It’s Go Time: MotoAmerica Kicks Off Its HONOS Superbike Season In Georgia
The 2021 HONOS Superbike Series Promises Change And It All Begins At Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta This Weekend
IRVINE, CA (April 28, 2021) – Twenty-six HONOS Superbike riders will take to the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta track this weekend for the opening round of the 2021 MotoAmerica Series, and all of them will do so from the same perspective: zero pole positions, zero wins, zero championship points. In other words, a new beginning.
More than anything, 2021 promises change because change in this case is a certainty. What we’ve grown to believe is the norm is gone. Like death and taxes, the one thing everyone could count on in the MotoAmerica Series since its inception in 2015 has been the fact that Cameron Beaubier and Toni Elias would win the most races and challenge for the title. After all, the two combined to win 72 percent of the 116 races run since MotoAmerica took over the AMA Superbike Series in 2015. And those two also won 100 percent of the Superbike Championships with Beaubier taking five titles and Elias one.
But that was then, and this is now.
Beaubier will be in Spain this weekend, racing in round four of the Moto2 World Championship, and Elias will be at home in Southern California, the Spaniard still without a ride for the 2021 season. What’s left in their wake is a hungry horde of wannabe champions licking their lips as the season gets ready to start on Friday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Without exaggeration, this is anybody’s title to win. Without Beaubier and his 54 AMA Superbike wins and Elias with his 32 victories in the class, the next active rider with the most wins is Josh Herrin. With eight. Four of those came pre-MotoAmerica and the other four came during the MotoAmerica era. Based on experience and win record, Herrin is a good place to start when talking about the season opener at Road Atlanta. Let’s also remember that he’s the only rider in the series that has earned a Superbike title even if it was way back in 2013.
Herrin comes into the 2021 season after a year on the Scheibe Racing BMW and he realizes this is his best shot yet of winning a second Superbike Championship. Herrin rejoins forces with Richard Stanboli and the Attack Performance team, and he will be armed with the same YZF-R1 and technical support that dominated the series last year with 16 victories in the hands of Beaubier. No pressure, though.
Herrin will be joined on the championship-winning team by Jake Gagne, the runner-up in last year’s title chase. Gagne has yet to win an AMA Superbike race, but he finished second eight times last year – including twice at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Gagne had a total of 11 podium finishes and ended the year 48 points clear of third place in the standings. The Californian, who now calls Colorado home, was consistently fast at the Dunlop Preseason Test at the Circuit of The Americas a month ago and is full of confidence. He’s also really happy with his new crew chief, former racer and Öhlins technician Jon Cornwell.
The M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team is led by Bobby Fong, one of just three riders who won Superbike races last year (Beaubier, Fong and Italian Lorenzo Zanetti). And he won three of them, which makes him the second-winningest active HONOS Superbike racer in the field behind Herrin. Fong ended the preseason test with the fastest lap, so he arrives in Georgia with a bit of a giddy-up in his step. He also has withstood the pressure that comes with fighting for a title as he won the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship in 2019 for the M4 team.
Fong is joined on the team’s Suzuki GSX-R1000s by 2020 MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Champion Cameron Petersen, the South African moves from the Stock 1000-spec Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 to the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike and that should be a fairly easy transition. In addition to winning the Stock 1000 crown, Petersen also walked away with the Superbike Cup check of $25,000 for his efforts in the Superbike class. Petersen showed up at the COTA test with a limp that slowed him, but he was still fast, and he’s expected to be healthy for the opener.
The other rider in the HONOS Superbike class to have won an AMA Superbike race is Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, who has won two of them. One of those came on a wet Circuit of The Americas track (on a Superstock 1000 Yamaha) in 2017 and the other in the rain at Barber Motorsports Park in 2018. Scholtz will be one of the main protagonists in the chase for this year’s MotoAmerica Superbike crown and he’s hellbent on showing people that he can win on a dry surface as well as a wet one.
Then there’s Loris Baz. Fast and French, Baz will be armed with a “factory” Ducati under the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York banner, and he’s hot off a solid season of World Superbike racing where he ended the year eighth in the championship. Baz didn’t come here to finish second, and it will be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to life in the MotoAmerica paddock, the Dunlop tires and the American racetracks. Very few expect him to struggle, and he’s shown already how committed he is by partaking in three track days to learn tracks (VIR, Pitt Race and New Jersey Motorsports Park) that are new to him.
