Cameron Beaubier put on a clinic today in the first of two Motul Superbike races in the Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma. The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing rider continues to be unbeatable at Sonoma Raceway as he won his third race in a row at his home track. And he did so again in dominating fashion, crossing the line 7.2 seconds ahead of the battle for second.
Beaubier battled with Attack Performance/Herrin Compound’s Josh Herrin for a lap before getting in front and staying there. After five laps, Beaubier led by a tick over five seconds and he stretched that to eight seconds before easing off and maintaining a seven-second gap to the end of the 22-lap race.
The win was the sixth of the year for Beaubier and the 30th of his Superbike career. It was also his third Motul Superbike win in three starts at Sonoma Raceway.
“Yesterday from the first lap we felt good,” Beaubier said. “I feel like we picked up where we left off here last year. We got a really good test here over the winter and I was able to do some good times, even with the track being as cold as it was. It just gave us the confidence going into this race. I just feel like everything is going pretty good. I just want to keep this ball rolling.
“Going into the race, I knew that I had a little bit of time on the guys. I just wanted to get out and put my head down and push from the first lap. That wasn’t the case. (Josh) Herrin snuck up the inside going up into two and I was like, ‘oh man!’ He was riding really tough, really good the first lap. I knew I had to get into the lead and just try to put my head down because I felt like I had a good pace. It all went to plan.
“Halfway through the race I kind of lost focus, blew the chicane, went through the dirt. I almost did the same thing like five laps later. I’m not really used to riding out front like that. Normally it’s a tough battle to the finish. I like winning like that, that’s for sure.
“Hats off to my guys. I feel like the big rear tire is definitely helping us right now on the Yamaha, especially for my style because I ride on the side of the tire a lot and the tire just has a bigger contact patch on the edge of the tire, and that’s how the Yamaha I feel like rolls through the track. I feel like we’re in a good spot. This track works really good for my bike. I feel like this track suits my style, similar to Toni (Elias) in Texas. I just hope to finish the weekend strong tomorrow and move on.”
The battle for second went to Herrin, the Georgian besting Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias by just over a second with those two running in formation for the duration.
“Like Toni said, you have to always be ready, always be confident in yourself and try and make a fight,” Herrin said. “So at the beginning, I just tried to race as hard as I could. That’s what I’m good at. So my strategy was just to try and get in front and maybe cause it to slow down and have everybody battle.
“Cameron (Beaubier) had a pace that no one could touch this weekend, so that’s just the strategy we have to take if we want to win. I tried and succeeded for a lap, and then he was gone. Then I just tried to hold off Toni. It was hard for sure. I was pushing the whole time because I didn’t know if he had anything left in the tank, if he was pushing as hard as he could. I know that I was watching his board because I could see the gap to (Gerloff) Gerloff in fourth.
“So that kind of helped me with my strategy because I could see that Gerloff would catch and then drop, so we were kind of doing the same pace. If I didn’t make a mistake I would probably gain a tenth or two on each lap. I was grateful to come in second and get some points after Utah. Just having a fun weekend. I think the racing has been great all year.”
Elias will continue to make changes to the Suzuki in an effort to be closer tomorrow, he said. Adding that he’d also made a bad tire choice.
“Even if the reality is tough, always you start the race for win and trying different things to surprise or stop or make the step in the last moment, but it was not like this. I was suffering like before. We did everything. We modified many things. For us it’s really hard with this new tire. Of course, it’s a good tire, but less behavior for Suzuki riders.
“At the beginning of the race I knew I had to fight for the second position. I chose soft tires. Was good for the beginning but dropped quickly. When I was ready to fight at the end, the tire was gone on the last laps. It’s not what I want, but after that crash (in Utah), it’s a good result for us. Let’s continue. The season’s still long. We’ll see.”
Fourth place went to Garrett Gerloff, the Superbike rookie keeping Herrin and Elias honest for most of the race before finishing 6.8 seconds behind on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing YZF-R1.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis finished fifth for a seventh time on the season, the Kentuckian chasing Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Cameron Petersen when the South African pulled into the pits with a foot injury. That left Lewis to a lonely fifth.