DANVILLE, Va. – As Richie Escalante said from Parc Ferme after winning Sunday’s second of two MotoAmerica Supersport races at Virginia Int’l Raceway, “Richie is back.”
Two weeks removed from having his collarbone plated, Escalante won his first Supersport race of the season on Sunday and not a minute too soon as his championship rival Sean Dylan Kelly had won three straight races to begin the 2021 season.
Escalante wasn’t the only championship hopeful to return to the top step of the podium at VIR as Corey Alexander went out and won his first Stock 1000 race of the season after a rocky start to his campaign.
As for the SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup and Twins Cup races at VIR, it was a case of a pair of first-time class winners in Cody Wyman and Jody Barry.
On the occasion of his 27th birthday, HONOS HVMC Kawasaki rider Alexander gave himself a priceless, hard-fought gift when he won Sunday’s Stock 1000 race two at Virginia Int’l Raceway.
Saturday’s race one winner Jake Lewis almost spoiled Alexander’s rolling birthday party when he very nearly overtook Alexander on the final lap, but Alexander maintained his position at the front and kept Lewis and his Altus Motorsports Suzuki behind him, taking the checkers by .047 of a second over the Kentuckian. With Lewis in second, third place went to Michael Gilbert Racing Kawasaki’s Michael Gilbert, who was just under a second behind Lewis.
Defending MotoAmerica Supersport champion Escalante’s title defense got off to a bit of a rocky start. The HONOS Kawasaki rider did finish second in both races at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, but then, right after that round, he fractured his collarbone in a training accident on his bicycle. Despite the setback, Escalante not only raced at VIR, but he put in a dominant performance in Sunday’s race, winning by more than seven-and-a-half seconds over M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly, who has been unstoppable up to this point.
Kelly did finish second, but he was clearly not happy with the result and felt like the changes they made to the bike overnight after Saturday’s race did not improve the bike. Mesa37 Racing Kawasaki’s Stefano Mesa, himself also dealing with some bumps and bruises, toughed it out and finished third albeit a little more than 11 seconds behind Kelly.
Former KTM RC Cup competitor Barry has returned to the MotoAmerica paddock after a few years away, and the Righteous Racing Aprilia rider is making quite a name for himself in his return. After reaching the podium at Road Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, Barry got a breakthrough win in Sunday’s Twins Cup race two at VIR. He overtook Jackson Blackmon Yamaha rider Jackson Blackmon on the final lap of the 10-lap event and held onto the lead to win by just .166 of a second over second-place Blackmon. Robem Engineering Aprilia’s Kaleb De Keyrel finished third, just under half-a-second behind Blackmon.
In Sunday’s SportbikeTrackGear.com race two, Kermoto/Madden Painting Kawasaki rider Cody Wyman finally got the breakthrough MotoAmerica win that has eluded him for a couple of years. The youngest of the racing Wyman brothers, Cody has become a master of the draft pass, and he used it to perfection on the final lap to escape the gaggle of riders at the front and put himself in perfect position to take the checkered flag first.
Wyman nipped second-place finisher Ben Gloddy, who was aboard a Landers Racing Kawasaki, by just .049 of a second. Gloddy won Saturday’s race one and appeared to be headed for the double win until Wyman swooped in and grabbed the victory. Also among the lead group was Veloce Racing Kawasaki’s Maxwell Toth, the California rider taking third just .113 of a second behind Gloddy.