If there is a level just below the six already talked about, then it’s just a tiny little bit to Kyle Wyman Racing’s Kyle Wyman. After all, the team owner/rider landed on the podium twice in the second of two rounds held at Road America last season, and he ended the year ranked seventh – and just two points behind Herrin, who was sixth in the title chase. Wyman runs a first-class team, brings unique sponsors to the paddock, and knows how to ride a motorcycle. His 2020 season featured some highs and some lows, and he will be shooting for more of the former and less of the latter in 2021.
Steve Scheibe went to the 11th hour before finding a rider for his Scheibe Racing BMW S 1000 RR, and that rider is Héctor Barberá, a Spaniard with gobs of racing experience in different classes all over the world, including MotoGP. Barbera, like Baz, will have circuits and life in the U.S. to adapt to.
David Anthony is another team owner/racer in the HONOS Superbike class. Anthony will be joined on his FLY Racing ADR Motorsports team by Jayson Uribe, with the Northern Californian set for his first full season of Superbike racing. Both men will be armed with Suzuki GSX-R1000s.
Max Flinders will again be ready to go for the season opener with his signature yellow Thrashed Bike Racing Yamaha YZF-R1. Flinders ended last year’s championship in 13th and will be giving his best to improve upon that in 2021.
The list of those hoping to take home the $25,000 in the Superbike Cup on their Stock 1000-spec motorcycles is long and talented. With Petersen moving to the HONOS Superbike class, last year’s winner won’t be there to defend, making it a wide-open affair.
Among the favorites are last year’s runner-up Corey Alexander on the HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki ZX-10RR, Petersen’s replacement on the Altus Motorsports Suzuki, Jake Lewis, Travis Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman, Jones Honda’s Ashton Yates (on the all-new Honda CBR1000RR-R SP, Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Wyatt Farris and Tecfil Racing Team’s Danilo Lewis.
Road Atlanta Superbike Notes…
With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on sporting event schedules worldwide in 2020, the MotoAmerica round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta was moved from April to August last year. This year, the event returns as the series opener.
With the two winningest riders – Cameron Beaubier and Toni Elias – not racing in MotoAmerica in 2021, the current rider with the most victories is Josh Herrin. Herrin is tied for 22nd on the all-time AMA Superbike win list with Wes Cooley and Tommy Hayden.
Riders from seven different countries have entered the HONOS Superbike race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with the U.S., Spain, South Africa, Great Britain, France, Brazil and Australia all represented.
While American racers have, by far, won the most AMA Superbike races, it’s Australia that has the second most wins in the history of the Superbike class in the U.S. Australia has 96 AMA Superbike wins, led by Mat Mladin’s 82 class victories. Anthony Gobert won 11 times and Troy Corser captured three wins. Canada is third on the list with 35 wins, led by Miguel Duhamel’s 32 victories and supported by Pascal Picotte’s three wins. The other countries with AMA Superbike wins to its credit are as follows: Spain, Columbia, Italy, New Zealand and England.
Watch this: If Loris Baz wins a HONOS Superbike race this season, he will become the first French rider to win an AMA Superbike race.
The good old days? The very first AMA Superbike race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta was held in 1980, and it was won by four-time 500cc World Champion Eddie Lawson. The first-ever AMA National motorcycle race at Road Atlanta was held in 1971 and was won by Kel Carruthers. Coincidentally, Carruthers was Lawson’s crew chief for three of his four World Championships.
Cameron Beaubier earned the pole position at Road Atlanta in 2020 with his lap of 1:24.244 set during Superpole. Beaubier’s best was .795 of a second faster than Mathew Scholtz, with Toni Elias completing the front row with a 1:25.364.
Beaubier actually went faster in race one than he did during Superpole, setting the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta race Superbike lap record with a 1:24.085 en route to victory. The outright Superbike lap record on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta race course is held by Garrett Gerloff with his 1:23.844 set in Superpole in 2019.
MotoAmerica has removed the Superpole session from its schedule for 2021 as demand for track time is at an all-time high. Thus, pole will come from the best time set during the qualifying sessions. The fastest laps, however, will most likely come during the final session on Saturday morning as that’s when the soft Dunlop Q tires will be available.
Beaubier won both HONOS Superbike races here last year, besting his then-teammate Jake Gagne in both. Mathew Scholtz was third in both races in 2020.
