MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike VIR Preview: Reunited And It Feels So Good
MotoAmerica Is Back In Action At VIRginia International Raceway This Weekend After COVID-19 Forced The Event To Be Cancelled Last Year
IRVINE, CA (May 19, 2021) – If absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, then the men of the 2021 MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike Series are longing more than ever to get back to one of their favorite venues on the calendar – VIRginia International Raceway – after the event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.
If you ask 20 of the top motorcycle road racers in the country to list their favorite racetracks, VIR would rank in the top two or three for the majority of them. With its vast array of corners, elevation changes and high speed, VIR is always one of the most eagerly anticipated rounds of the season. Especially so with the stars of the series not getting the opportunity to race through the Virginia forest in 2020.
“VIR is the next round and it’s one of my strongest tracks, so I’m looking forward to it.” – Mathew Scholtz
“I’m looking forward to VIR. I really, really love that place and this bike will be rockin’ around there.” – Jake Gagne
With the opening round of the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Series in the books, round two is on the horizon this week at VIRginia International Raceway and for a few riders in the HONOS Superbike class it takes on the utmost of importance.
While all or nothing may be a bit extreme, getting a good result at VIR is… well, for Loris Baz anyway, all or nothing. Of all the championship hopefuls, Baz’s opening round was the one most in need of a re-do as he left Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with a big ol’ goose egg in the championship points tally after a crash and a mechanical took him out of both races.
But let’s remember that it’s always better to trail the championship points leader by 45 points after the first round than with just one remaining. And that’s where Baz and his Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York team finds themselves: 45 points behind championship leader Mathew Scholtz. Time, however, is on Baz’s side and, put it this way, if he rips off nine race wins in a row with Scholtz finishing second in those nine races, the two would be tied. With 18 races and 450 points up for grabs, this thing is far from over.
While Baz’s opener was somewhat flawed, Scholtz’s was near perfect. The Westby Racing rider won the first race and finished second in the second, and that vaulted him to the top of the standings and feeling fine as the series moves to VIR after a one-year hiatus from the popular venue. Scholtz shows up at VIR with 45 out of a possible 50 points in his pocket.
Although it’s not a weekend he’s going to brag about, the two races at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta might be ones that Josh Herrin looks back on fondly at season’s end. Herrin rode his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha YZF-R1 to a pair of thirds in the opening round and that places him second in the championship heading into VIR. Although he was third both times out, Herrin wasn’t pleased about the distance between him and the race winner – 12.8 seconds in race one, 15 seconds in race two – as he struggles to get comfortable on the new Yamaha. Still, he left with a boatload of points and that’s better than most.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong had a good opening weekend, albeit marred by a race-two jump start that forced him to take a pit-lane ride-through penalty. From there he fought through to finish fifth, a day after finishing second to Scholtz in race one. It was a good piece of damage control and he rolls into VIR third in the points – 14 points adrift of Scholtz.
Speaking of damage control… Jake Gagne qualified on pole position and was the man to beat all weekend. Well, right up to the point where he suffered a blown engine just one lap into the first race of the season. Unlike Baz, however, Gagne was able to rebound and rebound in a big way with a dominating victory in race two on the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha. He sits fifth in the title chase – 20 points behind Scholtz.
Kyle Wyman’s opening weekend was quietly effective. The team owner/racer ripped the covers off his Ducati Panigale V4 R to show his off new sponsor Panera Breads during the week and then went out and finished fifth and sixth in the two races. It was also a weekend where Wyman did double duty as he made his King Of The Baggers debut at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. He will be less busy at VIR and will focus his efforts solely on his HONOS Superbike program.
Quiet best describes Hector Barbera’s MotoAmerica debut with the Spaniard finishing sixth and seventh in the two races in Georgia on his Scheibe Racing BMW. New bike, new track, new tires, unfamiliar series… not a bad effort considering the challenges he faced.
Travis Wyman ended up at the top of the Superbike Cup, which runs within the Superbike class for riders mounted on Stock 1000-spec motorcycles, at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the Travis Wyman BMW rider carding seventh- and-eighth place finishes over the course of the weekend. That bested Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis in his return to MotoAmerica action. Lewis and Geoff May came away from the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta weekend ranked ninth and 10th in the HONOS Superbike title chase.
