Beaubier, Gagne Shine at Road America in GoPro Daytona SportBike
NEWS June 6, 2013
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 6, 2013) - The AMA Pro Go Pro Daytona SportBike field faced a tough challenge at Road America. At the season opener, Yamaha Extended Services/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier ran away with a convincing victory – a rare runaway win in a class known for title battles. Beaubier put his stamp on the race in such a way that it looked like the Californian could dominate each time out. For Round 2 in Wisconsin, the challenge for everyone else was clear: find a way to stop Cam.
In the end, Beaubier split the weekend’s victory haul with RoadRace Factory/ Red Bull’s Jake Gagne. Despite a fantastic win from Beaubier, Gagne showed a way to beat the class pacesetter on Sunday in one of the best AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike races in recent memory.
The Beaubier/Gagne rivalry has been shaping up for a few seasons. Beaubier was a bit ahead of his fellow Californian in the path to GoPro Daytona SportBike. Both were involved with the Red Bull Rookies Cup program and each man has raced in Europe, but the two young guns didn’t face off on a regular basis until Gagne joined GoPro Daytona SportBike last year.
There are a lot of similarities between the two smooth, fast riders but each brings his own skill set to the game. And no one believes GoPro Daytona SportBike is the final destination in their careers.
Beaubier’s agenda this season is readily apparent. He’s charged with bringing home the series title for Yamaha, one that has eluded them in recent years despite being at the front in most on-track battles. After winning seven races last season, Cam has already shown he’s earned a promotion but he has business to accomplish for his manufacturer. Beaubier has gone about it with great success in 2013, with two wins and a second setting up as an ideal way to start a potential championship season.
On Saturday, Beaubier fought with Gagne in the early going but was able to kick up the pace and ride perfect laps to pull away starting on lap four. He was able to pull away for a 2.693-second win. “I got a decent start and I was trying to save my tires a little bit in the beginning,” Cameron said after his second win of 2013. “But those guys behind me were racing hard, so I had to pick up the pace. I’m really happy with the win today.”
“He took off out of nowhere and caught me by surprise. I made a few mistakes,” said Gagne afterward, “but I’m happy with second.”
On Sunday, Gagne was able to work the plan he had for Saturday. Stick with Cameron, get out in front and dictate the pace. It’s a similar strategy Josh Hayes’ rivals have tried to top the reigning champ in National Guard SuperBike. Beaubier is a similar racer to Hayes, one that can concentrate on very clean, smooth, and fast laps that separate him from the pack. If left alone to run clean laps, he’ll run away. The best hope for Gagne and the other GoPro Daytona SportBikes protagonists is to pester Cam every corner and change the way the race is run.
The weather was much cooler on Sunday and it certainly looked like the more challenging conditions. Gagne was in the lead in short order while Beaubier took three quarters of a lap to get up into second over fast-starting Jake Lewis (Meen Motorsports.) Gagne put his stamp on the race on lap three. Beaubier had drafted past on the straight, but Gagne battled back to regain the lead heading into turn five. This was not going to be a runaway.
The two traded moves until Cameron earned some breathing space at halfway. With four to go, Gagne had caught back up, though. The middleweight machines were really moving around under braking and acceleration as the riders pushed things to the limit.
With three to go, Beaubier overcooked it going into turn 11 and Gagne led by 3.5 seconds. He was able to consolidate the gap to the flag and take his second GoPro Daytona SportBike victory in the process at the 4.0-mole circuit.
“Cam was riding so good and we had an awesome battle,” said Gagne. “We worked some things out (with the bike) and I’m stoked to get a win. He pushed me hard but he made a mistake at the end.”
Beaubier was a little tough on himself after the 13-lap contest. “It was a pretty frustrating race. I didn’t ride a clean race at all. I was all over the place, making mistakes, over braking corners. I almost high sided once … it was pretty frustrating. Jake rode an awesome race.”
So Beaubier leads the points battle after three races, with 15 points over Gagne. With Barber next, this rivalry is heating up just in time for summer. “I’m happy to pick up the points and move on the next round,” said Beaubier.
The battle for third at Road America was another split decision. J.D. Beach (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) and Lewis raced for position on the track both times out and each took a podium placing for their efforts.
It’s hard to think of Beach as an elder statesman, but that was the case when it came to facing off with fellow Kentucky resident Jake Lewis. Beach had holeshots in both races and was able to convert that to third on Saturday and fourth on Sunday. “I’ve watched (Lewis) ride for a long time and I knew where I was stronger. I had a plan in case he was in front on the last lap. I was in front and tried to nail the last three turns and it worked out perfect. I was able to hold it.”
On Sunday, Lewis proved a point in what was a breakthrough weekend for him. The reigning Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East champ, Lewis moved up to GoPro Daytona SportBike for 2013 and ran as high as second on Sunday. After another lengthy battle, Lewis beat Beach to the line to earn a podium in just his third GoPro Daytona SportBike start.
“I got a good side-draft and beat him,” said Lewis. “This class is definitely a lot tougher and there are a lot of guys that can win but I came in with a lot of confidence. We’ve been working hard.”
Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff notched two fifth place results in Wisconsin. The young rider showed plenty of speed as he continues to learn but lacked just a little place to run with Beach and Lewis, finishing five seconds back of that battle both times out. However, Gerloff has earned third in the points standings after three races and has finished in the top five in all three 2013 races.
Bobby Fong did not finish on the D&D Cycles/Castrol/Triumph on Saturday, but the hard-charged earned a solid sixth on Sunday in his first ride on the Triumph.
One rider who didn’t have quite the weekend he wanted was GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing’s Dane Westby. Westby ended up eighth on Saturday, his first race back from a spleen injury at Daytona. Westby was in a four-rider pack but was shuffled to the end of it on the last lap. On Sunday, “The Wolverine” jumped up to sixth after in another close fight and was just a tenth behind fifth-place Gerloff.
Another newcomer to GoPro Daytona SportBike that impressed was James Rispoli on the National Guard/Celtic Racing entry. Rispoli earned two seventh place finishes and ran strong early. The two-time Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport champ has quickly gotten up to speed in his new class.
Jason DISalvo had a quiet weekend on the Latus Motors Racing Triumph, with ninth and eight.
Fellow Triumph pilot Elena Myers earned two top tens in Wisconsin as she continues to learn GoPro Daytona SportBike on her Castrol/Triumph/Apex Manufacturing Triumph.
Ben Young earned 10 and 11th on his Yamaha R6.
The next GoPro Daytona SportBike round will be held at Barber Motorsports Park, a circuit very different from the wide-open nature of Road America. It’s a different challenge for Beaubier, Gagne, and the rest of the GoPro Daytona SportBike field but one that could be just as entertaining.
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