On-track action gets started on Friday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with practice and qualifying starting at 8:30 a.m. and running through to the last practice session at 4:40 p.m. The first race of the weekend will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. with Stock 1000 Race 1, followed in rapid succession by Supersport Race 1 (2 p.m.), HONOS Superbike Race 1 (3 p.m.), Twins Cup Race 1 (4 p.m.) and SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup Race 1 (4:45 p.m.)
On Sunday, racing begins at noon with Stock 1000 Race 2, Mission King Of The Baggers (12:30 p.m.), Supersport Race 2 (1 p.m.), SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup Race 2 (2 p.m.), HONOS Superbike Race 2 (3 p.m.) and Twins Cup Race 2 (4 p.m.).
MotoAmerica is the North American road racing series created in 2014 that is home to the AMA Superbike Championship. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time 500cc World Champion, two-time AMA Superbike Champion, and AMA Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey, ex-racer and former manager of Team Roberts Chuck Aksland, motorsports marketing executive Terry Karges, and businessman Richard Varner. For more information on MotoAmerica, visit www.MotoAmerica.com. Also make sure to follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
More, from a press release issued by Westby Racing:
Westby Racing Is Heading Into Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta With All Eyes On The Prize
Tulsa, OK – April 28, 2021 – The opening round of the 2021 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship starts this Friday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Riders Mathew Scholtz and Jack Roach, along with the entire Westby Racing team, will be set up and ready to race with a new team transporter serving as their home base, and it promises to be a fan-favorite destination in the MotoAmerica paddock all season long.
Not only is the truck new, but there is also a new spirit of anticipation within the team as rider Mathew Scholtz embarks on what could potentially be a Superbike Championship season for the 2017 Superstock 1000 title winner. Mathew, who is from South Africa, but now makes his home in Georgia, has been with the same team, Westby Racing, for longer than virtually any other rider in the MotoAmerica paddock. He’s also raced the Yamaha YZF-R1 longer than any other rider in the Superbike field. That experience and familiarity will serve Mathew and the team well in what many predict will be MotoAmerica’s most exciting Superbike Championship season yet. And it all begins this weekend at Mathew’s home track, Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“It’s so great to be getting the season under way at Road Atlanta,” Mathew said. “Even though we don’t do too much testing there, it’s still a home track for me because it’s only, like, an hour’s drive. I have friend’s coming over who are supporting me. I’ve got neighbors coming. It really is special. But, most of all, just to kick off the 2021 season at a track that’s really strong for me, I’m really looking forward to it.
“You know, coming back from a terrible injury last year, I’ve been really itching to hop on the bike and race against the other MotoAmerica Superbike riders. I know that this year is going to be extremely hard, and it’s really difficult to pick out who you think is going to be the favorite to win, but I’m really thinking that, after looking at last year, we should be one of the main guys up there battling, but we’re just going to focus on ourselves on Friday, and we’ll take the races as they come on Saturday and Sunday, and just kind of work from there.
“The Westby team has been working hard all off-season. They’ve improved the bike, and I’ve definitely improved myself. So, I am looking forward to putting the whole package together, getting out there, and showing what we’re made of. I’d like to give a big shout-out to Tryg Westby, who obviously is the main man behind the team, and who gives us all the opportunity to showcase our talents. Me, Chuck, Ed, Herschel, Olly, Dustin, Johnny, everyone who’s part of the Westby team, and makes this all possible. Let’s go racing. Let’s get it under way. I hope to see all the fans there.”
Superbike final qualifying is on Saturday morning at 10:20 a.m. ET, Superbike race one will go green on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET, and Superbike Race 2 is on Sunday afternoon also at 3 p.m. ET. Both races will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 2 (FS2), as well as streamed on MotoAmerica Live+.
JR12 Racing/Westby Racing Junior Cup rider Jack Roach will be making his debut aboard the black-and-gold #12 Yamaha YZF-R3 this weekend, and the 17-year-old is looking forward to railing around Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta’s 12-turn, 2.54-mile, undulating, natural road course.
Jack commented, “I’ve had some sleepless nights thinking about jumping on the Westby Racing R3 in full race trim, but I’ve been training harder than I’ve ever trained before, and I am 100% confident that I’m the fittest kid on that Junior Cup grid. And, with the package that Westby Racing has given me, I believe that we have a lot of potential at Atlanta. JR12/Westby Racing will be in full effect this weekend!”
Junior Cup race one starts on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. ET, and Junior Cup race two is on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Both races will be broadcast via tape-delay on FOX Sports 2 (FS2) this Tuesday, May 4, beginning at 9 p.m. ET. In addition, both Junior Cup races will be streamed on MotoAmerica Live+.
