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A Four-Way Battle for MotoAmerica Superbike Supremacy and It’s Time for Laguna Seca

A Four-Way Battle for MotoAmerica Superbike Supremacy and It’s Time for Laguna Seca

Steel Commander Superbike Championship Heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Crucial Sixth Round July 12-14

IRVINE, CA – July 10, 2024 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – If the MotoAmerica Steel Commander Superbike Championship were a three-course meal, we’d be licking our chops and getting ready to dig into the steak and potatoes. The appetizers (Road Atlanta and Barber) and salad (Brainerd and Ridge) have already been consumed. Now you just hope you didn’t overeat, because the big plate will determine who’s at the kitchen table (Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio) and probably who’s at the table for dessert (COTA and New Jersey).

240710 Bobby Fong

Bobby Fong is just one point ahead of Jake Gagne, and the top four drivers in the Steel Commander Superbike Championship are separated by just nine points as the series heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca July 12-14. Photo: Brian J. Nelson

And it’s very close. In fact, what we’re experiencing right now is closer than it’s ever been in the history of AMA Superbike racing – four riders competing for the championship after 11 races and separated by just nine points. Nine points. Four riders.

One of the most popular rounds on the calendar, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, features two Steel Commander Superbike races and a race that will give 50 points to those who can do it twice.

Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong sits atop the 2024 Steel Commander Superbike Championship points standings with 158 points as the series heads to the iconic track on the Monterey Peninsula. That’s one point more than three-time and defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Jake Gagne (157 points), seven more than Gagne’s Attack Performance/Progressive/Yamaha Racing teammate Cameron Petersen (151 points) and nine more than Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin (149 points).

And the top four riders have proven capable of winning championships. In addition to his three MotoAmerica Superbike titles, Gagne also has the 2014 AMA Daytona Sportbike title and the 2015 MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 championship; Fong has the 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport title on his resume; Petersen won the MotoAmerica Stock 1000 championship in 2020; and Herrin won an AMA Superbike championship in 2013 and a MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 title in 2015.

But back to this year. Fong comes to this point of the season after winning two races with four additional podiums. He also has only one DNF, and that came in Race 1 at Ridge Motorsports Park, when he, like the others, opted for slicks when he should have chosen rain tires. Rain has been Fong’s worst nightmare, but it’s unlikely he’ll encounter that on a “dry lake” in July. There’s also the fact that WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca isn’t at the top of Fong’s list of favorites, despite it being his “home” round.

After encountering arm pump issues that first reared their ugly head at Barber Motorsports Park, Gagne is the opposite of Fong when it comes to rain. He’s relishing the possibility, as a wet race track takes a lot of the pressure off his arms, and his best results this season have come in the rain. For example, Gagne’s only win of 2024 came in the wet at the second race at Road Atlanta in April. And all three of his podiums since then have come in the wet. Still, Gagne persevered through a frustrating time, somehow keeping him in contention with results like fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth.

It remains to be seen whether Gagne’s physical condition will allow him to run up front at Laguna, but they plan to try something else with his arm issue during the month-long break between the sixth and seventh rounds (Mid-Ohio).

Gagne’s teammate Petersen is having his best Superbike racing season to date with three wins and four additional podiums, which puts him seven points clear of the championship points lead. Petersen suffered a major crash in the first of two races at WeatherTech Raceway last year, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing the South African down.

Herrin heads to WeatherTech Raceway nine points behind Fong with two race wins and three podium finishes. He returned to championship contention after a crash in Race 2 at Road America tarnished his points total. Although he recently won Race 2 at Ridge Motorsports Park, Herrin was one of those who chose the wrong tires for Race 1, but he fought back to finish 11thpearl.

Herrin is a fan of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (he even claimed his only AMA Superbike championship there in 2013) and the Ducati Panigale V4 has proven to work well there.

Okay, four drivers, nine points. So that’s it, right? Well…

… maybe not.