VIR Superbike Notes
The first-ever AMA Superbike race at VIRginia International Raceway in 2001 was won by the late Nicky Hayden, the 2002 AMA Superbike Champion and 2006 MotoGP World Champion backing that up with a second victory at VIR in 2002.
Five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, who now competes in the Moto2 World Championship, is the HONOS Superbike lap record holder at VIRginia International Raceway. Beaubier’s best lap is a 1:23.790 set during Superpole in 2018.
With no race at VIR in 2020, we have to bounce back to 2019 to see that JD Beach won his first AMA Superbike race in the second of two races – just a week after the popular racer won bis first career AMA Grand National Flat Track in Arizona. Beach topped his former Supersport Series rival Garrett Gerloff in taking his first career win. The day prior, Cameron Beaubier topped his rival Toni Elias to score the MotoAmerica Superbike win.
Mathew Scholtz scored the third AMA Superbike win of his career on Saturday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta a few weeks ago and that put him into a nine-way tie for 30th on the all-time AMA Superbike win list. Scholtz is tied with some pretty impressive names: Martin Cardenas, Ben Bostrom, Pascal Picotte, Colin Edwards, Troy Corser, Bobby Fong, Steve McLaughlin and Reg Pridmore.
With his victory in race two a few weeks ago at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Jake Gagne became the 61st rider to win an AMA Superbike race.
Scholtz’s and Gagne’s victories at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta were the 146th and 147th career wins for Yamaha as a manufacturer in AMA Superbike racing. Suzuki leads the way with 215 Superbike wins.
The Stock 1000 class again leads the way in entries with 36 riders scheduled to take to the track at VIR. There are 28 HONOS Superbike entries, 26 Supersport entries, 18 SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup entries and 28 Twins Cup entries.
More, from a press release issued by Kyle Wyman Racing:
KWR/Panera Bread Ducati Team heads to Virginia International Raceway
TUCSON, Ariz. (May 19) — The KWR/Panera Bread Ducati Team heads to Virginia International Raceway this weekend for round two of the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship. Rider Kyle Wyman looks to improve on the Road Atlanta performances to fight for podium finishes in Alton, Virginia.
The KWR Team has been hard at work preparing the Ducati Panigale V4 R Superbike for battle as the series starts to find its rhythm. With limited testing time the team is still aiming for podium results, with a capable bike and rider that can get the job done. For Chief Mechanic Dave Hopkinson, it’s an opportunity to try some new parts and put the latest version of the KWR Ducati to work.
“I’m excited for this weekend,” Hopkinson said. “For me personally it’s a new track with MotoAmerica not having raced here last year. I’m excited also because following a successful first outing for our all-new bike at Atlanta, we now have further new parts from Accossato to use at VIR that I’m hoping will further improve our new bike. It’s been busy in the gap assessing the Atlanta weekend, making improvements and changes ready to take on VIR. We are still learning about the new bike but are excited about its prospects as we enter round two.”
With the team evolving from a technical standpoint, Wyman says the key to having a successful weekend in Virginia will be to spin numerous, quality laps on Friday.
“The bike is in a good place, and I’m in a good place,” Wyman said. “In Atlanta we had some technical issues on Friday that caused us to miss a lot of quality track time. This week we need to make sure Friday goes smoothly and that I can get a lot of laps to get more familiar with the bike. It’s truly the best Superbike I’ve ever ridden. I just need to develop the confidence to push it to the maximum, and to accomplish that we need laps.”
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See the VIR MotoAmerica weekend schedule, HERE.
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Stay tuned for news and updates on KWR at www.kylewyman.com
More, from a press release issued by Westby Racing:
Superbike Championship Leader Scholtz Is Ready To Press His Advantage This Weekend In Virginia
Tulsa, OK – May 19, 2021 – Round two of the 2021 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship starts this Friday at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, and current Superbike points leader Mathew Scholtz, along with his Westby Racing team, will be looking to build on his race win and runner-up finish from round one at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Meanwhile, JR12 Racing/Westby Racing’s Junior Cup rider Jack Roach is eager for more seat time aboard his Yamaha YZF-R3, especially at a track that is new to him.
For Mathew, VIR’s 14-turn, 2.25-mile natural road course is one of his favorite racetracks on the MotoAmerica schedule, and he’s looking forward to returning there after MotoAmerica took a one-year hiatus from the venue due to COVID-19.
