Team Suzuki Press Office – April 16.
Toni Elias – Suzuki GSX-R1000 – 1-1
Roger Hayden – Suzuki GSX-R1000 – DNF – 5
Toni Elias scored a perfect season-opening weekend in the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta as the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion completed the weekend sweep by winning Sunday’s Race 2 in wet conditions on his Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000.
It marked his 18th-career MotoAmerica Superbike victory; and combined with his win in Saturday’s season opener, Elias leaves Road Atlanta with a perfect 50 points, giving him an early 14-point lead in the standings.
Yoshimura Suzuki team-mate Roger Hayden led much of Sunday’s race, but fell in the tricky conditions halfway through the race. In a gritty performance, Hayden managed to re-join the race and rallied back to finish fifth.
After a challenging weekend, Hayden has some work to do to get back into the title chase. He goes to Austin next week ranked 11th in the series.
For Elias, the weekend was especially encouraging since he won in both dry and wet conditions. In Sunday’s race he took over the lead from rival Cameron Beaubier with two laps to go and won by a margin of 1.639-seconds.
Said Elias: “This was a perfect way to start the season. Of course, the competition will be difficult this year, but after this weekend I am very happy for the work the team has done. We continue to make our race bike even better than it was last season and I am gaining so much confidence. This is the first rain race that I’ve won since 2001, so that also makes me very pleased to know that we can perform at the highest level no matter the conditions.”
This is the third consecutive season that Elias has opened the season with a weekend sweep. He did the same at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in 2016 and 2017 and now here in Georgia.
Hayden left Road Atlanta with the assurance that he has the speed it takes to win.
“Even though this was a tough weekend for me it felt good to lead the race in the rain,” Hayden explained. “I got a little lucky that I was able to get back into the race after the crash. I was surprised I was able to get back to fifth. It was important to score those points. We’ll go to COTA next week and start the work of getting back into this championship.”
The Elias sweep was icing on the cake at the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta. It marked a successful opening of the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Yoshimura Suzuki’s formation. Superbike racing legend Wes Cooley was on hand as a special guest and spent much of the weekend signing autographs and talking to his long-time fans.
The series now heads to Circuit of the Americas next weekend, April 20-22nd, in Austin, Texas, for the combined MotoGP/ MotoAmerica event.