The Yuasa Stock 1000 pack storms into turn one led by eventual race winner Hayden Gillim. Photo by Brian J. Nelson
With the championships in both Stock 1000 and Supersport already having been decided at New Jersey Motorsports Park two weekends ago, the championship chase in SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup was in the spotlight on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Alpha Omega Kawasaki rider Cody Wyman had a 20-point lead coming into the weekend and is still the odds-on favorite to clinch the title, but it didn’t happen based on the result of the penultimate race of the season for MotoAmerica’s entry-level riders. Wyman’s fourth-place finish was countered by a race victory from Altus Motorsports Kawasaki’s Kayla Yaakov and podium finishes from Bauce Racing/JL62 Team’s Joseph LiMandri Jr. and Rodio Racing Kawasaki’s Kevin Rodio. Yaakov and Rodio are still in the hunt for the title, and there is just one more race on Sunday to decide it all.
Yuasa Stock 1000 – All Gillim
Yuasa Stock 1000 started off the day, and it was the final race of the year for MotoAmerica’s literbike riders. With the championship already decided in Corey Alexander’s favor two weekends ago at New Jersey Motorsports Park, this race was all about just taking the checkered flag and standing on the top of the podium with a win.
That win went to Disrupt Racing Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim, which was his fifth victory of the season. Gillim, who started from the pole position, got the holeshot and was never headed. At the checkered flag, the Kentuckian had stretched out his lead to more than eight-and-a-half seconds. Second place went to Vision Wheel/Discount Tire/KWS Honda rider Geoff May who withstood a near highside on the way to his runner-up result. Cycle World/Octane/Chuckwalla Racing Andrew Lee completed the podium in third aboard his Suzuki.
“It was a really good year,” Gillim said. “We had a couple little things that kind of kept us from really fighting for it until the end, but over the past two years, I haven’t raced full-time. Last year, I did Baggers three rounds and then the year before that the only thing I did was the one Bagger race at Laguna at the end of the season. So, it was really good to come back into it and be able to do what we were able to do as a team. Myself, I came back after two years away. Disrupt Racing team member Mark Junge came back after being out for ten years or nine years or something like that. Saw him pull out of retirement. It took us a little while to get our feet under us. It took me a little while to get my head up to speed and be able to process what was going on with the bike and being able to relay that to the guys. That’s something that you lose, being away for a little bit. The past three rounds, everything started clicking. I was able to start feeling things with the bike that I haven’t felt in a long time. Being able to relay that to them and then being able to turn it into a great bike underneath me has been a lot of fun. Getting to do so many laps in Stock 1000 and Superbike has been a freaking blast. It helps me every weekend having that many laps under my belt. This week on Monday, my son turns one year old. The wife has been crying about that. She’s upset we’ve got a big boy now. The team got me a little tribute helmet to it, a little tribute to Nicky (Hayden) and then got some pictures of me and (wife) Summer and (son) Stone at Virginia on the podium. A little picture of me and Stone on there. So, it’s pretty cool for them to do that. It’s been a really good year. I’m glad that they were able to bring me on board.”
Supersport – Landers Gets His Fourth
The 2022 Supersport Championship was also decided at New Jersey Motorsports Park, with Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC rider Josh Herrin clinching the title, so the final two races of the Supersport season were also all about pride. In race one, Herrin started from the pole and chose softer-compound Dunlop tires than Landers Racing Yamaha’s Rocco Landers did. With better grip than Landers had at the beginning of the race, Herrin was in the lead and looked to be headed for a dominant win. However, Landers’ strategy paid off. As Herrin’s tires wore and lost some of their grip, Landers closed the gap and overtook him for the lead. Herrin hung tight to Landers, however, and Mesa37 Racing Kawasaki’s Stefano Mesa also joined the battle for the win. At the checkered flag, it was Landers who got the win over Herrin by just .364 of a second. Mesa finished third, but only .061 of a second behind Herrin.
“I definitely made a gamble, that’s for sure,” Landers said. “It definitely paid off. If you asked me an hour ago if I thought I’d win the race, there’s a slim chance, I felt like. But it worked. Josh (Herrin) is one of the toughest people I’ve ever raced against, and whenever I throw a shot, he immediately takes a stab back. It’s actually really fun. I enjoy it. Same with Stefano (Mesa). Just love racing with these guys. They’re super-aggressive. It’s super-awesome.”
SportbikeTrackGear.Com Junior Cup – Yaakov Does It Again
SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup is down to its final two races of the season, and Saturday’s race one ensured that the championship will be decided in race two tomorrow at Barber Motorsports Park.
Championship leader Cody Wyman started from the pole, but his lead was short-lived as Rodio Racing’s Gus Rodio overtook Wyman on the opening lap. Rodio was then overtaken by Altus Motorsports Kawasaki rider Kayla Yaakov, and the battle for the lead was on between Rodio and Yaakov. And then, as seems to happen in most of the Junior Cup races, especially this season, “the shuffle” was on among the lead riders. Yaakov made a strategic and gutsy pass for the lead on the final lap, and at the finish line, the Pennsylvanian prevailed by half a bike length over Bauce Racing/JL62 Team’s Joe LiMandri Jr. who stalked the leaders until the end of the final lap, then put himself in the runner-up position over third-place Rodio and very nearly won the race.
When asked about her pass for the lead on the final lap, Yaakov said, “I honestly didn’t think it was going to work. I saw when I was sandwiched in-between them, I knew Joe (LiMandri) was either going to drift out and try to kind of block pass me in, or Gus (Rodio) was going to close on me, or Joe was going to hold it and square it up for the next corner, which I think he was trying to do because I saw him right next to me. I went up on the curbing coming out of the chicane, and I knew I had a good run. That’s what I was setting up for from the beginning of the museum (turn). I knew if I got a good run out of there, I was going to try to be able to make a good lunge, either going into 11, or if I had to, the last corner. We made it happen. I’m really happy with it. Going to the finish line, I hadn’t really been in a position behind anyone for too long coming out of the last corner. When I was behind Gus going into the last corner, I made some small mistakes on the curbing. So, I was just planning if someone got a perfect drive and they wanted to go on one side, just to try to break the draft a little bit. Obviously, in the end, I saw he went on the other side, but either way, it worked out.”
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