Cameron Beaubier learned a valuable lesson Saturday: Don’t let Toni Elias stay close to you if you have the pace to put him away. On Sunday, Beaubier and his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1 had the pace and he was pulling away from Elias when Saturday’s Motul Superbike Race 1 winner crashed out on the sixth lap of the Championship of Utah at the Utah Motorsports Campus.
From that point forward, Beaubier continued to stretch his advantage on the battle for second place between M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Garrett Gerloff and Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz. On the sixth lap, Beaubier had almost six seconds in hand. By the end of the race that gap was 4.2 seconds as he cruised to victory – his fifth of the season and the 29th of his Superbike career. The Californian now sits alone in fourth on the all-time list, having pulled out of a tie with former World and AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies.
“We’ve been working on our starts this year,” Beaubier said. “A couple have been pretty bad. A couple have been decent. I felt like today was pretty good. I was pretty decent in the first section. I was able to get around Toni in the first couple of corners. I just wanted to put my head down and try to go from the beginning. It’s pretty tough to race [Elias] in the last couple laps. We were able to do it. I came around the last section and I saw yellow flags. I saw the pit board and it said I had a decent gap, so I backed it down. I was just trying to hit my marks and be consistent and take as little risk as possible. That was the most stressful for me, just try and make it to the finish.
“I feel really relieved after today to be able to win here and get a second place and come out with the points lead makes me feel really good going into the remaining races. Looking forward to getting back on the bike in a couple weeks’ time and try to continue on this roll.”
Second place ultimately went to Gerloff, the Texan getting faster as the race wore on and he took the runner-up spot by 1.5 seconds. It was the 22-year-old’s best Motul Superbike result in what is his rookie season in the class.
“The first half of the race I felt decent, not too bad,” Gerloff said. “Just kind of stayed with those guys, but then really the last half of the race something just was there. The bike was working just awesome, better than in the beginning with new tires. Really towards the end I felt great. I felt like I could put my bike wherever I wanted. I was trying to get around Roger (Hayden) because he’s got a pretty quick bike. Trying to set up a pass on him isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. He had one spot in (turn) six though that he was a little bit weak. I tried it once and wasn’t able to make it stick. We got real close on the next one, but just waited until the last few laps to make my move and made it stick on Roger, which was key. Then getting by Jake (Lewis) on the straightaway. I was just trying to put my head down and just do my thing because I knew my bike was on point and I knew I had the pace to at least be there at the last lap, if not have a little bit of a gap. Luckily we had the gap.”
Third place went to Lewis and his Suzuki GSX-R1000, the Kentuckian scoring his first podium of year after a string of mostly fifth-place finishes.
“I’ve been pretty consistent all year, but it feels amazing to get up on the podium,” Lewis said. “I’ve been working real hard this season. I had the podium yesterday. I feel like I had a really good battle with Josh (Herrin) the whole time. Had two spots (passing options) on the last lap. I was going to pass him or going to put us both on the ground. This is the first time I’ve had an opportunity this year. Today I had a little bit better pace than those guys. It was just frustrating at the beginning to kind of battle back and forth with those guys and made an aggressive move on Garrett. I tried to go with Cam and Toni, but obviously the pace was unbelievably fast. Got pretty close to those guys but used a lot of energy and had to burn up a little bit of tire. After Toni crashed pretty early on in the race, it was tough managing that gap plus 0, plus 0, plus 0. We’re excited to get the whole team this podium.”
Scholtz ended up fifth, the South African half a second behind Lewis at the finish line. Then came Roger Hayden on the second Yoshimura Suzuki. Hayden ended up some four seconds behind Scholtz but well clear of SC Project/KWR’s Kyle Wyman, the racer/team owner ending up sixth.
Scheibe Racing’s Danny Eslick, Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Cameron Petersen and his teammate Jayson Uribe, and ART Performance’s Bruno Silva rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Elias now finds himself 49 points behind Beaubier in the chase for the MotoAmerica Motul Superbike Championship with four rounds (eight races) remaining.
“Cameron got a very strong start and put a gap on me in the first few laps,” Elias said. “Then I equalized and then for two laps I began to catch him. My bike was even better today, so I think we were looking good for another win. Then, unfortunately, I lost the front end and crashed. Sometimes it goes like this. The season is still long. I am going to remain positive and keep doing what I can to try to come back in this championship.”
With his fourth-place finish and Josh Herrin’s non-start after the Attack Performance/Herrin Compound rider destroyed his bike in the morning warm-up, Scholtz moved back to third in the championship by one point over Herrin. Gerloff is fifth in the title chase, 20 points behind Herrin.