Team Suzuki Press Office – June 4.
Roger Hayden – 5-3rd
Toni Elias – DNF – 4th
Roger Hayden raced back to form on Sunday in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship fourth round at the Road America circuit, battled up front for most of the race; and scored third aboard his Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000.
It was the first podium result of the American season for Hayden and hundreds of fans broke out in an impromptu singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ to him at the podium celebration: Roger’s birthday was on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Toni Elias suffered his first bad weekend of the year: The Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing rider was involved in a controversial last-lap crash on Saturday when rival Cameron Beaubier made contact with him at ‘Canada Corner’ causing Elias to fall. Elias then dropped off the lead pace mid-way through Sunday’s race and finished fourth. The combination of the DNF and fourth cost Elias his championship lead and he now trails Beaubier by two points in the standings heading into the combined World Superbike and MotoAmerica weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway later this month.
For Hayden, Sunday’s race provided a major uplift to his 2018 racing campaign. He said: “It felt great to get back on the podium. I felt like I had a chance to win today, but I made a couple of mistakes late in the race that caused me to fall back a bit. Still, it’s a good boost to my season to get back to running up front. I feel like I’ve finally got the season started and I hope to be up there regularly the rest of the year.”
After the race Elias focused on what’s ahead instead of dwelling on an off weekend.
“Sometimes in racing you have weekends like this,” Elias said. “But my team is experienced, and we will get back to work to be ready for Laguna Seca and see if we can again fight for this championship.”
Elias leaves Elkhart Lake a close second in the title chase, while Hayden is just a single point outside of the top 10.
Suzuki still sits at 199 MotoAmerica/ AMA Superbike wins. It would be most appropriate if Elias or Hayden gave Suzuki the milestone 200th win at in Monterey.
It was at Laguna Seca in 1977 when Suzuki won its first AMA Superbike Championship race with rider Steve McLaughlin.
Yoshimura R&D and Suzuki are in the middle of celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their formal racing relationship resulting in the most successful racing team in the history of MotoAmerica/ AMA Superbike.
Next up for Yoshimura Suzuki is the combined MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship/ MotoAmerica weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on June 22-24th.