Round 9 – Laguna Seca
Images by Brian J. Nelson
Cameron Beaubier closed out the 2020 season at the MotoAmerica Speedfest at Monterey, winning all three HONOS Superbike races to conclude the season ahead of his move to Moto2. That left him on 436-points, with runner up Jake Gage on 301, and third placed Bobby Fong on 253.
Beaubier won Race 1 from Toni Elias and Lorenzo Zanetti, with Race 2 seeing Zanetti in second and Elias third, before returning to the original finishing order in Race 3, of Beaubier, Elias and Zannetti.
Sean Dylan Kelly took the Supersport wins, after Richie Escalante crashed in Race 1, with Brandon Paasch and Cory Ventura completing the podium as a result. Escalante was back for Race 2 as runner up, with JD Beach in third.
The result saw Dylan Kelly finish the season on 341 points, 40 behind Escalante, with Paasch third overall on 260-points.
Cameron Petersen had already clinched the Stock 1000 championship, but he added another win to his tally in the single race run, with Corey Alexander and Danilo Lewis claiming the final podium positions. Petersen won the championship on 260-points, to Alexander on 204, and Travis Wyman on 148.
Rocco Landers won the Twins race, in a fitting end to a dominant season, although Dominic Doyle gave him a run for his money, just 0.112s off at the line, with Kaleb De Keyrel not far off either 0.376 behind the leader.
Landers won the championship with a final tally of 277-points, De Keyrel was runner up on 210, while Hayden Schultz was third on 154.
Landers also won both Junior Cup races on his Kawasaki, from Dominic Doyle and Samuel Lochoff in Race 1, with the same top three in Race 2.
The final Junior Cup standings saw Landers on 435-points, Doyle on 297, and Lochoff on 287.
HONOS Superbike Race 1
Cameron Beaubier demolished the competition on Saturday, 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.
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.
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 Bobby Fong crashed out of their battle. But Gagne ran into fueling issues that ultimately dropped him to fourth.
Gagne held on for fourth place, some four seconds clear of Kyle Wyman, with Wyman barely beating Westby Racing stand-in rider Niccolo Canepa at the finish line by just .054 of a second.
Josh Herrin bested Cameron Petersen, the South African wrapping up the MotoAmerica Superbike Cup with his eighth-place finish and will earn $25,000 for his efforts. Jayson Uribe rode his Honda CBR1000RR to ninth with Corey Alexander rounding out the top 10.
HONOS Superbike Race 2 & 3
Cameron Beaubier ended his MotoAmerica career in the best possible fashion on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion adding two more wins to bring his season total to 16 victories. Now the 27-year-old can focus his efforts on the next phase of his career – the Moto2 World Championship.
Beaubier’s two victories on Sunday were dominating. He won the first of the two in iffy conditions by 10.47 seconds and the second by 4.76 seconds. The two wins on Sunday were his 15th and 16th of the year and the 16th tied him with former teammate Josh Hayes for the most wins in a single season in AMA Superbike history.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend emotionally and just everything, it felt good just to get everything out of the way Friday and get the contract signed and have the press conference in here and let everyone know I’m moving on, just let Yamaha know how thankful I am. Truthfully, it’s bittersweet, like I’ve been saying all weekend. I’m leaving some great people behind here in MotoAmerica. I’m definitely going to look back and cherish these moments, all the good moments we’ve had in the past. I was sitting on the grid today and I was getting a little emotional. I was like, ‘What are you doing? You’ve got to go race. Come on. Pull yourself together.’ I just went out and abused my R1 for a little bit and that made me feel a little better. Came back in and the emotions started coming back, your throat starts getting heavy or whatever.