Herrin’s teammate Loris Baz enters the Laguna round in fifth place, 36 points behind Fong in his return season of MotoAmerica Superbike racing. Baz loves WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and finished a competitive second to Gagne in both races during his last visit in 2021.

In his rookie season in MotoAmerica Superbike racing, TopPro Racing’s Sean Dylan Kelly is sixth, 51 points behind the leader. Those two are longshots, but in a season as evenly matched as this one, even the best can have a bad day that ends in eighth place.

Sitting seventh in the championship, 55 points behind Fong, the rider who might strike more fear into his six predecessors than anyone else is five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier.

Beaubier crashed in the first race at Road America in late May, suffering a fractured right heel and missing the next three races as a result. In his return race from surgery at Ridge Motorsports Park, Beaubier failed to score in the first race after opting for slicks instead of rain tires, then followed that up with a conservative eighth place.

If Beaubier’s health/form has improved over the last two weeks, that could be a factor going forward. He’s won nine AMA Superbike races, most notably at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – more than any other rider in AMA Superbike history. We also have to remember that Beaubier won three of his first five MotoAmerica races this year before his season was disrupted by a Road America crash.

Beaubier’s teammate JD Beach is hoping to get his season off to a flying start after a less-than-stellar weekend at Ridge Motorsports Park. Beach sits eighth in the championship, his only podium coming in the second race at Road America.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Brandon Paasch sits in ninth place in the championship race, 12 points behind Beach and 14 points ahead of his 10th-placed rival.pearl-next up is Hayden Gillim and his Stock 1000-spec Real Steel Motorsports Honda CBR1000RR-R SP.

Pre-Race Laguna Seca Notes…

Cameron Beaubier Won two of three Superbike races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last year Jake Gagne won the other. Gagne won race one with Josh Herrin second and PJ Jacobsen third. Beaubier beat Gagne and Herrin in race two before outsprinting Gagne and Herrin in race two. Gagne left Monterey last year with a 34-point lead in the Superbike championship race.

In addition to winning two races, Beaubier also claimed: pole position A lap of 1:22.959 on the 2,238-mile race track. The fastest race lap a year earlier was set by Beaubier with a 1:23.308 lap on the second lap.

The MotoAmerica Superbike lap record at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is still held by: Josh Herrin The race record belongs to Beaubier with a time of 1:22.908, which he achieved since the Superpole in 2018, and the race record was broken with a time of 1:23.185, which he achieved in the third race in 2020.

Cameron Beaubier All-time AMA Superbike race winner The five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has nine wins at the track in the hills east of Monterey. The second-most wins among active racers is tied with Jake Gagne’s five.

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has a long history of hosting AMA Superbike races; the first Superbike race at the track on the Monterey Peninsula took place in 1976 and was won in 1977. Reg Pridmore.

With his latest victory at Ridge Motorsports Park two weeks ago, Josh Herrin escaped a draw Anthony Gobert For 19pearl He is listed among AMA Superbike’s all-time winners and is tied for second Doug Chandler For 17pearlChandler and Herrin have 12 AMA Superbike victories.

Fourth Annual “Rainey’s Journey to the Races” The event, which will take place on Friday, July 12, is scheduled to feature many of the sport’s legendary names in the ride and then stay in the races. Legends include Eddie Lawson, Bubba Shobert, Rick Johnson, Scott Parker, Doug Chandler, Thomas Stevens, Miguel Duhamel, Ben Spies and John Kocinski.

About MotoAmerica

MotoAmerica is North America’s premier motorcycle road racing series. Founded in 2014, MotoAmerica hosts the AMA Superbike Championship, as well as additional classes including Supersport, Stock 1000, Twins Cup, Junior Cup and King Of The Baggers. MotoAmerica is a subsidiary of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time 500cc World Champion, two-time AMA Superbike Champion and AMA Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey; former racer and former Team Roberts executive Chuck Aksland; motorsports marketing executive Terry Karges; and businessman Richard Varner. For more information, please visit www.MotoAmerica.com and follow MotoAmerica on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.

Source: MotoAmerica

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