MotoAmerica Shakedown at Thunderhill Raceway

MotoAmerica Shakedown at Thunderhill Raceway
Josh Hayes aboard the new Yamaha YZF-R1
MotoAmerica Shakedown at Thunderhill Raceway
Josh Hayes on the new Yamaha YZF-R1

Six teams contesting in MotoAmerica – North America’s new road-racing series spearheaded by three-time World Champion Wayne Rainey – had their first shakedown this week at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, Calif.

The two-day test wrapped up Tuesday, and included the following riders: four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes and his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate Cameron Beaubier; Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis; Red Bull Roadrace Factory’s Jake Gagne; Meen Motorsports teammates Josh Herrin and Joe Roberts; Latus Motors’ Bobby Fong; and the Graves Yamaha’s Supersport duo of JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff.

No lap times were provided, but MotoAmerica reports that all teams were “pleased with two productive days of testing with their new equipment.”

The nine-round MotoAmerica series gets underway April 10-12 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as a support series for MotoGP.

Following are quotes from a few participants:

Roger Lee Hayden, Yoshimura Suzuki, says “Today went pretty good, actually,” Roger Hayden said on Thursday afternoon. “I wanted to be a little bit quicker, but I’m kinda being a little bit too hard on myself because I had a really good lap time. I just wanted to take it one notch further and I just couldn’t do it.

“I did a 10-lap stint, a couple of them, and in one of them every lap was within a 10th [of a second] so I was really happy with that. I was really happy with that consistency and the team was happy with that too. I’m happy because that is sometimes what I struggle with – some laps fast, some slow – and that’s really what I worked on.

“I’m really looking forward to racing at COTA. To be there with the MotoGP people is great. It’s really awesome for my family too because Nicky [his brother] races there and I race there. So they get to come and watch both of us. Kind of how it was back in the day. I really like that aspect. My older sister is coming, my younger sister will be there. I’m excited about that. I’m really looking forward to getting the season started. I feel like I’m riding pretty good and I’m looking forward to it.”

Cameron Beaubier, Monster Graves Yamaha, says “I absolutely love the bike,” Cameron Beaubier said of his new Yamaha R1. “I feel like I have more of a GP style with sweeping lines and being a smaller guy – and it fits me perfect. To me it’s like riding a really advanced 600. I loved the R6 and I won the championship in 2013 on it and I got along really well with that bike and I see a lot of that bike in this. I think it’s going to be a really fun season. It’s cool to be able to put my input into developing this bike and it’s something I’ve never done before. This is the perfect track for the bike. Some fast-speed stuff, some slow-speed stuff, a decent front straight. It’s a good testing track.

“I think it’s going to be cool to be a part of MotoAmerica and seeing it grow, hopefully in the right direction, and getting bigger and bigger and racing alongside the GP guys. I think that’s super good for us and I’m really excited for and hopefully we show what we can do in front of the GP crowd. I’m really excited about it.”

Josh Herrin, Meen Motorsports, “I’m hoping for a good year,” Josh Herrin said of his return to U.S. road racing after a forgetful season in Moto2. “It’s a familiar bike for me so I’m excited to be back on the R6. I’m just trying some things before the series gets going and trying some different parts. I think the main thing about it is the Moto2 bike was something completely different than I’ve ever ridden. It was really fun to ride, but I never really got my style to work with it.

“We never got the setup right. I can go jump on the R6 and go race it without even changing anything and I’ll do all right. Obviously, I want to fine-tune it, but I’m happy to be back on it for sure. I also have familiar tracks now. That’s also the big thing. One of the difficult things [about Moto2] was learning new tracks; not only learning new tracks, but how wide they are… the curbs, everything. I crashed at my last test at Buttonwillow because I used the curb and wasn’t really thinking about it and it threw me off pretty quick. In Europe the paint is stickier than the asphalt.”

For the latest news on the series, visit our MotoAmerica section.

Photo by Brian J. Nelson