2016 Barber MotoAmerica Preview
The 2016 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Series makes its next stop at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for round six of the championship - dubbed the Honda Superbike Showdown of Alabama.
Many a classic rock song has been written about Southern weather and things haven’t gotten any cooler since. Alabama’s temperatures will be nice and hot, not to mention the crippling humidity. So that 2.38-mile road course could feel much longer. If you’re headed down to catch the races, make sure to bring plenty of fluids.
After a troubling start to the season, the defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier will waltz into Barber with the championship points lead. With six race wins under his belt this season, it took some time to pass Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Lee Hayden, as well as teammate and four-time AMA SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes. But while Beaubier is leading the points, it isn’t by a massive margin – he's just ahead of Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha teammate Hayes, 176-169.
Yoshimura Suzuki remains the main competition for the Yamaha YZF-R1 boys and it certainly showed at Road America last week. The only thing keeping Roger Hayden and Toni Elias from claiming more checkered flags is a lack of top end power over the YZF-R1. The two Suzuki GSX-R1000 riders split second and fourth-place finishes in Wisconsin. Now they’re in a comfortable third and fourth place, respectively. The previous point leaders are now trailing Beaubier by 27 and 32 points.
Hayden has yet to win a race in the 2016 season, but has managed to obtain consistent podium finishes throughout the season. Championship contention is certainly still there but both Elias and Hayden will need to secure a few wins to make that happen.
"Barber is a great track that's a lot of fun to race on, but it always provides plenty of challenges - especially with how hot it can get there," said Beaubier, who crashed in race one, but won race two a year ago. "Racing twice in one day in those conditions really tests you physically and can play a role in the outcome of the races. I always look forward to the challenge that racing at Barber brings and I'm well prepared for the conditions."
The Honda Superbike Showdown is a three-round series within the 2016 MotoAmerica series. And the winner of this mini-series will be walking away with a 2016 Honda Civic Sedan. Beaubier does hold a 17 point lead but as we’ve seen in racing before, that isn’t out of the reach for hungry riders trailing in points.
Josh Herrin put a stop to Claudio Corti’s dominant streak in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 Championship after pulling a double at Road America. Herrin is now within striking distance of the Aprilia HSBK rider who made his debut with MotoAmerica in 2016. In third place, Bobby Fong sits in third place, just a mere eight points behind Herrin.
Cycle World Suzuki's Hayden Gillim, TOBC Racing's Danny Eslick and MotoEverything/DieselOpps Racing's Taylor Knapp round out the top 10 in the Superbike Championship as they settle into Barber.
Garrett Gerloff has been a force to be reckoned with in 2016; with six wins so far, he now leads the Supersport Championship against his Y.E.S Graves Yamaha teammate JD Beach, by 43 points.
But with eight races remaining in the series, that is a margin that Beach could pick up. In third sits M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki’s Valentin Debise by a narrow eight point margin. Debise scored his first MotoAmerica victory in race two at Road America. Following up Debise by 18 points is his teammate, Cameron Petersen. Despite being down on power, the Suzuki riders have been able to scrap with the best of them.
HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Richie Escalante also picked up a victory in Superstock 600, making him the sixth rider to do so. But Tune Racing’s Bryce Prince picked up yet another victory, extending his lead once again. After nine races in the book, Prince now leads HB Racing/Meen Motorsports’ Dakota Mamola by 65 points. Escalante, who was on the injured list early on this season, has amassed 70 points and sits in seventh overall.
If you want to witness a rivalry up close, there's one brewing in the KTM RC Cup Series where AXRacing's Brandon Paasch and Jimmy Winters Motorsports' Anthony Mazziotto III are going at it on a weekly basis and it only continues to get more heated. Paasch got the upper hand at Road America and now leads Mazziotto in the championship by seven points after cries of foul-play after race two at Road America when the pair exchanged elbows on the run up the front straight and to the checkered flag.
Paasch finished third in that one with Mazziotto fourth. A day earlier, Paasch won his third race of the season with fellow New Jersey resident Mazziotto also on the podium in third. On Sunday, Ashton Yates, the son of former AMA Champion Aaron Yates, was a popular first-time winner over Jody Barry and Paasch.
The KTM RC Cup Series is where future stars are born and in this case, the series seems to be between two riders, at this point: Brandon Paasch and Anthony Mazziotto III have been at each other’s throats all season, something that doesn’t look like will be changing. Paasch eked out a slim 7 point lead over Mazziotto at Road America. But Road America was a tough run for the two, each of the settling with third and fourth place finishes, in the face of Jody Barry and song of AMA Champ Aaron Yates, Ashton Yates.
That’s it for the preview. For all your racing needs, be sure to check out Ultimate MotorCycling for all your racing updates, news and reviews.