, and we’re excited to see how we stack up against the competition. Also, we’re looking forward to competing in the Junior Cup class with our new rider Sam. It’s going to be a fun year, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Sean Dylan Kelly Signs With Team Hammer

Team Hammer, Inc. is pleased to announce the signing of Sean Dylan Kelly to a two-year contract to compete in the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing series.

The 16-year-old Kelly will contest the 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship aboard a Team Hammer Suzuki GSX-R600.

“First of all, I want to thank Team Hammer for giving me the opportunity to race with them,” said Kelly.”To come back to the States and be surrounded by people that I am comfortable with and proud to race with is a dream come true for me and my family. We’ve been working very hard to make everything work in Europe the past three years, and to be received like this back in America is amazing. We are very excited and thankful and I’m ready to jump in to the MotoAmerica paddock, race hard, have fun and do the best I can in every possible aspect.”

The young gun is set to join the American series following multiple seasons of international competition, including the last three as a full-time participant in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. There, Kelly demonstrated marked improvement each season and comes to MotoAmerica riding the momentum of a championship top-10 ranking in the 2018 Rookies Cup with seven top-10 race finishes.

Immediately prior to his Rookies Cup adventure, the Hollywood, Florida, resident burst onto the global racing scene with a spectacular performance in the 2015 KTM RC390 Cup World Finals. Kelly showcased his immense potential by scoring the Race One victory and finishing the World Finals ranked second overall. That same season, Kelly won the RC390 Cup Championship in the Bike Racing Mexico series. Kelly also boasts an extensive list of accomplishments at the club level, both in road racing and supermoto.

Kelly joins an established powerhouse in Team Hammer and its Suzuki GSX-R600 racebikes. Team Hammer has earned multiple national titles with its middleweight machinery over the years. And in the previous two MotoAmerica seasons alone, Team Hammer GSX-R600s have racked up a combined 34 MotoAmerica podium finishes, including six race wins.

"We’re always interested in working with the best young talent and that is not limited to what is happening in the United States,” said Team Manager Chris Ulrich. “Sean Dylan Kelly first caught my eye in 2015 with his performance in the RC Cup and we’ve kept track of him in the Rookies Cup over the past three years. We wondered how he’d do on our bike and then we got a chance to see him race a 1000 earlier this year at Homestead. He impressed me, so we decided to invite him to test with us at Barber after the MotoAmerica season finale. He flew straight in from Spain and immediately got down to business and showed how serious he is about racing. That test sealed it for us. He has already developed a lot of skill, has a professional attitude, and a very strong work ethic. Our goal is to help him grow over the next two years with a good team and a proven program, similar to the way we have worked with Kevin Schwantz, John Hopkins, Josh Hayes, and many other young American riders over the years.”