MotoAmerica’s Cameron Beaubier Interview
Cameron Beaubier has been a force to be reckoned with in the FIM/AMA MotoAmerica Championship paddock.
Since joining the Superbike class aboard the Monster Energy / Yamalube / Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha YZF-R1, he’s managed to collect two back-to-back MotoAmerica titles in 2015 and 2016.
Since MotoAmerica’s inaugural season in 2015, the American Championship has become home to many international riders.
Beaubier remains a fixture of the leading pack during the races, and because of his performances, many have labeled him as one of the next American riders to join World Superbike.
Now, at 25, the Northern California native seems to have more drive than ever. Especially now, after two consecutive wins at one of North America’s most revered circuits, WeatherTech Laguna Seca. At the weekend’s conclusion, Cameron took clinched double victories before his home crowd.
We caught up with Cameron before all of the action kicked off at the combined event at Laguna Seca, which saw the FIM World Superbike Championship and the FIM/AMA MotoAmerica Championship, sharing the paddock outside Monterey, Calif.
Ultimate Motorcycling: Thanks for having us. How has the season been going so far? You’re just coming off a double-victory weekend while you were at Road America. How are you feeling?
Cameron Beaubier: The season started off kind of slow. Like the last couple of seasons, I’ve had. Yeah, we didn’t get a win for a few rounds, and it’s been a few years since the team, and I haven’t won, you know, even out of the first two rounds.
It’s just kind of a slow start to the season, but Road America went well for us. We led every session, every practice, and I felt really, really good on the bike.
My team, they want to win just as bad as I do, and they’ve been working hard back at the shop, and here at the track to give me something I’m comfortable on. Also, Dunlop came out with a bigger rear tire. They came out with a bigger rear tire that seemed to suit my bike pretty good, and a super soft front tire that is working pretty good for my bike also.
We used both of those options at Road America, and I think that kind of changed the game for us because we started this season on different tires. We started the season on different tires and compounds, but we ran those updated tires that we just started racing on at Road America pretty much all off-season and during testing.
I felt good in the off-season. We had a really good off-season, the team and I. I’m just happy in the direction it’s going in. I’m happy to kind of crawl out of the hole we were in, and yeah, I never would have thought I’d be leading the points coming out of Road America going into that round. All in all, it’s good. I want to continue that momentum into the rest of the season.
I’m excited we’re coming back west and get to race in front of my family and friends. I enjoy that; hanging out with them here at the track, having them here for support, and a lot of people from the office at Yamaha coming out. There’s just a lot of industry people here. There a lot of people just that got me to this point that I haven’t seen in a while, in the early days riding minis and amateur stuff. It’s cool to see everybody. Yeah.
UM: This isn’t your home track, but it’s pretty close to it at this point, correct?
Beaubier: Yeah, I would say Sonoma Raceway and Laguna Seca are my home tracks. Sonoma wasn’t on the calendar for a while until last year, and yeah, some of my family doesn’t even come this far. Some come to Sonoma. Some come to Laguna, so it’s good to kind of split it up and can hang out with them here.
I’m not that big of a fan of this area and I like the track. It’s an amazing track, and we’re lucky it’s so close to home. It’s kind of a crazy track. I just like being in Monterey and going to the Cannery Row at night, going to eat, and being able to stay right by the beach – it’s pretty cool.
UM: You have a lot of experience here, so can you touch just on some basic things? One of the main comments from racers is that it’s incredibly difficult to get passing done here, so that makes your strategy important. How are things shaping up here this weekend?
Beaubier: Yeah. It’s gone pretty good so far this weekend. Friday, we were able to lead both the sessions, and this morning we were able to bang out some pretty consistent laps, which I was happy about, and we made some good changes overnight and in between practices yesterday. That’s going to help us in the race, I think. We did that on the soft – not the softest option. I think we’re sitting okay come race time. We still got Superpole so anything can happen. I just want to be on the front row and be able to get a good start and see what happens. I’m looking forward to it.
UM: You had mentioned some changes in the direction of the new Dunlop tires and the new profiles. What kind of changes do you guys need to make to the bike?
