PHOTOS: CRIS DEWITT
BY: PAUL CARRUTHERS|MOTOAMERICA
If there’s such a thing as making a statement two weeks before the start of the 2016 MotoAmerica season, then Cameron Beaubier did so with a yell and not a whimper, as he dominated the two-day MotoAmerica Preseason Test powered by Dunlop Motorcycle Tires at the Circuit of The Americas. Beaubier ended day one with the fastest time and he repeated that on day two – going faster still with a time that was .889 of a second under his Superbike lap record from qualifying a year ago at COTA.
With his best lap of 2:08.764 coming in the last of eight sessions over the two days, Beaubier put an exclamation point on the test. The Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha rider led four of the eight sessions and finished with a best lap that was .484 of a second quicker than his nearest rival.
The man who came closest to matching Beaubier ended up being Jake Lewis’ replacement rider on the Yoshimura Suzuki, Toni Elias. The Spanish former Moto2 World Champion lapped at 2:09.248 in today’s final session prior to suffering through his second crash of the day.
“I went out on the softer Dunlop compound and did that time and I matched it on the Q (qualifying tire) with one mistake,” Beaubier explained. “I was pretty happy about that. The qualifying tire was pretty nuts. Normally when I go out I try to get warmed up on the warm-up lap, get a flow going and then attack. On the Q, you have to baby it on the warm-up lap and then attack. It’s a one-lap thing. You can’t overthink it. You just have to clear your mind and just go because it’s really easy to make a mistake and one mistake will just ruin five corners here.
“Overall, it was really good. I think it was a really productive test. The wind wasn’t too bad and the weather was good. I had fun. I’m more happy with how I felt with the race tires and the softer compound race tires. I did a race simulation and felt decent there as well. We still have some stuff to work on, but I’m just having fun and feeling good.”
Elias just edged his teammate Roger Hayden with Hayden getting baulked at the end of the session when his GSX-R1000 was fitted with a softer compound tire. Hayden lapped at 2:09.495, which was 1.7 seconds quicker than his best on day one. Both Hayden and Elias were also under Beaubier’s pole lap from last year.
“The qualifiers were fun,” Hayden said. “They have a lot of grip. The only downer was there were a lot of guys out there just tooling around. But I liked the tires. I thought they had good grip and it was a lot of fun. I think it’s going to be good for the sport. That 50-minute session there was a lot of fun. You just catch guys so fast that aren’t on a qualifier because you’re pushing so hard and you have that grip. It’s kind of crucial to make sure you have good front grip, but it was cool. I think it’s a cool experience and for me it’s a lot more fun. I had a blast doing it and everything was good.”
Like most everyone, four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes also showed improvement on day two, though he still couldn’t get close to his Monster Energy/Graves Motorsports Yamaha teammate Beaubier. Hayes improved to a 2:10.127 on Thursday afternoon, a time that put him fourth over the two days. But, like Hayden, Hayes was also baulked by other riders when he had the qualifying tire fitted.
Broaster Chicken/Roadrace Factory’s Jake Gagne ended up fifth fastest overall, the Californian lapping at 2:10.160 in today’s third session. Gagne also suffered a crash today.
Team Rabid Transit’s Sheridan Morais saved his best for last to post the sixth fastest time in the final session of the test – a 2:11.134.
Wheels in Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports Yamaha’s Josh Herrin was next up on his Superstock 1000-spec R1 with a 2:11.134. He bested HSBK Aprilia’s Claudio Corti’s 2:11.489, which was set in yesterday’s final session.
Yamalube Westby Racing’s Josh Day and Latus Motors Kawasaki’s David Anthony rounded out the top 10 in the Superbike class.
After leading every session yesterday except for the final one, Yamaha Extended Services/Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff got revenge on the field today in the Supersport class. Gerloff was again fast all day and this time he just got faster, ripping off an impressive 2:11.987 – a whopping 1.4 seconds quicker than his best from yesterday. It was also .859 faster than his teammate JD Beach, the defending Supersport Champion ending up second with a 2:12.846.
Wheels In Motion/Motosport.com/Meen Motorsports Yamaha’s Joe Roberts failed to improve on his time that led the field yesterday and he ended the test third overall. M4 Sportbike TrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valenin Debise ended up fourth with HB Racing/Meen Yamaha’s Dakota Mamola rounding out the top five from the two days.
A humble Gerloff was quick to downplay his lap. “It’s just testing,” the 20-year-old Texan said. “Everything feels good. It feels good to be where I’m at, but I just want to focus on the race – that’s what really counts. Definitely, feel good today, feel good with where the bike’s at. Hopefully, the track and the conditions are the same for when we come here for the race so that we can do the same thing that we are doing now.
“For sure there’s no room for slacking off because everybody else is going to be working their butts off to be faster than me or faster than whoever at the race. So I’m just going to keep doing the same thing I’m doing, I feel like I have a solid program together. We’ll see what happens.”
The MotoAmerica season kicks off at Circuit of The Americas, April 8-10.
SUPERBIKE COMBINED: 1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 2:08.764; 2. Toni Elias (Suzuki) 2:09.248; 3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 2:09.495; 4. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 2:10.127; 5. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 2:10.160; 6. Sheridan Morais (Yamaha) 2: 11.134; 7. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 2:11.151; 8. Claudio Corti (Aprilia) 2:11.604; 9. Joshua Day (Yamaha) 2:11.820; 10. David Anthony (Kawasaki) 2:12.043
SUPERSPORT COMBINED: 1. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 2:11.987; 2. JD Beach (Yamaha) 2:12.846; 3. Joe Roberts (Yamaha) 2:13.149; 4. Valentin Debise (Suzuki) 2:13.700; 5. Dakota Mamola (Yamaha); 2:14.677; 6. Cameron Petersen (Suzuki) 2:14.878; 7. Benny Solis (Honda) 2:15.491; 8. Xavier Zayat (Suzuki) 2:16.036; 9. Jay Newton (Yamaha) 2:17.621; 10. Travis Wyman (Yamaha) 2:17.747