MONTEREY, Calif. – If this is the last weekend in Cameron Beaubier’s MotoAmerica career then he seems determined to make it one he won’t soon forget.
Beaubier got his weekend off to a bang on Saturday as the five-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion turned in a perfect 20 laps to take victory in the first of three HONOS Superbike races at the GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Speedfest at Monterey.
Beaubier demolished the competition at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, leading from pole position over the hill and into turn two with the lead and he never looked back. The Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha rider slowed in the final corner, did a stand-up wheelie over the finish line and still won by 10.734 seconds for his 14th win of the season – just a day after announcing that he will be leaving the MotoAmerica Series to pursue the Moto2 World Championship.
“To be honest, when I was sitting on the grid all that stuff kind of goes away,” Beaubier said. “You’re just thinking about in the moment and you just want to go do the best you can in the race. Yesterday started off the weekend knowing that my time has come to an end with Yamaha here in the States and I’m starting a new adventure next year. Obviously, everything was going through my head. I’m nervous, excitement, just all this stuff. I’m glad I could give my guys a win today. My bike has been so good all weekend so far. Like I’ve kind of said all year, it’s just pretty exciting going to all these tracks because, yeah, I’ve been riding the R1 for the past five years or whatever, but it feels like I have a new bike every track we go to because of the electronics system, the way Richard (Stanboli, his team owner and crew chief) runs it. It’s so advanced. My bike’s just working so good. I’m just having pure fun on this thing. I’m just going to enjoy the rest of the weekend and hope to put in some strong racing again tomorrow.”
Beaubier topped the man he has battled for most of his Superbike career – Toni Elias. Elias, who announced this week that he will not race a Suzuki in next year’s championship, battled through after a rough start to finish second for just his second podium of the season.
“We are getting closer, but I can’t change the situation,” Elias said. “It is what it is. It’s not good, but in this case, I was struggling when we were battling. I’m very happy. I struggle a lot the first 10 laps. Then I saw Bobby (Fong) and Jake (Gagne) slow down little by little. Then, there was still seven laps. I just try for the last few laps. I could pass him (Gagne), but I didn’t want to. Tomorrow is going to be another two races.”
Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Lorenzo Zanetti also struggled in the opening laps in his first race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but once the tires came in, he moved forward, passing Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne in the closing stages to finish third. Gagne looked to have second in the bag after M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong crashed out of their battle. But Gagne ran into fueling issues that ultimately dropped him to fourth.
“Obviously, the podium is unexpected today,” Zanetti said. “I come from the first row so it’s not bad, but the base is not really consistent. So, it’s difficult for me to be at the front. Yesterday I just see Cameron (Beaubier) and I think I learn some trick, but honestly the pace of Cameron is too fast.”
Gagne held on for fourth place, some four seconds clear of Ducati Richmond/KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman, with Wyman barely beating Westby Racing stand-in rider Niccolo Canepa at the finish line by just .054 of a second.
Scheibe Racing BMW’s Josh Herrin bested Altus Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen, the South African wrapping up the MotoAmerica Superbike Cup with his eighth-place finish and will earn $25,000 for his efforts.
Rock and Sons Racing’s Jayson Uribe rode his Honda CBR1000RR to ninth with Ride HVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander rounding out the top 10.