Altus Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen is turning up the heat in the Stock 1000 class, the South African hellbent on proving his worth as a MotoAmerica Superbike rider by dominating the Stock 1000 class for his fourth win in a row with this one coming at the New Jersey Motorsports Park.
If Petersen was dominant, so too was Rocco Landers, the youngster coming away from the first day of racing at NJMP with victories in both the Liqui Moly Junior Cup and Twins Cup classes and he’s now the championship points leader in both.
HONOS Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante joined Petersen and Landers as race winners on Saturday in New Jersey with a victory in the hotly contested Supersport class.
Supersport – Escalante Rebounds
The start and opening laps of Saturday’s Supersport race were an early indicator that the three main protagonists, Richie Escalante, Sean Dylan Kelly and Brandon Paasch, would engage in another classic middleweight battle. Kelly started from the pole aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, and Paasch and Escalante were in hot pursuit. Escalante rode his HONOS Kawasaki around Paasch and Kelly, and then, Kelly started going backwards, falling victim to a technical issue with his bike. That left Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s Paasch close behind Escalante and looking for an opportunity to take the lead.
Unfortunately, that opportunity never materialized, and Escalante stretched his advantage to take the checkers by just under 3.5 seconds over second-place finisher Paasch. Kelly, meanwhile, kept himself in a podium position despite the issue with his bike and he crossed the finish line in third.
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium, of course, at the top,” Escalante said. “Today was a very hard race, very long. Twenty laps. In the first lap, everybody is on the same tire, normal is the soft and the medium. So, I raced with the soft tire. Normally, this tire in the first laps is really good, so you need to push and then be in care. So, I said, ‘I need to pass and go.’ Then this tire starts to slide and then the hard tire sometimes finishes stronger. I said, ‘Okay, time to pass and push as much as possible.’ Then every time very close. Brandon close, close, close. Hard race. I’m happy to win today. I need to improve tomorrow, for sure, to stay in the battle to win the race. I’m really happy. Thanks to my team and to all my sponsors. Ready for tomorrow.”
Twins Cup – Landers Rolls On
Rocco Landers is on a roll. Not only has the Oregonian been successfully defending his Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship this season, but he is also racing in MotoAmerica’s Twins Cup. After a couple of races to acclimate himself to the new-for-him race class, Landers has also become dominant on the bigger bike, too.
In Saturday’s Twins Cup race one, Landers rode his SportbikeTrackGear.com Roadracingworld.com Suzuki to his third win in a row, fourth victory of the season, and second win of the day (including his victory in Liqui Moly Junior Cup race one). Second place went to Trackworx Motorsports Suzuki’s Teagg Hobbs, the New Hampshirite notching the first MotoAmerica podium of his career. Hayden Schultz Racing Yamaha’s Hayden Schultz crossed the finish line in third.
“My crew chief, Thomas, and Barry Russell with KFG Motorsports, made a change before the race from qualifying, and the thing just felt so good,” said Landers. “It was hooking up from out of the corners. I tried to put in, like, three fast laps and go into tire management mode. I was just trying to keep the gap at about five seconds or so, and I think I did that for most of the race. The last few laps kind of trailed off. I was just trying to put consistent laps in. Keep taking risks, but not slow the heck down.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Landers. Again.
Defending Liqui Moly Junior Cup Champion Landers started from the pole in Saturday’s race one, and he was never headed in the 13-lap event. Conditions were ideal for the race, and Landers, aboard his Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R/Dr. Farr/Wonder CBD Kawasaki, capitalized on the perfect weather and track surface by breaking the Junior Cup lap record at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Celtic HSBK Racing Kawasaki rider Sam Lochoff, who slotted into second off the start, tenaciously maintained his position all the way to the checkers flag. Meanwhile, the battle of the race was for the third spot on the podium, and an overjoyed Bed Gloddy put himself and his Quarterley Racing/On Track Development Kawasaki on the box with a perfect draft-pass coming onto the front straight at NJMP.
“Sometimes you show up to the line, and you have this feeling,” said Landers. “You’re just ready to go fast. I felt like that today. It doesn’t happen every race for me. Don’t tell Sam (Lochoff) or Race Control, but I was playing a little Mario Kart out there, throwing some obstacles for him (in reference to him losing a knee slider with Lochoff almost hitting it). Great race. I was having a lot of fun. It was kind of strange because the moment I lost my knee slider, I started going consistently a half-second faster. It was really weird. So, tomorrow, we’ll hopefully have a knee slider and go for some good times.”
Stock 1000 – Petersen Dominates
Cam Petersen has said clearly that he wants a full-on Superbike ride, and the way he’s been riding his Altus Motorsports Suzuki this season in the Stock 1000 class, he’s also making a clear statement with the motorcycle he is racing. Petersen won Saturday’s Stock 1000 race by a margin of more than six seconds, and he actually backed it down a little bit towards the end of the race after pushing his advantage to more than eight seconds.
The other two riders who finished on the podium had a good battle throughout the majority of the 15-lap event, and Ride HVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander prevailed in second place over third-placed Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert, both riders aboard Kawasaki ZX-10R machines.
After his victory, Petersen said, “The bikes were moving around a lot, that’s for sure, from lap one. Kind of weird. I don’t know what it is with the temperature and the track or something changed, but I definitely had a weird feeling at the end of the race. I’m lucky enough with American Supercamp and obviously Josh Hayes, my riding coach. We’ve got some Supermoto bikes back in California and that’s all the things do, move around on corner entry and chatter and all kinds of crazy stuff. So, I think having that in my back pocket helped me out a lot with being able to ride a bike that might not always be set up to the way I want it. But, somehow, I feel like I’m able to ride through it. I got to give it up to these guys. Corey (Alexander) was rolling this weekend. I’m not going to lie. I was a little bit worried after this morning’s session. He put down a heater of a lap time and I was like, ‘It’s going to be a battle.’ But then, he obviously had the issues in the race with grip. Once again, my bike was working perfectly. It was a little bit stressful. Josh came and told me after the race that I only had a bit of a gap on the first lap. I had .5 on my board for the first three laps so I think that the team were just making sure that I didn’t settle down too early in the race. Once I saw the gap get up to about eight seconds, I backed it off a little bit and made sure I brought the thing home. Man, I’m happy. Winning is fun. I’m having so much fun riding my bike, so much fun with the team. I can’t thank the whole Altus Motorsports Suzuki Team enough.”