Roberts Dominates in GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Debut in Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
NEWS June 28, 2013
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2013) - If AMA Pro followers weren't familiar with Joe Roberts before the Barber Motorsports Park round, they are now. Roberts had never competed in GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing competition coming into the weekend, but the 16-year old now owns two Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport wins after his twin triumphs in Alabama.
Roberts, a regular in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in Europe, entered the race for California Superbike School Roadracingworld.com Racing just a few days after turning 16. The Californian led every session of the weekend on his Honda CBR600RR in a truly dominating performance. His debut double is no doubt one for the history books.
After winning the pole, Roberts got a bad start in Race 1, dropping back after wheelie-ing off the line. By then end of the first lap, however, he'd managed to move up to third with only Tomas Puerta's RoadRace Factoy/Red Bull machine and Hayden Gillim's Team 95 bike in his way.
On lap two, Roberts zipped by Gillim in the final corner and motored away. His margin of victory was 8.122 seconds after 17 laps.
"It's fun to come out and win," Roberts said. "The start of that race, I got, I think, the worst start ever. I wheelied pretty bad off the line and about six riders went by me. I just made some passes and as soon as I got in front I knew I needed to push and go as fast as I could. I ended up getting the gap and I just managed that gap to the end of the race. It was an awesome race and I can't thank my team enough. It's cool to come out and win like this."
On Sunday, Roberts got a better start but still needed four laps to take the lead in a race that saw his fellow competitors up the pace. Roberts got away third behind Gillim and Puerta but then was able to pull a safe gap with a series of 1:29 laps and took his second win of the weekend by 3.690 seconds.
"The race was very difficult," Roberts said. "I got an OK start--definitely better than yesterday. I had to work a bit to get up front and once I was in the lead I put my head down. To be honest, I really didn't think this was possible. I thought I'd run top five and that was really my expectation for this weekend. But to come out and win both races and be P1 in every session is like a dream come true -- it's definitely my birthday wish."
It's not unusual for riders to take years, if ever, to get their first AMA Pro wins. Roberts will make two more appearances this year, so he'll have more shots to add to his victory total.
Roberts may have stolen the show, but three other riders earned the podium at Barber Motorsports Park. Puerta earned second on Saturday and third on Sunday, finishing 0.004 behind his former teammate Hayden Gillim after 17 laps. Nick McFadden took a solid third in his debut race on Saturday before crashing out on lap 12 on Sunday.
Puerta, a West competitor, didn't have any points on the line in Alabama but was pushing hard to add to his win total. He had some serious battles along the way and showed well. "It was a tough race and we upped the pace from Saturday. I passed Hayden but he got me back and once again someone beat me at the line," said Puerta. "I have to start thinking about what I am gonna do for the next round because Daytona and Barber I lost positions at the finish line."
Gillim earned fourth on Saturday and went even quicker on Sunday on the way to second. Gillim led the race early both times out, but on Sunday was able to drag race to the line and beat Puerta to the flag.
"It was a crazy race," said Gillim. "I led a couple of laps. We were running low 1:29s throughout the race. I thought I had something for Joe but I made a mistake and he made a good pace. As soon as he got in front, he started pushing, pushing, pushing. I knew Tomas was coming and that he'd try the last lap pass righ there. I left the door open more than I should have but I was able to get it turned and square off the last corner."
Another rider making his GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing debut last weekend was Nick McFadden. McFadden, from the racing hotbed of Owensboro, Kent., qualified on the front row. "I wasn't expecting this at all," said McFadden. "I've been here before. It's basically my home track and one of my favorites."
Wyatt Farris on the Meen Motorsports entry showed even more improvement. Coming off a good weekend in Motorcycle-Superstore SuperSport at Road America, Farris earned seventh on Saturday but improved to fourth on Sunday to take his best result yet and first top five in the class.
Miles Thornton had a notable weekend, too. The Columbus, Ga. native qualified second and earned two fifth place results. On Saturday, his fantastic save on the CTR Racing Yamaha proved to be the best catch of the weekend in any class. On Sunday he spent a few laps in the leading pack. Thornton's two best races of the year mean he's now fourth in Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport points.
Elkhart Lake double victor Corey Alexander couldn't find the same magic in Alabama, but was able to earn two sixth place finishes and rallied back after a crash early in the weekend on the National Guard/Celtic Racing entry. That meant he closed to within two points of Stefano Mesa for the points lead.
"We had a rough weekend from the moment practice started," said Alexander. "I'm happy to have had consistent and decent finishes, which are worth important points towards the championship. It is indeed true that you can't win them all, but I am definitely not happy with 6th place. We will continue to work hard and plan to do better at Mid Ohio."
Mesa felt ill during the weekend and couldn't put up his usual challenge. The Daytona winner could only qualify on the third row before putting the Motosport.com RSRacecraft machine eighth in both races, so Mesa was able to save the championship lead in what could have been a disastrous race meeting.
Other riders earned top ten finishes during the weekend, a group that included young riders Gearzy's Ryan Matter, Harv's H-D's Travis Wyman, Charles "CJ" Weaver on a B.P. Racing entry, and CWS CWS Bleakly-Hayes pilot Kaleb De Keyrel in his AMA Pro debut weekend.
B.P. Racing's Sebastiao Ferreira earned ninth on Saturday but crashed out of Sunday's race.
The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season will resume on July 12-14 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for the Buckeye Superbike Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire. For tickets and more information regarding the event, please visit http://www.midohio.com/Schedule/Buckeye-Superbike-Weekend-2013.
This season's GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing action is being broadcast on CBS Sports Network as part of the CBS Sports Spectacular. Fans can find CBS Sports Network on their TV by using the channel finder at http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder.
In addition to the live broadcasts on CBS Sports Network, AMA Pro Live will be live streaming multiple channels of behind-the-scenes video of the weekend's activities alongside Live Timing & Scoring. AMA Pro Live puts fans in the director's chair, allowing them to choose from a variety of viewpoints including track cameras, paddock cameras and a press conference channel at http://www.amaprolive.com.
Stay connected with GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing on social media at http://twitter.com/AMAProSBK and http://www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing.
About GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The 2013 schedule consists of nine rounds of competition on the country's finest road courses. The Series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.