MotoAmerica Press Office
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias won his first race of the 2019 MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike Series, the Spaniard besting Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz by 1.839 seconds under sunny skies in the Suzuki Championship at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The win, combined with his second place from Saturday, gives Elias the early lead in the EBC Brakes Superbike Championship with 45 points – four more than yesterday’s race winner Cameron Beaubier, who was third today.
As was the case yesterday, the Superbike race began with six riders running together at the front with those three – Elias, Scholtz and Beaubier – joined by Beaubier’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Garrett Gerloff, Attack Performance Estenson Racing’s JD Beach and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Josh Herrin.
Gerloff was the first to have issues, the Texan slowed by a front fender flapping in the wind. Despite repeated attempts at kicking the bodywork off his bike, Gerloff eventually had to pull over to remove the fender. He would continue onward and eventually finish ninth.
Herrin, meanwhile, lacked the pace to stay with the top four with the race coming down to just three in the final laps as the trio pulled slightly clear of Beach. Then both Beaubier and Scholtz were bauked badly by a back marker with two laps to go, costing them any shot at Elias and also allowing Beach to move to the tail of the battling duo. Scholtz ended up getting the edge on Beaubier to take second with Beach finishing just .3 of a second off the back of the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion.
Apparently, the birth of his son just a few weeks ago hasn’t slowed Elias who leaves the opening round with the points lead for the fourth straight season.
“Everybody was telling me that,” Elias said of his pace being slowed with having a child. “I was kind of worried. When he was born, in my head I said, ‘what the heck? Now I have a really strong reason to fight for,’ so that’s what happened. I’m super motivated. I didn’t slow down. So, I’m happy. This winter the team worked so good. But, honestly, I was thinking to be more comfortable in these first rounds. Last year to be more competitive we took a good direction. I was thinking this would change a little bit… but then we arrive here and seems different… all the time the bike is moving a lot around. We were going to do some changes for this morning, but we couldn’t try anything. For everybody it was the same. Same tire. Harder than yesterday.
"I was not thinking yesterday to do that slow pace. I think it’s the race. A little bit frustrated. I couldn’t do what I wanted. In the mid part of the race I start to lose a lot of grip, maybe less than JD and Mathew. But Cameron was so strong. I missed something there. Anyway, for today I was going to use the same tire as Dunlop wanted, and it was really good. The tire has been super consistent all the race, but we still have to improve in some areas. Anyway, yesterday 20 points. Could be zero. Now 25 (points), so perfect Sunday.”
Scholtz was much happier on Sunday, the South African putting his Yamaha second after fighting with Elias for most of the race.
“I was following Toni and I kind of thought that there were one or two places where I could pass him that would have been sketchy, but I think it would have been possible,” Scholtz said. “So, I was trying to save it for the final lap. Then, unfortunately, I think it was going into corner six, Cameron (Beaubier) passed me and then we were coming up on the lapped rider. I was hoping that Cameron was going to pass him and actually stand him up kind of thing, or the lapped rider would follow Cameron and I could draft him and sort of get up next to Cameron and pass him and set up the final lap. Unfortunately, he took them pretty hard. Cameron touched him, which kind of let me pass Cameron, but then the lapped rider sort of moved from the right-hand side to the left and we both had to shut off. Then I was worried about JD catching us.
"The final lap I just passed Cameron and Toni was maybe about one to two seconds up. I knew I was never going to catch him, so I was riding pretty defensively after that. I was very, very happy to be up here in second place after yesterday’s fourth. It was a little bit of a disaster towards the end yesterday. I was sketchy. I was almost crashing at every corner. So we made a change, and now it’s almost 10 times better. So, we’ll just keep on moving forward and finish on the podium at every race.”
Based on his past results in the season opener, Beaubier was also pleased with how things went over the course of the weekend and he leaves with a solid point score of 41 after a win and third-place finish.
“At the end of the day I’m pretty happy coming out of here with a first and a third and a decent amount of points - a lot more points than we’ve come out of the first round in the last few years,” Beaubier said. “So, I’m thankful for that, but I’m pretty frustrated with how the race went. I felt like I got off to a lot better start than I did yesterday. My first couple laps were quite a bit better than yesterday. I just couldn’t really do anything. I couldn’t drive on anybody.
"We made a couple changes this morning and we didn’t get to evaluate them. So we just kind of went into the race like that thinking it was going to be better. I think it was worse. But at the end of the day, we’re coming out of here with good points, like I said. I can make all the excuses I want. I just got flat out beat. These two are riding really, really good right now. It was a tough day, but I’m happy we salvaged some good points, like I said, starting as far back as we did. I’m excited it’s race season. Time to go racing.”
Herrin ended up fifth in his second race on the Yoshimura Suzuki, the Georgian having crashed out of Saturday’s race. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis was sixth, well behind Herrin and ahead of FLY Racing/ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony, the team owner rider having a solid weekend with sixth- and seventh-place finishes.
Ameris Bank/CCFOfficeSolutions.com’s Geoff May finished eighth with Gerloff and Omega Moto’s Cameron Petersen rounding out the top 10.
Kyle Wyman and Jake Gagne both failed to finish. Wyman crashed the KWR Ducati and Gagne had mechanical issues with the Scheibe Racing BMW.