MotoAmerica Press Office
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias didn’t know what it was like to lose the series opener and Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier didn’t know what it was like to win one. Now they both know.
Beaubier beat Elias by 2.732 seconds today at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the Californian ending Elias’ perfect streak of winning every season opener since the Spaniard came to the MotoAmerica Series in 2016.
Beaubier was happy to start the season so well, given that it’s not the norm.
“Yesterday, after the struggles we had, I was like, ‘this is the first round, this is first-round bullcrap,' ” Beaubier said. “But it definitely turned around on us today. I had a really good practice this morning. Just got loose and felt more comfortable on the bike. We actually got some laps in. I knew going into the race it was going to be definitely a challenge, especially at the beginning just because I’m not known to be the best starter. I was back in 11th place, so I was able to slowly work my way up the first couple laps. I was watching the show. I was watching Toni (Elias) and Josh (Herrin) stuff each other, so it was pretty wild. I slowly started seeing them come back. JD (Beach) and Matty (Scholtz) were riding really good. I could not find any way around them.
"I was struggling a little bit off the last corner onto the back straight, and also the last corner onto the front straight. It was tough to line something up on the brakes. So, all in all I’m really happy. I really wasn’t expecting that after the day we had yesterday. Toni kind of handed me a gift there a little bit. It would have been a little different. It definitely would have been a dogfight there at the end. I’m really happy the way the season started. It’s just a good feeling being on the podium with this guy over here (JD Beach). We grew up racing together since we were 10 years old. So, it’s pretty cool. We are sitting on the Superbike podium together.”
The first EBC Brakes Superbike race was everything we thought it would be with six riders fighting at the front until two of the front runners crashed out. Pole sitter Garrett Gerloff crashed his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 on the third lap while battling for the lead and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin followed suit on the 11thlap while also battling at the front.
That left four to battle with Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach and Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz in the fight at the front with Beaubier and Elias. The battle for victory would come down to Beaubier vs. Elias with Elias running off track in the final corner with four laps to go, handing the win to his rival. The miscue dropped Elias to fourth, but he battled back to finish second, passing Beach right at the finish line.
“Well, even if we are learning new things, the bike is really competitive,” Elias said. “I feel I can be able to be competitive in more than one part of the race. So, I know this before the race, but everything was different than what we expect. Everybody was thinking (Garrett) Gerloff could open some gap at the beginning. I was thinking I could follow him. That was our target.
"We knew Cameron (Beaubier) was really fast coming from the back. But everything was different. I had some trouble in the start. The bike didn’t go to neutral, then stayed in second. Then I had a super bad start where normally I’m really good at that. Then I just tried to overtake a little bit, little by little. Then I see Gerloff crash in front of me. Start to battle with my teammate Josh Herrin. Then we lose a great opportunity to be one and two. We have to learn that for the future. But the races are like this.”
Elias thought the Yoshimura Suzuki teammates would have been better off not racing each other and slowing each other down.
“That’s why I was trying so hard because my rhythm was better and I was trying to pass him and go,” Elias said. “I knew he (Beaubier) was coming. So, everything was not as we planned before. So, we played that game. We lost both, but Cam arrived just in the right moment. Cam was there and said, okay. We have to play again with Cameron in the end, so we played a little bit and a mistake. This time was different. Was the same situation but opposite in the last corner. But a mistake, I lost everything in the gravel. It could be worse. I’m happy because, like I said before, I am able to think like last year was impossible. In two laps I came back from fourth position to the second, so amazing. Great job for JD too, and congratulations, Cam.”
Beach may have been beaten at the line by Elias, but it was still his first-ever Superbike podium in his MotoAmerica Superbike debut.
“I was definitely surprised for sure,” Beach said of being able to run with the top Superbike men. “I was wanting to try and get a start with them and see what I could learn. The last time I raced one (a Superbike), I did nothing but really crash it. So I don’t really have much time from then, so it was just getting a start. I got the holeshot and I was like, ‘holy crap.’ I was leading the first lap and then Josh (Herrin) passed me. Then we got about halfway through and I was still up there. I’m like, ‘are these guys going to start going or what?’ It was an awesome race. It was fun. To get up here my first time on the bike at a track that I’m not usually great at, I’m happy. I just hope Garrett (Gerloff) and Josh (Herrin) are good for the race tomorrow. We got a lot of good data from the race today. Hopefully we can do a bit better tomorrow.”
Scholtz ended up fourth, some four seconds behind Beach with FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony fifth on his Kawasaki ZX-10R.
KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, Scheibe Racing BMW’s Jake Gagne, Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen and Ameris Bank/CCFOfficeSolutions.com’s Geoff May rounded out the top 10.