“I’m excited to get the VIR round started this weekend, especially after coming off a solid round at Road Atlanta,” Mathew said. “I know that we are going to have our work cut out for us this weekend, but VIR has always been a very strong track for me. It really suits my riding style. There are a lot of switchbacks, and you need a lot of front-end feel with those, which the Westby Racing Yamaha R1 Superbike has in spades. I’ve been training extremely hard on the motocross bike the past few days, and I feel a lot more confident than I ever have. I’m just going to take things as they come, but I’m expecting some pretty good results and to be fighting up front as usual. We’re looking to get up to speed quickly so we can work on our race pace. I feel like we are getting stronger every time I’m on the bike, and we have a solid game plan for how to improve the areas where we were a little bit weak in the first race weekend. All is well, and I can’t wait to see all the Westby crew and carrying on with where we left off at Atlanta, which is to maintain the lead up front.”
Superbike final qualifying is on Saturday morning at 11 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+.
For Jack, VIR presents a new challenge. He has never before raced at the venue, and his only experience there was gained during a track day earlier this year in what turned out to be wet conditions. But the young Brit, who now lives in Canada and races here in America, is used to new experiences, and he goes into Virginia with his usual level of gusto and enthusiasm.
Jack commented, “Following what was a very tough first round at Road Atlanta, I am as hungry as ever for results. I’ve just got to transfer that hunger into speed on the track, which I know I can do. I have no excuses now because (Westby Racing team manager) Chuck Giacchetto has dedicated a lot of his time to the Yamaha R3, and I’m very grateful for that. VIR is a track that I don’t have a lot of experience at, but my plan is to take it corner by corner, lap after lap, and session by session. I’m super-excited, and I can’t wait for the race weekend to begin.”
Junior Cup race one starts on Saturday at 5 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 25, 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 some up while maintaining proper social distancing.
Check Out The Westby Racing Sponsor Showcase
Capit Performance Srl, Drippin’ Wet, SBS Friction A/S, Superbike Unlimited, and Suter Racing Products will be the featured team sponsors on display in the Westby Racing paddock area, so be sure to stop by to say hello and learn about some of the companies that support the team.
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 Ducati:
Loris Baz and Kyle Wyman Ready to Get After America’s Best at VIR
Sunnyvale, Calif., May 19, 2021 – Round two of the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship sees Ducati stars Loris Baz (Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York) and Kyle Wyman (Panera Bread Ducati) heading to the legendary VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, with both riders looking to ignite their title charges.
Baz’s round one on the glorious Ducati Panigale V4 SBK was less than the MotoGP and WorldSBK veteran was looking for with a double DNF (did not finish). However, the Frenchman has taken some positives after showing front running pace in both races in his MotoAmerica debut at Road Atlanta, a circuit he’d never seen before first practice on Friday.
Wyman’s opening round saw the Arizona resident card a fifth and sixth place finish on the Panera Bread Ducati, and he’ll be looking for more at a circuit that should suit the ultra-fast nature of his distinctive green and black Ducati Panigale V4 R.
Loris Baz (Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York – Ducati #76)
“I’ve been training hard like always and trying to stay fit,” Baz said. “We’ve done one day of testing in New Jersey to try a couple of things because we are still quite far from the limit of this bike. That’s a positive aspect because all the guys in the championship know their bikes pretty well and we’re still getting to know our bike.
“I’m really looking forward to this race. I only have the positives from Atlanta in my head which was the speed we had, and I just want it to go the same way at VIR. I know the track. I did a track day there on the Ducati Panigale V4 S, so that will help us get going straight away without having to learn the way. We are starting our season in VIR but the target is always the same: we’re here to win.”
Kyle Wyman (Panera Bread Ducati – Ducati #33)
“There’s been lots happening behind the scenes to get ready for VIR but not a lot of seat time since Road Atlanta,” Wyman said. “The goal for this weekend is to have a solid Friday so we can spin some quality laps. This Panera Bread Ducati is in constant evolution and we’ve made a few changes since Road Atlanta to try and get the bike in a more familiar area. We’ve been hard at work prepping the bike, getting more spares built, and laying the proper foundations for the rest of the season. It’s a long year and we want to be there at the end.”
Round two of the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship will be held at VIRginia International Raceway on May 21-23, 2021.