Sean Dylan Kelly (40) beat Richie Escalante (1) to win the opening Supersport race of the season at Road Atlanta on Saturday. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Sean Dylan Kelly (40) beat Richie Escalante (1) to win the opening Supersport race of the season at Road Atlanta on Saturday. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

Kelly Draws First Blood In MotoAmerica Supersport

BRASELTON, Ga. – ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly drew first blood in the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship with his victory over rival Richie Escalante in the season-opener at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta Saturday.

In the other support classes it was mostly new blood taking advantage of the class champions exiting stage left.

The tight battles at the front of the Supersport field that were an every-race occurrence last year between reigning champion Escalante and title runner-up Kelly picked up right where they left off in Supersport race one at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Kelly, who started from the pole aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, got the holeshot twice in the red-flagged race and held off all but one of Escalante’s attempts to take the lead. The HONOS Kawasaki rider, who ended up having to race his 2020 HONOS Kawasaki after crashing his 2021 green machine in final qualifying, couldn’t match Kelly’s pace.

Kelly showed that 2021 may flip the script as his margin over Escalante at the checkers was more than 2.6 seconds. Cycle Gear Racing Yamaha’s Nolan Lamkin survived the attrition that led to the red flag and successfully reached the podium for his best-ever result in Supersport competition.

“I’m really happy with how this weekend is going so far,” Kelly said. “This is exactly what I came for. I prepared a lot this off-season – not only me, but also my team. We worked really hard together after a tough 2020 season. I learned a lot last year. I knew this year what I was coming into and I came prepared. I’m really happy with this. We’ve been working really hard since yesterday. We got the pole this morning. I really do think this race was if not the best, one of the best of my career just because of the pace I had.”

In Saturday’s Stock 1000 race, long-time literbike road racer Michael Gilbert got the victory aboard his brand-new Kawasaki ZX-10R, and he prevailed over hard-charging Jones Honda rider Ashton Yates, who was also aboard a brand-new bike – the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.

Both riders battled hard in the 13-lap event, as did third-place finisher Travis Wyman, who raced his trusty BMW S 1000 RR to a coveted spot on the podium.

Coming into the Twins Cup season, the big question was, how would the brand-new Aprilia RS 660 fare in MotoAmerica’s rough-and-tumble tuner class.

In Twins Cup race one, the new, twin-cylinder middleweight sportbike swept the podium with Robem Engineering’s Kaleb De Keyrel taking the victory over Righteous Racing’s Jody Barry – who has returned to the MotoAmerica Series after a few years away – and Hayden Schultz, who is one of De Keyrel’s teammates.

The final race of the day on Saturday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta was in Junior Cup, and a brand-new rider in MotoAmerica emerged with the victory in the red-flagged-and-restarted event. Tyler Scott raced his KTM to the win by just .271 seconds ahead of Landers Racing Kawasaki’s Ben Gloddy. Veloce Racing Kawasaki’s David Kohlstaedt finished third, which was the first MotoAmerica podium of his career.