JD Beach went back-to-back in AFT. (AFT Photo)

Beach Goes Back-To-Back In AFT

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – J.D. Beach solidified his claim as the leading TT rider in all of Progressive American Flat Track by earning a second consecutive victory at the World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Country Saloon on Saturday at the Peoria Motorcycle Club in Peoria, Illinois.

While Beach ultimately went wire-to-wire to victory, the contest was in fact quite a tense affair with two-time Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champion Briar Bauman glued to Beach’s rear wheel pretty much throughout.

A five-rider freight train formed at the start, with Beach holding the lead ahead of Jarod Vanderkooi, Bauman, Jared Mees, and Dallas Daniels.

Bauman was the first to slip past ‘VDK,’ blasting ahead as they exited the race’s opening corner, while Mees and Daniels would do the same over the next few minutes.

Bauman only really showed Beach his front wheel on a single occasion. That said, he was perfectly positioned at nearly every moment to capitalize on any mistakes that might possibly befall Beach on the dry and notchy track. However, the Yamaha ace proved remarkably resilient under fire, especially considering he was still riding at less than 100% after hurting his ankle at the Mission Port Royal Half-Mile a couple weeks back.

Beach took the checkered flag 0.492 seconds ahead of Bauman to improve his overall series TT record to five wins in his last six attempts.

“When I hurt my ankle at the last race, I couldn’t even walk to leave the track,” Beach said. “Coming into Peoria, there are so many fast guys here, and I was sitting on my butt for two weeks. I just have to thank my family, who made sure I didn’t do anything because I’m not good at sitting around.

“The whole Estenson team worked so hard. Today was a little hectic, but to get this win again here and get two in a row… To imagine Henry (Wiles) got 14 in a row here is just insane. It feels so good. I’m pumped.”

The continuation of Bauman’s midseason surge further tightened the title fight. So too did Daniels’ third-place finish, a result that only came following a protracted battle with reigning champion Mees for the position. If not for his continued woes at leaving the starting line, the rookie might have had more of a say in the final outcome. Still, he had to be satisfied with standing on the box in his first premier-class race at his home track.

Bauman is now just three points behind Mees (188-185), while Daniels is only another 13 points back. Beach, too, has new life, closing to within 30 points of Mees (159) after securing his second win of the season.

The challenge of 14-time Peoria TT winner “King Henry” Wiles never fully materialized. Wiles showed respectable speed throughout the day but faded back to ninth before making a late climb to an eventual sixth, finishing behind Vanderkooi in the Main.

Brandon Robinson came home in seventh, one spot ahead of Mission Production Twins Challenge entrant Jesse Janisch, who executed a spirited climb up the order early before running out of steam.

Ben Lowe and Bronson Bauman rounded out the top ten.

Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines

Before he was a full-fledged Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines title fighter, Jesse Janisch originally made his name as a Peoria TT expert. In fact, that reputation actually landed him last year’s opportunity to earn his current ride – a ride that subsequently launched him into championship contention.

While he’s clearly grown beyond the specialist tag, Janisch proved yet again he’s one of the very best there is at the legendary venue. He was in full-on imperious form, winning the drag race to Turn 1 and promptly building up a sizable gap before even completing a single lap.

Janisch’s fellow Semi winner, Johnny Lewis, was outflanked by Dan Bromley in the first corner and then spent the next couple of minutes looking for a way back through. By the time Lewis retook second, Janisch already had more than two seconds in hand.

That advantage only continued to stretch even when Lewis had clear air in front of him. Janisch ultimately piled on more than 14 seconds worth of padding before he wheelied his way down the front straight to a 12.192-second margin of victory.

The triumph was Janisch’s fourth professional win at the circuit, the first three coming aboard single-cylinder machinery.

“That was awesome. I’m so much more comfortable with the bike and team this year,” Janisch said. “Last year, I came here and was just trying to stay quiet and be polite and ride the thing. This year, we’re obviously working good with the team and making changes, trying to learn me and the bike better. The Vance & Hines guys are amazing.”

The victory also provided Janisch a bit more breathing space in the championship fight. That said, defending class champion Cory Texter did what he does so well, minimizing the damage on the days in which he’s at a disadvantage in order to fight back another day.

Texter held Cole Zabala at bay to finish fourth, crossing the line just over a second back of podium finishers Lewis and Bromley. As a result, Janisch now leads Texter 199-188 with seven races remaining to decide the back-and-forth championship battle.

Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER

The four-race win streak of Kody Kopp finally came to an end, but even so, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing win streak now stands at five. And that’s because Kopp’s teammate, Max Whale, finally collected his first victory of 2022 after leading the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER class in Main Event victories with five a season ago.

However, both KTM pilots found themselves behind Estenson Racing’s Trevor Brunner off the line. Whale struck first, railing up the inside of Brunner as they powered onto the front straight a minute-and-a-half into the contest.

The Australian would then proceed to rip open a couple seconds at the front as Kopp desperately attempted to find a way through himself. Instead, he found himself victimized by the charging Morgen Mischler and dropped to fourth as Whale continued to break away at the front.

Mischler would eventually exploit a big bobble on Brunner’s part to slide into second with around a minute to go and then close rapidly on the leader. What once seemed to be a certain win became considerably less so, but Whale responded to Mischler’s late push to hold on for a 0.831-second win.

While Whale was awarded last year’s win at Peoria, it only came due to a DQ ahead of him. So technically this was his second in succession at the famed race even if it felt like a first to him.

He said, “It’s been a long seven weeks since (getting hurt at) the Red Mile. And to come back finally with a win… It feels like it’s been years since I won a race. That was so much fun. I found a line that worked early on and just stuck to it. It’s unreal to get a win at Peoria, and the crowd here is awesome. I’m stoked.”

Mischer’s runner-up represented his first-ever TT podium and saw him narrow Kopp’s title advantage for the first time in five races (even if it still stands at two full races, 220-170). The podium was completed by Brunner, who ultimately kept Kopp corralled behind him for full race distance, which meant the title leader would equal his worst finish of the season in fourth.

Rookie Chase Saathoff pulled off a last-lap pass on Ferran Cardús to edge the Spanish champion for fifth by 0.008 seconds at the flag.