DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike season got a little
crazier last weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the Mid-Ohio races
should amp things up even more. The Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at Mid-Ohio
Sports Car Course sees a tighter championship and the streak of a different
rider taking charge at each round is on the line. With just four races left in
2014, 24 points separate the top five riders and the ultracompetitive class is
yet to disappoint.
Last weekend, Jake Lewis took his
first GoPro Daytona SportBike win on his No. 85 MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha
YZF-R6 at Laguna Seca, hammering out a tough triumph from the front. Lewis had
been knocking on victory's door the past couple of seasons and was finally able
to achieve the feat and answer questions of when he would take the next step.
On Friday, Lewis was quickest,
but in final qualifying, he dropped to fifth. A great start put him back at the
front and he led all 20 laps of the sole AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race
"Qualifying fifth, I was a
little bit disappointed with that, but I knew it was going to be a heck of a
race," said Lewis. "I was sitting on the grid thinking, 'I'm going to
win this race,' because last year I was so close to winning. I got off to a
good start, went into the lead in turn 2 and never looked back. That's been my
weakness throughout my career - looking back - so I just put my head down and
stayed focused and clicked off lap after lap and got into a good rhythm and
brought home the win."
Lewis jumped to within five
points of Jake Gagne and his No. 32 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha
YZF-R6 for the points lead and the Kentuckian caries momentum into Mid-Ohio.
Gagne came up short at Laguna
Seca in his race-long battle with Danny Eslick, pilot of the No. 69 Riders
Discount Racing Triumph Daytona 675R, for the final spot on the podium. The
Californian made numerous attempts at a pass, but he couldn't make anything
stick, and an especially racy Eslick wasn't to be denied.
Gagne lost points to both Lewis
and Eslick (now nine points back) but his consistently excellent season has
earned him a small margin in the point standings.
If a fourth place result is a
"down" race for the points leader, it only shows how good Gagne has
been in 2014.
Eslick opened the season on fire
with the DAYTONA 200 victory. While he has earned valuable points with solid
finishes this year, his spirited riding at Laguna Seca put him back on the
podium for the first time since March. With the twisty Mid-Ohio course sharing
some characteristics with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Eslick and Triumph could
once again fight for the podium.
With two previous crowns in the
class, Eslick's presence can't be ignored.
JD Beach aboard the No. 6 Yamaha
Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 was also very good in
California. He took his third second place finish of the year last weekend,
having been runner-up in Elkhart Lake and Birmingham as well. Beach was close,
but he couldn't quite top Lewis and finished 1.563 seconds back.
Beach, still looking for his
first class win, would like nothing better than to join Lewis in the ranks of
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike winners.
Dane Westby on the No. 00
Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 earned a hard-fought fifth in Monterey.
Westby passed Garrett Gerloff and his No. 8 Yamaha Extended Service/Monster
Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 to take the spot.
Westby was disappointed after the
race and said he really didn't get rolling until halfway through the contest.
Gerloff had passed "The Wolverine," but Westby recovered and
regrouped to take his fourth top five in a row.
He now finds himself alive in the
championship heading to the scene of two previous victories. The Oklahoman is
25 points out with four races left. However, Westby might be the smart choice
in Ohio given his previous success there.
Gerloff faced an uncertain Laguna
Seca, having crashed hard in the two previous races. He broke his arm in
Alabama but was able to put in a solid race despite the injury.
Gerloff, too, is yet to win in
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike but the factory Yamaha pilot is always a
Jake Zemke on the No. 98 GEICO
Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR600RR is seventh in points, having taken
advantage of consistent results throughout 2014. The veteran and his team
continue to develop the Honda middleweight machine and churn out solid
performances. Zemke has finished every race between 11th and 7th in 2014 and
earned ninth in Monterey.
Like Zemke, Benny Solis aboard
the No. 35 Team H35 Yamaha YZF-R6 has been consistent this season. Solis earned
the top ten every race since Elkhart Lake and the young rider has put together
his best season since joining the class. In California, Solis emerged as the
rider to top a highly contested fight for the final spot in the top ten.
Kyle Wyman and his No. 33 Kyle
Wyman Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 was another rider in that pack. Wyman was 16th in
California as he fought in a ten-rider melee going for 10th. The New Yorker is
still ninth in points.
Jason DiSalvo on the No. 40
Castrol/Triumph/Sportbike Track Time Triumph Racing Daytona 675 earned pole for
the Laguna Seca race. One of the best qualifiers in AMA Pro Racing, DiSalvo
came up big to top Gagne and Beach as the only three riders who dropped into
the 1-minute, 26-second range.
In the race, DiSalvo wasn't able
to stick with the leaders but earned seventh ahead of Blake Young riding the
No. 79 GN Gonzales Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. The result was enough to help DiSalvo
pull ahead of Young by a single point for tenth in the standings.
Class rookie Tomas Puerta on the
No. 12 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 is 12th in points. His Laguna
Seca was disappointing, though. Puerta led the group fighting for tenth heading
into the last corner, but the Colombian ended up on the ground when the pack
met a lapped rider as others made their moves.
The Buckeye SuperBike Weekend is
a two-day event, so the 23 riders pre-entered and their teams will need to be
prepared to get up to speed quickly while avoiding trouble. The 19-lap Race 1
is scheduled for 3 p.m. (noon PT) on Saturday, while the Sunday finale begins
at 2 p.m. (11 a.m. PT).
Top 10 AMA Pro GoPro
Daytona SportBike results from
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
1. Jake Lewis (Yamaha)
2. JD Beach (Yamaha)
3. Danny Eslick (Triumph)
4. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
5. Dane Westby (Yamaha)
6. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
7. Jason DiSalvo (Triumph)
8. Blake Young (Yamaha)
9. Jake Zemke (Honda)
10. Benny Solis (Yamaha)
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona
SportBike points standings
1. Jake Gagne 139
2. Jake Lewis 134
3. Danny Eslick 130
4. JD Beach 126
5. Dane Westby 115
6. Garrett Gerloff 81
7. Jake Zemke 80
8. Benny Solis 77
9. Kyle Wyman 74
10. Jason DiSalvo 67
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv is the
official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro
Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA's
development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.