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Elias Pads Championship Lead on Saturday in Monterey

Toni Elias (24) beat Roger Hayden (95) to take the Race 1 win in Monterey | Photo: Brian J. Nelson

MONTEREY, Calif. (July 8, 2017) – Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias won his seventh Motul Superbike race of the season today on a blazing hot afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the first of the two races that make up the Honda Superbike Championship of the Monterey Peninsula.

Elias was in a fight for the majority of the race with his teammate Roger Hayden, the Kentuckian coming up half a second short at the finish after the Spaniard was badly balked by a lapped rider on the penultimate lap. Elias’ seventh victory of the season gives him a 35-point lead over Hayden going into tomorrow’s Race 2 of what is Round 6 of the 2017 MotoAmerica Series.

“I’m so happy (to avoid an incident with a lapper on lap 22),” Elias said. “I was trying to open a gap (on second) and I could do it two or three times, but always I found some slow guys (lappers) in the middle who blocked me and blocked Roger (Hayden). Then I lost that little gap, especially the last two laps, it was worse for me, but at the end everything was good. I continue doing my pace the last lap and still open a little gap.

“My team was really good because the ride (on the bike) was so nice. I felt more or less comfortable. The race was hard, but my momentum (lap times) was always the same. I’m so happy, my dream was to win here in Laguna Seca and at the end I really came through and it was perfect.”

Hayden was helped by the lapped rider with two laps to go, but he needed just a bit more pace to beat his teammate.

“That lapper did me a favor there those last couple laps and let me close back up on Toni (Elias),” Hayden said. “I tried to push the last lap, but he was just a little bit stronger than I was today. Hopefully, we can make a couple changes and be a little faster tomorrow. He (Elias) was a little better than me in a couple places and he kind of opened the gap back up. That lapper just needed to hold him up a little bit more. He almost did me a favor, but it was a good race. Tomorrow I think will be a better fight, (especially) if Cameron (Beaubier) is there at the beginning. He’s also really tough here. It could be three guys (battling for the win).”

Third place today went to Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier, the two-time defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion having a tough time in Turn 1 on the opening lap that pushed him back to sixth place at the end of the lap. From there he fought through to third, but, despite having the fastest lap of the race, couldn’t make serious inroads into the Yoshimura Suzuki pair’s lead. He ended up 7.0 seconds behind and is now 57 points behind Elias in the title chase.

“There right at the beginning my nose got cut off a little bit in the first corner,” Beaubier said. “It put me back to eighth or so, and I just fought my way (forward) and put my head down. I fought as hard as I could. My teammate (Josh Hayes) is hard to pass, he’s really good around here (at Laguna Seca). We had a little scrap going that kind of set us back about a half second or so. I just kept my head down, chipping away, but these guys (Elias and Hayden) were on rails today. I’ve got a great bike and a great team. We’re going to put our heads together and see what we can come up with for tomorrow, and see if we can fight for a win. We’re right over halfway (into the season) and we’re going to fight ‘til the end.”

Fourth place went to Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African coming out on top of the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class in the process. Scholtz was also hampered in Turn 1 on the opening lap, but had clear sailing to victory after that.

“In the first corner quite a few things happened there,” Scholtz said. “Beaubier touched (Josh) Herrin and I was on the outside of them and kind of got a terrible first lap from there. I was putting my head down and set some pretty decent times [that allowed me] to work my way through. I managed to actually open up a pretty decent lead over the Superstock guys, and I was really happy with that. I just have to thank the Yamalube Westby guys. They worked really hard for me and gave me a perfect bike. That really showed now, I did 23 laps at roughly the same pace. I was really happy. I could have picked things up [my pace] there at the end if I needed to. Overall, I’m really happy. I’m looking forward to the second race to see what we can do.”

Behind him there was a battle to the line between MotoAmerica first-timer Anthony West on the Fly Street/Motul Oils/ADR Motorsports Kawasaki, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis and Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong. Aussie West got the nod by .432 of a second over Lewis in the battle for fifth with Fong a shadow seventh. Those three were second, third and fourth in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 results.

TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick rode mostly alone to eighth place with Scheibe Racing/Hayes Brakes BMW-mounted Jason DiSalvo and Helmet Services/Meen Motorsports’ Bryce Prince rounding out the top 10.

Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes crashed out of fourth place near the end of the race; Helmet Services/Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin pitted after running with the leaders early on and rejoined to finish 11th; Kyle Wyman was a non-finisher after running fifth early on when his Motovation USA/Lucas Oils/KWR Yamaha suffered a mechanical failure.