Road Atlanta in 2021 was a good time to be Mathew Scholtz (11) and Jake Gagne (32) split wins in the first of a two-year Grand Prix hiatus by five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier.
Photo by Brian J. Nelson

In advance of the start of MotoAmerica’s 10th season of AMA Superbike racing, we’re taking a three-part look at MotoAmerica’s nine years of racing at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. One thing we’ve learned from those years of racing at the Georgian circuit is this: If you like your racing with a dash of the unexpected, Road Atlanta never disappoints. Here’s part three…

2021 – When The Cat’s Away…

With Cameron Beaubier packing his bags and heading across the Atlantic to compete in the 2021 Moto2 World Championship, the MotoAmerica Championship got started at Road Atlanta with both fans and those working in the paddock excited to see who would take over as the man.

And the Road Atlanta round would force them to wait a bit longer for that question to be answered as Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz and Fresh N Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne split wins.

Scholtz’s race-one win was his second MotoAmerica Superbike class victory (and first in the dry) with Gagne winning his first career MotoAmerica Superbike race. Gagne was knocked out of race one with a mechanical failure with Scholtz ending up having the better weekend via his one-two finishes.

Scholtz’s race one victory came after an early race battle with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz, with the Frenchman making his MotoAmerica debut at Road Atlanta. Baz’s challenge didn’t last as he was forced offline in turn 10A, and he crashed the Panigale V4 R in the gravel trap.

Jake Gagne earned his first career MotoAmerica Superbike win in race two at Road Atlanta in 2021. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Baz’s demise handed second to M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong with Gagne’s teammate Josh Herrin finishing third. Fong’s new teammate Cameron Petersen was fourth with Panera Bread Ducati’s Kyle Wyman rounding out the top five.

Race two featured a battle at the front between Gagne, Scholtz and Fong, but Fong’s challenge was thwarted when Fong was forced to take a ride-through penalty for jumping the start. Fong would end up putting on a charge that netted him fifth in the race with his spot on the race-two podium taken by Herrin in third place.

Baz, meanwhile, had more bad luck as he was forced to pit for repairs with his shift linkage coming loose. He would finish 20th.

Gagne would take the victory over Scholtz and Herrin with Petersen fourth for the second straight race.

Sean Dylan Kelly and Richie Escalante picked up where they left off in the two Supersport races in 2021, but this time Kelly managed to win both races. The Stock 1000 races saw two different winners as Michael Gilbert and Travis Wyman came out on top and KTM earned its first win in a long time when Tyler Scott won the first of two Junior Cup races. Scott couldn’t back up his race-one win with race two going to Ben Gloddy.

The Aprilia RS 660 made its Twins Cup debut at Road Atlanta in 2021 with Kaleb De Keyrel winning race one. A spectacular multi-bike crash in race two knocked out several of the top riders with victory going to Suzuki-mounted Teagg Hobbs.

The Mission King Of The Baggers Championship raced for the first time at Road Atlanta in 2021 with Mission/S&S Cycle Indian’s Tyler O’Hara besting H-D Screamin’ Eagle’s Kyle Wyman by just .454 of a second.

Italian Danilo Petrucci started his first and only MotoAmerica season in 2022 with two wins at COTA and a win in race one at Road Atlanta when Jake Gagne crashed out of the lead. Mathew Scholtz rode the Westby Yamaha to second. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

2022 – Petrucci Wins One, Gagne The Other

The 2022 season marked the arrival of Danilo Petrucci to the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC team and to the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship. He proved to be what everyone thought he would be with two victories in the opener at Circuit of The Americas.

Well, we’ll see what he has at Road Atlanta, they said.

Although he was gifted the win when Jake Gagne crashed out of the lead in race one, Petrucci won his third race in a row. The Italian’s start was no doubt impressive as he topped Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz by 1.4 seconds. Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis was third, albeit 29 seconds behind.

“I studied a bit of video on YouTube on the onboard video,” Petrucci said after his race-one win. “I watched some races. But I thought it was easier. The track is really not for boys but for men, because it’s a really different compared to our European standards. There are plenty of bumps and even high curbs. The walls are so close here, but the track is so good. The first corners for me are really, really difficult to approach. I lost a lot of time. Let’s say I’m struggling a lot with the traction. I don’t go out of the corners with so much speed. I need to gain everything on braking, but today the heat was really, really high. I was struggling.”

It all came a bit unglued in race two when Petrucci’s Panigale V4 R blew up on the first lap of the second restart, putting the Italian in a less-than-stellar mood, despite leaving Georgia with a 15-point lead in the title chase.

Race two saw normalcy return to the series with Gagne, who won the title and 17 races in 2021, earning his first win of the four-race-old season. Gagne dominated from start to finish, despite two red flags (one for Jeremy Coffey’s crash on the opening lap and again when the TV truck lost power, forcing the race to be stopped) and ended up winning by 14.028 seconds over his teammate Cameron Petersen, the South African also bouncing back from a Saturday crash to bring smiles back to the Yamaha camp.

