MotoAmerica Superbike: Will The Cream Stay At The Top At Barber?

MotoAmerica Superbike: Will The Cream Stay At The Top At Barber?

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By MotoAmerica:

MotoAmerica Heads To Barber With Gagne And Beaubier Tied At The Top

The Steel Commander Superbike Championship Resumes At Barber Motorsports Park With A Tripleheader, May 17-19
 

IRVINE, CA (May 15, 2024) – With Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne and Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier winning 16 of the 20 Steel Commander Superbike races a season ago, it was apparent that they were the cream of the crop for the 2023 season. Gagne ended the year with 11 wins to emerge as the series champion for a third straight time while Beaubier’s five-win season ended prematurely due to the injuries suffered in a crash at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

So, what did we learn from the 2024 season opener at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta? Well, the cream is still the cream with Gagne and Beaubier splitting wins to start the season after two thrilling races.

With the pair coming out of Georgia with 45 points apiece and tied for the series points lead, the Steel Commander Superbike Championship is back in action this coming weekend, May 17-19, at a series favorite – Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama – with three Superbike races scheduled (one on Saturday, two on Sunday) and 75 points up for grabs.

The two Road Atlanta races proved that the injuries that ended Beaubier’s season were in his rear-view mirror, along with any trepidation that it would take him some time to get back up to speed and ready to fight. Beaubier didn’t qualify well (for him), and he started both races from the middle of the second row. In the dry race one, it came down to a battle between pole sitter Bobby Fong, Beaubier and Gagne with Beaubier taking his 60th career AMA Superbike win by just .240 of a second over Gagne with Fong a shadow third. In Sunday’s wet race two, Beaubier came out second best to Gagne – by just .119 of a second. He was most definitely on top of his game.

While Beaubier was happy to be back, feeling good and up to speed, it was Gagne who ended up fighting some physical issues at Road Atlanta with arm pump bringing a bit of worry into his season opener. Despite numbness in his throttle/front brake hand, Gagne fought for victory on both days, winning the second race over Beaubier with his teammate Cameron Petersen finishing third.

Gagne went back to where it all started during the break between Road Atlanta and Barber: motocross. In an effort to cure what ails him, Gagne rode his motocross bike on a track for the first time in three or four years in the hopes that the arm pump would loosen itself up. We’ll see the results this coming weekend.

With Beaubier and Gagne tied at the top and 21 points in the clear, there’s a horde of riders within spitting distance of third place in the young championship.

TopPro Racing’s Sean Dylan Kelly was nothing if not impressive in his Steel Commander Superbike debut with the Floridian fourth and fifth in the two races at Road Atlanta on his BMW M 1000 RR. Kelly was in the lead pack in both the dry and wet races at what is a difficult racetrack, and he left Road Atlanta smiling, confident and with 21 points in his pocket.

Kelly is just two points clear of Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong with the Yamaha YZF-R1-mounted Californian a fighting third in race one before struggling to 10th in the wet second race.

Fong is tied with Tytlers Cycle Racing’s JD Beach with Beach finishing seventh in the dry and a fighting fourth in the wet conditions of Sunday’s race two in his debut with the team and the BMW M 1000 RR. Beach was in the fight for victory when he crashed in the esses, remounted, and fought his way through to fourth.

Just three and four points behind Beach come the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati duo of Loris Baz and Josh Herrin.

After finishing seventh in race two, Baz was fortunate to escape mostly uninjured after being struck from behind by Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante after the checkered flag. Prior to crossing the finish line seventh in race two on Sunday, Baz had raced to sixth in Saturday’s race one.

Herrin sits seventh in the title chase after Road Atlanta after fifth- and ninth-place finishes in Georgia. Herrin led race one and was battling with Fong, Gagne and Beaubier when he ran off track in the final corner when Fong made an aggressive pass on the inside. From there, Herrin rode to a disappointed fifth. He is 27 points behind Gagne and Beaubier.

Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen had a miserable race one at Road Atlanta where he crashed, remounted, and managed to salvage a 15th-place finish, but he rebounded with a third-place podium result in race two.

Petersen is tied for eighth with Real Steel Motorsports’ Hayden Gillim after the Kentuckian raced to ninth and sixth in the two races at Road Atlanta.

Tom Woods Powersports’ Nolan Lamkin emerged from Road Atlanta 10th in the Steel Commander Superbike Championship while also leading the Superbike Cup standings.

The Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team is hoping for better fortune at Barber after a disastrous start to its 2024 season. In addition to losing Richie Escalante to a broken left wrist, broken left ankle and compression fractures of his L1, L2 and L4 vertebrae, Brandon Paasch failed to score a point from the two races after two crashes. With Escalante out of action while his injuries heal, the team is bringing in 2023 Supersport Champion Xavi Forés to ride his GSX-R1000R.

Steel Commander Superbike action gets started at Barber Motorsports Park with the first practice session set for 10:35 a.m. with Q1 set for 2:40 p.m. Saturday’s race will begin at 3:10 p.m. with Sunday’s two races set for 12:15 p.m. and 3:10 p.m.

Pre-Race Barber Notes

Jake Gagne is the Superbike lap record holder at Barber Motorsports Park after lapping at a best of 1:22.035 in Qualifying 2 last year. Gagne also holds the race lap record of 1:22.463, which he set in race two in 2021.

Jake Gagne beat his teammate Cameron Petersen by 1.8 seconds to win race one last year at Barber Motorsports Park. Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was third with Cameron Beaubier fourth. In race two, it was Gagne again taking victory with Scholtz second and Beaubier third.

Cameron Beaubier’s race-one win at Road Atlanta was the 60th of his AMA Superbike career. The five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion is third on the all-time Superbike win list and is now just one race win behind his former Yamaha factory teammate Josh Hayes. Jake Gagne, meanwhile, is also charging his way up the all-time win list. Gagne’s race-two win at Road Atlanta was the 41st of his Superbike career and he sits fourth on the all-time Superbike win list.

Australian Mat Mladin, who leads the all-time wins list in AMA Superbike racing with 82 victories, is also the Superbike win leader at Barber Motorsports Park. Mladin had nine victories at Barber from 2004 to 2009. Josh Hayes is second on that list with seven Superbike wins at Barber with all seven coming in a row from 2012 to 2015. Of active Superbike racers, Beaubier leads the way with five Superbike wins in Alabama.

This year’s race will mark the 22nd consecutive season of AMA Superbike racing at Barber Motorsports Park. Aaron Yates and Kurtis Roberts won the first two AMA Superbike races held at Barber in 2003.

About MotoAmerica

MotoAmerica is North America’s premier motorcycle road racing series. Established in 2014, MotoAmerica is home to the AMA Superbike Championship as well as additional classes including Supersport, Stock 1000, Twins Cup, Junior Cup, and King Of The Baggers. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership including 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, please visit www.MotoAmerica.com and follow MotoAmerica on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. To watch all things MotoAmerica, subscribe to MotoAmerica’s live streaming and video on demand service, MotoAmerica Live+ 

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