Reigning MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier hung on to earn to earn his second straight title at the final American National of the season last weekend at New Jersey Motorsport Park. The Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 rider required only a pair of conservative finishes in N.J. to take the crown, but almost lost out in the final calculations to team-mate and four-time Champ Josh Hayes.
In the opening race of Sunday afternoon’s program, Beaubier ran with the leaders but eventually eased up to place fourth. Hayes did much of the leading, fighting for first against the Yoshimura-Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Roger Hayden. In the end, Hayes just missed out to Hayden at the line by .104 of a second, a close second that might have been crucial for Hayes in the Final series points.
Late in race one, second works Suzuki rider Toni Elias worked his way up into the lead group, netting third. The Spanish ace, a former World Champ and MotoAmerica rookie, recovered from a Qualifying crash and was ready for race two.
In the second race, Hayes led early as Beaubier played it safe, fading back into the packed lead group. Eventually Elias and Hayden got clear out front, and Beaubier was in big trouble, pulling off track in a cloud of smoke.
This meant Hayes had a chance at the Title, but he was now a distant third from the battling Suzukis. Elias re-passed Hayden to nab the win, Hayden second with Hayes four seconds back in third.
In the final standings, Beaubier took the crown by six points over Hayes and just seven points ahead of Elias.
“Man, to get so close to something, and then almost have it stripped away from you, it just shows you how much you want it,” confirmed Champion Beaubier.
“I honestly didn’t know how many laps were left,” said Beaubier of his trackside retirement. “I don’t ever want to root against my team mate, but when I saw Toni and Rog in front of Josh, I wasn’t bummed! There were so many emotions, I was so pissed off, and then this big swing to joy. The bottom line is that it was all pretty dramatic.”
A calm Hayes explained that “I was keeping an eye out for Cam, and I thought he really already had this Championship.”
“It is all in good fun, and I was gutted for Cam. I know the panic you can feel when you are not in control of the situation. That was probably pretty scary, and I believe that Cam earned and deserved the Championship – the boy just out-classed me.
“I’m happy for Yamaha to go one-two, and I have another year to switch that up,” confirmed Hayes, who on Saturday was confirmed for another season as Beaubier’s partner in the Yamaha “A” team.
Fourth overall and winner of the Superstock division for the second straight round was Latus Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja mounted Bobby Fong, regaining form for the end of the year. Fong now heads to Europe to ride in a World Endurance event in France next weekend.
New Superstock Champ Josh Herrin was fifth overall in race two, second in his category. Italian wild man Claudio Corti, a front runner in Mopar CSBK action CTMP last month, charged through the pack to earn sixth with the Houston Superbike Aprilia, third in the Superstock category.
In another Championship challenge between factory Yamaha racers, J.D Beach won the battle but his Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 team-mate Garrett Gerloff won the Supersport war. Beach edged a slowing Gerloff by 9.784 seconds, meaning Gerloff took the Title by four points.
Two Canadians competed in the 600cc MotoAmerica Category: 2015 Shoei Helmets Amateur Superbike Champ and 2016 Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike title runner-up Alex Coelho and recently un-retired Jeff Sneyd, both on Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninjas. Sneyd was lucky to get to the track for official practice after vehicle problems forced a rental on the way south east.
The pair had to make each day’s race through the Last Chance Qualifying race, Coelho working through on Saturday after Sneyd ran off-track, and then on Sunday both made the cut. Saturday’s race was short for Coelho, forced to retire with a fuel pump problem.
After a successful overhaul, Coelho made it to the grid on Sunday, but still wasn’t pleased with his bike’s performance. Sneyd got a good start, eventually earning 24th overall. Coelho struggled to the finish in 28th.