Beaubier: Yep. The rear tire is just a little bit bigger in diameter all the way across. It’s more rounded than the previous tire. It’s more pronounced right on the top of the tire, so we actually had to lower the bike a little bit just to get the balance in the bike the same as it was with the smaller tire.
Not huge changes, nothing crazy, but the tire definitely feels different as a rider when you’re pushing on it. The edge grip to when you stand it up and get it on the meat of the tire just feels a little different than the previous tire. It’s good.
I think lap time wise, you can go pretty close to the same on each tire, but the big tire, I feel like you can be consistent on. The life of the tire is just a little longer, and I think that might have to do with just having a little more meat on the ground.
I’m not sure. I think it’s really cool that Dunlop’s putting effort into developing the tires, especially when we come to a race like this where it’s joint World Superbike and MotoAmerica Superbike, kind of see where we stack up. Obviously they’re on a little bit different stuff, and the world stage, but it’s cool to compare.
UM: That makes sense. The MotoAmerica field has become diverse when speaking about riding styles. You’re typically smooth and more of a wheels-in-line rider. Toni Elias is backing it in. Josh Herrin is like that as well. How do you deal with those variables when you’re in the leading pack that has so many different styles and personalities?
Beaubier: Yeah, it gets pretty wild. Practices feel pretty good. You kind of ride by yourself, you might get mixed in with those guys once in a while, but race time, everything changes – everything. Toni (Elias) is tough to pass just because of his riding style. He likes to point the bike straight into the corner, and that’s what his bike likes or that’s how they set their bike up.
(Josh) Herrin, he has that never quit attitude, so yeah, they’re two tough guys to race, but it’s cool. It’s good. I feel like for me, my style, it works the best for me, just trying to keep the wheels in line, trying to save the tire a little bit, get a flow going rather than just being harsh.
For me, I feel like I’ve ridden like that, or I’ve tried to ride a little bit like that in the past, and I just end up wearing myself out, just ’cause I’m kind of going aggro on the bike, and I don’t go anywhere.
At least for myself, I don’t go any faster when I’m pushing so hard. It upsets the bike and you start bucking coming out of the corners and losing the forward momentum, and even going into the corners if you’re backing it in, at least for the way my bike is set up. It might be a little plusher their setup.
If I’m backing into the corner and the front wheel’s tucking and stuff, you’re running a little wider. That’s a tenth here, a tenth there, a tenth…At least for me, I get worn out pretty quick, but Toni and Herrin can pull it off. Who knows, I might need to change something someday (laughs).
UM: It’s interesting that you point that out because some of the veteran Superbike mechanics that I’ve spoken, they’re not big fans of that sort of setup. They’d prefer their riders with the wheels inline.
Beaubier: Yeah. That’s just the direction the bikes are going in. The MotoGP bikes? Yeah, they ride them a little hung out here and there, but if you watch close, especially going into the corner, their wheels are in line. That’s where all your grip is; when your wheels are in line, coming off the corner and going in. You obviously can get away with more going in when sliding. But yeah, it’s cool to see.
UM: Awesome. That’s an interesting perspective on bike setup. Well, we don’t want to take too much of your time with the busy schedule you have on your plate. Is there anyone you’d like to thank before we get going?
Beaubier: Yeah, absolutely. I’m just really grateful to even be in this position. I’ve been with Yamaha since 2012 and had a rough year in Europe, came back, we were able to put together a little 600 program on an R6.
Yeah, I’m just super grateful to be in the situation that I’m in now. They gave me a shot back in 2012 on a 600 and crawled my way up the ranks. Got a 600 title, got a couple Superbike titles. All these guys are like family to me now. I’ve been working with these guys for six years, so it’s been cool.
It’s been a really good journey, and I would love to go to World Superbike if the opportunity presented itself. I love where I’m at. It’d be hard to walk away from what I have here, that’s for sure.
Also, all my personal sponsors, Bell Helmets, Alpinestars, and, of course my family for getting me in this position. The plan now is to just keep going and keep fighting.
UM: Awesome. It’s been cool, thanks!
Beaubier: No problem, thanks.