“Just this last year has been one of the most fun years of my life at home and at the track with all the guys, just having a good time. When you’re getting good results and you’re not crashing too much, the team is happy and that means the rider is happy. It’s been so fun with them. I’ve said it multiple times, but Yamaha truly is a family to me, and same with all you guys at MotoAmerica. I’m going to miss you guys so much. Everyone goes home and does their thing at home, but we’ll still keep in contact and all that stuff. Then we get to go racing all weekend. It’s sad that’s coming to an end, but it’s not the last time I’ll show my face at the track at MotoAmerica. I’m glad to cap it off with three wins this weekend. I just had pure fun riding my bike this weekend. I just was able to ride free; ride loose and really, really enjoyed this weekend on my bike after having a rough weekend at Indy. It put everything back into perspective for us. I’m not sure if it’s Toni’s (Elias) last race but hats off to Toni for an amazing career. We’ve had our battles on the track and we were at each other’s throat a couple times, but I respect you a lot as a racer and a person. You’re amazing, man. Amazing career. I’m grateful for you coming over here and kicking our butts and putting us in our place. He gave us something to chase. Just really looking forward to getting going next year and hope to make you guys proud.”
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Toni Elias also had an emotional weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the Spaniard telling Suzuki that he wouldn’t be returning to their team in 2021 and that he was looking for a brand change to recharge his career. He then went out and finished on the podium in all three races – finishing third in Race 2 on Sunday and second in Race 3 behind his long-time rival, Beaubier.
“Yes, very good weekend, I really needed this. It’s been a difficult year for many reasons, not only racing, also personal side. Very nice to end this chapter. I had fun. Of course, it’s not a win, but tastes like a win coming from where we came from. Today, I think this bike is the best bike I ever ride here at Laguna, because my lap times were better than other years, just Cameron (Beaubier) another step he did. It’s incredible. Difficult to be at his level. It’s been amazing. But super happy because I had so much fun. I start to do what I wanted, not lose the initial part of the race, and then passed one rider, then another rider, in my style, in braking areas. I was riding so good, just in case this was the last one. I’m very happy. I feel I’m still very strong and I just need something else. I need fresh air. I need new motivation. I need something to work on, to develop things. We’ll see. As I said before, I let the universe, the destiny (decide). So, I hope come back with something good. But thanks to my team for all the season. Thanks to Suzuki for all these years, and to MotoAmerica to have me, to take me like home like another American. I think I’m half American now. Thanks to Suzuki and you guys I have a family here now, so I’m not going to go away. I’ll stay here forever.
“The last part I want to, like he said to me, hats off to this guy (Beaubier). I have to say, I battled with many strong riders in World Championship, specialist in 125, specialist in 250, specialist in Moto2, MotoGP, Superbikes. Valentino (Rossi), I think was one of the toughest guys I ever battled but he (Beaubier) is not less than him. I think he (Beaubier) has that level, has level enough to do it. Now is the opportunity. I believe in him and I believe in his opportunity. This way will bring him to MotoGP because he’s good enough. Here you have a friend. We had big battles. We had so much fun. It’s been really cool. Sometimes we play back to each other, we play our cards, but this is racing. And after that we appreciate each other. If you need me, just have the phone and do it. Good luck, man. Thanks to my family. They’ve always been behind me, supporting me. The biggest supporter I have is Kristie (his wife). It’s been a big change in my life discovering new things in life. It’s amazing. I will try to continue some more years and having fun. My next goal would be one day I put Toni (his son) on the podium on the top of the box next time. That would be really good. Is my next goal, so I hope to make it happen.”
The same three men stood on the podium in all three races – Beaubier, Elias and Lorenzo Zanetti. Zanetti ended up second in race two behind Beaubier and third in race three behind Beaubier and Elias. It was the Italian’s fourth, fifth and sixth podiums in his eight starts in the MotoAmerica Series.
In race two, Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne was fourth with Stock 1000 Champion Cameron Petersen fifth on the Altus Suzuki GSX-R1000. Westby Racing fill-in rider Niccolo Canepa was sixth with Kyle Wyman a lonely seventh. Josh Herrin, Michael Gilbert and Bobby Fong rounded out the top 10.
In the final race of the season, Fong was fourth ahead of Gagne with Canepa sixth for the second time on the day. Wyman was seventh again, ahead of Petersen, Gilbert and Corey Alexander.
Beaubier ended the season with a massive 135-point lead over Gagne, 437-301. Fong was third, 48 points behind Gagne and 31 ahead of Elias, who topped the injured Mathew Scholtz with his strong effort in the series finale by just a single point.
HONOS Superbike Results