JD Beach wins MotoGP Rookies Cup

American dirt tracker wins road championship

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Aug. 18, 2008
American JD Beach won the 2008 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup following a dramatic double-header finale, Aug. 15-16 at Brno, Czech Republic.

The Washington state teenager watched Sunday’s final race unfold from the paddock after his KTM RC 125 ground to a halt on the fourth lap. Beach’s chief rival, Luis Salom remained in contention and a first or second place finish would have handed the Spanish teen the Cup.

“I knew that if Salom won I had to get fourth, I was trying to think about it but not too much, I didn’t want to have my head full of a load of pressure going into the last race,” says Beach. “In the race I knew that he was ahead of me and I was trying to get past the guys around me but I also didn’t want to crash. The lap before it stopped the bike lost a bit of power but I didn’t think too much of it, then it just quit.

“I was mad but I know stuff like that happens. It’s not like it was the mechanic’s fault but I thought for sure I’d lost the Cup.”

Salom put in a strong effort, making his way up to third place just three laps into the 13-lap race after starting from the back of the grid. Norway’s Sturla Fagerhaug and Great Britain’s Matthew Hoyle, however, were uncatchable and Salom finished the race in third, giving Beach the title by a 149-145 score.

The two races at Brno were his worst results of the 2008 season but JD Beach probably doesn't mind.After his first career Did Not Finish in two Rookies Cup seasons, Beach was surprised when he was told he had won.

“You what? No way! I did?” says Beach.

Beach made great strides this season to win the title after finishing 16th in 2007. The 16-year-old started as a dirt tracker when he was five and only started road racing in 2006.

“It’s so great ’cause it’s only my second year of road racing. I feel like I’ve been working hard at it. Even if I’d not won, it was a great year of learning and battling,” says Beach. “I had a lot to learn this year. I really struggled through those first races just not being able to brake as well as I needed. The braking has got a lot better but still needs a lot of improvement. I know I’ve still got a long way to go but the Rookies Cup has made a road racer out of a dirt tracker.”

Finishing as the runner-up is a disappointing result for Salom who began the season with four wins in five races.

“Third should be good but this wasn’t good enough. Four wins this season but I wanted the Cup,” says Salom.

The season championship may have been decided in Sunday’s final race, but it was the first Brno race on Saturday that set the stage.

The first race was held in wet riding conditions and the slippery conditions had an impact on the final results.

Near the end of his fifth lap with Salom close on his heels, Beach lost control and was thrown off his bike.

“I didn’t feel I was going any faster than I had before but the back just came around on me and then high-sided me,” says Beach. “I was lucky because when I landed I was sliding towards the bike and just picked it up as fast as I could. I hurt myself though, my lower back was real sore and now that I’ve got off the bike my right shoulder is also painful so I’m going to have them looked at. My back was hurting in the race and I didn’t want to keep going but I thought I had better.”

Beach remounted but the race was out of reach with Salom fighting for the lead with Fagerhaug and Mathew Scholtz of South Africa.

After passing Fagerhaug for second place and with Scholtz in reach with four laps remaining, Salom lost control of his bike close to where Beach had his accident. Unfortunately for Salom, his RC 125 was unridable.

Scholtz went on to win the first race with Fagerhaug claiming second and Hoyle rounding out the podium. Beach finished over a minute back in 11th place to earn five points – points that proved to be the difference in the Cup standings.

With the MotoGP Rookies Cup decided, rivals become teammates as the top ten finishes will compete against the top ten from the AMA U.S. Rookies Cup for the Riders Cup. The first Riders Cup race will be held during the Indianapolis Grand Prix weekend Sept. 14 in Indianapolis, Ind. and the second race Oct. 10 in Valencia, Spain.

2008 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup final top five results
Pos. Rider Country Points
1st JD Beach U.S.A. 149
2nd Luis Salom Spain 145
3rd Sturla Fagerhaug Norway 142
4th Daijiro Hiura Japan 108
5th Nelson Major France 92