The Year That Was: 2017 Sonoma Raceway

Brian J Nelson

MotoAmerica Press Office

Simply put, no one dominated a MotoAmerica Motul Superbike race weekend like Cameron Beaubier dominated Sonoma Raceway.

Beaubier, who lives 90 minutes away from Sonoma Raceway, was superior in Superbike racing’s return to the popular venue in the Northern California wine country. Beaubier was on top of his game from the moment the team rolled his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 off the truck and he stayed there until the truck was packed on Sunday night.

The two-time MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Champion led every session on Friday and Saturday, earned pole position in Superpole, and then went out and decimated the competition in both races. On Saturday, Beaubier beat his rival Toni Elias by over six seconds for his third win of the season and on Sunday he backed that up with his fourth win of the year. Again, the win came over Yoshimura Suzuki’s Elias and again it was dominant – 7.2 seconds. Beaubier's teammate Josh Hayes finished third in both races, the four-time Superbike Champion continuing to perform well at Sonoma Raceway.

The two wins were Beaubier’s first and only double wins of the 2017 season. His victory in Sunday’s race the 23rd Superbike win of his career.

“I’m just really happy with how the whole weekend went,” the 24-year-old Beaubier said in the understatement of the year. “We made a few changes here and there to get a bit more comfortable, but I think we made a good step fine tuning the electronics, which we had been struggling with a bit this year. All in all, it was a really successful weekend for us. I’m just happy I can get this done for Yamaha. I know how hard they work and they want to win really bad. I’m ready to go win in Pittsburgh.”

Although Beaubier’s two wins likely caused a bit of a concern in the Suzuki pit, it’s doubtful that Elias lost too much sleep. After all, Elias finished second twice after starting from ninth on the grid (the 12th and 13th podium finishes of the season to that point – out of 14 races) and he actually was able to stretch his lead in the championship to 80 over teammate Roger Hayden, the Kentuckian losing second in the title chase to Beaubier with his miserable weekend.

How so? Well, Hayden had his first and really only weekend to forget in the Sonoma round, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider failing to finish either of the two Motul Superbike races. On Saturday, Hayden was taken out by Josh Herrin on the first lap and on Sunday he crashed by himself on the third lap. Thus, his points tally from Sonoma was a big goose egg and he put himself in an 80-point hole heading to Pittsburgh.

Beaubier now trailed Elias by 70 points as the series readied itself for its debut at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

In the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz split wins with Lewis winning on Saturday and Scholtz taking victory on Sunday. Scholtz left California with a 51-point lead in the title chase over Lewis.

Beaubier wasn’t the only rider to stamp his authority on the Sonoma Raceway weekend. Texan Garrett Gerloff matched his quasi teammate’s effort by sweeping to wins in both Supersport races. On Saturday, Gerloff sped off at the start to take the win then showed he could start slower and still win on Sunday. Gerloff’s teammate JD Beach was second both times out with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise third in both races. Gerloff now led Beach by 14 points.

The Superstock 600 races were won by Canadian Braeden Ortt on the Tuned Yamaha and Team MG55’s Michael Gilbert. The win for Ortt was his first in the class with Gilbert taking his third victory of the season. Gilbert’s win, which came via a remarkable last lap, moved him closer to Jason Aguilar in the championship. He trailed his good friend and training partner by 14 points as the series left California for the last time.

KTM RC Cup races are seldom runaways. But on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway, that’s exactly what happened with Quarterley Racing/On Track Development’s Benjamin Smith besting Cory Ventura by an astounding 11 seconds. On Sunday, normalcy returned with Ventura beating Smith to the line by just .394 of a second.

Ventura’s third win of the season vaulted him to second in the championship, 37 points behind Smith.