Cameron Petersen (45) battled with fellow South African Mathew Scholtz (11) and Loris Baz (76) in the early laps of the Superbike race. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)
Cameron Petersen (45) battled with fellow South African Mathew Scholtz (11) and Loris Baz (76) in the early laps of the Superbike race. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

Petersen Snaps Gagne’s Superbike Streak

LEEDS, Ala. – One of the most dramatic races in AMA Superbike history took place in a rainstorm at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday and it’s one that won’t soon be forgotten, especially if your name is Cameron Petersen, Mathew Scholtz or Loris Baz.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Petersen earned his first MotoAmerica Superbike win after surviving a crash in the downpour. Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz finished second after surviving a crash in the downpour. Oh, and Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz finished third after also surviving a crash in the downpour.
And that translates to the unbelievable fact that all three podium finishers crashed in the same race in which they podiumed for the first time in AMA Superbike history. Yes, all three podium finishers suffered a crash and finished on the podium. All three… well, you get the point.
Petersen’s first HONOS Superbike win made him the 62nd rider in history to win an AMA Superbike race and the second from South Africa. The win also went a long way to solidifying Petersen’s hold on third in the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship with two races left to run on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Petersen also teamed up with Mother Nature to stop Jake Gagne’s win streak at 16 with the newly crowned 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion crashing out of the lead on the second lap, remounting, pitting for repairs, and then ending up 12th.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Petersen said. “It’s been a long road to get to this point. Like you said, I had this circled from the beginning of the season. I know this is my favorite track in the world, and I knew that the Suzukis are really good around here. I came into Barber with a little bit of confidence, and I think that has kind of shaped my weekend so far. Honestly, I don’t really know what to say. That cool down lap, I was so emotional. My family sacrificed everything for me to get to this point. To finally get a Superbike win, it feels like it has paid off, especially riding against world-class riders like this. This place is no joke. I couldn’t be happier. But, honestly, that was probably the craziest race I’ve ever been involved in.
“The beginning of the race wasn’t too bad, but it was actually pretty good conditions for a rain race. Then, unfortunately, I ran over the paint into turn one and ended up crashing. But I did whatever I could to hold onto the bike and try to keep it running. Lucky, when I picked the bike up, it started right up first fire. I was able to get going back in second. I knew I had a gap behind me, so I was just trying to do laps and make sure I brought the bike home. Then as the race went on, it started really puddling up. Honestly, there wasn’t a spot on the track where we weren’t hydroplaning unless we were on the upper apex of the corner. Honestly, (it was) probably one of the scariest races I’ve been in. It’s unfortunate. I came over turn four and I saw yellow flags and I was like, ‘there’s no way.’ Sure enough, went into five and unfortunately Matty (Scholtz), same thing. He got out into the thick water and just hydroplaned. It was crazy. It’s unfortunate that he went down, but I’m going to take my first win any way I can get it. Hopefully, this isn’t the last. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and been in my corner. Like I said, I hope this isn’t the last, and let’s try to win two more tomorrow.”
Petersen and Scholtz battled at the front of the pack after Gagne’s demise. Then Petersen crashed in turn one and Scholtz held court at the front by himself. Then came the fateful 15th lap and Scholtz was down, the South African sliding from the crest of the hill out of turn four all the way down to turn five. He remounted but Petersen had already splashed past and was on his way to victory.