Vision Quest: Eslick sizes up Rapp in AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series in Monterey
NEWS July 12, 2014
Photo by Brian J Nelson
MONTEREY, Calif. (July 12, 2014) - Ruthless Racing's Danny Eslick took command of the 2014 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series points chase by claiming his first class victory since his 2010 championship campaign today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Eslick's win kicked off the race action of the highly-anticipated GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round with tomorrow's AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, and FIM Superbike World Championship races still to come.
While the Oklahoman's triumph puts him in prime position to become the category's first-ever two-time champion, it came in an unconventional manner.
The defending AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series champ, Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson's Steve Rapp, once again demonstrated his mastery of the XR1200, breaking free from the pack to storm to the checkered flag first.
However, Rapp was judged to have jumped the start, and was assessed a ten-second penalty as a result. This year's DAYTONA 200 winner Eslick was aware Rapp had been penalized. After the race, Eslick said he knew he would win if he stayed within ten seconds of Rapp.
"I've been getting a lot of seconds and getting beat up in this deal. I think everybody expected me to just come in and win and it just shows that these guys have been busting their butts and riding these Harley's really hard. They're definitely not the easiest bikes to get around a racetrack. When you get up to the pace Steve and some of these other guys are going, it makes it pretty tough. It's a lot of fun. It's not the way I wanted to win it -- by penalty -- but a 'W' is a 'W', and we need the points. We'll definitely take the money and move on to Mid-Ohio."
The Californian Rapp's pace was so great that he still managed to claim second in the race, opening up a margin significantly greater than ten seconds over the entire field save Eslick.
Runner-up Rapp said, "I knew it would be a tougher race here. I just wanted to get a good start and try to build up a lead if I could and it looked like everything was going as planned... I didn't know the penalty was for me. I wasn't really aware of what was going on, I was riding as if there was nothing going on. The bike was good and the tires felt great. Everything felt pretty good overall."
KWR/Millennium Technologies' Kyle Wyman rebounded from his Barber Motorsports Park crash to round out today's podium. Wyman took third a short distance ahead of a tight four-way fight for the position.
"It felt all right," Wyman said. "It was a pretty lonely race, just watching my pitboard to watch the gap between myself and the guys behind me. I was able to start off with these and make that gap to fourth and then about lap 4 these guys dropped the hammer. I wasn't able to match their pace so I settled into a rhythm. I'm just really happy to be back on the podium. It's been a really up-and-down season: DQ, win, crash out, and now to get on the box, I'll take that."
Fourth-place went to Josh Chisum Racing/Bartel's Harley-Davidson's Tyler O'Hara, who got a measure of revenge on Rapp's Suburban H-D teammate, Ben Carlson. Californian O'Hara crossed the stripe 0.046 seconds ahead of Carlson after the Wisconsin native had edged him for third in the previous two contests.
Thunder Roads Magazine's Ryan Kerr and Folsom H-D's Gage McAllister took close sixth and seventh-place finishes, respectively.
Chili Pepper Racing's Hayden Schultz, Trev Deeley Motorcycles' Darren James, and O'Hara's teammate, Josh Chisum, completed the day's top ten.
With four races down and four to go, title leader Eslick (95) now boasts an eleven-point advantage over second-ranked O'Hara (84) with Carlson (76) third another eight points back.
AMA Pro SuperBike
Cameron Beaubier became the first repeat pole winner of the 2014 AMA Pro SuperBike season today at the GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round. And the 21-year-old Californian did so in most impressive fashion, posting the quickest lap recorded around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by an AMA Pro SuperBike since the Ben Spies/Mat Mladin era.
Beaubier was locked into a tight duel with his decorated teammate, Josh Hayes, deep into the Qualifying 3 shootout, but ultimately opened up a separation of more than four-tenths-of-a-second with his jaw-dropping 1:24.019 lap in the waning moments.
Beaubier said, "It felt good and I felt good all throughout the session. I strung together some low-25s on what I felt was a little harder of a tire, so I felt good and that got me ready to throw the soft on during the ten-minute dash. I strung together some '24s and I felt really good. I think I'm ready for the race tomorrow. We'll go slot in with these guys and I think it'll be a good race."
