AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Recap: New Jersey Motorsports Park
NEWS September 18, 2013
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 18, 2013) - Cameron Beaubier clinched the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike championship on Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park in a dominating performance that saw him add to his record season. The Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha pilot won his 10th and 11th races of the season to claim sole ownership for the record number of GoPro Daytona SportBike wins in a season as well as locking up the championship -- Yamaha's first since the class came into existence in 2009.
Beaubier's fantastic season isn't over yet with a single round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca still to come, but the Californian has accomplished his goal. The rising star proved two things during the 2012 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season; that he could perform his best under intense pressure and that he could stay healthy throughout a campaign.
Last year, Beaubier was fast all season long in his first year on the factory team, winning seven races and impressing in battles with acknowledged class master Martin Cardenas. For 2013, bringing home anything less than a championship would have been a disappointment. Such lofty expectations can quickly turn negative, but Beaubier was so good in 2013 that he was able to lock up the title and earn his first AMA Pro title with two races to go.
Beaubier had seen injuries derail previous seasons but this year he put those fears to rest and has been able to win 11 of 12 races without sidetracking his campaign. In fact, the Yamaha man suffered his first crash of the year on Friday in New Jersey, one that scuffed his leathers but did no further damage to the affable racer.
After winning pole like he has at all other races in '13, Beaubier found himself in a battle with Meen Motorsports' Jake Lewis on Saturday. Lewis put in a good fight, leading eight laps to Beaubier's 15 and putting in a tough challenge. Beaubier won the race by 1.029 seconds to break the tie with Cardenas for most wins in a season.
On Sunday, Beaubier wasn't challenged as he rocketed away to a 7.693 second win in a race notable for crashes by the riders occupying second place. The win was Beaubier's ninth in a row.
"I can't thank my Y.E.S./Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha team enough for all they've done for me this season," said Beaubier. "Also, I've got to thank my Mom and Dad, and my girlfriend Kayla for all their love and support. It feels really good to get this Championship for Yamaha."
The rest of the field had ups and downs in New Jersey.
Lewis had a fine race on Saturday, making a strong bid for his first class win in New Jersey. The Kentuckian has made a bid for the strongest rookie in the class after winning an AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport crown last year. His second-place result capped off an impressive run that saw him earn two sixths and three fourths in the preceding five races. Lewis looked especially strong in his battle with Beaubier, and his first career GoPro Daytona SportBike win appears on the horizon.
"I got the holeshot and put my head down right away because I knew Cameron and Garrett (Gerloff) had a little bit faster pace in practice and qualifying so I wanted to get off to an early lead," said Lewis. "I was pushing really hard and made a few mistakes early on in the race. It was the first time I've led a race in probably a year so I was pretty excited about that. I wanted to win really bad today but Cameron was really fast and didn't make any mistakes. That's why he's the champion this year."
Lewis continued, "I struggled a little bit with corner speed. The bike was chattering pretty good but I was just riding as hard as I could and didn't give up until the end. I kept fighting. I gave it all I had but just came up a second off of (Beaubier). I'm really excited to get back up on the podium after a few fourths at Miller and also earlier in the year."
On Sunday, Lewis led after the race's red flag stoppage and looked strong again before crashing just after Beaubier made his way past on Lap 7.
A crash in race one set back Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha 's Garrett Gerloff, but the Texan rebounded to take second on Sunday. He wasn't able to challenge Beaubier like he wanted, but was able to avoid trouble to take another podium result and continue his 2013 ascent.
"I was hoping to do better, given how I went in qualifying and how I felt. The crash didn't do me any favors as far as confidence goes," said Gerloff, who watched two other riders fall in front of him while holding second place. "I decided I was going to take it easy, stay in second. Congrats to Cameron and Bobby (Fong), they did a great job."
Gerloff still has a shot at second place in the championship, as he currently trails Jake Gagne by 19 markers.
Gagne finished third on Saturday, getting back on the podium after a pair of fifths in Utah. The Californian had a tough battle with a group fighting for the last spot on the box, making his way to the front when it counted on his RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha.
"I was kinda all over the place the whole race trying to keep the thing under me," said Gagne. "Towards the middle I was battling with (Dane) Westby and (Bobby) Fong and we were all going back and forth. I had a fun race with those guys and I think we were putting on a pretty good show. Then I just wanted to get in front of those guys with a few laps to go and not deal with it. I got in front on the second to last lap and tried to hold it to the line and ending up taking it. There weren't a whole lot of places to pass so I felt if I could get in front on the last lap I'd be all right."
Sunday, however, saw Gagne crash and suffer a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair a broken collarbone.
D&D Cycles/Castrol/Triumph's Bobby Fong had a strong weekend, earning fourth and third to bounce back from some tough races. Fong started out the year with a third place at Daytona but a team change and some tough races put him lower in the field than he wanted. Fong came up big at New Jersey, battling in the pack with Gagne for third on Saturday and then earning a podium on Sunday with a margin of nine seconds over fourth-place finisher Benny Solis.
"The pace was pretty hot in the beginning; I felt like I could run that pace the whole race," Fong said. "Honestly, I wish I had a battle through the whole race. It was pretty lonely. I wanted to at least battle for the podium. I kind of felt like it was given to me, but we'll get them at Laguna. We've got a lot of momentum and the bike has been working really well. We still have a steep hill to climb but it's getting better and better every race weekend."
Benny Solis earned his best Daytona SportBike result yet on Sunday. The former Red Bull AMA US Rookies Cup champ took fourth on Sunday for the M4 Hotbodies Racing team. "It feels good. The guys were pushing really hard and I could hear their bikes behind me," said Solis. "It was fun and I learned a lot from Dane when we went out and worked together in practice, which helped me a lot in the race."
His teammate Dane Westby was fifth on Sunday. He had worked his way to the lead pack in the battle for fourth, but a slight mistake meant he had to hustle to get back up to sixth.
Another rider enjoying nice finishes in New Jersey was Latus Motors Racing's Jason DiSalvo. New dad DiSalvo backed up his Saturday seventh with fifth on Sunday.
Fellow veteran Jake Zemke earned two top tens for Riders Discount Racing Triumph. James Rispoli also earned two top tens, which meant the National Guard/Celtic Racing pilot left New Jersey tied in the points with Lewis as the top class rookie.
Local standout Eric Stump put his Eyeball Racing machine in ninth on Saturday to go along with his AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series podium, while Tuned Racing's Bryce Prince scored a ninth on Sunday.
Elena Myers and the Castrol/Triumph/ Apex Manufacturing posted a tenth on Sunday in her comeback from a broken collarbone.
One rider that had a wild weekend was JD Beach. Beach had the save of the year on Friday, but felt the ill effects and went to the hospital with some swelling in his chest. On Sunday, RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Beach rocketed to the front but suffered machine issues and was relegated to 20th position in the results.
The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season will resume in less than two weeks' time as the series travels to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. for the ninth and final round on September 27-29. For tickets and additional information, please visit http://www.mazdaraceway.com/buy-tickets.
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