AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Recap: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
NEWS October 4, 2013
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 4, 2013) - The 2013 AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike season was the Cameron Beaubier show and the last race of the year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca proved to be an episode that veered from the original formula, even though the ending was familiar.
The year had seen it's share of Beaubier wins, with the Californian taking 11 of 12 races heading into the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing finale, but never before had the Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha pilot crashed at the end of qualifying leading into the race. Beaubier's rivals sensed an opportunity to get the best of him in his last GoPro Daytona SportBike contest before he moves up to AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike in 2014.
The drama started Saturday when Beaubier won pole, sweeping the season's qualifying runs, but he entered the contest with some doubt regarding his health. He was sore after his late-session crash in turn three, a crash which had destroyed his bike. The fall was only his second of the year but it left him a bit unsure about his prospects in the 20-lap race that would mark the end of the season.
The start of the race saw Meen Motorsports' Jake Lewis get out to an early lead. The 17-year-old had a great season in 2013 and in the second half looked like a seasoned vet even though it was just his first year in the class. In Monterey, the 2012 AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com SuperSport East champ ran well once again. He got away fast, along with RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's JD Beach, Y.E.S/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha's Garrett Gerloff, Jason DiSalvo on the Latus Motors Racing Triumph, and a resurgent Bobby Fong on the D&D Cycles/Castrol Triumph.
Fortunately for Beaubier, he'd previously mastered the run through the field in 2013. Knowing he had the speed to make up ground later in the races, Beaubier typically took it easy off the line, slotted in, and started doing his work. This time he fell back to sixth as the pace was hot early.
The difference this time was that Beaubier didn't start picking off riders immediately and at one point was nearly two seconds in arrears. As the race wore on, though, Beaubier felt friskier and began making some nice passes in the Corkscrew. With three laps to go, he had closed on Lewis. When the young rider ran ever-so-slightly wide in turn two, Beaubier made his way past to rocket in front and make it 12 wins in 13 races.
"I had a pretty big crash yesterday ... destroyed the bike and tweaked my knee and ankle a little bit," Beaubier said after his 19th class win in the last two seasons. "I iced it down last night and took some ibuprofen. This morning I was pretty stiff. I didn't really know what to expect from the race. Everyone was going fast and I slotted in. Towards the end, I started getting a little more comfortable. My knee was hurting a little bit but I was able to track Jake down. He was going really fast but I was able to put my head down and come up with a win. I really have to give it up to my team for working on the bike all night."
Beaubier said this one wasn't a foregone conclusion. "At the beginning of the race, I had no confidence. They had a good pace and I didn't have any feeling on the right side of the tire. I was kinda favoring my left side and I got kinda tired. I tried to relax and put the crash out of my head. It was tough passing everyone. I was kinda bummed out because they were going so fast and I didn't have a good flow. I'm glad to end the season with 12 wins."
Lewis felt he was in good shape to earn his first class victory after leading 14 laps on Sunday.
"I thought I was going to win. I looked back and I had a second gap and JD and it stayed steady," said Lewis, who finished in second place, 0.642 of a second behind Beaubier. "That's the most laps I've led in a long time.
"The pace was really fast. Out front, it is hard to stay focused. I kept seeing '+0' the last laps. Cameron did what he did all year, taking his time to slowly move his way to the front. With three or four laps to go, he passed me. I still felt I had the pace to win. After that, I didn't want to pitch it away and the Rookie of the Year [Award] was on my mind. It was a good way to end the year. The past few weeks, I have gained a lot of momentum and confidence. I am already looking forward to next year."
Beach ran strong to earn his seventh podium of the year. He held off an assault from Gerloff to take third by 0.066 and finished fourth in the standings.
"I told the team it was the last race of the year so it was going to be cash or crash," Beach said. "I wanted to beat Cameron in his last race. It was a good race and we battled really hard. [Gerloff] tried to pass me into ten and he didn't get me so I figured he was going to try to pass me in the last corner so I motocrossed it, stopped and turned."
Gerloff was also attempting to wrest second in the standings from RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Jake Gagne, still sore after breaking his collarbone in New Jersey. Gagne held on to the runner-up slot in points, gamely finishing 11th even though he skipped some sessions due to considerable pain. Gagne, who beat Beaubier at Road America, may have limped to the finish but he capped off a super season.
Two veterans mounted on Triumphs finished fifth and sixth, with DiSalvo topping Riders Discount Racing Triumph's Jake Zemke by over a second. GEICO Motorcycle Honda's Dane Westby was another half-second behind Zemke.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport national champ Tomas Puerta was eighth in his first GoPro Daytona SportBike ride. Puerta topped the other SuperSport riders invited to jump up a class for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Racing on his SuperSport-spec RoadRace Factory/Red Bull machine with an updated front brake, the Colombian was just 0.2 behind Westby and ahead of Fong as he raced brilliantly in an experienced group.
Team Amantini's Fernando Amantini capped off his year with his fourth top ten of the year.
M4 Hotbodies Racing's Benny Solis finished 12th in the race and took tenth in points.
After the race, Yamaha announced Beaubier was moving up to the National Guard SuperBike class next year. In 2013, the Californian proved he was in a class of his own, but the remaining field was very competitive throughout. Racers like Gagne, Gerloff, Beach and Lewis have proven their talent and skill and the future of the class looks bright.
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