Jake Gagne bounced back from his race-one crash to win race two in 2022. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Gagne’s championship hopes were helped with by Petrucci’s and Mathew Scholtz’s failure to finish with Scholtz crashing, remounting, pitting and finally giving up on the 11th lap.

With Petersen second to his teammate Gagne, third place went to Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Kyle Wyman who was riding the team’s BMW M 1000 RR as a replacement rider for PJ Jacobsen. Jacobsen failed a COVID-19 test on Thursday and Wyman, who was at Road Atlanta to ride his factory Harley-Davidson in the Mission King Of The Baggers race, was called on to replace his fellow New Yorker. He said yes and a few days later he had given the team its first-ever MotoAmerica Superbike podium.

Josh Herrin had a perfect Road Atlanta weekend as he won both races in his debut with the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC team in the Supersport class.

The Stock 1000 race, meanwhile, featured a photo finish with Corey Alexander besting his friend Michael Gilbert by just .001 of a second. In the lone Twins Cup race, it was Jody Barry taking victory.

Cody Wyman won the first of two Junior Cup races on Saturday with Max Van taking race two on Sunday. Cory West rebounded from a tough loss at Daytona to win the Mission Super Hooligans National Championship race.

The Mission King Of The Baggers victory went to Kyle Wyman, a day after the Harley rider crashed out of the Dash For Cash, over James Rispoli and Tyler O’Hara.

Cameron Beaubier (6) returned to the MotoAmerica series in 2023 after two years in Moto2 and promptly won race one at Road Atlanta.
Photo by Brian J. Nelson

2023 – He’s Baaaack!

Cameron Beaubier was the king of the MotoAmerica Superbike class for five years prior to leaving in 2021 for the Moto2 World Championship. When he left, his old Yamaha teammate Jake Gagne took over as the leader of the pack, winning both Superbike titles in Beaubier’s absence.

In 2023, Beaubier returned to the MotoAmerica Championship, and he wasted little time in showing that the post-GP Beaubier seemed to be even better than the pre-GP Beaubier.

In the very first race of the 2023 season at Road Atlanta, Beaubier and his Tytlers Cycle Racing BMW M 1000 RR came out on top of a titanic battle with Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha’s Gagne by just .340 of a second to give BMW its first AMA Superbike win in 45 years.

The win was Beaubier’s 55th in the AMA Superbike Championship.

Beaubier caught the always-fast-starting Gagne on the seventh of 19 laps in race one and from there the two ran in formation, with Beaubier getting the nod at the finish line by the slimmest of margins. Behind them came another battle between Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin, in his Superbike debut for the team, and Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen with Herrin grabbing the final spot on the podium by just .206 of a second.

Jake Gagne celebrates with Yamaha’s Tom Halverson after winning race two at Road Atlanta in 2023. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

“When I saw Jake (Gagne) riding away at the beginning, I was like, ‘Oh, man. It’s going to be a long race,’ “ Beaubier said. “I knew the guys behind us weren’t far off in practice and qualifying. Then I just kept my head down, kept pushing, kept pushing. Jake started coming back to me slowly. Honestly, the Tytlers BMW works really, really good on fresh rubber. I was just trying to utilize the strengths of the bike once I was able to get by Jake. That’s the power down the straightaway, and it brakes really good. It’s stable on the brakes. I was trying to do my best, but I was struggling so bad with grip there the second half of the race. I was doing everything I could just to keep Jake behind me.”

If Saturday’s race was a good one, then Sunday’s was plain old thrilling with four riders at the front and a crazy final lap.

Just prior to the finish, it was anybody’s race when the four (Beaubier, Gagne, Herrin and Mathew Scholtz) ran together down the backstraight and through the 180-mph kink when Beaubier’s line pushed him wide and nearly forced Herrin off the track. That left a giant hole between Beaubier and Herrin to go through, and Gagne went through it. Herrin recovered but soon discovered his Ducati no longer had brakes and he couldn’t get it stopped for the chicane. He narrowly avoided Beaubier, went off track and the excursion allowed Scholtz to pass him, putting Scholtz third and Herrin fourth at the finish line.

Gagne’s race-two victory was the 30th of his MotoAmerica Superbike career, and it put him in a tie with Beaubier at the top of the championship after one round and two races.

Saturday at Road Atlanta was a day of firsts in support-class action with three races featuring first-time winners: Ezra Beaubier in Stock 1000, Avery Dreher in Junior Cup; and Xavi Forés in Supersport.

The Mission King Of The Baggers race was won by Kyle Wyman, and defending class champion Blake Davis won the REV’IT! Twins Cup race.

On Sunday, all three of those first three winners from Saturday won again – Forés, Dreher and Beaubier. Also doubling up was Kyle Wyman in the King Of The Baggers while the second Twins Cup race was won by Rocco Landers.

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