Pick Up Some FREE Westby Racing Collectibles
Westby Racing has produced some great collectibles featuring Mathew and Jack, and they’ll be available at the team transporter throughout the weekend, so swing by and pick one up while maintaining proper social distancing.
For more updates about Westby Racing, including news, photos, and videos, visit https://www.WestbyRacing.com
Also, follow “Westby Racing” on your favorite social media sites.
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia USA:
APRILIA RS 660 ARRIVES FOR MOTOAMERICA
WITH APRILIA JOINING THE PADDOCK, THE GROWING TWINS CUP GRID RECEIVES 10 RIDERS ABOARD THE NEWLY HOMOLOGATED RS 660
MINIMAL MODIFICATIONS WITH APRILIA’S POTENT ENGINE AND CAPABLE CHASSIS MAKE THE RS 660 RACE READY FOR ROAD ATLANTA OPENER
APRILIA EXPANDS GLOBAL FOOTPRINT IN MOTORSPORT COMPETITION
With the season opener of MotoAmerica beginning in Road Atlanta April 30, Aprilia, with the recently homologated RS 660, will arrive to the series with over 10 riders registered across the national Twins Cup championship to compete. The middleweight twin-cylinder class with 4-stroke models ranging 600-800cc, continues to be one of the most exciting series, attracting a growing grid of riders across manufacturers.
“With over 28 riders entered for this weekend’s Twins Cup race, it’s exciting to see that the new Aprilia 660 will take to the track with 8 competitors for the new machines’ debut in MotoAmerica,” explains Chuck Aksland, Partner in MotoAmerica, “We’ve followed the progress of the 660 since it was announced and our staff worked hand in hand with Aprilia to ensure that it could compete this season. Not many people have seen the bike on-track and the anticipation certainly brings another level of excitement to the weekend. We truly welcome Aprilia into our paddock and look forward to working with them for seasons to come.”
“We are pleased to see the excitement around this new model, and interest to be a part of Aprilia’s history on the track,” says Mario Di Maria, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas, “The RS 660 is a new chapter for Aprilia and our racing history, which we are eager to follow and support as it competes in the US.”
Aprilia Racing is the most advanced technological expression of the Piaggio Group. With 294 Grand Prix races won in Road Racing World Championship, Aprilia holds the record for the most wins of any European manufacturer in the history of maximum motorcycle competition. These are joined by an impressive 54 world titles: 38 in Road Racing World Championship (20 in 125 and 18 in 250), 7 in Superbike (Rider and Manufacturer double win in 2010, 2012 and 2014, manufacturers in 2013) and 9 in Off Road disciplines (7 in Supermoto and 2 in Trial).
From its inception, Aprilia Racing has represented an extraordinary forge for new talent. Astride the bikes from Noale, almost all the riders who have made history in motorcycle racing in recent decades have made their début, raced and won. These include Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, as well as Manuel Poggiali, Marco Simoncelli, Alvaro Bautista.
The twin-cylinder 659cc creates a new and exciting opportunity for riders to compete on an Aprilia, consistently praised for its chassis and engine capabilities over its history.
Among the teams competing in MotoAmerica is Robem Engineering, which has competed in the Twins Cup championship since 2018, is one example of teams which has made the switch to Aprilia RS 660’s for this year. With riders Kaleb DeKeyrel (23 years old, finished 2nd in Twins Cup 2020), Hayden Schultz (23 years old, finished 3rd in Twins Cup 2020), and Toby Khamsouk (18 years old, finished 5th in Twins Cup 2020), riding for Robem, Team Owner, Matthew Spicer explains their decision, “When we saw Aprilia launch their new middleweight, I knew there could be some unique opportunities with the machine, which already makes good power. Knowing the history of the brand, we were happy to confirm expectations of a promising chassis and general geometry. It’s a gamble to switch to a bike that has not yet been raced competitively, but we’re optimistic the RS 660 will quickly evolve to be a top challenger in the championship.”
Internationally, Aprilia Racing has launched a spec-race series in Italy, aimed to grow young riders into champions, called the Aprilia RS 660 Trofeo. As a spec machine with racing in mind, the model has been optimized to deliver 105hp, and trim away weight to 337 pounds with bodywork, forged wheels and race-derived components. The series will begin in May at the Misano circuit and will have a field of riders starting from 15 years old. Similar to that of the MotoAmerica Twins cup, the class is attractive to younger riders, and budget conscious race teams.