Championship of Alabama – Round 10
Images by Brian J. Nelson
Seven points were all that separated Cameron Beaubier from year-long championship leader Toni Elias as the 2019 EBC Brakes Superbike Championship reached a crescendo at Barber Motorsports Park over the weekend.
What seemed improbable just three days ago turned into reality for Cameron Beaubier on a sunny Sunday in Alabama, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider winning a fourth MotoAmerica Superbike crown by five points over his rival Toni Elias with a sweep of the two EBC Superbike races at Barber Motorsports Park.
Beaubier did everything he needed to do in the Championship of Alabama. He needed to win both races and for Elias to finish third or worse in both. And he got it with Elias struggling to a fourth-place finish on Sunday to give Beaubier the title.
Superbikes Race 1
Cameron Beaubier kept his championship hopes alive on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Alabama, the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion taking his fifth win of the season while everything fell into place behind him.
Beaubier knew he needed to win, and he did. He also knew he needed help. And he got it with his teammate Garrett Gerloff finishing second. And, finally, he needed Elias to struggle, which he did, finishing third with his teammate Josh Herrin riding shotgun to the Spaniard in the final laps.
Beaubier’s win combined with Elias’ third place narrows the margin to seven points, 349-342, with just Sunday’s finale remaining in the championship.
Elias was disappointed with third place but hopeful of better things to come tomorrow. He knows that to earn the title, third place isn’t going to be enough. On Saturday, the former Moto2 World Champion was a distant third – 18.8 seconds behind Beaubier and just .033 of a second ahead of Herrin.
Behind Herrin came JD Beach, the Yamaha rider closing in on the Yoshimura duo in the final laps and coming up just short at the finish after starting the race from the fourth row.
Sixth place went to Jake Gagne, just ahead of Kyle Wyman, who was some two seconds clear of Cameron Petersen. David Anthony and Travis Wyman rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Superbikes Race 2
Sunday’s victory was the sixth of the year for Beaubier and the 38th of his AMA Superbike career, but more importantly, it earned him a fourth AMA Superbike title, which puts him in a tie with former teammate Josh Hayes for the second most won in AMA Superbike history. Mat Mladin is at the top of that list with seven AMA Superbike Championships.
Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff finished second, the Texan again leading the early laps before playing good soldier and not putting up a fight when his teammate caught up. Beaubier, meanwhile, had made things difficult for himself by running off the track in turn one on the opening lap, but he got the job done.
“I couldn’t believe what happened off the start. I’ve been feeling so good. My R1 has been working so good all weekend – Friday, Saturday, this morning, warmup, Sunday. I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to get in front and win the race and Toni (Elias) had to get third to win. I thought it was all out the door. I was in the grass. I tried to go around the outside of (Josh) Herrin and everyone knows you don’t go around the outside of Herrin. You end up in the grass. So that’s what happened. I got back on the track. I think I was like around eighth or something like that. These guys were riding so good. They were so hard to pass, and they were trying to pass each other as well. So, I made it really, really tough on myself, but I had nothing to lose. I just put my head down and pushed as hard as I could. I can’t even believe we were in this position going into this race – seven points out of the lead after yo-yo-ing to 30 points back on Toni (Elias), and we’re sitting here with the number-one plate. I just can’t believe it, really. It’s amazing. I just owe it all to my team Yamaha. It really is like a big family. I love all those guys. It’s Rick’s (Hobbs, his crew chief) last year. He’s retiring after this year. He’s been a huge key, if not thekey, to these four championships. I owe a huge portion of it to him. I’m really going to miss that guy.”
Gerloff was happy with his performance and his season, a year in which he finished third in the title chase and won four races.
“This has been a good season for me. I definitely accomplished a lot of goals that I had going into the season. I feel like I had a pretty good year. Definitely some low points, but some really high points also. You can’t have one without the other. I’m really happy with my 2019 season. I really feel like I gelled with the R1 a lot better this year. I never give up and neither does my team. We’ve been working our butts off every weekend since last year to try to get the bike really where I like it and also just working on myself and working on my riding. A big part of that was having Josh Hayes help me out this year. He helped with a lot of different things, bike setup and also some mental stuff and everything. He’s been a huge part. Just can’t thank the whole team enough. I’m always looking for more, so I got bigger and better goals for next year. But just a big congrats to Cam. He’s been riding super consistent all year, super-fast. He’s definitely made me a faster rider. Like he said, it sucks to have a fast teammate sometimes because I was thinking the same thing. If I come in and he’s going a half a second faster than me and I’m like, ‘Dude, where the hell are you pulling this out of?’ But the challenge is always a closed door, but it’s a door that’s waiting to be opened for improvement. That’s the way I look at every challenge that I’ve had. I try to bust through those doors as fast as I can. It’s been a good year. I’m really excited with where we are and just really excited for what the future holds.”
Third place on Sunday went to Mathew Scholtz, the South African some 10 seconds behind the Yamaha duo but almost three seconds ahead of Elias.
Elias was extremely gracious in defeat, especially considering he’d led this championship from the second race until the start of the 20th race.
“First of all, I want to congratulate Cameron (Beaubier) and Yamaha. They did an amazing end of the season and they deserve this win. For me it is not nice – it’s hard and sad. It will take some days to digest this loss and accept it. We tried hard. We did everything we could. The whole team gave 200 percent. We tried to find grip where there was no grip. I also want to say thank you to my teammate Josh Herrin. He tried to help and did a great job, but it was not enough. I’m very proud of my team, every single person. It’s very difficult for them as well, but we must accept that we tried our best and be content with that fact. We will come back and work harder next year and try to win another championship for Suzuki.”
Kyle Wyman was fifth on Sunday, his best result of the season on his Ducati. Wyman was on Elias’s rear wheel as they crossed the line and was just ahead of Cameron Petersen, who also enjoyed his best result of the season in sixth. Josh Herrin faded to finish seventh, less than a second head of Jake Lewis. David Anthony and Max Flinders rounded out the top 10.