MotoAmerica News Round-Up

Brian J Nelson

MotoAmerica and Team Releases

Beaubier Leads Two-Day Thunderhill Test

Five of the top Superbike racers in the MotoAmerica Superbike Series converged on Thunderhill Raceway Park, January 30-31, for a preseason test with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier and Garrett Gerloff joined at the Northern California racetrack by Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias and Josh Herrin and the one-man Estenson Racing/Attack Performance team of JD Beach.

When all was said and done after two solid days of testing in chamber-of-commerce weather, it was three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier emerging with the quickest lap – a 1:45.2, which is a few tenths slower than his best at Thunderhill.

“It was just good to ride really,” Beaubier said. “The Buttonwillow test (a few weeks earlier) was a good shakedown on trying to get comfortable riding again and then Thunderhill was kinda the same thing, especially the first day. I didn’t really feel very good on Wednesday, honestly. I was a bit frustrated with how I was riding, but I woke up on Thursday and got comfortable pretty quickly and felt good the rest of the day. It was good to ride.”

Beaubier and Monster Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff didn’t have much to test, which Beaubier found refreshing.

“In reality, it was nice to not really have to test too many things. We messed with (swingarm) pivot adjustment and stuff like that a little bit, but it was nice to just go ride. When there’s a lot to test, you’re always coming in and out, in and out. At this test, I was actually able to do a couple of long race stints – one on Wednesday and another on Thursday. We got some riding fitness going and it felt good.”

Beaubier doesn’t think this will be a big off-season for changes when it comes to his Yamaha YZF-R1.

“I think we have what we have, but I know Rick (Hobbs, his crew chief) has been working on some motor stuff that I actually tried this test and it was an improvement so I’m happy with that,” Beaubier said. “It’s got a little bit more mid-range, which is where we’ve been struggling. Hopefully, we can continue in that direction. It was good. In reality, it was just a good shakedown and was mostly about trying to get comfortable again. We didn’t go as fast as we’d gone there before, but I had a really good feel and picked up where we left off.”

With five of the top Superbikes in attendance, Beaubier said the pace was hot.

“JD (Beach) looked good,” Beaubier said of the MotoAmerica Superbike rookie and two-time Supersport Champion. “I was watching at the end of the day and JD was riding good. He looks comfy on that thing already. It was good to be on track with some fast guys.”

Without any official MotoAmerica timing and scoring at the test, lap times were recorded by the teams. With Beaubier leading the way at a 1:45.2, second quickest went to Elias with the Spaniard lapping at 1:45.5. Then came Gerloff with his 1:45.7 followed by Elias’ new teammate Herrin, the Georgian lapping at 1:45.9. Beach’s best lap was a 1:46.5.

Elias was somewhat downbeat in explaining his test and you get the feeling he just wants to go racing already.

“The test was good and I’m happy with team again,” the Spaniard said. “We are working really good and I’m happy about the bike. We have mostly the same material as last year and we will race the same bike with small details trying to improve the things we saw the last part of the season. I’m happy with the work, but it’s not quite the things we are looking for. The motivation we have at the winter tests is not the same as what we have when we go racing. It’s a personal thing. It’s not about the team, it’s not about the bike. Three days before the start of the first practice of the first race, a big motivation come to me and I want to race so bad. Right now, I don’t feel that energy and that energy helps. But I’m very happy working and we don’t know exactly what the others use, what tires they use, what exactly are the reasons. We know the lap time, but it’s just winter and we work towards making things more clear.”

Gerloff continues to gain confidence the more he rides the Superbike as he prepares for his sophomore season in the class.

“We worked on some small things, chassis stuff, and trying to find a good feel,” Gerloff said. “The track was a little green, so grip was a little different than what we normally have. We did a lot of work on setup and ‘end-of-the-race’ kind of stuff. Knocked off some cobwebs and now I’ve got some momentum going into our next test. I’ve got a year under my belt on the Superbike, so I feel confident heading into the season, and I’m ready to fight for race wins.”

