– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MotoAmerica Previews Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Round

MotoAmerica Superbike_070516

Toni Elias (24) and Cameron Beaubier (1) split wins in Utah with Roger Hayden (95) third in both races. Now the MotoAmerica Series heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for round eight and the third race in the Honda Superbike Showdown. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

COSTA MESA, CA, JULY 5 – The 2016 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship won’t be decided this coming weekend on the Monterey Peninsula, but the Honda Superbike Showdown most certainly will as the three-race series within a series concludes, July 8-10, with one rider set to leave Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday behind the wheel of a brand-new 2016 Honda Civic Sedan.

The finale of the Honda Superbike Showdown will be held in conjunction with the ninth round of the World Superbike Championship at the iconic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier heads the points table in both the Honda Showdown and the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.

Beaubier’s lead in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship going into round eight of nine is 25 points, but that lead heading into the finale of the Honda Superbike Showdown is a mere four points over Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Roger Hayden and Toni Elias, 82-78.

Beaubier, who won the second of the two Superbike races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year en route to taking the Superbike crown, has won seven of the 14 races held thus far in 2016 and he’s looking forward to what is his home round.

“Laguna Seca is my home race and it’s the one I look forward to all year,” said Beaubier, who resides in Roseville, California. “It’s cool racing with the World Superbike guys and in front of a big crowd. I also have plenty of family and friends coming so it all makes for a great weekend. I’m also in a good spot in the championship so that and going to a track I really like has me feeling good.”

Two rounds remain in the 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Series: This weekend’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round and the series finale at New Jersey Motorsports Park in September. Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha’s Beaubier is in the catbird seat with four races to go, leading the other three of the Fab Four by 25 points. The battle behind him is tight with his teammate Josh Hayes second with 228 points followed in rapid succession by Elias with 227 and Hayden with 226. That means just 27 points separate the top four as they arrive on the Monterey Peninsula.

Behind the top four comes Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin, the Georgian fifth overall in the Superbike Championship and firmly in control of the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship after ripping off six straight wins. Herrin leads Quicksilver/Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong by 42 points with two rounds and four races remaining, with HSBK Aprilia’s Claudio Corti another eight points behind in third place.

The MotoAmerica Supersport Championship is being fought out between Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammates Garrett Gerloff and JD Beach with Gerfloff holding a 23-point advantage over the defending series champion. Beach, however, is on a hot one, the Kentuckian riding a four-race win streak coming into Laguna. Gerloff, who got off to a fast start with wins in six of the first eight races, can finish second to Beach in the remaining three races (Supersport only races once at Mazda Raceway) and still take the title by eight points.

The men most likely to assist Beach are M4 Suzuki teammates Valentin Debise and Cameron Petersen, the pair having each won a race this year. Those two are also third and fourth in the title chase with 194 and 165 points, respectively. Meen Motorsports’ Joe Roberts could also be a factor, though the non-defending Superstock 600 Champion will be racing with an arm injury at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca after a crash two weeks ago in Utah.

The Superstock 600 Championship has already been tucked away tightly in the pocket of Riders Discount/Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince, the Californian having wrapped up the series title a round ago at Utah Motorsports Park. Prince has won seven races this season and holds an insurmountable 114-point lead over Millennium/Kyle Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman and HB Racing/Meen Motorsports Yamaha’s Dakota Mamola, the pair tied for second and 13 points ahead of fourth-placed Richie Escalante on the second HB Racing Yamaha.

The tightest championship battle with two rounds remaining is in the KTM RC Cup where Brandon Paasch leads Anthony Mazziotto III by just 15 points. Paasch has five wins to four for Mazziotto and the two New Jersey riders are set to take this title fight to the bitter end. Aston Yates, meanwhile, continues his late season charge after winning his second race of the season in race two in Utah a few weeks ago.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Notes

Cameron Beaubier is quickly moving up the all-time win list in Superbike racing. With his win in race one at Utah Motorsports Park two weeks ago, Beaubier moved out of a tie with Nicky Hayden for sixth on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with 18 career victories. With two more wins, Beaubier will move into a tie for fifth on the all-time list with three-time AMA Superbike Champion Fred Merkel.

Josh Hayes is the winningest active rider in the MotoAmerica Series. The four-time AMA Superbike Champion has won 59 AMA Superbike races in his career, a mark that places him second on the all-time list behind Australian Mat Mladin. Of those 59 wins, five have come at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. When he won race one last year, it was Hayes’ fifth Superbike win in a row at Laguna. Hayes won in 2012, won both the July and September races in 2013 and won again in 2014. Last year, Hayes won race one with Beaubier barely beating Roger Hayden and Hayes to the line to win race two. Hayes won his first career Superbike race in May of 2009 at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Although Beaubier has opened up a 25-point lead in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, the fight for the title is far from over. With two races set for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and two more for New Jersey Motorsports Park in September, there are 100 points still up for grabs. The battle for second in the championship, meanwhile, couldn’t be any closer with only two points separating Hayes in second from Roger Hayden in fourth and Toni Elias is sandwiched in between. Beaubier has 253 points, Hayes has 228, Elias has 227 and Hayden has 226.

Four riders have won Superbike races in 2016: Beaubier (7), Elias (5), Hayden (1) and Hayes (1). Last year Hayes won 10 races en route to finishing second in the title chase to Beaubier; Beaubier came away with eight race wins in 2015 as those two swept the series with 18 wins between them.

Former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner Toni Elias won his fifth race of the season at Utah Motorsports Park two weeks ago. Elias now has five wins on the season and three other podium finishes and sits third in the title chase – 26 points behind Beaubier.

With Elias winning race two in Utah, Suzuki now has 179 victories in the Superbike class. That’s well clear of Honda’s 116 Superbike class wins. Yamaha won all 18 races in last year’s MotoAmerica Superbike Championship and this year has eight race wins to Suzuki’s six. Yamaha has 98 Superbike wins to its credit in Superbike series history.

Hayes and Beaubier are the only current riders in the Superbike class to have tasted Superbike success at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In addition to winning Superbike race two last year, Beaubier has also won three Daytona SportBike (now Supersport) races on the Monterey Peninsula. With his fifth Superbike win coming last year, Hayes is now the winningest Superbike racer of all time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, moving out of a tie with Mat Mladin.

Several other MotoAmerica racers have won at Laguna. Josh Herrin won the Supersport final there in 2007; Roger Hayden also won a Supersport race at Laguna in 2007; Danny Eslick won a Daytona SportBike race (now Supersport) in 2011; Benny Solis won a Supersport race at Laguna in 2011; and Joe Roberts won Supersport in 2013.

MotoAmerica president and three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey won two Superbike races at Laguna (1983 and 1986) and three 500cc Grand Prix (1989, 1990 and 1991). MotoAmerica race director Doug Chandler has also tasted success at Laguna, winning two Superbike races (1996 and 1997) as well as two Supersport races in April and July of 1998.

Hayes qualified on pole position for last year’s race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a lap of 1:24.538. It was Hayes’ fourth pole in Monterey.

Last year’s Supersport race win at Laguna went to JD Beach, the Kentucky resident earning the 2015 Supersport title. Beach comes to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on a hot streak, having won the last four races. He trails his teammate Garrett Gerloff by 23 points in the 2016 title chase coming into the lone California round.