The 2016 MotoAmerica season has now come to a close, and American Cameron Beaubier is the king of the Superbike class for another year. However, his path to the championship was anything but easy. Herein is a brief overall breakdown of the 2016 MotoAmerica season.
For Beaubier, he knew he didn’t have to win at the season finale at New Jersey Motorsports Park to nab the crown. Conversely, his Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha Factory teammate Josh Hayes had to go for broke to have a shot at getting the title back. Thinking about the championship over the race win, Beaubier took a fourth-place finish in race one, while Roger Hayden won aboard his Yoshimura Suzuki, Hayes came second, and Hayden’s teammate, Toni Elias came third.
For race two, Beaubier’s plan was similar to race one: just sit back and collect points. Drama ensued when his YZF-R1 suffered a rare mechanical failure and he was left watching the race from the sidelines. Suddenly the door was open for Hayes to strike. With Cameron out, Hayes had to win the race to take back the crown. Unfortunately for him, the two Suzuki riders wouldn’t be denied, with Elias and Hayden taking the top two spots on the rostrum. Hayes finished third. With a total of 305 points, it was enough for Hayes to earn the runner-up position in the championship, one point ahead of Elias. But nobody cares about second place; and with 311 points Beaubier had just enough to retain the crown for another year.
Throughout the inaugural MotoAmerica season in 2015, there were skeptics about the quality of talent in the American series, as, aside from Josh Hayes, no other riders really stood out in the eyes of Europeans. Josh Herrin, the 2013 AMA Superbike champion, failed to impress when he made the jump to Moto2 in 2014, getting cut from the team before season’s end. Meanwhile, young gun Cameron Beaubier was a name being thrown about due to his experience in Europe, racing 125cc grand prix machines alongside erstwhile teammate Marc Marquez, but his time on big bikes was limited and he hadn’t really been tested in America – though beating Hayes for the 2015 title certainly established himself as a formidable talent.
The addition of Toni Elias, the 2010 Moto2 world champion, aboard a Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 meant the regular series contenders now had a barometer to measure themselves against. Elias would go on to embarrass the field, winning his debut race at the Circuit of the Americas along with the next two races, before the other contenders stepped up their game. At each round you could usually rely on Elias, Beaubier, Hayes, and Hayden to be fighting at the front. When all was said and done, Elias came away with five victories, Hayes two, Hayden one, and Beaubier an impressive eight – enough to earn him the crown.
Europeans also shook up the Superstock 1000 class as well, with former GP rider Claudio Corti impressing straight away on his HSBK Aprilia RSV4, taking six wins. But it was former Superbike champ Josh Herrin, aboard his Meen Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R1, who impressed the most, taking seven wins in the class en route to clinching the title early. Other winners in the class include Bobby Fong (four wins) and Danny Eslick (one win).
The Supersport 600 class was another tightly contested race, with Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff, taking the 2016 Supersport title by just four points over his teammate JD Beach after 16 races. Beach did all he could at NJMP, winning his eighth race of the season and his seventh in a row. But it wasn’t enough. Both riders had incredible seasons, but Gerloff, with 15 podiums and six race wins, was four points better to fulfill a near life-long dream of winning a professional road racing championship in what was his fifth season as a pro.
The two Yamaha boys had their work cut out for them, as M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valentin Debise, Debise’s teammate Cameron Petersen, and Galfer USA/Team H35 Honda’s Benny Solis Jr. putting up solid fights throughout the season.
Bryce Prince won Sunday’s Superstock 600 race at New Jersey on his Riders Discount/Tuned Racing Yamaha. The Californian was sixth overall in the combined Supersport/Superstock 600 field on his Yamaha R6, but was able to ride without any pressure on his shoulders as he’d already clinched the championship earlier in the season. HB Racing/Meen Yamaha’s Richie Escalante, Saturday’s winner, was second in class, with Travis Wyman third on his Kyle Wyman Racing Yamaha. Escalante ended up second in the championship despite missing the first four races with a knee injury.
KTM RC Cup
The second of two KTM RC Cup races was held on Sunday with Double B Racing’s Jody Barry beating AXcess Racing’s Brandon Paasch by just 0.178 second after 13 laps of the 2.250-mile NJMP racetrack. It was Barry’s second win of the season. Yates Racing’s Ashton Yates finished third. Paasch won the KTM RC Cup race the day prior to build a 35-point lead over Anthony Mazziotto III, clinching the title in the process (a win only nets you 25 points).
Championship runner-up Mazziotto III, sixth on Sunday, and Yates will join Paasch in taking on the world in the KTM RC Cup World Final in Assen, Holland in three weeks, the trio being rewarded for taking the top three spots in the championship.