The two riders who really needed to win on Saturday at Pittsburgh International Race Complex to keep their championship aspirations alive did exactly that.
In Supersport, that rider was Richie Escalante, the defending class champion who had watched up close as his rival Sean Dylan Kelly ripped off six straight wins. On Saturday at Pitt Race, Escalante put a stop to that and won his third race of the season to keep his slip championship hopes alive.
In SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup, Ben Gloddy pulled off the win while his championship rival Tyler Scott finished fourth – and now Scott’s lead is just four points with five races left to run.
Supersport: Escalante Gets It Done
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly came into Pitt Race with a six-race winning streak and a total of nine wins on the season. Meanwhile, defending Supersport Champion and HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki rider Richie Escalante has two wins this year, and he has finished second to Kelly seven of the nine times that he has won. But, in race one at Pitt Race, Escalante finally turned the tables on Kelly, broke his winning streak, and notched his third victory this year. In this race, Kelly finished second, while Landers Racing Yamaha’s Rocco Landers followed up his second-place finish at Brainerd with a third-place result in race one at Pitt Race
“For sure, I’m very happy,” said Kelly. I finished too much in second place, so I’m happy to be back in first. Very difficult weekend. I lost practice one yesterday (due to a technical issue with the bike), so I needed to step by step feel better with my bike. I’m not a qualifying rider. I like the races. Every race, I feel good. I think Sean’s (Kelly) very fast during all the race, so I learned a couple things. I’m just waiting, waiting, and then in some moments, especially in the chicane it’s very difficult to find a good line when you’re behind riders or every lap I just lose time there. I’m scared to touch the curb and grass. For sure, I need to continue improving for tomorrow. The most important thing is to start winning races, and we’ll see. It’s a championship and these are the last rounds, so I’m very happy. Thanks to all my team who support me. Keep pushing.”
SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup: Gloddy Closes In
The points race is tight in the SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup class as the season approaches its conclusion, and Landers Racing Kawasaki rider Ben Gloddy, who is second in the championship, knows that he needs wins over points leader Tyler Scott to overcome his deficit.
Saturday’s race one started out like it was going to be another lap-by-lap battle between second-place Gloddy and race leader Scott. But, as the laps wound down, Gloddy managed to overtake Scott. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a group of riders that included Joe LiMandri Jr., David Kohlstaedt, and Gus Rodio joined the fray.
At the checkers, it was Gloddy who got the win, with Bauce Racing/Cybersafe Solutions/JL62 Racing Kawasaki’s LiMandri Jr. finishing second and just .358 of a second behind Gloddy, while Veloce Racing Kawasaki’s Kohlstaedt finished third and only .259 of a second behind LiMandri Jr.
“It was an awesome race,” said Gloddy. “I tried to keep the pressure on Tyler (Scott) as much as I could. I guess me and Tyler just weren’t going fast enough to pull away. I almost lost it there at the end. I had a couple moments with the front end. I was struggling with some chatter. We’re trying to get that sorted for tomorrow. I was praying Joe (LiMandri Jr.0 didn’t draft me to the line. Luckily, he didn’t, and I came out with the win.”
Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race: Lukacs, Again
The first race of the weekend was round two of the Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. Championship, and CJ Lukacs followed up her win at Brainerd International Raceway with a victory at Pitt Race. And, as a matter of fact, the entire podium at Pitt Race was identical to the one at Brainerd, with Becky Goebel finishing second and Trisha Dahl coming home in third. The seven women who make up the program each custom-built their own Continental GT 650 racebikes, which they are racing in the three-round series.
“I wasn’t comfortable from the first time out all day yesterday,” Lukacs said. “I struggled a lot with that, and I couldn’t get my bike to turn. I was frustrated, for sure. It was hard. But, at the end of the day and then in qualifying this morning, I felt 200 times better than I did at any point yesterday. I definitely felt way more confident coming into that.”
Twins Cup: Mazziotto Does It Again
The final race of the day on Saturday was the Twins Cup class’s lone event of the weekend. Veloce Racing Aprilia rider Anthony Mazziotto, who joined the team midway through the season, won his second straight race, and in this one, Mazziotto took the checkered flag by more than three seconds over second-place finisher Hayden Schultz, who was aboard his Hayden Schultz Racing Yamaha. Incidentally, Schultz was moved up from third to second after Teagg Hobbs was disqualified following a post-race inspection of his bike. And, with Schultz moving up to second, Righteous Racing Aprilia’s Jody Barry rounded out the podium.
“Looking at the times this morning, I thought it was going to be him (Teagg Hobbs) and me up front,” said Mazziotto. “Everyone was just going so fast in the race. I was just trying my hardest to keep them 48’s down in the low 48.5, as low as I could keep the 48 just the best I could try to do. Just trying to break them guys. I looked back a few times and saw I had pulled a little bit of a gap, so the last couple laps of the race it was just smooth sailing for me. I actually saw someone filming coming over turn two, and I gave him a quick ‘peace’.”
Mini Cup by Motul: Red-Hot Action
In Mini Cup by Motul, which took place on the kart track adjacent to Pitt Race’s main track, Nathan Gouker and Kensei Matsudaira each won both of their respective races. Gouker took both 110-class races aboard his Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York Ohvale, while American Racing Team’s Kensei Matsudaira took the victories in both 160-class races. In the 190 class, GPMSC-Xtreme Autoglass Pros’ Ryder Davis was the victor in race one, while California Mini Grand Prix rider Alexander Enriquez wrapped up the round by winning race two.