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Aug 22, 2019

​MotoAmerica: Superbike Championship Poised For Unpredictable Finish

Toni Elias (24) leads a three-way battle with Cameron Beaubier (1) and Garrett Gerloff (31) at the top of the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship point standings but Josh Herrin (2), JD Beach (95), and Mathew Scholtz (11) could factor into the final outcome of the title chase. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

In recent years, the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship has usually wound down during the course of the season to a battle between just two riders to decide who would be crowned Champion.

This year, however, a new talent has risen to the top creating a three-way fight for the 2019 Championship and the title fight is more unpredictable than ever because the EBC Brakes Superbike field also includes several other riders capable of winning races and factoring into the points chase.

Coming into this weekend’s MotoAmerica Championship of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh International Race Complex (PittRace), in Wampum, Pennsylvania, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias holds a 34-point lead over defending Champion Cameron Beaubier.

That’s a considerable lead, a lead that would theoretically allow Elias to finish second behind Beaubier at each of the six remaining races and still win the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.

The only problem with that scenario is the fact that Beaubier’s Monster Energy/Yamalube Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff is only 40 points adrift of Elias by virtue of Gerloff winning two of the last three races, giving him an outside shot at the Championship and preventing Elias from taking a conservative approach to the end of the 2019 season.

Actually, that’s not the only problem with that scenario. On top of Gerloff’s latest surge to the front, there are three other riders in the field who have proven that they are capable of winning a MotoAmerica Superbike race.

Elias’ teammate Josh Herrin has won twice so far this season, his first on his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000; Attack Performance/Estenson Racing Yamaha’s JD Beach has a single win in 2019, his rookie season in the Superbike Championship; and Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz has finished second twice so far in 2019 and won a Superbike race in 2018 - before his Yamaha YZF-R1 was upgraded with advanced electronics and other Superbike parts.

All of this adds up to the potential of a very unpredictable finish to the 2019 MotoAmerica EBC Brakes Superbike Championship, something that’s been missing from recent seasons.

To get a view from the riders’ perspective, caught up with Elias, Beaubier, and Gerloff Thursday at PittRace and asked them for their view of the current Championship situation and how they plan to approach the remainder of the season.

“It is really good now with three guys,” said Elias. “It’s really important for the Championship, and I’m happy. Cameron and I [made] mistakes [at Sonoma Raceway], and that created this situation. One of my last [social media] posts was ‘Welcome to the party, Garrett Gerloff.’

“It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be a big party. I still have 34 points advantage. It’s something, but it’s nothing because the situation can change really quick. So I will focus on every single race and focus on winning. For the fans, the Championship is a really good situation.”

“First off, I think it’s pretty exciting for MotoAmerica to have three bikes going for the Championship this late in the season. It hasn’t been like that in years,” said Beaubier. “Truthfully, I think it’s better for all of us. We’re not worrying about one guy. We’re worrying more so about ourselves and the fact that we’ve just got to go win. I don’t think it will necessarily play into my favor, but it’s not a situation where Toni just has to worry about racing only me.

“Honestly, on Saturday after I tipped over at Sonoma I thought everything was out the window, and I just tried to put everything out of my head and win on Sunday. And the next thing you know I won the race and we’re kind of right back in it. I wouldn’t say right back in it. We’ve still got some catching up to do. I’m just going to keep my head down and keep fighting and try not to think about it too much and ride loose and claw back some more points.”

“I’m just going to get out there, put my head down, and do the best I can,” said Gerloff. “I still have nothing to lose, really, and 40 points is a lot of points. Unless Toni makes a mistake it’s still pretty far away. So I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and try to win more races.

“That’s been my goal all year. I just want to win as many as I can. So I’m just going to try to do that and maybe it’ll come back to me at the end. Or who knows. Maybe I’ll end up on the ground trying. I’m just looking forward to riding the rest of the year. My bike is feeling awesome. The Yamaha R1 has really been working well. We’ve made some big steps the last two weekends. I think it will be a fun last part of the year.”

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