Sean Dylan Kelly (40) stopped Richie Escalante’s (54) Supersport wins streak at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

HONOS Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante rolled into Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta riding the high of winning four straight Supersport races, but M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly put an end to Escalante’s perfect Supersport season with a thrilling victory on a hot Saturday in Georgia.

With Escalante finishing second to Kelly it means that no one in the 2020 MotoAmerica Series is undefeated.

Supersport: Kelly Takes It!

Supersport race one was an absolute battle between Kelly and Escalante, with Kelly emerging victorious by just .052 of a second to snap Escalante’s four-race winning streak. The race was red-flagged when Nolan Lamkin crashed in the early going, and it was restarted with the original starting grid and Escalante in the pole position. Kelly got the jump on Escalante, but Escalante stayed close throughout the 18-lap event, and the two swapped the lead several times. On the final run to the checkers, Kelly had enough of a gap to hold off Escalante’s draft-pass move. Meanwhile, Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s Brandon Paasch ran a solid race in third to round out the podium.

“First of all, I’m just super happy to finally get the win,” Kelly said. “I haven’t gotten one since Pittsburgh. At the end of the day, after waiting so long, you get hungry, and more hungry, and more hungry. Especially after the start to the season that we had. We definitely had a rough start at Road America 1, but we’ve just built on it ever since. Honestly, I owe it all to the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team. John and Chris Ulrich, Jeremy Toye, my crew chief. They’ve really put in a lot of work. We’ve just been moving forward ever since. I’m extremely happy. We still have work to do for tomorrow, but this is just taking it in. First win of the season. Really happy. Thanks to everyone that’s watching back at home, especially my dad who I obviously wish was here, but that’s all right. I know he’s still pretty emotional back at home.” 

Stock 1000: Alexander’s First

In Saturday’s Stock 1000 race, Ride HVMC Racing Kawasaki’s Corey Alexander notched his first MotoAmerica win. Second-place finisher Cameron Petersen hung with Alexander in the opening laps of the race, but his Altus Motorsports Tucker Hagerty Suzuki developed a technical issue, and Alexander was able to stretch his lead to nearly four seconds at the checkers. Alex Dumas, the 2018 Liqui Moly Junior Cup and 2019 Twins Cup Champion, recorded his first podium result in the Stock 1000 class with a third-place result.

“I didn’t really know what to expect going into the race,” Alexander said. “Obviously, I kind of knew about Cameron’s (Petersen) brake issue. So, I wasn’t sure if that was going to be a factor. Also, I felt like we were a little bit off so far this weekend. Just kind of hit a wall with our setup. We’ve been working really hard, the guys at Graves Motorsports, and Chuck (Graves) and my crew chief Chris (Lessing) have really been trying to get the bike to just work a little better for me. Obviously, my size and stuff aren’t the easiest. Making the bike work a little better for me. They found something going into the race that gave me a little bit more confidence to push that next step to run with Cam. Cam’s been riding really good all year. I knew it was going to be tough. Definitely been a little bit frustrated with the first two races we had. Got a good start and put my head down. I didn’t expect to get the holeshot on him. I thought I’d have to follow him for a little bit until maybe his brakes fell off. But overall, just feel really good. It’s a good confidence boost. This whole thing has been obviously tough on everybody with COVID-19 and the whole deal. Back in New York, our dealership is still open. Unfortunately, my uncle (Richie Alexander) couldn’t make it, which is a bummer because he’s been to every single one of my races, since 2008. Definitely sucks he’s not here, but I’m glad we’re racing. Glad everybody’s safe and things will hopefully turn around in the country and we’ll get to keep racing. Hats off to Alex (Dumas). I think we have to stop hanging out every day. He’s starting to pick up on everything. Every time we ride together and come back. We were out in Washington last week and he must have picked up a couple things. He was faster today. He’s been fast all weekend. Really amazing to see him progress. Hats off to these guys.”

