Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias extended his MotoAmerica Superbike Championship points lead with a victory on Sunday aboard the brand-new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
He took the win at the ‘Suzuki ECSTAR Championship’ event, racing in front of a sun-drenched crowd at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia as team-mate Roger Hayden finished a close runner-up in Sunday’s race, just 0.308 seconds behind, putting him into a tie for second the championship standings.
Sparks flew on-and-off the track between Elias and rival Cameron Beaubier. The two made contact in both Saturday and Sunday’s races. Emotions were high and it resulted in a tense post-race press conference with the two competitors verbally going back and forth, before finally shaking hands and agreeing to respect one another on the track.
Sunday was a remarkable day in general for Suzuki riders at the Suzuki ECSTAR Championship: Suzuki won every race it entered, in a stunning sweep of Sunday’s events.
In Bazzaz Superstock 1000 it was Jake Lewis winning his first event of the year on his Suzuki GSX-R1000, in Supersport Valentine Debise won on a Suzuki GSX-R600 and in Superstock 600 it was Nick McFadden victorious aboard another Suzuki GSX-R600. And to put icing on the cake, Billy Etheridge won the special WERA Superbike 1000 race on a Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Now with three wins in four races, Elias enjoys a commanding 26-point lead in the Motul MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.
“I’m happy with the results,” Elias said after Sunday’s win. “The team did a great job. We changed the set-up and my pace was much better. I wanted to open the gap, but Roger caught me every time. It was impossible. The lap before the last lap, I relaxed and gave my muscles a chance to recover and then on the final lap I pushed on the limit and tried to be perfect and we got the victory and are looking strong in the championship.”
Hayden led portions of both Saturday and Sunday’s races and came extremely close to winning in Race 2.
“That was a lot better race,” Hayden said of Sunday’s contest. “I wanted to get in the lead and push the pace a little faster than yesterday. I was able to do that and then went back and forth with Toni and then ‘Cam’ came back in. I went hard that last lap to try to make a move on Toni, but it was just a little too far out there. But man, what a great ride for Yoshimura Suzuki, first and second! That was a fun race, but we want to win, so hopefully at VIR we can move up a spot.”
The series now heads to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) for the Championship of Virginia on May 12-14th.