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|07-19-2015, 05:48 AM||#1|
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First MotoAmerica Series Champion Crowned At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Joe Roberts became the first MotoAmerica Champion in series history today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the 18-year-old Californian streaking to his ninth Bazzaz Superstock 600 win of MotoAmerica's debut season to wrap up the title with one round (two races) remaining.
Roberts rode his Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports Yamaha R6 to a narrow victory over Tune Racing's Bryce Prince, but the title fell to Roberts much earlier than that when his title rival Richie Escalante crashed out of the lead on the fifth lap. From there all Roberts had to do was keep going and that he did, besting Prince by just .219 of a second to wrap up his sixth straight victory and his first professional racing championship.
"It's been a really interesting year," Roberts said. "It's been filled with a bunch of wins,* but I haven't had it handed to me. I've had Bryce (Prince) here with me and Michael (Gilbert, who finished third on Saturday) and Richie (Escalante) up there a lot. It's a bummer that he crashed out of this round, but it wasn't just handed to me. I had to dig deep sometimes and really push it in some of these sessions to get to be the top rider. It's been really cool."
Behind the lead duo of Roberts and Prince came Michael Gilbert on the HB Racing entry, the Southern Californian earning his second podium of the season. Prince's teammate Jason Aguilar ended up fourth with Wyman Racing's Travis Wyman rounding out the top five.
With one round and two races remaining, Roberts holds an insurmountable 62-point lead over Escalante in the series standings, 245-183. Wyman is third with Wyatt Farris, sixth today, and Prince fourth and fifth, respectively.
NCR Road Race Team's Gage McAllister came into the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round with a whopping 47-point lead in the KTM RC 390 Championship and he looked to be a shoo-in for the title. But that wasn't the case as Saturday's racing program came to a close with Braeden Ortt taking his second win of the season and second in a row. Combine that with McAllister's non-finish - thanks to a thrown chain - and suddenly there's a championship battle again.
Braeden Ortt (551) won his second straight KTM RC 390 Cup race on Saturday to keep his championship hopes alive. Anthony Mazziotto III (516) was a close second. Photo: By Brian J. Nelson
Ortt battled to the finish with Anthony Mazziotto III, with the 15-year-old Canadian besting the 15 year old from New Jersey by just .747 of a second after 12 laps of the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway. Third place went to pole-sitter Xavier Zayat, the 16-year-old getting held up badly on the opening lap when Hayden Schultz crashed and nearly took Zayat with him. The MFactory West-backed rider from New Jersey battled from way back to finish on the podium in his MotoAmerica debut.
Anthony Mazziotto III, Braeden Ortt and Xavier Zayat celebrate after the KTM RC 390 Cup final on Saturday in Monterey. Photo: Brian J Nelson
Mexico's Alejandro Gutierrez Mejia and Californian Josh Serne rounded out the top five finishers in the spec class for riders aged 14-22.
With McAllister failing to score any points, his lead in the championship is now 22 points over Ortt with the two races at New Jersey Motorsports Park in September remaining on the schedule. Mazziotto III is another 13 points behind in third as the title chase goes to the final round.
"The lead fluctuated and at one point Anthony (Mazziotto) was ahead of me so it was a very, very close race and it could have gone either way," Ortt said. "On the last lap mistakes were made and I knew that I really had to ride a clean lap to stay ahead and I think I got a pretty good lap in and I set myself up nice in the last corner and got a drive to make sure I didn't get drafted. Luckily, that finish line was where it was. It was a great race."
Cameron Beaubier, Josh Hayes and Roger Hayden after Superpole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo: Brian J. Nelson
Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Josh Hayes earned his fourth Superbike pole position of the year and the 37th of his career during Superpole, held on a chamber of commerce type day on the Monterey Peninsula.
Initially it was Hayes' teammate and Superbike Championship rival Cameron Beaubier who had his Yamaha R1 at the top of the time sheets, but then Beaubier had a big crash in turn six, the Californian lucky to walk away without injury. His R1 was less fortunate.
While Beaubier scrambled to get back to the pits and his second bike, Hayes made hay while the sun shone, lapping at 1:24.538 to lead Yoshimura Suzuki's Roger Hayden and his 1:24.776. Beaubier, however, made it back in time to have another go on his backup bike and he managed to move past Hayden and into second with a best lap of 1:24.688. Those three will make up the first row for tomorrow's two MotoAmerica Superbike races. They were also the only riders to circulate Laguna Seca under 1:25.
The second row of the grid will be filled by Yoshimura Suzuki's Jake Lewis, Roadrace Factory's Jake Gagne (who led the Superstock 1000 field) and HSBK Aprilia's Sheridan Morais, who was second quickest of the Superstock 1000 riders. KTM's Chris Fillmore, BMW-mounted Dani Rivas and Turbo Turtle Racing's Danny Eslick will start from row three.
"I had three race weekends in a row where I had a crash over 120 miles an hour," Hayes said after earning pole position. "If that's not proof that you're trying hard then I don't really know what is. I'm such a lucky guy that I'm still doing this. I've been in this paddock... Roger (Hayden) and I came into AMA Pro Racing at the same time. We've been here a long time and we're still here. I think we're both still having a great time and love racing motorcycles. More proof of that is, I couldn't believe it, I was talking to my crew chief, I'm like, 'man, I'm really nervous about a 15-minute qualifying session.' It's been a lot of years. I can't think of a time that I haven't been competitive at the front and I still get nervous because I want to make sure that I do my part and that I'm able to repeat and continue what I've doing. When you've got good competition it's easy to get nervous like that. It's a good feeling. It keeps it fun."
Sunday's action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca gets started with the first of two MotoAmerica Superbike races at 9:45 a.m. The World Superbikes take to the track for their first race at 11:30 a.m. followed three hours later by race two at 2:30 p.m. At 3:40, Bobby Fong will lead the MotoAmerica Supersport final from pole position, and the final race of the day gets rolling at4:45 p.m. with the second MotoAmerica Superbike race.*
BAZZAZ SUPERSTOCK 600: 1. Joe Roberts (Yamaha); 2. Bryce Prince (Yamaha); 3. Michael Gilbert (Yamaha); 4. Jason Aquilar (Yamaha); 5. Travis Wyman (Yamaha); 6. Wyatt Farris (Yamaha); 7. Gage McAllister (Yamaha); 8. Andy DiBrino (Yamaha); 9. Ryan Matter (Yamaha); 10. Cody Wyman (Yamaha).
KTM RC 390 CUP: 1. Braeden Ortt; 2. Anthony Mazziotto III; 3. Xavier Zayat; 4. Alejandro Gutierrez Mejia; 5. Josh Serne; 6. Jody Barry; 7. Brandon Altmeyer; 8. Gabe Miller; 9. Christopher; 10. Aston Wright.*
SUPERBIKE QUALIFYING: 1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:24.538; 2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:24.688; 3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:24.776; 4. Jake Lewis (Suzuki) 1:25.514; 5. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:25.774; 6. Sheridan Morais (Aprilia) 1:25.865; 7. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:26.028; 8. Dani Rivas (BMW) 1:26.339; 9. Danny Eslick (Honda) 1:26.445; 10. Josh Day (Yamaha) 1:26.665.