Twins Cup: De Keyrel Gets It Done

The final race of the day was Twins Cup, and Kaleb De Keyrel, who has won two of the first three races of the season, was victorious again aboard his 1-833-CJKNOWS Roaring Toyz Yamaha on Saturday at Road Atlanta. Second place went to Hayden Schultz Racing Yamaha’s Hayden Schultz for his second podium in a row. Polesitter Rocco Landers had quite a ride aboard his Roadracing World Young Guns/ Suzuki on the final go-around of the 12-lap race. The class rookie made an aggressive move to try and catch De Keyrel, but he very nearly crashed and had to make a miraculous save to salvage a podium in third.

“I just knew that Rocco after qualifying, he laid down that super-fast lap time,” De Keyrel said. “I knew he was going to be there the whole race. I just tried to get off to a good start and just ride good, clean laps and just try and be as consistent as possible. Overall, I’m having a blast out here at Road Atlanta. Ever since we rolled the bike out of the truck, it’s been fast. Just the suspension honestly is the biggest improvement that we’ve been working on big time. We’ve been dialing in the bike more and more for me every race weekend. So, the more laps we get on the track, the better the bike is getting suspension-wise and handling-wise. It’s really starting to feel like my motorcycle. I’m really happy with my 1-833-CJKNOWS Roaring Toyz Yamaha MT07. It’s been working really good out there, so I’m happy.”

Liqui Moly Junior Cup: Landers Nails It Down

Defending Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion Rocco Landers started the 2020 MotoAmerica season with three second-place finishes to Dominic Doyle, but in race number two at Road America 2, Landers finally got the win. On Saturday, Landers put in a dominant performance to record his second-consecutive victory. The Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R/Dr. Farr/Wonder CBD Kawasaki rider started from the pole, got the holeshot, and immediately started pulling a gap, which he extended to more than five seconds by the time he crossed the finish line. His pace was as hot as the temperature on Saturday at Road Atlanta, and the Oregonian broke the outright class lap record on his way to the checkers.

Current points leader Doyle got a bad start from the line and had to play catch-up aboard his BARTCON Racing Kawasaki throughout the majority of the 11-lap event. He raced hard, however, and managed to land on the podium in third. Second place went to Celtic HSBK Racing’s Sam Lochoff, the South African getting his best result of the year thus far.

Supersport Race One

  1. Sean Dylan Kelly (Suzuki)
  2. Richie Escalante (Kawasaki)
  3. Brandon Paasch (Yamaha)
  4. Kevin Olmedo (Suzuki)
  5. Jason Aguilar (Yamaha)
  6. Lucas Silva (Suzuki)
  7. Benjamin Smith (Yamaha)
  8. Max Angles Fernandez (Yamaha)
  9. Jaret Nassaney (Suzuki)
  10. Nate Minster (Yamaha)

Stock 1000 Race One

  1. Corey Alexander (Kawasaki)
  2. Cameron Petersen (Suzuki)
  3. Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
  4. Geoff May (Kawasaki)
  5. Stefano Mesa (Kawasaki)
  6. Michael Gilbert (Kawasaki)
  7. Travis Wyman (BMW)
  8. Ashton Yates (Honda)
  9. Danilo Lewis (BMW)
  10. Joseph Giannotto (Kawasaki)

Twins Cup

  1. Kaleb De Keyrel (Yamaha)
  2. Hayden Schultz (Yamaha)
  3. Rocco Landers (Suzuki)
  4. Jackson Blackmon (Suzuki)
  5. Toby Khamsouk (Suzuki)
  6. Teagg Hobbs (Suzuki)
  7. Joseph Blasius (Suzuki)
  8. Jason Madama (Yamaha)
  9. Dante Witter (Yamaha)
  10. Trevor Standish (Suzuki)

Liqui Moly Junior Cup

  1. Rocco Landers (Kawasaki)
  2. Samuel Lochoff (Kawasaki)
  3. Dominic Doyle (Kawasaki)
  4. Benjamin Gloddy (Kawasaki)
  5. Jack Roach (Kawasaki)
  6. Gus Rodio (Kawasaki)
  7. Liam Grant (Kawasaki)
  8. Cody Wyman (Yamaha)
  9. Blake Davis (Kawasaki)
  10. Joseph LiMandri Jr. (Kawasaki)
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