Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias (1) started his title defense in the best possible fashion at Road Atlanta in 2018 with two victories. In race one, the Spaniard topped Mathew Scholtz (11) and in race two he beat Cameron Beaubier (hidden). 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 two…

2018 – Toni Times Two

During his time in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, Toni Elias had a knack for starting his seasons in blazing hot fashion. Such was the case at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in 2018.

Roger Hayden’s run of bad luck continued at Road Atlanta when he crashed out of the lead in a wet race two in 2018. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

In 2016 and 2017, Elias began his seasons with double wins at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. In 2018, the MotoAmerica series began in Georgia and not Texas, but Elias did it again, winning both races in mixed conditions at the iconic circuit an hour north of Atlanta.

Race one was dry and it featured a battle at the front between defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Elias aboard his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and the Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 ridden admirably by Mathew Scholtz. Scholtz hit the front on the sixth lap, but Elias had this under control, and he was quickly back in front and leading the South African across the finish line by some five seconds.

Third place went to Garrett Gerloff, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Superbike rookie making an impressive debut. The young Texan was almost 13 seconds behind Elias, but 9.5 seconds clear of Quicksilver/Lexin Moto/Hudson Motorcycles Yamaha’s Bobby Fong.

Two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier started his season with a first-lap crash. Beaubier was able to remount to finish ninth. Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden wasn’t as fortunate as his crash left his Yoshimura Suzuki too damaged to continue.

Cameron Beaubier (1) vs. Toni Elias (24) was a common theme at Road Atlanta. This is from race one in 2019 that went to Beaubier. Elias fought back to win race two. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Race two featured wet conditions (go figure!) and looked set to have a new winner. Hayden was the first to look like a race winner, but he crashed out of the lead at half distance. Beaubier took over at the front but couldn’t stop the Elias train from passing him on the penultimate lap to complete his “perfect weekend.”

“This is the first rain race I have won since 2011, so that makes me very pleased to know that we can perform at the highest level no matter the conditions.,” Elias said, post-race.

In support class action, JD Beach and Hayden Gillim split wins in the two Supersport races; Alex Dumas and Ashton Yates won the two Junior Cup races; Travis Wyman was victorious in the Stock 1000 battle; and Chris Parrish won the first-ever MotoAmerica Twins Cup race.

2019 – The Cream Rises Again

Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier were again the cream of the crop in the season opener of the 2019 EBC Brakes Superbike Championship at Road Atlanta.

A race-two battle at Road Atlanta in 2019 with Elias (24) leading Mathew Scholtz (11), JD Beach (95) and Beaubier (1). Photo By Brian J. Nelson

Beaubier struck first with a race-one win over his rival Elias and the returning JD Beach on the Attack Performance Estenson Racing Yamaha YZF-R1 but was beaten by Elias and Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz in race two.

“At the end of the day, I’m pretty happy coming out of here with a first and a third and a decent amount of points – a lot more points than we’ve come out of the first round in the last few years,” Beaubier said. “I’m thankful for that, but I’m pretty frustrated how the (the second) race went.”

Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff had a tough go on the opening weekend of the 2019 season with the pole sitter crashing out of race one and forced down the order in race two when his front fender came loose. Gerloff stopped to rip the fender off and raced his way back to ninth.

The 2020 Road Atlanta weekend moved from its traditional April date to August. It was hot, but no one was hotter than Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier and Jake Gagne with the pair finishing first and second in both races. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

The 2019 season saw Josh Herrin in Yoshimura Suzuki colors as the teammate to Elias. Herrin crashed out of the lead in race one and finished fifth in race two.

Hayden Gillim and Bobby Fong split Supersport wins with Rocco Landers taking two victories in the Junior Cup races. The two Twins Cup races were won by veteran Michael Barnes, and Andrew Lee beat Michael Gilbert to win the Stock 1000 race.

2020 – Beaubier Turns Up The Heat

In 2020, MotoAmerica moved the Road Atlanta round from its usual spot in April to August. And it was hot, hot, hot for the third round of the championship – for both the weather and for Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier with the defending series champion winning his fourth race from five starts to open the 2020 season.

The wins were Beaubier’s 42nd and 43rd in the premier class with seven of those coming at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

The 2020 Road Atlanta round was also notable for the fact that Beaubier’s teammate Jake Gagne was showing what we’d end up seeing for the foreseeable future. Gagne led a Superbike race for the first time on Saturday before dropping behind Beaubier and he was fast again in Sunday’s red-flag interrupted race, giving the team a one-two sweep of the two races with the two also one-two in the championship as they rolled out of Georgia.

Cameron Beaubier en route to a clean sweep of the two races in 2020. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

“Jake got an incredible start from the second row,” Beaubier said after race one. “I knew he was going to be fast. I tried to get by him as quick as I could and just put my head down. But our gap was kind of yo-yo-ing a little bit. To be honest, going into the race I didn’t expect that. So, hats off to him. He’s riding awesome.”

In race two, the top three were identical to race one: Beaubier, Gagne and Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz. The M4 ECSTAR Suzuki pairing of Toni Elias and Bobby Fong were fourth and fifth in both races with Fong flipping the order in race two. In support class action, Supersport racing was also hot and heavy with Sean Dylan Kelly and Richie Escalante splitting wins after two great battles. Corey Alexander, meanwhile, took the double in Stock 1000 for his first-ever MotoAmerica wins. Rocco Landers doubled up in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup class with Kaleb De Keyrel getting the better of Landers in a very close Twins Cup race.

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