Herrin continues to learn as much as he can about the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and he’s putting in a lot of time working with electronics.

“I think it was really good,” Herrin said of the test. “I love the bike but obviously we have to figure some things out. I was able to adapt to it well, but now we’re in the stage where it’s like a trial and error period. It’s like try this shock setting and see how you like it. I need to see which direction I don’t like so when we go to a track and need to try something we know for sure which way not to go. We were able to do that. We did a bunch with the electronics. Me and Toni (Elias) are setting the bike up exactly the same, which is a good thing for a team because it speeds up the process of the development so fast.”

Beach had his first outing with “Big Four” and came away from the test pleased with the results and with a smile on his face.

“It went really good,” Beach said. “We made some headway with the bike, I think, and I’m definitely learning a lot about riding it. I’m having to adapt my style a little bit to better suit the 1000, and that’s going well. The bike is fast and I’m really enjoying it.”

Jake Gagne Back In MotoAmerica Superbike On A Scheibe Racing BMW

After a season of racing in the Superbike World Championship for the Red Bull Honda team, Californian Jake Gagne is returning to the MotoAmerica Series for 2019, joining the Scheibe Racing team where he will compete in MotoAmerica’s Superbike series aboard the #32 BMW S 1000 RR.

“I’m excited to be back in the MotoAmerica paddock,” Gagne said. “I missed all the fans and the racetracks, and I’m really happy to be racing in America again. I’m ready to get to work, keep having some fun, keep learning, and try to build on Scheibe Racing’s already excellent program.”

Steve Scheibe, owner of Scheibe Racing, said: “We’re thrilled to have Jake on our team. He’s a talented young rider, and I’m confident that, together, we will continue to move our program forward. We’ve been racing the BMW Superbike for a few years now, and we’re ready to take the bike to an even higher level.”

Scheibe has worked with a who’s-who of motorcycle racers over the years, including Miguel DuHamel, Chris Carr, Thomas Wilson, Doug Chandler, Pascal Picotte, Scott Russell, Steve Rapp, Sylvain Barrier, Jason Disalvo, and most recently, Danny Eslick.

Jake Lewis Back For More With M4 ECSTAR Suzuki

Team Hammer, Inc. is happy to confirm that it will again field Jake Lewis aboard an M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the MotoAmerica Superbike class for the upcoming 2019 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing season.

Last year, the 2015 MotoAmerica Superbike Rookie of the Year again established himself as a week-in, week-out front-runner in his full-time return to the premier category. The lanky Kentucky native ripped off 13 top-five finishes during his 2018 campaign, including a podium performance at Utah Motorsports Campus.

He ended the season ranked sixth in the title fight, just a single point removed from fifth.

Having just turned 23 in November, Lewis is just starting to tap into his full potential despite an already heavily decorated racing résumé. Among his many accomplishments, Lewis was 2012 SuperSport East Champion, 2013 Daytona SportBike Rookie of the Year, 2014 Daytona SportBike Championship runner-up, 2015 MotoAmerica Superbike Rookie of the Year, and 2017 MotoAmerica Superstock Championship runner-up.

This year will mark Lewis’ fourth consecutive season with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki.

“I’m glad we were able to continue and that I’ll be back on a Suzuki again with the same team I’ve been with for the past few years,” said Lewis. ” I have a ton of confidence in the team and know what to expect and we work well together. I feel like we’ve been able to gain some momentum and I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Lewis feels the 2019 season will bring his best results yet. “The new electronics rules will help us a lot and I also feel like the two-day events will play into our favor as well,” Lewis said. “The Superbike class is going to be stacked. The level of talent is really good. That makes it more exciting for me and that will make it entertaining for the fans, too. This off-season, I have been working hard on what it takes to be mentally ready for the start of the year and I’m about to head to Texas to get my pre-season training in.”

