Team Suzuki Press Office – September 24.
Toni Elias – GSX-R1000 -1-1
Roger Hayden – GSX-R1000 – 4-8
Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias earned an impressive sweep at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend, scoring a double victory on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 in Saturday and Sunday’s 2018 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship finale.
Sunday’s win marked the ninth of the season for Elias, earning him the distinction of scoring the most MotoAmerica Superbike wins in 2018.
Elias’ teammate Roger Hayden experienced an emotion-filled weekend with hundreds of fans, fellow racers and race team members offering him well wishes as he competed in his final pro race. Hayden battled for a podium spot and finished fourth in Saturday’s race and then ran off the track early in Sunday’s race, dropping to last position, but charged back heroically to finish eighth.
Elias had riveting battles for the win in both races, moving up quickly from his seventh-place start on the grid; Saturday he pulled away decisively late in the race to win by 7.340 seconds. In Sunday’s race, the top positions in the championship were all decided, so it was a no-holds-barred battle up-front between Elias, Cameron Beaubier and Josh Herrin. At the chequered flag Elias won by 3-10ths of a second over Beaubier.
“It was an incredible way to end the year. It was a real fair fight on Sunday since we were no longer thinking about points. It was a challenge and my team gave me a great bike. To have the most wins this year was a nice accomplishment for the team. Cameron [Beaubier] and his team had a fantastic year and they deserved the championship, but now we will begin testing and get ready to come back to fight to win back the No. 1 plate next season. I will also miss Roger as a team-mate. He was a great competitor and team-mate.”
For Hayden, Sunday marked the end of a brilliant racing career. Hayden announced his intention to retire from racing back in July. He raced professionally for 20 seasons. In 2006 he was named AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year and then in 2007 he won the AMA Supersport Championship.
“It was a tough weekend to focus, being pulled in every direction. I was right there battling for a podium finish on Saturday and that felt good. Then I ran off the track in Sunday’s race, but made a good charge back through the field. It was great to have so many family and friends from home here to be a part of this weekend.
“I’ve had a great career and I especially enjoyed racing for Yoshimura Suzuki. It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m done, but it probably will on Tuesday when everyone is doing the tyre test and I’m home setting up a deer stand.”
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Don Sakakura was happy to end 2018 on a high note. He said: “It was a great way to end an up and down season. We started so strong and then had some challenges in the middle of the season. But we rebounded and closed out the year on a positive note. The team plans to take this momentum and carry it into off-season testing and then into next year’s championship.”
In the 40th Anniversary season of the Suzuki and Yoshimura Superbike partnership, Suzuki reached a major milestone this year winning a record-setting 200th MotoAmerica/ AMA Superbike victory in July. Elias added three more, bringing the total to 203 all-time victories for Suzuki at the end of 2018.