Suzuki Riders Swap Wins at MotoAmerica Round 4 (with video)
The Yoshimura Suzuki factory effort made another resounding statement in the EBC Brakes Superbike class at the fourth round of the MotoAmerica series at Road America on June 1-2. Rider Toni Elias and Josh Herrin each earned a victory on the same weekend for the second time this season, though the teammates battled each other in addition to their competitors on the rest of the grid.
Elias came out on top of a Race 1 battle that featured as many as seven riders at times and whittled down to four riders by the end of the race. At the finish line, Elias was .253 of a second ahead of his championship rival Cameron Beaubier to pull 29 points clear of the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory racing rider with six rounds and 12 races left in the title chase. Elias has 151 points to Beaubier’s 122.
Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff was a shadow third, just .787 of a second behind Elias. He was two seconds clear of Herrin until the final laps when he and Elias nearly clashed, and Herrin got the worst of it. Herrin was visibly upset after the race, gesturing at his teammate on the cool-down lap. Herrin ran wide on the final lap while trying to beat Gerloff and slipped to fourth.
“We finished the race and he was super mad at me,” Elias said of Herrin. “You can understand if someone is mad with a good reason, but the reason was we were doing the same thing and we were playing the same game. If you are frustrated because I pass you and you ran wide, I ran wide too, but it’s the last lap and we brake as we could. I didn’t want to make him do a wide line or lose some positions. I’m sorry about that, but I can’t accept the way he come to me and start to yelling like this. […] Nobody went to the ground. Nobody ran off the track. So, sorry but this is racing. I was trying to defend my side and I don’t feel I did anything wrong.
“But we did a good job as teammates. He helped me a lot for the first five or six laps. After we start to battle who arrive first in the finish line for the last five laps in case of red flag in the race. It was not only the last lap; it was the previous five laps when we start to pass each other. Then we found a lapper. I’m happy. We are doing a great job, but everybody is so fast. It’s so competitive, so close, and anything can happen. Let’s see tomorrow. I hope to have a good race tomorrow.”
MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike Race 1 highlights:
Herrin pulled out the win the next day, his second win of the year and the eighth of his AMA Superbike career. The Georgia native held off Beaubier by .506 of a second at the finish. Beaubier made a last-lap pass on Elias shortly before his teammate lost a front brake and went off-track into the gravel, making the successful weekend for the Suzuki riders somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory over Beaubier, who came away with the most championship points.
“I was comfortable sitting behind Toni,” said Herrin. “From just the glance I get at the monitors (JumboTron), it’s nicer to take a glance at the monitors than it is the pit board because it just shows you exactly where they are. I could see that we had a little gap on Cameron, I thought. I was just drafting Toni and then I’d kind of pull up alongside of him. One of the laps, I think he thought I was trying to race him down the back straight and maybe beat him on the brakes. I saw him shake his head and maybe getting frustrated. He just rolled off, like just go. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted to keep doing what you were doing and trying to break those guys because I know our bikes were running fast this year. But somehow it ended up working out in the end. I just knew that on the last lap I wanted to make a pass somewhere that for sure he wasn’t expecting it. I think where I did it was perfect and enough to kind of get him flustered. Then his whole plan kind of goes out the window. He was probably expecting me to go in on Canada Corner and come in a little hot and then cross back underneath him. So, it worked out perfect for me.
“It kind of felt like COTA all over again. I thought I was going to be able to break him after he made a mistake with three to go. I put my head down and did a couple 12.5s, but it wasn’t enough. I’m super happy with the result, obviously. But frustrated that it’s only my second podium of the year. Two wins are great, but we need more podiums. We’re far back in the points so the rest of the year we really got to put our head down. Now that I’m comfortable on the bike we just got to put our head down and hope for the best.”
MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike Race 2 highlights:
All five MotoAmerica classes join World Superbike at the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round with MotoAmerica on July 12-14. Tickets are available by clicking here or calling 831-242-8200.