Despite Beaubier's qualifying prowess, Hayes remains a strong contender for Sunday's win, where he'll look to stretch both his season and circuit win streak to four. The Mississippian is firmly in control of the championship race and another strong outing tomorrow would put Hayes in excellent position to scoop up a fourth career AMA Pro SuperBike crown at year's end.
"It was a pretty good session and it was pretty fun," Hayes said. "I kept seeing Cam's time on the board, and then I'd look on my timer and see I did a little bit better, then I'd come around and see he did a little better again. And then I saw a '24.0 and went, 'Uh-oh, I don't have that in me with this many laps on the tires.' I guess that's second today. I knew coming in that Cam was capable of doing it. I did the best laps I could. Overall, I've felt pretty relaxed all weekend and I feel good about being able to put in 23 solid laps in the race."
The works Yamaha YZF-R1s will be joined on the outside of Row 1 by the Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing's Martin Cardenas. The Colombian made slight inroads on Saturday but still faces a significant gap in outright pace to the leading Yamahas heading into the 23-lap race.
Cardenas said, "I think the bike feels a little bit better than yesterday. We couldn't achieve what we wanted to, which is get down to the '24s, but the bike is feeling good and I am feeling good on the bike. The only problem is that these two guys are too fast right now. We have to look at the splits and see where we are losing out and try to improve for the race tomorrow."
His teammate, Kentuckian Roger Hayden, ended Q3 in fourth and will headline a second row that also features the KTM/HMC Racing RC8R of Chris Fillmore and the Ducati 1198 of TPL Squadra Corse's Jake Holden.
Second-ranked ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing's David Anthony starts just seventh, and will be joined alongside by Team AMSOIL Hero EBR's Cory West and Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha's Bernat Martinez.
Seven different manufacturers were represented in the 12-rider Q3 session, as third Yosh runner Chris Clark, BMW S1000RR-mounted Marcel Irnie (Mobibuff/Inrne Racing), and Brazilian Sebastiao Ferreira on the Porter Racing Kawasaki ZX-10 complete Row 4.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Jason DiSalvo cemented his early-career reputation as a qualifying master and the veteran showed his skill once again he won pole of the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race at Laguna Seca. The Castrol/Triumph/Sportbike Track Time pilot was on fine form at the 2-238-mile circuit and won his first pole since 2012.
DiSalvo's best lap was 1:26.771 in what is shaping up to be another ultracompetitive race.
"It was a great session," said the New Yorker. "First off, it feels great to be at a press conference, I think it's my first one of the year. This track really suits our bike and I really enjoy coming here every time. The Monterey Peninsula is so beautiful and being out in California is always nice. There were no dramas. We made some minor adjustments from yesterday that were good and we made some small adjustments during the session that were good. Everything has been really positive this weekend and the guys are all working really good and the spirits are high. We're just happy to get the pole position for Triumph and we can't wait for the race."
Points leader Jake Gagne was second, less than two tenths behind DiSalvo. Despite arm-pump surgery after Barber, the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull pilot made a big jump on Saturday. "We definitely struggled yesterday and weren't as quick as we wanted to be," said Gagne. "We changed some major stuff going into this morning. I felt a lot better; I felt like I was riding pretty well. We're ready for the race. There are a lot of fast guys and it's going to be super close. It's going to be a battle."
JD Beach was third on the first Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha entry, squeezing Yamalube/Westby Racing's Dane Westby off the front row.
Friday's fast man, Jake Lewis of Motosport.com/Meen Yamaha, was fifth. He topped Riders Discount Racing Triumph's Danny Eslick and Garrett Gerloff on the second Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha machine.
Veteran Jake Zemke was eighth for GEICO Motorcycle Racing, ahead of GN Gonzalez Racing pilot Blake Young. Top Rookie Tomas Puerta was tenth on his RoadRace Factory/Red Bull machine.
About AMA Pro Road Racing
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 series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.
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