MotoAmerica’s Motul Superbike Championship wound up Sunday at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama with a thriller, with Saturday’s victor Toni Elias again coming up through the pack to take his 9th victory of the season on the factory Yoshimura-Suzuki GSX-R1000. After a troubled campaign, the result moved outgoing Champ Elias up to second in the final Championship series standings.
After a big crash on Saturday, newly crowned MotoAmerica Champion Cameron Beaubier earned a close second with the works Monster Energy Yamaha YZF-R1, just .3 of a second behind the victor. Also in the battle was early leader Josh Herrin on his privateer Attack Performance Yamaha, three seconds further back at the finish to take third overall.
Ben Young, second overall in the 2018 Mopar CSBK Canadian National Championship, had a strong effort, earning tenth after a good dice with the similar machine of veteran Geoff May. The two fought right to the finish of the 21 lap race, Young just .4 of a second back from May at the line.
Popular American Roger Hayden, riding the second Yosh-Suzuki, had already announced his retirement after Barber, and was looking for a strong finish in front of a partisan crowd. An off track excursion put him at the back of the field, but “Rog” charged back, winding up in the fight for eight with May and Young. At one point, Young repassed Hayden, but the former SuperSport Champ wound up grabbing eighth in his final career start.
“I knew that today, we should be there (at the front),” explained winner Elias post-race. “I had the pace, and we were strong enough with the soft tire option. I was thinking to open up a gap, but it was incredible lap times with all of us late in the race. It was an incredible push; we were all over the limit.”
“I really enjoyed it this year,” continued Elias, referring to his charge back up the points standings. “It was a good job, we worked so hard, but Cameron deserves his title.”
Beabier’s second spot was his 16th Podium of 2018 and a real reversal of fortune after his big fall in Saturday’s round.
“Yesterday was the biggest off I’ve had in a couple of years, but I wasn’t too sore, but my confidence was a little down,” admitted the new number one plate holder. “I knew Toni would push the pace, the track was still a little sketchy and damp in a few places, so it was tough. The last few laps, I was really going for it, sliding both ends, just pushing all-out.”
“It really was a tough, competitive season,” reflected Beaubier. “We kept fighting back, it was amazing for our team. It makes you appreciate everything so much more.”
Top privateer Herrin earned his 12th podium of the season after an incredible, up-and-down season. At Barber, he suffered a back injury during a massage on Saturday, but was feeling much better on Sunday.
“I’m really happy to finish the year on the podium with a bike that isn’t smashed up,” smiled former Champ Herrin. “We ended up beating two of the factory bikes in the Championship, so I’m so happy with my team, happy to put us up here.”
Young “got off to a good start, there was the usual pushing and bumping, and I was right in there in the early laps. I knew it would be a long race, but not quite as hot as yesterday. I hooked up with Geoff (May), we had the same pace, and then at the end Roger caught us. Roger was sizing up Geoff and ran a little wide, and I passed him back at the end of his last race!
“I felt like we were a lot faster today than yesterday, and the bike was easier to handle. I feel like it was a good effort overall, this is a good field; I really have to thank our team: my Dad, Matt Vantillborg, and Steve Weir.”
Young was cheered with a strong effort to complete his 2018 tour, explaining that “I feel like we did a good job overall. We had a much better overall pace today, we made the bike easier to ride, and I really wanted to get a top ten. It’s hard to compare this race to a CSBK round, since I’m not chasing anything, but I think we adapted to the different tires and requirements well.”
Quebec’s Alex Dumas clinched the Liqui Moly Junior Cup title two weeks ago at a sodden New Jersey, but in ultra warm conditions he dominated the final 2018 LTWT race at Barber. Unlike Saturday’s race, Sunday’s round had only single bike incidents, and thus no red flags.
KTM single-mounted Dumas sprinted into a lead he would never loose from Pole position, Kawasaki mounted Damien Jigalov earning second after a wild battle with several future stars, including third placed Cory Ventura. Yamaha-mounted Ventura, along with Dumas a KTM Cup front runner last year, was second on Saturday.
Dumas won an impressive ten races aboard his orange single on his way to dominating the Championship, winding up with 295 points compared to the 221 total of runner-up Ventura. Early season pace setter Ashton Yates wound up fourth overall for Kawasaki.
The rain-delayed SuperSport race turned out to be a barn burner, with Saturday victor Hayden Gillim repeating aboard the Rickdiculous Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. Gillim led early, then was caught by newly crowned class Champ J.D. Beach on the sole factory Yamaha entry. On the last lap, Gillim brushed Beach as they headed for the final set of corners, then Gillim hung on to win by about a wheel.
Valentin Debise earned third on the M4 Ecstar Suzuki, getting the best of another good fight with fourth placed Bryce Prince on his Kyle Wyman Racing Yamaha. Braden Ortt of Alberta couldn’t overcome a bad start with his Tuned Racing YZF-R6, and wound up seventh overall.