2016 Thunderhill MotoAmerica Testing Report

Yamaha's Cameron Beaubier leads JD Beach MotoAmerica
Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier leads JD Beach

MotoAmerica’s preseason testing at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California has officially wrapped up.

The tests ran February 17 and 18, and marks the third time MotoAmerica teams have set up camp at Thunderhill for off-season tests. With the MotoAmerica season kicking off soon and the last testing being held at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, March 23 and 24, teams were hard at work ironing out last minute changes.

An 11-rider field was found at Thunderhill this week and unsurprisingly, it was comprised of some of MotoAmerica’s top teams: Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis; Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes; Meen Motorsports’ Josh Herrin, Joe Roberts, Dakota Mamola and Richie Escalante; Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha’s JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff; and lastly, the Latus Motors Kawasaki team of Bobby Fong and David Anthony.

MotoAmerica got a taste of the recent weather troubles at the Phillip Island MotoGP Test and had to deal with rain cutting their morning short. Wet weather wasn’t the only concern, wind and low temperatures made things a bit tough. But riders left with their heads held high, thinking on only the positive when they packed up after the two day test.

“We had a couple of new parts to try, a couple of different shocks and stuff, and I feel like we definitely made forward progress,” said defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier. “Our lap times weren’t as good as in previous tests here, but I definitely think we made a step in the right direction and it’s always good to ride. It set us up good for the COTA test and by that time we’ll be thinking about going racing.”

Latus Motors Team was on the course today, proudly debuting its new Superstock 1000-spec Kawasaki ZX-10R’s that Bobby Fong and David Anthony will be using in the 2016 championship season. And if those bikes are anything like what Arthur Coldwells road in Sepang recently, Fong and Anthony should be able to make some moves in 2016. Both riders were happy with the bike so far.

“I like it; the Kawasaki is good,” said Anthony near the end of day two. “For coming straight out of the box, it’s really good. We made a lot of changes, but we pretty much went back to where we started; back to how we turned up here with it. We’ve got one more test, the COTA test, and that’s it, so it’s hard to judge where we stand. We’re still a few seconds off the Superbikes, but it’s hard to tell. Superstock-wise, we’re all about the same speed. I think we’ll be close right away.”

Yamaha Josh Herrin Joe Roberts at MotoAmerica test
Yamaha’s Josh Herrin and Joe Roberts

Another notable debut was seen at Thunderhill, HB Racing/Meen Motosports’ Dakota Mamola was on hand. Mamola is a name that isn’t exactly unknown, Dakota happens to the son of Grand Prix star, Randy Mamola. Dakota is coming off a year and a half departure from racing, so the test was primarily focused on getting sorted out on the track. But with former AMA great Kurtis Roberts on hand offering up advising, I suspect Dakota will be in good shape.

“I’ve ridden dirt track, Supermotard and motocross, but I haven’t ridden an actual road racer like this in a long time,” Mamola said. “I did an hour at the Leon Haslam school and that’s it. Yesterday was tough. Just because I had to learn the track, get back on a bike… and the wind didn’t really help. It was a lot at one time, but now on day two we are starting to get there and now is where things start getting complicated when you have to change shocks and get the set-up. I’m enjoying it and I want to thank Ameen (Sajjadi – the team owner) and the whole HB Racing team for giving me this chance and hopefully we can do something good. It’s good to be back here in the U.S.”

Unfortunately, the tests resulted in a few very disappointing injuries. HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Richie Escalante suffered a fractured knee and broken finger and Graves Y.E.S. Yamaha’s JD Beach came out with a bruised pelvis after day two was complete. No word on whether or not the riders will miss the COTA tests.

The two-day MotoAmerica Preseason Test powered by Dunlop at Circuit of The Americas will be held on March 23-24 and is open to spectators for free. The 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Series also begins at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, April 8-10, with the first out of nine rounds; 18 races in total for the 2016 season. For ticket information, Click Here