“This will be our fourth year with Jake and we are happy with how he has progressed in his time with us,” said Team Manager Chris Ulrich. “We think he is an exceptional young talent who will be on the racing scene for a long time. Jake continues to improve his technical skills and his ability to provide accurate feedback to the team. He’s overcome injuries and adversity and produced results on the track once again. We’re looking forward to working with him as his career continues to develop.”

Bobby Fong Set For MotoAmerica Supersport With M4 ECSTAR Suzuki

Team Hammer, Inc. is thrilled to announce the signing of Bobby Fong to contest the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship aboard an M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600 in 2019.

Fong has long been recognized as one of the most talented, exciting, and flat-out fastest riders in the MotoAmerica paddock.

Throughout his career, Fong has logged nearly 40 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica podium finishes spread across five classes.

Fong was a certified giant-slayer in 2016 and 2017 as a Superstock 1000 competitor. During that span, he notched up 10 race victories and scored a pair of outright Superbike podiums despite his more restricted Superstock equipment.

Last season, Fong continued to show front-running potential in the premier class with a fourth-place result to kick off the year.

For 2019, the 28-year-old will return to middleweight duty, where he first made his mark as a professional. Fong burst onto the scene with a photo-finish Daytona SportBike (DSB) race win over Team Hammer’s Martin Cardenas in 2010, and logged double-digit podiums in DSB and Supersport competition over the subsequent several seasons.

“I am super excited for this opportunity. The team and I have talked about me joining since 2010, but it never panned out before now,” said Fong. “I’m here to win races on the Suzuki but also to do well in the championship, too. This is a winning package and the team is very well established with a history of success. I have a lot of experience racing for different teams and in different classes over the years and I am stoked to be on the 600 again with a really strong team. I think we can make it work and have a lot of success together.”

“We’ve been trying to put together a deal with Bobby for a number of years and the team has always knew he was a strong competitor. We needed a ‘Top Gun’ to come in with our great crew and fast bike and go for the championship,” said Team Manager Chris Ulrich. “Bobby is the right man for the job and now is the right time.

“We think Bobby will thrive in a stable, professional environment and show his full potential,” Ulrich added. “Bobby has a strong history of producing results and has shown he will fight and battle, no matter what the odds. We like that he has a dirt-track background as well, especially for the 600 class where we’ve seen that aggressiveness can really pay off.”

Kyle Wyman To Race Ducati In MotoAmerica Superbike

Kyle Wyman Racing has announced that Kyle Wyman will race a Ducati Panigale V4R in the  2019 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship. Wyman will campaign the Ducati with leadership from trusted crew chief Gary Dean and his shop, Speed Demon Motorcycles.

The move to the Panigale is a big change for Wyman and the team, who will be competing in its fourth consecutive season in MotoAmerica’s premier class. Originally approached by the multi-line dealer On Any Moto, based in Tucson, Arizona, Wyman rode the Panigale V4S, the 1100cc version of the V-four platform, out at Inde Motorsports Ranch in early December as a test of Ducati’s incoming production 1000cc Superbike. KWR will field the impressive new V4R that is homologated for Superbike competition worldwide.

“I’m excited to be starting a new chapter for KWR, and fielding a motorcycle that, on paper, is an absolute weapon,” Wyman said. “The Panigale V4R has shown its potential in tests and press launches and we expect to have a well rounded motorcycle in our stable. With Gary Dean in my corner, I know we will be able to develop the bike into a competitive machine in 2019.”

KWR also welcomes back Lucas Oil Products as a partner for the 2019 season, for a seventh year running. Wyman will utilize Lucas Oil lubricants and cleaning products in the race machine as well as transporter and support vehicles. Lucas Oil will title sponsor the KWR Superbike at the first round of the season, Road Atlanta.

“Lucas Oil has been a loyal partner of KWR since 2013, and I’m thrilled to have them aboard as we make our transition to the Ducati,” Wyman said. “It’s companies like Lucas that eliminate variables in my program and give us the reliability we need to be a threat on the race track each weekend. I look forward to having them as a title partner for the opening round at Road Atlanta.”