New Jersey Motorsports Park Awaits The Stars Of MotoAmerica

If oddsmakers took bets on the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, chances are Josh Hayes would come to New Jersey Motorsports Park, April 28-May 1, for the Superbike Championship of New Jersey as the odds-on favorite. After all, Hayes has won 11 Superbike races at NJMP, including both races last year, and has qualified on pole position five times, again including last year. But if those making the odds looked not to the past but to the present, the numbers might not be as lopsided as you’d think. Remember, the four-time Superbike Champion and his Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha R1 has yet to taste victory in 2016 after two rounds and four races.

The 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship arrives at NJMP this week following two rounds of scintillating races at Circuit of The Americas and Road Atlanta and a weekend off to catch its breath. So what have we learned so far in the early days of the new season?

For one, there’s a newcomer to the series who is a force to be reckoned with and his name is Toni Elias. Secondly, his Yoshimura Suzuki team seems to have a bit of swagger after winning three of the first four races and holding down first and second in the championship with Roger Hayden leading Elias by a single point heading into NJMP. The third thing we’ve learned is that Hayes’ teammate Cameron Beaubier seems to be back, the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion winning race two at Road Atlanta to end what was a miserable run of bad luck to open his 2016 campaign. Even though he got that first win of the season, the road back to the top of the championship will take a bit longer as he’s currently 38 points behind Hayden and seventh in the title chase entering round three.

And then we come to Hayes – third in the title chase and 24 points behind Hayden after finishing third twice at COTA and second once at Road Atlanta. The other race at Road Atlanta was one that Hayes is trying to forget. While racing for the lead with Beaubier, Hayes made a mistake and ran into the back of his teammate, causing both to crash out of the race and handing first and second to Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Elias and Hayden. So Hayes is winless and happy to be heading to a place where his fortunes have been plentiful.

Hayden comes to NJMP as the championship points leader and hungry for victory. He finished second to Elias in the first three races of the season before slipping to third behind the two factory Yamahas in race two at Road Atlanta. But with Elias crashing out of race two, Hayden left Georgia with the points lead in a complete turnaround from a season ago when he left Road Atlanta with no points after crashes in both races.

“I think we’d rather lose the championship than win it by getting second in every race,” Hayden said post-Atlanta. “I want to win. It’s what I train for, it’s what my guys spend countless hours (working) for. It’s only the second race of the year and it’s good to be up there and not playing catch-up all year, but I need to win and I need to close these races.”

Fourth place in the Superbike title chase is held by Jake Gagne, the laid-back Southern Californian getting on the podium once at COTA, but struggling a bit as his team gets the ship righted in their move from Superstock 1000 to the Superbike class.

Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, meanwhile, is fifth overall and the leader in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 title chase – just two points clear of Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong and his new Kawasaki ZX-10R.

The hottest man in the MotoAmerica Series right now is Garrett Gerloff, the Y.E.S./Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider undefeated in the three Supersport races held thus far in 2016. Gerloff has been fast from the get-go and earned pole position at both COTA and Road Atlanta, turning those poles into victories in all three races. He now leads the championship over M4 Suzuki TrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valentin Debise by 19 points with Gerloff’s teammate and defending class champion JD Beach another four points behind in third place.

The Superstock 600 class made its season debut at Road Atlanta with Bryce Prince and Travis Wyman splitting victories. Prince left Georgia with the higher points total of 45 to Wyman’s 35. Dakota Mamola is third in the series standings after two races with 31 points.

The KTM RC Cup also got started at Road Atlanta with Anthony Mazziotto III and Brandon Paasch exchanging wins and both leaving Georgia with 45 points. Brandon Altmeyer is third with 32 points as the series enters its second round at NJMP this weekend.

Photo by Brian J. Nelson

 

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